Bye bye NZ; Hello Aus

0300. Sunrise from Waipu Cove (Copy)Our week around the Coromandel Peninsula turned into a few days because, once again, we ended up getting battered by the weather. We spent Wednesday night wondering if we’d pitched our tent in an automatic car wash, but when we ventured out of the tent on Thursday morning we discovered it was just another Kiwi weather warning. There was about 2 or 3 cm of water under our tent, but amazingly the inner was still dry. We decamped, sighed with relief that we had a car for once and drove 300 km to Waipu Cove, which is north of Auckland, as the forecast was better for that region. We managed some great beach walks, but still felt a bit lost without the bikes. We then had a couple of days back with Mike & Lynda near Hamilton, which was lovely. And something worth doing is visiting the Hamilton Gardens because they’re the best gardens we’ve visited in NZ. Just don’t tell any Kiwis you’re visiting Hamilton because they’ll tell you it’s a horrible city and not to bother, whereas coming from the UK, Hamilton seemed pretty decent. Continue reading


Winding down in NZ

Karangahake GorgeOur cycling in NZ has now pretty much come to end after arriving near Hamilton last Friday afternoon (11th March). We managed to cycle a whole rail trail without any tears, or needing to take luggage on and off our bikes to negotiate any barriers and we’ve been well fed and watered over the weekend (undoing any of the fitness improvements and weight loss we’ve managed so far), including what I think was our first G&T since arriving in NZ! We are now in a small car in Tairua in the Coromandel, seeing NZ through a different mode of transport, and exploring some of the bits we didn’t get a chance to see whilst on our bikes. Continue reading

Volcanic New Zealand

Sunrise from Mt Maunganui (1)It doesn’t feel like I’ve been in New Zealand for that long, but we arrived here eight weeks ago and in two weeks time we fly from Auckland to Melbourne. However, if I reflect on our journey it’s clear that we have been in NZ for quite a while because we’ve seen so many different things, from the Canterbury Plains, Mackenzie Country, Mt Cook, Wanaka, the West Coast, the vineyards in Blenheim, Marlborough Sounds, Wellington, Route 52 up to Napier and then the East Cape. Since the last blog update we’ve ridden from Thornton, past dormant volcanoes, into volcanic calderas and then back down to sea level so we could walk up another dormant volcano this morning to see the sun rise.  Continue reading

Our food diary for a day

Half eaten apple slice.From the blog title it’s probably easy to guess that food is important to the touring cyclist, especially when that cyclist is Philippa. Therefore, rather than talk about the roads or the views, although there’ll be a bit of that, I thought I’d spend the most of this blog doing a food diary for today (Friday) so you can get an idea of what we end up eating on a daily basis.  Some things change each day, but some things we end up eating are pretty standard. Continue reading

After the rain comes the sun

0203. Maraehako Bay (Copy)Just as we were going to bed after our rest day on Monday the aftermaths of Cyclone Winston, which had slammed into Fiji a week or so ago, hit the northern part of North Island. We snuggled into our tent to hear the rain hammering down, but fell asleep safe in the knowledge our Nordisk tent had already stood up to huge amounts of rain in Pleasant Point and Haast. That was until we were both suddenly woken up by a massive cracking noise during the night, senses heighted as adrenaline streamed through our bodies. It sounded like a tent pole had failed in the wind, but without a torch we couldn’t see a thing. After what felt like ages we found a head torch, but the inner seemed OK, so it must have been the pole holding up the porch. We gingerly unzipped the inner, fearing we’d find a broken tent, but weirdly everything seemed OK. It was still raining, but I ventured outside to discover a peg had twisted in the sodden ground, releasing the guy rope that had then cracked against the tent like a whip, hence the noise. Phew, all was OK. However, trying to go back to sleep with the adrenaline flowing was no easy task. It’s strange how one suddenly feels very vulnerable in a tent. It’s unimaginable what it must have been like hiding in Fiji from the full force of Cyclone Winston. Continue reading

Up up up: Our hilliest day to date

168. Sunrise at Anaura BaySunday was a very long, very hilly day (for me anyway), involving harnessing my inners Jens (SHUT UP LEGS) to cover the 113km from Anaura Bay to the Te Araroa Campsite, which is actually probably closer to Hicks Bay than to Te Araroa. It also involved quite a few climbs, which we had conservatively estimated at around 1,000m of climbing. We were wrong; it was actually more like 1,500m of climbing, so our hilliest day to date. No wonder my legs are sore this morning. Continue reading

Go East!

0158. Anaura BaySince Thursday we have been grinding our way up and over the hills between Wairoa and Gisborne and have now picked up the Pacific Coast Highway which will take us all around the East Cape of North Island. We are currently in Anaura Bay, a tiny settlement with a campsite on the beach. Hopefully it looks like we will avoid Cyclone Winstone, although we may end up with some rain over the next few days, so we shall see what happens. Rain would be a relief from the absolutely scorching days we’ve been having here. Continue reading

Hanging out in Napier

0119. Art deco festival in NapierThursday (18th Feb.) evening was spent with our sheep farming WarmShowers host and we got taken to the Pongaroa Hotel for “a good feed”. We’d hardly seen any traffic on the road from Alfredton and any place marked on our map consisted of only a few houses, yet Pongaroa Hotel was surprisingly busy. There had been rugby training that evening (so clearly there’s more than 15 men in the area!) and there’d also been a farmers meeting. We wouldn’t have ventured into the pub had we been staying on the Pongaroa Domain campsite, so were grateful we were being chaperoned by James and were able to glimpse this part of Kiwi life. Friday morning dawned bright and once we were ready to leave the sheep farm it had started raining. Typical. Continue reading

Falling back in love along Route 52

0071. Traffic on Route 52After a difficult start to North Island we were hopeful that Route 52 from Masterton to Napier would restore some peace in the world because we wouldn’t be on gravel cycle routes and fingers crossed the roads would be quiet. However, things didn’t seem to be getting off to a great start when it started raining whilst we were eating breakfast at the Masterton campsite. Fortunately, we’d already taken down the tent, and as we knew we didn’t have a long day up to Alfredton we faffed about until the rain had passed. The first stop was the supermarket because we knew it would be four days or so before we’d hit another major town. Continue reading

The love stopped on Valentines

0027. Found in Bothamley Park, Porirua (Copy)Over the last few days we have definitely had some experiences on North Island. Some have been fabulous, and others have been quite trying. We have learnt about some of New Zealand’s cycle trails – mainly that our bikes don’t suit them that well. We have tried some great wines, with me even liking some Pinot Noirs, and we’ve met some lovely, friendly people, which seems to be a common theme in New Zealand. We are currently in Masterton planning our next few days up to Napier. Continue reading