Who Are We?
This is an account of a bike ride, in a sort of figure of eight, around New Zealand that took place between
November 2010 and February 2011. Before we went we fondly imagined that three to four months would be plenty
of time to 'do' NZ but, of course, although we saw most of the main sights it didn't feel long enough.
Many's the time we felt like hanging around somewhere for a few more days exploring but looking at the distances we
still had to cover pushed us on. Oh, yes, who are we? Well the author of all this site is basically Steve, currently
resident in Bradford (West Yorks). My trusty companion on this cycling jaunt, as on the transAm, was Guy - with his sturdy Raleigh Randonneur
and wonderful ability to cope with horizontal rain, endless miles of road and sleeping in a small tent on a bit of expanded foam.
Itinerary and Mileages
You can navigate this site using the month by month links above, but
you can also use a map which shows the entire
route with links from the map to each day's cycling - which you can view
either within the month or as an individual day at a time. If you are
viewing the journal a single day at a time, you can move forward by pressing
enabled. Alternatively, avoiding all maps, you can view day by day, starting
at the first day.
I'm working on adding cumulative mileages to all this - we did somewhere in the region of 3500 - 4000 miles
in our 12 weeks. Like most cyclists, we found North Island a bit tougher because the main roads
there are busier and the roads seem to have a seesaw profile - whereas in the South Island we
had a fair few traditional big climbs, excellent viewpoint and col, followed by a solid bit of downhill.
We went up to / over the 1000m contour a few times on the South Island - notably on the way to Milford Sound
and when doing the highest tarmac-ed road in NZ near Cardrona, heading towards Queenstown.
If you want to see us cycling, there are indeed cycling videos on this site. I've still got a few more to
add. A couple of places to see us (well, Guy mostly since I was holding the camera) are
Unless, like Josie Dew, you are overwintering in NZ, you should make your trip
during our winter and their summer, thus avoiding the ice and snow of the UK (well, OK, mud and drizzle).
We perhaps could have started just after Christmas - and then we'd have seen our loved ones over
Christmas - but leaving soon after the clocks got put back one hour seemed neat. Unlike the shenanigans over
the flat when we went to do the transAm, this time it all worked OK - with people checking up on my plants
and my car parked safely in my mum's garage. That was all very kind. My workplace took ages to give me
unpaid leave of absence, but at least they did eventually give it. We both took four months off with no pay. Obviously
you need to save a bit (unless you are permanently flush with cash) for a trip like this - and we'd been thinking
about a trip ever since the transAm (which we even considered repeating - it was so good).
What preparation we did consisted of finding super lightweight gear for the
bike - a new tent was purchased (Sanders Jetpacker Plus) - and Steve, that's me, got some new waterproof Carradice Panniers
which worked very well. Certainly pretty much waterproof. The NZ trip being in our winter meant that we'd had our
usual summer of cycling beforehand so we were pretty decently fit before setting off. I still felt the strain of the
seesaw hills of North Island - particularly when humid. As usual we overestimated how far we could do in the first few days
when still suffering from jetlag. And on the whole the distances seemed bigger than we expected - neither of us really
grasped the full meaning of a gravel road (it's not neatly raked National Trust gravel but often gravel in the sense of
pebbles the size of eggs in a relatively uneven heap and very slow cycling with road tyes like ours).
It cost about £30 a day
each for all costs in NZ - food, the occasional train, a single bus, accommodation. So in 90-ish days we spent in the
region of £3000 each. Plus a flight that cost £945.20 each, and then we paid something like £20 for cardboard bike boxes
at Heathrow Airport. Was it worth it? Yes, completely delightfully beautifully worth it. So worth it we'll be, God willing,
doing more in the future once the piggy bank is sufficiently replenished and sufficient pension contributions made.
It's worth noting that for most of our lives, our jobs more or less own us, filling our days with a fair business, and
it's very worthwhile to spend a serious bit of time doing your own agenda. Especially when that agenda opens you to the
great wide world that's outside the rat in a drainpipe life of the modern world.
Curiosity, delight in the similar and different to the UK place that NZ is. And what other country
has glaciers, alps, volcanoes, tremendous seas and tranquil pastoral landscapes all in such a small space? We
rapidly decided that something akin to a figure of eight would cover a substantial chunk of the main sights in three or so months. But you could easily spend
twice that time cycling (arrive in the antipodean spring and leave as autumn was underway) around. There are some walks we'd have liked
to do too...
There's nothing we like better than discussing cycling and travel, so
feel free to email us any questions about our NZ (or transAm) trips - firstname.lastname@example.org
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