We’ve made it to South Island, New Zealand. We left home on Sunday evening after a frantic afternoon of last minute packing, emergency freezer defrosting to stop the flat getting flooded, had a disagreement with the taxi driver about the price because we weren’t going to pay extra for the bikes as we’d specifically ordered a MPV to carry the luggage (we won) and after 90 minutes to cover 23 miles we got to LHR. We checked in via business class because we couldn’t find where Singapore Air had their economy desks. The bikes were weighed, my foot helped to support the scales when my bike was being weighed and suddenly I could off load 2 kg of hand luggage into the checked baggage. Win.
LHR on a Sunday evening in January was empty, which made a welcome change from travelling during the school holidays. We had some prosseco with some lovely friends who came to wave us off (more tears from Philippa) before heading through to departures. The A380 we were on to Singapore was unsurprisingly massive, but also comfortable. After dinner and watching some films (Ted 2, which was not as good as the first film, but mindless fun) we both fell asleep. We got to Singapore early, which meant we had a bit longer to stretch out and walk around the airport, which broke up the journey somewhat. Then onto the second flight to Christchurch. This was an older aeroplane, so wasn’t as comfortable. We knew we would get to NZ around noon local time, so got some more sleep in the hope to that would help to stave off the jet lag.
Our first sights of NZ were as we flew across the South Island, and words cannot describe how stunning everything looked. Snow topped mountains, turquoise lakes, white beaches and blue oceans all viewed at once.
Getting through NZ immigration was a doddle (perhaps because Singapore Air had already questioned us extensively about our plans at LHR & we’d had to show them the flight tickets to Australia and Canada that we’ve already booked). The bikes appeared really quickly, but we then had a long wait for the panniers, but everything eventually arrived. The customs officials were happy with us saying the bikes were clean, but took the tent off to check it didn’t have any seeds hiding inside. Whilst that took place another customs official spent his time telling Philippa where to cycle in order to do the most wine tasting. It looks like we’ll be heading up the east coast of North Island – Hawks Bay here we come.
Christchurch airport has two bike stands outside the terminal for assembling bikes after a flight, so we set off there. Loads of people wandered past and started talking to us, it seems Christchurch is a pretty friendly place. After what felt like an age we had the bikes ready and the luggage repacked. It was 14 km from the airport to our hostel, so just a nice short ride through the city. There is evidence of the earthquake, but it isn’t as bad as we’d expected. The hostel, Haka Lodge, is lovely. The two people working here that we’ve met are both British. We’ve been to dinner in a pub set up by a British couple, complete with Morris Dancers. We’re not sure where any of the Kiwis have gone!
We’ll go into Christchurch today to buy a bike lock (we left the keys for our lock in London or we just can’t find them at the bottom of one of the 9 ortliebs we have), and new merino top (I think mine is on the Singapore > Christchurch aeroplane), fuel for the stove & also to explore Christchurch. Tomorrow we’ll cycle over to Diamond Harbour.