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Daily Journal: South Island #3, New Zealand
place to place
(month day - month day, 2008)
April 2 Dunedin to near Clarks Junction 42 km. With taxes
done we are ready to get back on the road again. We didn't do much in
Dunedin but we did take the opportunity to see Greenpeace's ship called the
Rainbow Warrior while it was in port. Once again we had a late start to the
day and we decided to ride through Dunedin to Mosgiel through town and we
found it not too bad the bike route is signed well, the hills not as extreme
as we the ones we rode in on and traffic was not bad. It was a cold
morning and it didn't get very warm. We had a headwind out to Outram
and on the way we saw a familiar building from a photo in our cycling New
Zealand book, it was an old bike shop and the sign is still there.
Then we hit the hill and it was a grid up the hill with all our food I
loaded on board. We stopped a couple of hours before sunset and set up
our tent near a paddock.
April 3 Clarks Junction to Middlemarch 42 km In the morning
we took our time packing and watched a local farmer muster (herding) sheep
in the paddock. Then we met the farmer when he came through the gate
near our tent. Time and time again the local farmers have been really
friendly and we chatted with him as we packed our tent. Tim always
clarifies that it was ok to camp and yes it was. We have talked to
farmers all over New Zealand and they are fine with camping, Brad
recommended we didn't camp in a paddock with cows because well they can be
nosey and check out our tent.
We set off and not far down the road was the Clark Junction Hotel and
tavern, we could have camped in the front yard there too. The hills
were demanding again, down two and up three hills. When we arrived in
Middlemarch we were going to take a break and then ride on. After
looking at the map we decided to stay in Middlemarch.
April 4 Middlemarch to Ranfurly 62 km. A huge storm came in over
night and we had a spectacular sunrise, ut oh that means a storm is coming
and watching the news last night it looked like a big one. We decided
to push on down the rail trail. It has an excellent map with all the stops
labeled, towns labeled with amenities and what to see along the way. I
am really impressed with the condition of the trail, a gravel surface with
two tracks one going up and one going down. The bridges on this
section were lovely, well made and easy to ride across.
We stopped at Daisybank informal camp site and really debated whether to
stop or not, it was a nice spot with a toilet, out of the wind and 37 km
from Middlemarch. In the end we decided to push on, we were concerned
with the weather and did not want to get caught in the middle of no where in
a rain storm. We pushed on and road into Ranfurly against a wicked
head wind, time and time again I have to thank Tim for taking the lead and
breaking the wind. I tried 4 times to come around him and finally on
the forth try I got around and the wind was brutal. We were more than
happy to get to Ranfurly find the motor camp and get the tent up minutes
before it started to rain.
Even though it was a tough ride into the wind it was a joy to see so many
people riding a bike and enjoying it, the people coming towards us were
going down hill and had a tailwind, what more could you ask for. My
favorite part of the ride today was between Hyde through the Price Creek
Tunnel ( a little too long) to Waipiata. A really unique way to see
April 5 Ranfurly to Omakau 58 km Ah no wind today and only
about 20 km to the top and then down the other side. Wedderburn was a
cute place with a few cabins for cyclists set up near the rail trail. We
were close to Naseby a town with an indoor curling rink. Looks like a
bundle of fun. We stopped in Oturehua for a break, on the way off the
trail a guy asked us if we had a pump and Tim pumped up his rather low
tires, then we checked a couple other peoples tire pressure and Tim was
pumping again, No worries, we want every one to have a good time and Tim has
pumped so many tires what are a few more among friends :).
At the grocery store we met a few more cyclists and enjoyed the
atmosphere. I could do a few more of these trails. My favorite
part of the day was yet to come, the Pool burn tunnels, the landscape in the
area reminded me of Arizona, dry with a creek and riparian area. I was
feeling a bit homesick and it will be good to get back there this year.
We decided to stay in the cute town of Omakau for the night and just missed
a rugby game at the council camp ground. This town has a nice feeling
and would be nice to wander around and take a look at Ophir a nearby gold
mining ghost town.
We met up with the same cyclists that started the trail with us, I am
impressed, they are over 60 and moving along just fine.
April 6 Omakau to Alexandra 38 km A short day but oh so fun, it is
days like this that I really enjoy riding, sunny, no wind, a trail to
follow. We climbed for a short distance then we started a down hill, not
steep but really long, I was having so much fun I was yelling choo choo like
the original train must have sounded,
around all the corners. The trail made a S-curve and we flew down the
trail at 30 km an hour (18 mph) choo choo. Again the trail was full of
cyclists and a lot of fun. I would recommend this trail to any family
wanting to get a taste of what bicycle touring is all about.
We met a group of cyclists in their 60s that was taking 6 days to do the trail and check out all the
sights along the way, a nice way to do the trail and not over do it.
Unfortunately I did see a few cyclists who rode farther than they should
It is time for a day off in Alexandra, we looked for internet every where
and all we could find was an internet kiosk where you put in $2 coins for 15
minutes on the internet, later we would find a cafe that had wireless
internet, we paid $10 for an hour with a 100 megabit download limit, agghhh what a pain.
Alexandra April 7 and 8. We stayed for a rest day, did some
internet and unfortunately the day we planned to leave we found a virus on
our computer. Tim wanted to remedy the problem before we left and I agreed
we should stay another day and fix the computer. We spent the day scanning
for viruses and repairing the problem. What a time consuming procedure.
April 9 Alexandra to campsite north of Cromwell 60 km I
called my little sister Denise for her birthday and it was oh so nice to
talk to her. She was happy to hear that we plan to return to the
states and do some touring there and I would eventually come for a visit.
Since my older sister passed away so suddenly last August my family have all
made a huge effort to call and keep in touch with each other. I find
it very comforting to talk with any member of my family, I still really
really miss Debbie and my only regret is not calling and visiting her more
often. Since there is nothing I can do about that now I have become
determined not to make the same mistake again with my remaining family.
We set out from Alexandra with a casual attitude and stopped in at Clyde
and Cromwell to visit the historic centers. If you do not mind chilly
temperatures at night this is a great time of year to tour New Zealand,
there are less tourists on the road and the weather this year has been
stunning. Sunny days with not wind, what more could I ask for.
We rode north out of Cromwell until we reached a rest area with a toilet and
camped for the night.
April 10 Freedom camp to camp near Linders Pass 69 km The could
not have been more beautiful, nice weather and a tailwind. We stopped
at Totra home of Shrek the merino sheep. Shrek has an interesting
story, he wandered around the Bendigo Station for six years and had grown
quite a wooly coat, so much that he couldn't see. He is a great
survival story and a big hit in NZ, now he lives the good life and tours
children's hospitals raising money for charity. For some reason I just
love this story.
We climbed steadily and near the top of Linders Pass we stopped to camp.
It was cold at night but oh the stars were stunning.
April 11 Camp near Linders pass to Twizel 68 km. We expected
to cruise down from Linders pass but luck would have it that we had a head
wind. We met a Canadian couple at the top and rode with them for a while and
we camped together in Twizel. The summer season is coming to an end
and things are quieting down.
April 12 - 23 Twizel We decided to stay in Twizel and work on the
book, I worked on the layout while Tim finalized the text. Sadly our
NZ trip is coming to an end and none too soon because while we were here it
was below freezing on three evenings. Those Antarctic winds come up
fast and flash freeze the whole area.
April 24 Twizel to near Lake Tekapo 53 km On the road again, I
love riding but the first day or two after taking a lot of time off is
awful, we really need to get our book done so we can stay in shape and not
stop so much. We road the canal on the way to Lake Tekapo and found a
great campsite before town. In the morning we saw
geese flying north, and this is our clue to follow them.
April 25 Lake Tekapo to Fairlie 47 km It was a short day because I
wasn't feeling well so when we rolled into Fairlie I didn't really want to
go much further. The motor camp near the bridge had free wifi,
awesome, it wasn't super fast but it worked for us.
April 26 Fairlie to Arundel 61 km
April 27 Arundel to Rakaria Gorge 69 km
April 28 Rakaria Gorge to Riccarton 85 km
April 29 Riccarton to Shirley 15 km
April 30 to May 2 Shirley. We stayed with Jeff in Christchurch
(Shirley), he is a bee keeper and he introduced us to bees. I use to
be frightened of bees but after learning more about them I find them
fascinating and I am now calmer around our buzzing friends.
Changes when going to Alaska
Caught flight to Anchorage and my sister picked us up and we stayed in
Valdez. We were there for just about two months and in that time we
finished out second book. We are now on the road from Valdez, Alaska
to Tucson, Arizona. See my Alaska journal for updates.
Late Autumn to Late Spring, Longer day although the temperatures are
about the same as here, change the side of the road from left to right,
change currency and we don't need a visa, yeah, there is no queen in Alaska,
southern cross changes to the big dipper, the sun will be in the southern
sky in Alaska while here in New Zealand it is in the northern sky, the light
switches are different down is on in NZ and Up is on in Alaska, the current
changes to 110 volts from 220 v, different plugs and Tim will be happy about
that, our plug adaptors are shot. Our measurements are going to change from
kilometers to miles, kilos to pounds, meters to feet, and Celsius to
Fahrenheit, I am not looking forward to these changes.
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South Island #3, New Zealand Here
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