Friday, October 28, 2011

Kohukohu shed view

Lucky for me my avocado jones paid big dividends tonight as we were invited to stay the night in a bach (kiwi for beach house). It's fun to accept generosity as if we were home we would do the same! No drying out the tent before it gets packed. We stopped at a farmers market earlier today and got two sweet avos for lunch and tonight passing a veggie stand I hoped for ripe ones again. For the honesty box $3.50 and a roof over our head. Nice people and this is tonight's view. 76km today.
- Ciel

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spaghetti and Kiwi Birds

We are sitting eating a load of spaghetti looking out our DOC "blind" to see Kiwi birds come onto the lawn.  We have been told it's common although they are so rare now.  We are at a place where a man had the foresight to gift to the government 450 hectares of ancient Kauri forest.  Today was sunny and pretty simple ride of 40km.  Ugh. Two stinky vans are scaring the birds away...don't they realize how rare it is to see a kiwi? Well I guess they've already seen a kiwi at Stewart Island - they are from the Czech Republic on working visa - who needs to see another Kiwi?  Nah na na nah naaah!!!


Well that was another long day - 97km in the end. We left Te Hana after the morning fog lifted ( but before we could get the tent dry). The first 24 km or so were busy highway - not much fun. We met another cycle tourist on the road and had a bit of a chat, then we were off again.
We stopped for lunch in Paparoa, and I decided to pull out my foam pad and have a bit of a nap on the picnic table bench while the tent dried in the sun. I met a nice old man walking his dog in the park and asked him where we might be able to fill up our water bottles. He told me to go across the street to the service station and say "Hi Cam, Ted sent me" for water. Nice people, these Kiwis.
We got to Ruawai a bit after that (and after a few more hills that we slogged up and then flew down). Ciel thought that if it was flat and we had a tailwind, we'd make it to Dargaville tonight. Luckily, she was right!
- mark.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Te Hana (or close to it)

We rode from Shona's place in Auckland to just short of Te Hana (near Wellsford) today, a total of 89km according to my cyclocomputer. There were lots of hills though, so it was pretty tough going at times. I put my bike down to get a New Zealand flag that was sitting by the road, and must have bumped the rear derailleur, 'cause the hanger is bent now. I did the best I could to straighten it, but it still isn't shifting well. Oh well, maybe I can do a better job in a day or two.
At least the camping is free...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Take time to smell the flowers and watch rugby

Prior to smelling the flowers we went to the Coromandel Pennisula and biked between 65-100kms or so a day. We only had one day of difficult rain (and hail) but since it only lasted 10 minutes or so, we couldn't really complain about it. I thought it was quite exciting and adrenalin producing actually. Reminded me of past squalls I've been in. Three hotsprings in five days.

Got to Doreen's house a little late to avoid the Labour Day traffic, but what was really great was with 29 kms to go, she had Shona come and collect us from the busy highway and what would have taken us a good couple hours lasted 25 minutes in the truck. It was a good thing too cause I was sick of all the traffic and complaining a bit too much. Whining works one time to the cycling gods! Of course Mark didn't want to accept the ride, but he relaxed and surrendered to the offer as well.

Springtime in New Zealand is truly magnificant. The wisteria, rhododendrons, clematic and the native flowering trees are really coming on strong right now. We showed our hostess Doreen pics we had taken and she didn't realize that she lived in such a beautiful place. Doreen lives outside a little town where everybody knows everybody and she and her family had farmed in the area for their entire life. They owned a dairy farm until they sold.

New Zealand produces 1/3 of the entire world's supply of milk. There is one company Fortuna that has 85% of the market apparently. Needless to say there are a lot of cows. Actually there is more money in dairy compared to sheep and people are doing that instead of raising sheep. A chunk of lamb now costs close to $50.-- which is pretty expensive.

Doreen was great to serve us mutton and we visited with some of her family on Labour Day as they were travelling through from their holiday weekend.

She had us doing some farm stuff - we joked with her that in her older wisdom that she was smart to "farm stay" us so she didn't have to work so hard planting her garden and fixing stuff.

So far the Rhodendron Tree on her property is the largest I've seen.

Tons of pear, apple and other fruit trees are in bloom as well. Most smart people have a lemon and an orange tree in their yards.

This horse was handsome. He suggests if you want to see more pics of the trip we did prior to stopping and taking time to smell the flowers... go to

be careful - it will take some time! Oh yes! The All Blacks beat France in a nail biter 8-7 What could be more important to report from New Zealand than that?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wentworth valley wiretrack

Near Whangamata where in the 1870s the telegraph wire was forced to be strung from Thames instead of going direct from Auckland to Wellington.  This was due to Maori resistance to the colonists in the Mankato region.  Gold was found here but not much. Today there is pressure to mine and the are signs saying "Coromandal 2precious 2mine"

We saw glowworms last night in the mine tunnels located near our camp and the stars were shining in full glory complete with the Magellanic Clouds.

Today is forecasted "fine"

The beach was HOT!

We had a super quick trip with a tailwind that gave us good time to Thames. But that's when we ran right into a rain/hail squall that was horrific. It was cold and drenching and hard to breathe and see, plus serious crosswind gusts. But we got through it in about 10 minutes and the storm let up. We went up and over the Coromandel Peninsula which was great cause there wasn't too many cars. We met pig hunters who were chasing their dogs. One jumped over the side when he realized his dogs might have had one cornered. They were using tracking devices and gps systems. Big pig hunt this weekend for sport and prize money, but these guys were going for the food I think. After about a 100+km day (we aren't sure cause the rain squall wiped out Mark's cycling computer, and mine got wiped out after taking a dive on the pavement) we arrived to our destination where there is a hotspring located on a beach.

Hot water beach was pretty fun - lots of people for low tide in the evening, but this morning we went again and it was much more mellow. Definitely need to bring a spade to shovel... using your hands just don't do it.

The tide wipes out all traces of the holes we dig and then people have another opportunity about 12 hours later.

Bathing Beauties

Monday, October 17, 2011

Morning coffee

With an eclair and paper (all about the All Blacks, of course). Our reward for making good time to Thames.
- mark.


One of the perks of riding all day is getting to eat lots of high calorie food without getting fat...
- mark.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


What else is new? Hot spring on our first stopover cycling out of Auckland...

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Friday, October 14, 2011


World-class surfing down there, so we've heard. Pretty dangerous though.
- mark.

All Blacks vs Australia Semi-final

Looking forward to watching the Australian vs New Zealand rugby match tomorrow night.

The All Blacks haka 'Ka Mate' before every match to get the adrenalin flowing. It's credited to a fighting chief that celebrates his escape from death. Apparently he hid in a food pit and a friendly chief (the hairy man referred to) let him out and the chief climbed out into the sunshine and performed 'Ka Mate'

Check out this youtube site to check the All Blacks performing at a previous game...

Shona cheered for Canada, they lost and we couldn't get the jersey half-price, so we got a t-shirt!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Snow Planet

We've never seen an indoor ski hill before, and hadn't even heard of this one. We knew about the one in Dubai, but not Snow Planet, which is just north of Auckland. At NZ$59 for a day pass, it's cheaper than most of the big ski areas in Canada. Now Ciel wants to go skiing, but she'd have to learn how to ski backwards or something, as it isn't very steep!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Round the world to help Huntington's Disease Association

Met really nice people on our last night on the road in Australia, please direct your browser to find out more about their commitment to raise money for the Huntington's Disease Association!

These nice UKer's are Norman and Barbara who are travelling in a very nice Landrover custom made to their specifications. Luckily for the two of them, a diagnosis of Huntington's disease for Barbara's symptoms is not enough to keep them home and help educate people around the world and show others that people can live WELL with the illness and not mope about.

They admire us for riding our bikes around and I admire them! Living with chronic illness is not easy that's for sure but I always am proud to learn of people doing amazing things despite not feeling well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Daintree river

We got up to Cape Tribulation yesterday. Spent as much time as we could lounging and swimming on the perfect tropical beaches at Noah Beach and Cow Bay. The picture shows the mouth of the Daintree River, which has lots of saltwater crocodiles. See them?
More to follow...
- mark.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

North Queensland, Australia Site only -

For those family and friends that want more piccies,


Ciel eating vegemite on toast - she could almost be an aussie (but she'd have to learn all about aussie rules football)!
- mark.

Great Barrier Reef

Yesterday  we had a bit of a scare when we thought I lost my watch at the beach. It turned up hiding under a foam pad in the tent. We were so relieved at not having to pay for a new watch that we spent the money on a day trip snorkeling on the outer great barrier reef. Rationalization is a wonderful thing sometimes!
We didn't take any pictures underwater, as the rental was as much as buying a waterproof camera back home, but it looked just like the tourist brochures. Lots of colourful fish, bright coral, giant clams, and even a couple of white-tipped reef sharks. They were too small to bite my legs off, luckily. Ciel saw a turtle too! I saw one briefly on Fitzroy, but not at the outer reef. Just lots of weird fish, like swimming in a giant tropical aquarium.

- mark.