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 Cindie's Daily Journal: North Island, New Zealand
Auckland to Wellington (Sept 15 - January 16, 2007)

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Sept 15 - 30

Auckland.  We are in no rush to get touring again, our first priority while we are here is to finish our second book, besides the weather is cold and wet at the moment.  We stayed with a couple from the warmshowers.org  list and instead of staying for a few nights we ended up house sitting the cats for 10 days too. I highly recommend joining the warmshowers.org list, a list for cyclists willing to take in other cyclists from around the world. We had plenty to do while in Auckland and one of them was to fix the bikes. When I pulled my bike out of the box, always a tense moment, I found that my big chain ring had been dragged across the floor (both my wheels were off the frame) and the chain ring needed to be filed.  We went in search of a bike shop and found an awesome one in the downtown area near the sky city tower. The name of the bike shop is Bicyclette, bicyclette.com, we originally went there to buy a long sleeve wool jersey for Tim and found a great mechanic and staff too.  We still had not found a bike shop that would install our headsets for the Koga Myiata World Traveler.  This bike takes a funky headset that requires notching the crown to get the headset out (not my area of expertise, I just want the bike to ride well) we had carrying the headsets for many months.  Anyway we had our headsets and our instructions from Eric in Santa Barbara and now we had a mechanic to fix it.  Our bikes were clean, we cleaned them with a toothbrush to get them through quarantine, and ready to get worked on.  During an inspection of Tim's wheels we found cracks in his rim so it was time to replace the rear wheel as well. Better here then some little town in the middle of nowhere. Tim also had to replace his bottom bracket and front brake cable. The bikes came out of the shop running like new, I highly recommend the mechanics at Bicyclette. 


Cindie with the Auckland Sky City Tower under her hand.

While we were in Auckland I looked up a travel doctor, Tim was still not right (not that he complained, I just knew) he was fatigued, tired, and hungry all the time, and I had to get down to the bottom of his problem. Back in May, I dragged him to a doctor, he tested positive for bacteria and was treated with an antibiotic, he seemed to get better for a little while but was still having intestinal discomfort and looked run down to me. It was a little work to get Tim to the doctor, but I am such a pest he went along to appease me. We talked with the doctor for an hour, we discussed the countries we had been too and she reviewed Tim's results from May.  She added another test for a parasite ( flat or tape worms) or schistosomiasis which required a urine sample for three days in a row collected between noon and three pm. hmmm I guess they are hard to detect. The results came back positive, I about cried with relief and grief at the same time.  Relieved we now knew what was wrong and grief for not finding it sooner, Tim has suffered with this for over a year and a half and possibly longer, since we traveled through Vietnam (January 2005) the Mekong river in particular and/or Southern China (December 2005).  We find this out on Saturday afternoon and we were catching a bus to New Plymouth on Sunday morning.  Uggh.  This meant we had to get our prescription filled in New Plymouth.


 

Sept 30 -

New Plymouth. It is time to hunker down and finish the book and get it to an editor.  We have internet 24/7 and that is such a luxury compared to Australia where we were on the net for 2-4 hours a week or less. We are staying with a family who are on our newsletter list and invited us in.  We are staying in the converted garage and it is nice to spread out.  The weather is stormy to say the least.  Makes me glad we are not in a tent at the moment.

It has taken over a week to get Tim's prescription and order the drug. It seems that the drug praziquantal (used to treat worms in dogs and cats) is a controlled drug and hard to get.  The side effects are pretty bad too, nausea, vomiting, the more worms the worse the side effects.     


November 7

We are still in New Plymouth and putting the last finishing touches on our  second book.  We are starting to do day rides and the area is beautiful with Mount Taranaki in view when its not cloudy.

I feel it is necessary to add some tips on riding in New Zealand, first they drive on the left and they have different road rules then we are use to.  Let me try and explain. They have a law that a driver always yields to the right.  This makes sense when you are at a round about, you give way to your right.  Ok it does not make sense to me when you are making a left hand turn. 

Imagine driving down a two lane road and I turn on my turn signal to go left, meanwhile a car is driving towards me and they want to make a right hand turn across the lane I am in. Who has the right of way? In New Zealand the person making the right hand turn across my lane has the right of way. I must stop and give way to them because they are on the right.  Check out the rules at the New Zealand road code

landtransport.govt.nz/roadcode/about-driving/the-give-way-rules.html

Yikes, in my 20 + years of driving I would have thought I had the right of way, turned left before the other car crossed my lane and never consider they might turn in front of me.  Hence the confusion in New Zealand. Bam! two vehicles wanting to be in the same place at the same time. Now if two cars in the same place at the same time you have a fender bender but when one is a car and the other is a cyclist well you know who always loses that battle.  So it is not a no brainer to ride here you have to think about who has the right of way at every intersection. It scares me a bit to say the least. 


 

December 2 New Plymouth - Stratford New Zealand 45 km

We are finally off today for Stratford, we have been off the bikes for three months and I know I am going to feel like a newbie on the bike.  The bike will wobble and it will take a kilometer or two to get the feel of it again.  The weather is finally nice, in the low 20s centigrade that is and a light breeze.  We do not expect to have internet for at least a week while we ride up the lost highway towards Taumarunui.

The climb up to Stratford was gradual but consistent. We stopped in Inglewood to pick up a few supplies and we talked about where we were going to spend the night, either a roadside picnic area or Stratford.  We thought we would stay in the picnic area for the night so I picked up a few supplies. Not a kilometer out of Inglewood I hear a thud thud thud sound and yelled up to Tim Hey your rear wheel is making a funny sound and Boom! flat tire, The sidewall of Tim's rear tire had blown out.  It was a relatively new tire with about 6,000 km so the flat was unexpected.  I should have know better because it seems the beginning of many of our journeys start with a flat. The first day we left Arizona, out of Bangkok, out of Canberra, I am sure I am missing a few. So we put a boot in the tire and road into Stratford and booked into the motor camp.


 

December 3 - Stratford - Pohokura 45 km.

We had a bit of chores to do in the morning, a stop at the post, grocery shopping and the bike shop to pick up a new tire.  We are now off on the Forgotten World Highway, a highway that was built in the late 1800s and promises to be hilly.  It was a nice downhill coast through farmland until Douglas and then up to Stratford saddle where we had a great view of Mount Egmont also know as Mt. Taranaki.  We were in search of a Department of Conservation campground for the night but we never did find it, no problem, there were plenty of places to camp.  We passed a lodge/campground at Te Wera but decided to push on and camped in a nice flat spot not too far from the railroad tracks before Pohokura Saddle. When the train went by the ground shook like a bowl of Jell-O.  We changed Tim's tire, I doubt if it would have lasted another day.  The scenery has been stunning green pasture land and high ridges, we are riding between volcanoes and the terrain is dominated by ash flows, young topography makes for short steep hills.  At the end of the day I was pretty beat and I think I was in bed before the sun went down.


View of Mount Taranaki (Egmont) from Stratford saddle.


 

December 4 Pohokura - Tangaruka Gorge Picnic area 48 km

It feels good to be back on the road again, but I have to say the first week is full of body aches.  We are taking it slow but whoa I am sore all over, this will all disappear soon. The road continued up and down and we pedaled up the Whangamomona saddle and had lunch in town, the only hotel, restaurant and motor camp along this road, there is no grocery store so I was glad I had all our supplies.  The town is a cute early 1900's buildings and as we ate lunch a herd of sheep, a very large herd to me anyway, came through town.  There really are more sheep here than people.  After lunch we rode through Tangaruka gorge and to our campsite for the night.  The scenery changed from farm land to the gorge where the ferns took the place of trees, just gorgeous.  We camped in a nice spot and watched the logging trucks go by, some how we managed to be off the road every time one of those truck came by.  The gravel road started about 10 km after Tahora and lasted for 16 km, not bad at all.


 

 December 5 Tangaruka Gorge Picnic area - Taumarunui Holiday Park 64 km

We have been using the Pedals Paradise book and it has a nice profile of this road and by the looks of the profile we have a lot of climbing to do before we got into town.  The morning was a bit cloudy but not too bad, we met a couple from Britain, Mike and Alice, and talked with them for about an hour or so and Alice mentioned the gravel road ended in 6 kilometers and to my delight it did, the dirt road wasn't too bad but it did slow us down a bit and I was itching to get to town, find a camp site and take a hot shower.  We had plenty of hills to climb first, as the day wore on the weather changed from cloudy and humid to rainy, we took shelter under a overhang at Te Whakarea. Tim wanted to free camp for the night and I wanted a motor camp, when it started to rain Tim realized we probably would get stuck out of town in the rain so we pushed on into Taumarunui and picked up groceries and rode out to the Holiday park.  A nice little place to camp along the Whanganui river.


December 6

It rained all night and we were cozy in our new Big Agnes tent, sleeping bags and pads.  We are gear testers and we are testing a new tent.  It is light weight and easy to carry. It seems that a tropical front from the northwest is about to collide with a cold front from the southeast, it is pouring down rain at the moment and I am glad we are inside.


Bicycle touring from Tongariro National Park Village through Taupo to Rotorua, New Zealand

December 7:  Another rainy day in New Zealand.  I would like to take a moment to remember our friend Bridget O'Brien.  We met Bridget a freelance photographer last March in Australia, she hung out with us for a couple of days and took photos for the New York Times and one of her photos of us was used in the Travel section.  She spent three days with us and we talked about traveling, cultures and people.  She was a gypsy herself living all over the states, Paris and then Australia. She got married the month after we met her and we stayed in contact through email. She was in the USA touring with her husband and his band and they were traveling from Michigan to New York when one morning a deer jumped in front of their car and Bridget swerved to miss it and crashed. Bridget and her husband were killed and the other band members survived. She was 26 and he was 24, oh so young and their life in front of them. I will miss Bridget she was so full of enthusiasm for life.

See some of the pictures she took for the New York Times below.
http://downtheroad.org/Australia/Bridget_OBrien_Polaris.htm

December 8 Taumarunui - National Park 40 km:  The weather has cleared slightly and we decided to go to National Park and do a day hike through Tongariro Crossing. The ride up to National Park was a steady 600 m (2000 feet) climb.  I wish our altimeter was working and we could record our climbs and descents but our watch shorted out in Australia.  The scenery is stunning and very green all that rain makes for beautiful landscapes.  We hope to walk Tongariro Crossing, know as the best day hike in New Zealand, it crosses between two volcanoes and has views of Lake Taupo.  Tim and I love volcanic landscapes.  We camped at the YHA Tongariro Backpackers, they have a climbing wall here so it also attracts climbers.  This will be our first youth hostel in New Zealand. 

December 9 National Park:  Tongariro Crossing is a 18.5 km (11.5 miles) hike that traverses volcanic landscape with views of Lake Taupo an old caldera,  three volcanic cones, and emerald lakes.  The hostel runs a shuttle and drops you off at one end and picks you up at the other.  Sounds like our kind of hike.  We set off at 7:15 am and the weather was unsettled, we were all hoping the weather would clear.  We loaded our packs with food, water and warm clothing and hiked in the rain for an hour and a half to Soda Springs at the base of the first major climb.  We could not see the top of the ridge and waited to see if the clouds would lift.  It never did and with great sadness we turned around back to the trailhead.  It turned out to be cloudy all day and the people who did the hike did not see anything either.  So if you plan to do this hike do it in nice weather.

In the evening we met a nice couple from Germany Ben and Katherine, we hope to meet up with them again when we go to Germany. I really enjoy staying at hostels because people from all over the world pass through. Katherine is a doctor and we discussed at great length how parasites plaque the system.  Tim and I both wonder if he has gotten rid of his parasites and after talking to Katherine it sounds like they did not give Tim enough of a dose of the praziquantal to kill all the parasites so with time they seem to have come back again. So Tim will take another dose of mebendazole, an over the counter de wormer and take if for longer. Then after that dose and when I can convince Tim to go to the doctor again, we will request an ultrasound of his stomach.  Not one of his previous three doctors have even considered doing this. By doing an ultrasound maybe they can see if the parasites or whatever the problem is. Neither Tim or I have ever had medical problems before and being on the road only makes treatment all that more difficult. I am frustrated Tim is frustrated with this whole thing.

December 10 National Park:  Ok we are getting a little behind on our schedule. (Tim says "Our goal is not to have a goal or schedule") Another rainy day in New Zealand.

We will hang here for another day.  Early in the morning a group of people were in the kitchen making breakfast, there were 5 Germans, an Australian, 2 kiwis, and 3 Americans (Tim and I and a young guy from Tennessee). The subject of American politics came up and there were a flurry of questions.  The subject of a black man running for President immediately came up.  It seems that a few people think that the US is very racist and would never elect a black man for President and one person went so far to say that they thought Obama would be assassinated if he was elected President. Whoa I am not too sure about that one.  It isn't the late 60's anymore and I would sure hope we have moved beyond those times.

December 11 National Park - Pass before Turangi on Route 47 42 km:  We woke to yet another cloudy day but decided we could not sit around anymore and we would ride until we had to stop.  Normally the wind is from the southwest and we would have a tailwind but the winds are now coming from the northeast bring warm moist air over the north island, hence the rainy weather and now a head wind.  We had a partial view of Mount Ngauruhoe as we rode by. The weather was unsettled all day and we rode into a head wind, lucky for me I had Tim in front to shield me from the wind a bit.  We saw two sets of cyclists pass us in the opposite direction, we are on the main route between Auckland and Wellington.  We searched for a place to free camp before Turangi and found a nice spot in the rain forest.

December 12 Pass - Taupo 65 km:  The key to this campsite was the rain forest, we had a nice soft bed of moss to sleep on but in exchange we had to pack in the rain. There was a nice side trail through the rain forest and we are sure we heard a kiwi bird but did not see one. Camping is quite easy in New Zealand, the rule of thumb is if is says do not camp then don't other wise you are free to camp.  Costs for motor camps and youth hostels range from NZ $18 - 28, so a free camp on the road helps our budget so we can afford some of the attractions around the country.

On the way to Taupo we met this crazy kiwi with a flying machine/recumbent, that machine actually flies when a parachute is attached, he can run the propeller and drive down the side of the road or he can pedal it like a recumbent.  Fascinating, I love the entrepreneurial spirit the kiwis have.

Just north of Taupo is Reids Farm, a place that is free to campers.  It has a pit toilet but no showers.  Down by the beach is a Superloo, love the name, where you can get a shower for NZ$2. The weather is still unsettled and we have decided to keep moving rather than stay around Taupo.  In the evening we met a couple from Canada, Anton and Shella, she had just finished her PhD in exercise physiology and they were returning to Canada after living in NZ for three years. I don't think it had hit her yet that she was finished.  She had some interesting comments on doping in Sports and the affects of caffeine on athletes. Anton, an avid cyclist, had all kinds of questions about bike touring around the world.

December 13 Taupo - Wai-O-Tapu 61 km:  We left Reid's farm, visited Huka Falls and took the back way to Taupo along Broadlands rd.  It was a bit of a meander to get there, huka falls rd to Aratiatia rd to view rd. But it was worth the trouble, the traffic was lighter.  Along Broadlands we met a Canadian cyclist who told us about a place to get water, we were running low. So we stopped in to collect water and they invited us to lunch hmm sandwiches.

Farther down the road we met a Dutch couple touring on a tandem.  I feel like a trout heading up stream, everyone else is going south while we are going north. We talked about our plans and have decided that we really want to do the East Cape and if we get strapped for time we will take a bus if we have too but that will be after Napier at least. So we are on for the East cape.

We picked up water at Repora and started looking for a place to camp before Wai-O-Tapu, a thermal wonderland. We rode through farm land and then managed forests and still could not find a place to camp.  We took the turn to Wai-O-Tapu, the weather was turning to rain and we still had not found a suitable place to camp, Tim said, "We need a miracle", we turned the corner and found one.  The park was closing and I thought I would ask for some water before  they closed the gate, as I rode up to the attendant, he said, "You can camp over there if you like". Well yes that would be great, we pushed our bikes into the picnic area and got the tent up just as it began to rain. Whew that was a close one. Just down the road about 200 meters from the park is a thermal stream where I soaked up some hot water at no charge.

December 14 Wai-O-Tapu - Rotorua 32 km:  We decided to take our time through the thermal wonderland. We were up and one of the first in the park.  We parked our loaded touring bikes in the bike locker area.  The first thing that hit us was the smell, a pungent sulfur acidic smell, we toured Champagne pool and a few other sights before we hoped on our bikes to the Lady Knox Geyser located three kilometers away. I tell ya, when people have to drive somewhere and be on time they can get a little crazy, a felt like someone was willing to run me over just to get to the geyser. In the end, they added soap to a geyser and it went off with a few bubbles, quite anticlimactic for me. 

Back at the other end we toured the rest of the park, Tim and I love this stuff, steaming vents, acidic waters, strange sulfur colored formations.  We toured the place for a good 5 hours and enjoyed it.  The cost was a bit steep at NZ$23 (US 18) per person.  The last thing we saw and my favorite place was the mud pools. The mud pools are free and I we even saw a few choice camping spots in the area. So if you want to make a quick tour of this area I highly recommend the mud pools and even a soak in the thermal stream

The ride to Rotorua was quick once we hit the pass about 15 km from town.  The Peddlers paradise North Island book is really helpful with profiles of the road.  The information is a bit outdated but profiles never change.


Our bikes at the mud pools.

December 15 - 19 Rotorua:  We are camping at the Kiwi Paka YHA for NZ$18 (US$14), a reasonable rate for a hostel.  We will stay in town until we get a package from Craig. We should get it Tuesday morning.  In the meantime I went to the Farmers market at Kiaro Park, the veggies were way cheaper and the strawberries awesome.  I am feeling a bit sore, walking all morning and riding was a bit more than I am use too, just a couple more weeks and we will be in better shape and this soreness will disappear.  In the meantime I like to soak in the thermal pool at the hostel.

We are still having problems sending email, we can receive it but we can't send it out, we are working on that one. We went to an internet cafe that said it charged NZ$3 an hour for members (Cybershed.net) with laptop in hand, I asked how much for a non member and he said $NZ6.  An hour and a half later he wanted to charge me $NZ12 a hour because I had a laptop, cheeky little x%3&, he lied to me when I asked the price, then he showed me the price for a laptop NZ$3 for 15 minutes. Yikes, I wanted to well you can guess. So sometimes it is hard to avoid a scam.

Rotorua Museum. Company B film

While we were waiting for our package to arrive at the hostel we met Rick Gunn an American cyclist who had been cycling around the world for the last three years.


Cindie's Daily Journal:  Rotorua around the East Cape to Gisborne, New Zealand (Dec 20 - 30, 2007)

December 20 Rotorua to Awakeri 76 km - We woke to a rainy drizzly morning but were determined to get back on the road.  The road was rolling and we rode by two lakes that are what remains of two calderas.  The volcanic activity in this area is everywhere we stopped a few times to get out of the rain but overall it was great to get back on the road. We stopped at Awakeri motor camp and hot spring and decided a soak in the hot spring would be refreshing.

Just after sunset, I was collecting the last of my clothes from the clothes line when suddenly the ground began to shake - EARTHQUAKE - whoa I was looking at Tim and the clothes line pole bent from side to side right in front of me. I ran over to Tim and the ground shock again, the sensation was like no other, the ground felt like jelly and moved like a wave. My insides move around as if in a bowl of water.  The kids sitting at a table not too far from our campsite erupted into chatter and fright.  Somehow I think this will not be the only earthquake I will feel in New Zealand, this country sits on two major faults and moves often.

 December 21 Awakeri to near Opotiki 55 km. - We rode into Whakatane and collected our last supplies. Both our bikes are heavily loaded full to the brim with food.  It should have been an easy ride today but we had a headwind all the way to Opotiki and when we arrived in the motor camp we were both exhausted.  I had enough energy to make dinner and then go to bed, getting back in shape can be tough.

December 22 Near Opotiki to Haupoto 48 km.-  After Opotiki the traffic calmed down.  We climbed many hills today but it seemed easier than fighting a headwind, the scenery is amazing, rugged coastline.

Update on Tim's Parasites: Tim has been taking mebendazole a drug used to eliminate threadworms and the third doctor Tim saw prescribed it at 200 mg per day for three days.  Since Tim took the drug as prescribed but it did not seem to help much so we waited two weeks and started 200 mg per day and this time for a longer period of time, on the 3rd day of taking the drug Tim started passing pieces of some type of worm. He continued to pass them for four more days.  OK this is high on the yuck scale but he discovered a piece of worm about the diameter of my pinky finger and an inch and a half long and said he had at least 20 pieces this size.  Yuckkkk.  I can not believe that is inside of Tim and I am sure more is going to come out.  Tim will continue to take the medicine until all the worms are gone.

I can not believe that Tim can ride with this parasite infestation, I know the medicine makes him feel bad but everyday he continues to get on the bike and ride.  We are taking it slow.  I can't express how awful I feel that Tim is going through this, I get mad when I think about the poor treatment he has gotten from 3 different doctors and at the same time I am impressed that he does not complain at all. If it were me, I would not be on a bike and complaining all the time. If I saw that ugly thing come out of me I would have fainted.

December 23 Haupoto to Whanarua Bay 50 km - An easy ride with a tailwind and lots of things to stop and see like a Maori Marae, a gathering place for celebrations like first birthdays ect.  We also noticed many had monument with the names of soldiers who died in WWII.  The Maori signed up in huge numbers and were sent to some of the worst places and not all of them came back.

Found a nice place to camp and went to bed early and slept for 11 hours ah a good nights sleep in one of the great benefits of riding.

December 24 Whanarua Bay to Hicks Bay 76 km - The scenery so far has been stunning, isolated bays rugged coastline and no traffic on the road.  A few stores have been open and the locals have been friendly.  We stopped a Waihau Bay and had lunch at the Post Office that was located across the street from the wharf and we met a few locals guys who ran the machine shop.  Friendly folks but oh their accent was hard to understand.

The Maori have a tradition of full face tattoos, I can't help but wonder want it means and it had to be painful to get. We have seen a few full face tattoos out here on the east cape and we have also seen a few women with just there chin tattooed. Fascinating.

On our way into Hicks Bay we passed quite a few bee hives and rode through a couple of bee swarms, a frightening experience, and Tim being in the lead took a bee to the chest and was stung pretty bad, he swelled up so bad I gave him a antihistamine. Thanks Tim for shielding me from the bees.

We arrived in Hicks Bay and I asked the guy at the store where we could camp, he was a former rugby player (you can tell by looking at his ears, they were pretty much flatten), anyway a super nice guy.  He directed us down the first road on the right and said anywhere under the big trees.  We rode down the road a half a kilometer and came to three lovely camp sites with a great view of Hicks Bay. Beauty

December 25 Hicks Bay - Merry Christmas everyone, It is Christmas Day and a Rest Day for us.  It was a little rainy this morning and we decided our legs needed a rest day.  Basically kicked back and enjoyed the scenery.

December 26 Hick Bay to Ruatoria 58 km - I was glad we had a rest day because today was the hardest ride on the east cape, the hills we steep and at least three in a row. So when we arrived in Ruatoria we were pretty spent.  The problem was it was Boxing day, most everything was closed and there was no place to camp. We went with our standard plan of picking up water and riding until we found a place to camp. I went inside the only store open and bought two cones of New Zealand's delicious ice cream.  When I came back Tim was talking to the owner of the shop next door.  Howie was happy to give us water and when he found out we needed a place to camp he said we could camp in his back yard.  Awesome. To top it off he let us take a shower at the shop and it was rain water.  Taking a shower in rain water is heaven the water is soft and cleans everything well even a couple days build up of sun screen.

Howie is an interesting guy, he has traveled all over the world and is a jack of all trades, his first trade is electrician but he has been a coroner and shop owner as well.  We had a few beers with Arthur and Howie and talked about the history of the area.

December 27 Ruatoria to Free camp in a farm field near Tolga Bay 60 km - It took a while to pack up because the tent was wet but we were off early, for us, and the hills were gentler today. 

I don't know what it is about Tim but he had a bird yes a bird bounce off of his chest today. The little thing was knocked silly be recovered quickly and flew off.  The scenery is beautiful with the sea to our left and the mountains to our right.  We picked up water in Tokomaru Bay and rode until we found a camp site.  Tim hauled the 10 liter bag of water out of Tokomaru up a steep hill and he was still leaving me behind, hmm I think Tim is recovering from this parasite thing or I am getting slower in my old age. Found a great place to camp.

December 28 Farm Field to Gisborne 78 km - We set sail in the morning with a nice tailwind all the was to Gisborne.  Traffic is increasing as we approach Gisborne and we came across the freedom camp sites north of town and they were packed.  It turns out that Gisborne is having a music festival on New Year's eve and the place is packed. Craig, from New Plymouth, warned us everyone would be at the East Cape for New Year but we did not realize that 18,000 people would descend on a town of 30,000 and we could not find a camp site for the night.  We stopped at the Flying Nun backpackers and the place was one huge party and full, we stopped at the YHA and it was full too.  After 2 hours of searching for a place to camp we ended up back at the YHA and managed to get two nights stay there.

December 29 Gisborne - Rest Day - Our rest day gets off to a shaky start with another earthquake at about 6:40 am. Turns out the earthquake was located 20 km south of Taupo about 150 km as the crow flies from here. This is the second one in two weeks for us. I wonder is a big one is coming or if this is normal for New Zealand only time will tell and I half expect a volcanic eruption at any time now



December 30 Gisborne to Gentle Annie reserve campground 23 km - Oh boy the first thing the YHA manager said to Tim today was you have to leave.  He did not want any tents at the hostel and he was making everyone leave.  It turns out he didn't make everyone leave just the ones that said ok like Tim and I.  I really don't understand why but sometimes you just don't know why so we packed up and headed to the internet, extremely expensive at 8 NZ 6 US an hour and very slow.

We stopped at the Pak -n -Save, love this store it has the best prices in New Zealand and picked up supplies to head out of town.  We were all ready to go at 4 pm, hmm what a late start, on the road we fought off the racer boy traffic, the town is packed and about to erupt into a huge party, for the Rhythm and Vines Music Festival on New Years Eve, ah the days of youth.  Anyway we are out of here and off to find a quiet place to camp.  We traveled through vineyards and cornfields and started climbing through pine forest and we came to the Gentle Annie Reserve, a native forest, it had a great place to camp with a picnic table.  The bird life was plentiful and we saw Tui and Kingfishers.

December 31 Gentle Annie Reserve to Tiniroto 39 km - The road is quiet and the whole reason we chose to ride this way rather than down Hwy 2.  The traffic will be pouring into Gisborne today and we just did not want to hear it.  We climbed for 3 km to Gentle Annie Lookout at 360 m, it looked like a nice place to camp. The weather was already unsettled when we started riding. we do have a bale out at Tiniroto.  Turns out it started raining two hours into our ride while we were climbing and a breathtaking pace of 5 km per hour.  It came down and we kept riding, if we want to get anywhere in New Zealand we have to ride in the rain.

We pulled into the Tiniroto Pub soaked to the bone, either I need a new rain jacket or I must change my ways and stop riding in the rain because it does not keep me dry anymore. I asked the bartender where the caravan park was and he said that we could put up a tent in a paddock, ok that is better than nothing, we had lunch and after lunch he told us we could stay in the community center for a donation of NZ $10 US$7.50 and so here I sit in a dry room watching it rain outside.  New Zealand has been one pleasant adventure after another, the hospitality has been awesome and to top it off I really like their beer, it must be the water ah.

January 1 Tiniroto to Wiarou 50 km - Another day of hilly riding but oh so quiet roads and pleasant scenery. The clouds started breaking up at noon but I was glad to have my tights, wool jersey and neoprene socks on, when the sun is out in New Zealand it is hot, when it is cloudy it is cold and we woke to a cloudy damp cold morning.

We arrived in Wiarou about 2 in the afternoon and being it was a holiday everything was closed, drat, we have the worst timing sometimes.  I don't think there is a much of store from here to Napier 118 km away.  We will probably break the ride into two days and stay at Lake Tutira a bird sanctuary.

January 2 Wiarou to Lake Tutira 77 km.  Our timing continues to be bad.  I woke this morning and realized that traffic would be bad today because the Rhythm and Vines concert in Gisborne would be over and people would be streaming back to Wellington. The assault started on our first climb and continued for the entire day, it was awful.  At the top of the first hill Tim was hit in the back with a bottle, this really made Tim angry and he chased the van down on the down hill, almost caught them in a turn and they passed a car in front of them on the dangerous curve to get away from Tim on his bike.  I could see all this as I was trying to keep up. What a cowardly act and it did not stop there.  I have traveled on a bike for years and have always held the belief that drivers do not want to hit me intentionally.  That belief was challenged today, we were yelled at, honked at, had more bottles thrown at us and people passed us in areas where they should have waited the two seconds for us to get to a safer spot.  Honestly, we should not have been on the road but we had no choice because we did not have any food with us because the stores have been closed when we arrived in town.  So we pushed on and after 5 and half hours in the saddle and we arrived at Lake Tutira a beautiful quiet place to camp.  I was physically and mentally exhausted and glad to be off the road.  I would like to stress that this is not a normal occurrence in New  Zealand, normally the drivers give us room on the road, it was just the wrong day and the wrong group of drivers on the road.


A black swan and her baby swan who is still covered in white feathers

January 3 Lake Titura to West Shore near Napier 40km - One big climb today and then we were back at sea level and town in no time. We are both tired and will take a few days off in Napier and decide what to do next, we are discussing taking a bus to Wellington or riding more.

Update on Tim's battle with parasites - Tim stopped taking the parasite medicine about 4 days ago and I have really seen a transformation in Tim, his riding jersey has loosened up over night, the past couple of days he seems to have dropped quite a bit of weight, more like swelling really and he is feeling better than ever.  I am having trouble keeping up with him over the hills, now that is the Tim I know and I couldn't be happier. Someday when I get near an internet that doesn't cost an arm and a leg I will try and track down what kind of worm Tim had. In the mean time life is good and I am not as worried about Tim as I have been for over the last year.  A big thanks to Katharina, the German doctor we met in National Park.

January 4 - 5 Napier. Stayed at the West shore Motor camp about 5 km out of town.  The town of Napier had an earthquake around 1931 and the entire town was leveled. When they rebuilt the town the building were designed in the art deco style. The town may have the largest number of art deco building in the world. It certainly is a nice looking town.  The Hawks Bay area where Napier is located is also the bread basket of New Zealand, and it is harvest season so fruits and vegetables are plentiful and some are cheap.

While in the campground we met a German couple near by and when they realized we were on bikes the first thing he said was, "Aren't you afraid to ride your bike here?"  I was shocked at his question and answered "no I am not afraid." What is it with all the fear lately.

January 6 Napier to Waipawa 77 km.  Tim has persuaded me to ride to Masterton but the back. Both our cycling books, Peddlers' Paradise and Cycling New Zealand go down Highway 2. Traffic is high on this road so we will detour off.  Today's ride was relatively flat with one climb just before Waipawa.  In hindsight we should have taken the middle road through Havenlock to Waipawa, it follows the river and would have less traffic. Stayed in a motor camp by the river.  It was a warm boarding on hot day, 31 C, about 90 F and the locals were wilting.  We did not find it that hot, a bit humid but we could ride through the day.


The arch at Napier, oh and the right style of car too.

January 7 Waipawa to Porangahau beach area 63 km We will finally get off of Hwy 2 today it had been busy and I will be glad to get away from the noise. Everyone asks how we find the Kiwi drivers, and I have found them not too bad except for the day the Rhythm and Vines concert let out from Gisborne.  If there is room for us then there is not a problem.  A few times I was surprised where a driver decided to pass, like on a narrow bridge or through a blind corner, other than that it really hasn't been bad.

The town of Waipukurau is the last town with a regular grocery store for the next 4 or 5 days of riding so we picked up a few supplies.  All we will find over the next few riding days is pubs and what they call a diary, what we call a convenience store. Prices are usually high for the most basic provisions, so I have Tim pretty loaded up.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area near the town of Wallingford and we met the local sheep farmer.  What a different way of life, herding sheep and such, his farm is 1200 acres, 1700 sheep, he calls them ewes, 1700 lamb, 500 cattle.  That is a normal size farm in this area.

At the town of Porangahau we thought we would pick up water but decided to go to the free council campground at the beach 7 km away. It was a flat ride just follow the signs to the beach and when you get into the settlement take your first left and it takes you to the free camping place.  It has a clean water tap and flush toilets, Bonus.

January 8 Porangahau rain We woke to drizzle that turned to rain and we knew we were in for a day in the tent.  No worries, I have plenty of work to do and it can be done anywhere.  We met Glen who lives in what he calls a House truck and has lived in it for over 14 years.  Now this is what I call Minimalist living. The truck was awesome and he is quite a handy man, the bus was beautiful and had everything a house would have, except it was on wheels.


Glen and his House Truck, he has lived in for 14 years, now that is minimalist living.

As we were sitting in the tent, in the rain we heard a car pull up and out came a women saying hello hello.  She said, "I am the cyclist you passed on the road today."  Her name is Dia and she had here children Nicholas and Brooklyn with her. She invited us over for a fish dinner, we had flounder caught fresh that day, she made Tim a nice steak, fresh veggies from the garden too.  We were in heaven.

January 9 Porangahau to Akitio 66 km Today's ride is not for the faint of heart. Stopped at the worlds largest place name here goes - Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu. I wonder if that makes it into New Zealands spelling bee.

It was a nice rolling ride through farm country until Wimbledon where we stopped for a pub lunch and a good thing we did because the hills that followed required a lot of fuel to get over.  About 5 km from Wimbledon the road went up and straight up for the first km or so and then rolling steep hills afterwards.  A work out to say the least but the scenery was stunning.

The ride - Here are the directions if you want to come this way.  Ride back to the town of Porangahau and turn onto Wimbledon road, turn left on Esdaile road about 12 km past the pub, the road is gravel for 16 km, they call it Midle which sound like Metal to me but it means unsealed either way.  Stay on Esdaile that turns into Glendora and then to Akitio River Rd. basically stay on the main road.  A wonderful but hilly ride.

January 10 Akitio Gale force winds. We woke to a cloudy day and the winds picked up quickly. Drat, we wanted to check out the reef today.  I went out to the reef at low tide and the wind was so strong all the little ponds had white caps on it and it made me really sad.  We did have a camp kitchen to hang out it and we worked on various projects.  We met some interesting travelers and I know if we lived in New Zealand this is a place I would return to because it is remote and pristine.  People were catching crayfish, what we would call rock lobster, paua or abalone, and lots of different fish.

January 11 Akitio to Alferdton Domain 77 km.  The ride back to highway 52 was easier than on the way in probably because the road was partially sealed, the hills were rolling rather than steep and the nice tailwind helped too.

Just before we came to Pongaroa we passed a sheep shearing shed and we heard the shearers going.  We stopped and talked about walking up and asking if we could watch the shearers do their work.  I volunteered to go up and ask and when I got to the top of stairs and I said, "Hello, I am from Arizona and can I watch the sheep shearers." The man's perplexed look turned to a smile and I smiled back. Sure he said but don't get in the way of the shearers. Tim came in, took photos and watched too.  The music was going and the wool was flying.  Interesting to see since I love to wear wool and this is where it all starts.  Unfortunately for the farmers the price of wool is going down but it seems to me that the price of wool clothing is going up, must be the drop in the dollar.


The sheep is pulled from the shoot to the left and then the shearing begins.

The road from Pongaroa was rolling with three of four good climbs but the grade was gentler and not as tough.  We picked up some water in Alferdton and camped at the domain area.

January 12 Alferdton to Masterton 44 km. The ride today was a dream, relatively flat with a tailwind and we made Masterton in not time at all.



We caught the 5 pm train to Waterloo to meet Steve and his family.  We followed Steve to his house and it was quite an obstacle course with a steep 1 km or so climb.  We stayed with Steve, his wife Ann Marie and son Thomas and daughter Nicole for the next 3 days.  Ann Marie and Nicole have an intolerance for gluten, and so we ate gluten free for nearly three days.  To my surprise when I did eat some naan bread after being gluten free I felt absolutely awful, hmmm, I will have to monitor my gluten intake.

The family is about to move so things are going from order to chaos fast, moving everything is always hard after living in a place for over 14 years.

Meanwhile, toured Te papa, the large museum downtown and it was amazing, you could spend days going through the entire building.  We also met an American family who had recently moved to New Zealand and Joe will be working as a teacher.  In the evening we all had great fun talking about the different vocabulary used by Americans and New Zealanders, a few differences are

We say desert they say pudding, we say gas they say petrel, we say convenience store they say dairy, it took me a little while to realize I was not looking for cows but a store, we say gravel road they say mital (sounds like metal) that one really confused me when a farmer said the road turned to mital, well I imagined pieces of metal on the ground and thought no that would be silly.

 

Read all of Cindie's North Island New Zealand Journal Here

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INDEX #5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08

1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to
9-15-06

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present
Where am I  now

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 North Island, New Zealand
Auckland to Wellington (Sept 15 - January 16, 2007)

Cindie's Daily Journals for the North Island

Best Place to see thumbnail pictures of the North Island

RoadNews - Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
: Let's get started in New Zealand

Full size Picture Pages

- Auckland and New Plymouth
- Stratford to Taumarunui
- Tongariro to Taupo to Rotorua
- Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland #1
- Wai-O-Tapu Geysers National Park #2
- Rotorua farmers market and Museum
- Rotorua, Opitiki to East Cape, New Zealand
- Omaio, around the East Cape to Gisborne
- Gisborne to Napier and Hastings in Hawks Bay.
- Hawks Bay: Napier to Wellington
- Wellington Parliament House and Te Papa Museum


 South Island #1
Picton to Christchurch (January 16  - February 19, 2008)

Cindie's Daily Journals

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RoadNews - Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
New Zealand: One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth

Full size Picture Pages

- Picton to Nelson
- Nelson to Newton Livery
- Buller Gorge, Charleston to Punakaiki
- Pancake Rock, Punakaiki
- Greymouth to Ross
- Ross to Franz Joseph Glacier
- Franz Joseph Glacier, South Island, New Zealand
-Fox Glacier to Haast
- Haast to Wanaka.


 South Island #2
Queenstown, to City, (February 20 - month day, 2007)

Cindie's Daily Journals for New Zealand's South Island #2

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LETTER

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Full size Picture Pages

- Wanaka to Queenstown
- Routeburn hiking / tramping / trekking Track
- Caples hiking/trekking/tramping Track
- Queenstown to Invercargill
- Invercargill to Curio Bay, Catlins
- Curio Bay, Catlins, to Dunedin
- Dunedin to Middlemarch, Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand
- Central Otago Rail Trail Bicycle Path from Middlemarch to Alexandria
- Cromwell to Christchurch, Canterbury.


1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to
9-15-06

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present
Where am I  now

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