Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
We spent a night at Kerr bay campground, then headed up the road to stash our bikes. The hike into Angelus hut via Speargrass hut was great, and there were enough people in the hut that it stayed reasonably warm even with no firewood for the stove.
Today is spectacular - sunny and warm, just a hint of breeze for the return via Robert Ridge.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Okay, night has fallen and I hope there is a Kiwi song or two. We arrived at Nelson Lakes National Park and will be heading out for a two day walk up to a lake that is frozen. The headwinds are supposed to continue so we figured we'll see some sights here before we move on.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Nice French place La Gouramandise serving Pain au Chocolat and Crepes. We rode our first serious rainday through gold mine country with a very winding wet breeze from the trucks carrying containers to the port here. Last night we met a bat expert at the streetlights of Pelorus Bridge where it's basically the only place in NZ to see a bat. We didn't see one but we heard lots of them because he had equipment called bat detectors. Also saw where Peter Jackson has a scene for the Hobbit movie being filmed. No hobbits but a last refuge for long tailed bats.
Monday, November 21, 2011
We got across to Picton last night and rode 15 km to the DOC campsite at Aussie bay. This morning the sky is clear and blue, and there isn't much wind - a huge change from yesterday!
We rode over to Anakiwa and left our trailers at Anakiwa backpackers so we could ride the first 12.5km of the Queen Charlotte Track. That was in exchange for Ciel's cappucino purchase she says. This area is certainly pretty scenic!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
We cheated again and took the bus from Taupo to Wellington. I booked the ferry trip to the south island for Sunday at 2 p.m., but Ciel really wanted to see the museum here, so I put the ferry off for a day. We walked around Te Papa museum for 6 hours yesterday, and this morning Ciel wanted to go back to see the stuff we missed! I voted to get to the ferry terminal early, because Wellington is definitely windy this morning - gusts up to 126km/hr recorded according to the NZ Met service! That's the windiest I've ever seen it in a city, it's like a mountaintop storm, but through high-rise buildings! Not the most pleasant weather to ride our bikes. The ferry terminal has signs up saying "sailing conditions: moderate". I'd hate to see extreme comditions!
Earlier in downtown Wellington, a woman came up to us to ask for help getting an ambulance for her friend, who was walking along the wharf and got blown off her feet and hurt her neck. My phone was turned off at the time, so while I waited for it to start up, we decided it would be quicker for her to go to the tyre shop just down the street. It's frustrating to have a cell phone for emergencies, only to have it rendered useless by the long start-up time. The ambulance came quickly, as if it had been waiting just a couple of blocks away. After the excitment was over, we just headed for the ferry terminal, where we're waiting now. At least we're in out of the wind.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
We woke up to torrential rain and a howling gale, but it sure was nice to watch it from inside the hut! The Waihohonu hut is the newest hut on the Tongariro Northern Circuit, and it sure is nice and spacious (but loud - you can't close the doors without slamming them, and there is no acoustic tile on the ceiling, so it echoes throughout the hut). The weather cleared by the time we left, so we headed off up and over the hill. The wind was still blowing pretty ferociously, so we didn't linger on the mountain. We only stopped briefly a couple of times until we got to Taranaki falls, where we ate our last granola bar.
Shortly after that, we got to Whakapapa village where we had some food at the cafe (bacon and egg croissant for me, cappuccino and chocolate eclair for Ciel). We browsed through the great visitor center while we waited for our bus (www.alpinehotbus.co.nz - great service, they picked us up and dropped us off right where we are staying in Taupo).
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Today started out pretty grim - buckets of rain lashing down with near gale force winds. We had breakfast and went back to bed for a nap. After a couple of hours, the rain let up and the sun came out, so we packed up and headed back up the hill. At the top, the rain started again, and we got hit with some pretty strong winds, but we kept going down to Oturere hut. We warmed up inside and waited for the weather to clear again, which it did after a couple of hours. Now it's perfectly clear just as the sun drops behind the mountains. A perfect ending to a rather shaky start!
Monday, November 14, 2011
This morning we woke up to clear skies and cold morming air. We started out up the Tongariro Alpine Crossing route with several hundred others (most of them just got dropped off at the carpark, only a few of us stayed in the hut). It warmed up quickly and cloud started to form on top of Mt. Ngauruhoe. By the time we got to the side track leading up the volcano, it was totally socked in, so we decided to skip the climb. A few others made the decision to head up. At the next side track to the top of Mt. Tongariro, we decided to go for it and headed up into the clouds. At the summit, it was pretty socked in, but Ciel's optimism insisted that we wait for it to clear. Luckily it did, but only for a minute or so - just enough for a few photos.
The rest of the way down was incredibly beautiful - except for the trash left on the trail by some of the other hikers. We nearly filled our trash bag with stuff we picked up off the trail!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
This is Mt. Ngauruhoe, which you might know as Mt. Doom if you watched those movies with all the hobbits and orcs... we still haven't seen any hobbits, but some of the people might have been mistaken for them. We haven't seen a kiwi yet either (the bird, that is).
Our first day in Tongariro went well, we got to the hut nice and early, just in time to take shelter from the thunderstorm downpour with lots of hail.
Had a really nice day in Taupo, nice and sunny and we spent pretty much all day outside. The best part of my day was going in the hot water stream and then swimming in the Waikato River. Our plan is to go hike for the next 5 days in Tongariro National Park. It costs a small fortune to register so this is the big treat for New Zealand like the great barrier reef was for Australia.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Here we are cheating - my legs are not only getting distance - they are resting. To gain some time heading south we decided to take the Naked Bus to Taupo in 5 hours vs. cycling for 5 days. Yes I am the queen of rationalization, and instant gratification. Mark agreed luckily and this will help us to tramp around Tongariro for a couple days. We are enjoying the bus ride listening to 4 young German trampers talk with bad radio playing as we go very fast watching the blur of green countryside. Life is good. Thanks to Shona and family for making a home in the city for us. Snow check either in Canada or US or NZ...
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I got a new crank installed by a good mechanic at Kiwivelo today. The old Race Face crank had been through a lot - many epic rides in the rockies, 3 or 4 of the 24 hours rides, and lots of km in Australia and New Zealand. The drive side bearing wore out, seized, and caused the crank axle spacer to act as a bushing, wearing it out too...on top of that, the drive side crank arm loosened and started clunking around as I pedaled. It got me this far, but I'm glad I don't have to rely on it to get me any farther!
The new crank is a Shimano Deore double crank - 22-36 vs 22-32-44 on the old crank. I wasn't using the big chainring much anyway, and the 36 gives me a better range for the flats. I still need that 22 to haul the trailer up some of the hills here!
Edit: to see more of Ciel's photos, go to https://picasaweb.google.com/113518295346756355329
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I observed the overworked Barista at the coffee shop wirh customers in the cue complaining about how long it was taking to get their drink and I smiled admiration towards the gal working hard, and she surprised me with a very friendly cuppa - what a difference it makes to give a smile. She said "Have a wonderful day." Made me smile too.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
We are within 30 kms and the obnoxiousness of the majority of automobile drivers rise considerably. This picture attempts to show the once slower pastoral way of life vs the race to get home to the Auckland suburbs. It's more cost effective to grow houses nowadays.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
The centre has the most outstanding view of the Whangarei area and they are welcoming to visitors to take a walk around and enjoy the view from the Enlightenment Stupa (Peace Monument) overlooking the community.The teachings this morning were given in Tibetan and kindly translated after we sang meditations and devotions. All this was followed by tea and bisquits and walking around the Stupa.
Four children are reported to have been hospitalised with burn injuries, two with eye injuries and two with minor burns, while police around the country say they had a busy night but nothing serious was reported.
For the Fire Service it was a "steady" night in the upper North Island, while there were 115 fire callouts in the SouthIsland, although not all for fireworks-related incidents."It was really quiet," Fire Service central communications shift manager Mike Wanoa told NZ Newswire. "It's one of those things. It was very much the same last year."
The 1135 tonnes of fireworks imported this year is slightly higher than the 1116 tonnes in 2010.
The relatively quiet night, also reported by St John, comes as a survey by the Sunday Star-Times shows the majority of New Zealanders now want the sale of fireworks banned.
The survey of 3500 readers found 53 per cent support banning their sale, while 44 per cent want to retain the status quo.
Four years ago the legal purchase age rose from 14 to 18 and the sales period shrank to the four days before Guy Fawkes.
Safety fears for humans and animals were the reasons given for a ban.
Of the parents in the survey, 66 per cent say they still buy them, many saying it is their right to free choice and that letting off fireworks teaches responsibility.
ACC injury claims from fireworks incidents dropped from 461 to 275 after sale were tightened in 2007. Injuries have cost taxpayers $1.5 million in ACC claims over the past five years.Burns made up two-thirds of claims but there were also claims for lacerations, bruising and foreign objects landing in eyes."
Friday, November 4, 2011
Today we dried our tent after a rainy night at Puketi and headed down to the highway and on to Waitangi. We got into the treaty house visitor center grounds and took lots of pictures of the big waka (war canoe) and the fantastic carvings in the Maori treaty house. We also met Colin and Rosie there again, for about the fourth time since running into them on the road just before Omapere. They got pictures of us riding ninety mile beach from the tour bus. Tonight we decided to stop just outside Russell (the 40km to the next campsite seemed just too much for us). Maybe we'll meet Colin and Rosie again tomorrow on the way to Whangarei!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
We decided to make it a short day today, so we headed for the campsite at Puketi reserve. Of course the book didn't tell us it's on top of a mountain, up a very loose gravel road. On one of the steeply banked corners, my front wheel washed out and my knee hit the gravel. I got a big hamburger patch of road rash to show for it, but at least we had smoked fish and rice for dinner, with chocolate for desert.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
After we left the place in Kohukohu, we rode to Ahipara at the south end of Ninety mile beach. We were just about out of water, so we asked around, but no one wanted to let us have any. Finally the woman at the campground reluctantly agreed to let us have some. We started off down the beach with full water bottles, but it wasn't very fast with a stiff headwind. After a few kilometers, Ciel stopped to talk with people who were kite fishing- they run over a kilometer of line out with 25 baited hooks, the whole lot dragged out to sea by a kite in the offshore wind. After an hour they winch it in and hope the sharks haven't taken any of the fish they caught on the hooks.
We also met Phil selling coffee from his little stand on the beach. About 26km up the beach, we hauled our stuff up onto the dunes and set up camp for the night.
The next morning, we set off up the beach again. We rode for about three hours with a good tailwind and almost made it to Te Paki stream, but the high tide forced us to wait it out at a creek just a few kilometers south of there. While we were waiting, a guy came out onto the beach to do some fishing. We started talking, and Ciel told him we were thinking of camping nearby. He told us we were welcome to camp at his place, and to leave our trailers in his shed while we rode up to Cape Reinga. We got back from the cape and met up with Peter again, and he showed us into a spare bedroom in his cozy house. We were going to cook some spaghetti for dinner, but Peter would have none of it - he cooked us the fish he had caught, and made fried bread for us. The next day we woke up to heavy rain, so we hung out and went to the beach to collect tuatuas for dinner. This morning we reluctantly said goodbye to Peter and his beautiful place by the beach. Sometimes people amaze me with their kindness and generosity.
After yesterday's storm passed, the wind shifted again, so we headed back down the beach with a tailwind. We left the beach after 47 km and headed out to the highway, making good time to Awanui. We should have stopped there, but I mis-read the map, and was expecting to find some campgrounds before we got to Mangonui. No luck, so we had to get to Hihi to camp tonight. 130km for the day, and I'm still awake, typing a blog post on my phone's touchscreen...not for much longer though.