Saturday, 27 February 2010

End of a mind-blowing cycling trip

With reaching Christchurch by bike it ia more or less the end of my
journey through New Zealand. Of course I am not flying home directly,
so still have a couple of days to explore more of the area around
Christchurch, and later on Auckland. However, no more cycling days
with a load of luggage.
It has been a grand journey, both in size - exploring the country by
bicycle - as well as in mind - actually doing something that has been
a dream for so long. Ah well, the dream of cycling around the North
Sea still exists ;-). But nevertheless, it has been exhilirating,
epic, heavy, stunning, and quite a few other superlatives that I can't
think of right now. Oh yeah, gorgeous and beautiful!
Right now I'm waiting for my dinner at the Bailies Irish bar &
restaurant at Cathedral Square in Christchurch, to celebrate the end
of this trip. By the time I have posted this on my blog the dinner and
a few pints of Guinness will be a sweet memory.
For the following days I planned some touristy things, such as a
scenic bus tour to Akaroa (monday) and spending a day in Christchurch
(sunday). Aside of that I will still have to figure out a way of
getting a box for my bike and prepare everything for flying to
Auckland, and a few days later home. That is something that I will be
working out in the following days. Now I'm both glad and relieved that
I made it, but also a bit sad to end it all. Let's see if Guinness can
fix that ;-) [no, I'm not becoming an alcoholic].
See you all sometime in the next month, when I get home again to
family & friends.
Cheers, Eddo

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The last leg

With my travel from Dunedin to Omarama the last leg of my cycling
adventure will start after a good night's sleep. This trip has taken
me thru almost the entire length of New Zealand, with the exception of
Fiordland, the Catlins and Invercargill.
This last part will take me from Omarama to Lake Pukaki and Lake
Tekapo, two large lakes that provide quite a portion of the country's
electricity through hydropower stations. From there I'll ride to
Fairlie, Geraldine, where I will pick up the Inland Scenic Route 72
through Methven and Oxford to Christchurch.

I have planned to stay a few days in Christchurch, or even cycle to
Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. From almost every cyclist I met the tip was
given to ride to Akaroa, it will be a heavy ride but with spectacular
views as reward!
On March 4th my plane leaves Christchurch, to take me back to
Auckland, the city from where I started two months ago.

I have mixed feelings about travelling home again, I would love to see
both family & friends again, but there is still so much to do and see
in New Zealand that I wish I had more time. For now I don't want to
think about it too much and experience and enjoy my travelling as much
as possible through this wonderful country, even with its notorious
headwinds ;-). Some of the very scenic and touristy things are still
to come for me, the views of Mt. Cook from Lake Pukaki and the Church
of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo. Hope these are not as busy with
tourists as the Moeraki Boulders (most likely they will be).

"I took the road less travelled, now where the hell am I?!" (Quote
from a Wicked Campervan)

PS. Didn't get lost up until now, though roadsignage could be improved
in NZ ;-).

Monday, 15 February 2010

Update from along the Otago Central Rail Trail

Since my last update on this blog I have travelled almost to the other
side of the South Island, from west to east.
As you could have followed on Twitter the Haast Pass was pretty
spectacular and heavy, but the actual steep part wasn't that long,
only about 2km.
The scenery does change once you cross the pass into Otago, as I felt
that the air was dryer and you ride on more flat bits.

Wanaka was a grand little town, it gave me a great vibe, and would
love to live their, if only for a few years. The Mt. Aspiring National
Park is only about 40-50km away, and the tow. Is just at a sweet lake
with a splendid view. Spent there a restday, walking around Puzzling
World and strolling through town. The next day it was a long climb up
to the highest public road of NZ, the pass over Crown Range, passing
the access to the Cardrona ski field. The road down was an alpine
style way down, and tested my bike quite harshly. The headset of the
frontfork had quite a bit of room, so that had to be fixed in
Queenstown. Fortunately the guys at a bikeshop lent me two spanners to
fix it myself :).

My plan of riding to Glenorchy wasn't completed, as the ride was just
to hilly and heavy, continuously going up and down. Therefore I spent
the rest of the afternoon in Queenstown, which is quite long enough to
see everything there. Even with a nice stop at a Starbucks (white
chocolate mocchachino's are superb!) and an hour in a jetboat on the
Kawarau river.

Next day cycled past quite a few vineyards and through the Kawarau
gorge to Cromwell. The next morning I met a British cyclist also
heading for the Otago Central Rail Trail (OCRT) and decided to ride it
together to Dunedin. Up until now Dominic and me have spent just about
100km together. If you're interested, his blog is

At some moments of the OCRT all we miss is some Enio Morricone music,
rolling tumbleweed, and either John Wayne or Clint Eastwood on

It is true that the trail is never very steep, but still can be quite
an effort with a strong headwind. It appears also that the nights are
quite cold, but after noon the sun starts to burn.

This morning we, Dominic and me, got offered breakfast by Bill and
Jennifer from Ashburton. Coffee and toast. They were quite interested
in our stories so far, and were quite keen in telling theirs. Thanks
so much for that!

Tomorrow finishing the OCRT in Middlemarch, and then taking the scenic
train into Dunedin, saving us cycling into the busy traffic of
Dunedin ;). No, this doesn't feel like cheating sis!

PS. If on the OCRT, do not stop at Hayes Engineering. They charge you
for just walking around and the food and drinks are way too expensive.
Stop at the tavern in Oturehua, they're cheaper and sell a good pint
of Speights ;).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Goodbye epic Westcoast and sandflies

The glacier depicted on this photo is Fox Glacier, which I found to be
prettier and rougher than Franz Josef Glacier. Near both glaciers I
could feel the cold coming from them, which was good on a hot day ;).

Staying at Gillespies Beach was pretty sweet, but there were quite a
few sandflies around. Took the time to hike and sit on the spectacular
coast and make photos of the sunset and crashing waves. The road to,
and from, was a 16km, winding, gravel road that went up and down and
took me quite some time to cover.

Next stop, Lake Paringa, another DoC campsite. Apparently the only
source of drinking water was a small mountain stream, reminding me of
canoeing holidays in Sweden. And also here, a million sandflies!

Currently in Haast, after a 'short' ride today (50km), having to
conquer three bluffs. Tomorrow heading up Haast Pass from the
difficult side, at least that is what I got told. And then I'll stay
on the eastern side of the Southern Alps for the remainder of my
travels through New Zealand. Looking forward to the area around Wanaka
and Queenstown!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Westcoast and glacier country

Just after a month of cycling I have reached the Westcoast of the
South Island and made it all the way down to glacier country (Franz
Josef & Fox Glacier). The weather has been exceptionally warm and
sunny for the Westcoast, as it usually rains a fair bit along these

The roads from Westport to Greymouth were simply spectacular, as at
some points you cycle for a few kilometers directly besides the Tasman
Sea. At high tide, when there is a fair bit of wind, the large swells
break spectacularly on the shoreline, which is lined with rocks.
During my stay along this part of NZ the winds even kept going at
night, which made for grand sunset photos (didn't bring my tripod for
nothing ;) ). Sorry, but u won't see those photos until I get back home.

The blowholes and pancake rocks at Punakaike were also epic at sunset,
and it was just sweet to be standing at the bluff and see the sun
setting into the Tasman Sea. Sweet as!

The roads south of Greymouth weren't that nice, boring at sometimes,
but not everything can be exceptional. However, riding towards the
glaciers more and more crystal blue meltwater rivers turn up,
reminding me of Slovenias Soça river.

Yeah, white water paddling is possible in this area, but the size of
the kayaks I saw in Hokitika means that it is BIG water. And no,
nobody does any commercial ww kayaking in Hokitika :(.

Tomorrow I'll be heading towards Franz Josef Glacier, ah well, I'm in
the town already, but going to the glacier.
Here on the campground I also met a few other Dutch cyclists, 15 of
'm, that are on an organized following parts of my route in the other
direction. They have it easy though, as their luggage is carried for
them from campground to campground in a trailer behind a car.
About meeting people; everyday I meet other cyclists or people who
have done cycle tours. Also today, I met a Scottish couple in Whataroa
and shared a lunch together and talking about the route and Scotland.
Our conclusion at the end was that sandflies are worse than midgies.
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