Trans-Oceania

Home again

My taxi arrived as planned at 6:30 am, and I headed back home, and was back to work at mid-day .

I was looking forward to catching up with family and friends, and of course Christmas.

I have already booked my next TDA trip – I am doing The Odyssey which is from Athens to Amsterdam in May 2017. I am doing the last two sections: Bosnia to Amsterdam.

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Thanks to everyone for reading along, and your comments. As always a very special thanks to my daughter Kelly, blog editor extraordinaire.

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Lost photos from the Trans-Oceania trip

As with all previous trips, there are a few photos that don’t quite make it onto the correct blog posts. Sometimes they come too late, sometimes the editor didn’t see them when loading the blog, sometimes they are labelled wrong.

Regardless of the reasons, here are a few photos that missed being loaded.

16th November – Welcome Bay to Rotorua:

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Private spa attached to my unit

18th November – Rotorua to Taupo:

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Riding from Rotorua to Taupo (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

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Riding from Rotorua to Taupo (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

26th November – Martinborough to Wellington:

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Everyone changed into their wet weather gear at the top of the Rimutaka Incline (Photo credit: Ray, a fellow rider from the trip)

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Everyone changed into their wet weather gear at the top of the Rimutaka Incline

4th December – Greymouth to Hari Hari:

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Beach at Greymouth

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Greymouth to Hari Hari

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Hari Hari claim to fame: first tran-tasman solo flight, the pilot Guy Menzies landed there upside down in a swamp

8th December – Haast to Lake Hawea:

 

 

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View from The Neck over Lake Hawea

I don’t know when / where in NZ this one is from:

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Brett and Kaye riding into lunch (Photo and caption credit: TDA Facebook page)

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Day 27: Sunday 11 Dec – Rest day two in Queenstown (last day of holiday)

I slept in this morning then headed down town for breakfast. Then a walk around the park and the wharf area. Then it was back to get the bikes boxed, packing done, then finished my book.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Botswana Butchery Restaurant. I had a delicious mexican cocktail –  tequila, raspberry liquor, line and ginger. Then for an entree we shared Tasmanian scallops and a whitebait fritter.

For my main I had ribeye on the bone with a mushroom sauce, duck fat potatoes, seasonal veges and cauliflower cheese. Totally delicious, with an also delicious bottle of Hunter Valley Tyrell’s Lunatiq  Heathcote Shiraz 2009.

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Cocktail and wine, best.

We finished with a Cheese Board: Tui Cheddar and blue brie, accompanied by a Penfolds Grandfather Port, again totally delicious.

The restaurant had fantastic service, a nice view of the lake, and a nice atmosphere and great acoustically due to all the soft furnishing. As well as the main dining room and the outside dining area with a big roaring fire, there are also a number of private dining rooms upstairs ranging from 2 people to 20 people in size.

After dinner it was back up the hill again to get ready for the taxi pick at 630 am tomorrow.

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Day 26: Rest Day One in Queenstown

I was awake at about 7am and read for a couple of hours, then packed up to move along the road to the Hurley Lodge. This was about 0.3 of a km away. We went along and checked at 930 am if we could leave our bags and bike boxes there until we could check in. The room we were allocated was already vacant so we were able to leave our stuff in there straight away. It took two trips: one for the bike boxes and the next to carry the bags.

We had arranged to meet with Michele and Tony at the Pig and Whistle for breakfast at 1030am. When we got there we found it did not open till 11am so we went to a cafe next door. It was nice food. Michele and Tony have a trip to the Milford Sounds today – a plane ride and and a cruise today – depending on the weather. We had a look around Queenstown, the wharf, and the markets, and found some tape and cable ties to get our bikes well secured in their boxes.

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Checking out the brunch menu at the Pig and Whistle

The plan was then to go back to the hotel to box the bikes properly, but instead we both read until it was time to meet Sue for a drink to celebrate her EFI, at 2 pm.

At 2pm we met Sue and went back into the town. We looked along the water front and stopped at an Irish Pub called Pog Mahones. We sat outside drinking a nice bottle of Daniel Le Brun with a antipasto platter, followed by a cold beer and bread and dips. We were a bit startled when the bread and dip came out: 2 freshly cooked loaves of bread (the size of the Sunday fresh loaves we used to get) with large containers of pesto, oil and balsamic, and a green dip – possibly cream cheese.

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Celebrating Sue’s EFI

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Congrats Sue! A well deserved bubbles after cycling EFI (every f*cking inch)

We stayed for quite a while, chatting and watching people walking along the wharf, and listening to the young busker playing the saxophone.

Then it was back to the hotel to read a bit more until it was time to meet for dinner. We met Tony, Michele, Phil, Anne and Graham at the Pig and Whistle for dinner. I had a lamb shank pie which was really nice. Everyone liked their meals but the service was not friendly. Snappy young ladies who banged the plates down on the table, with no smiles or friendly banter. Nothing like the Pig and Whistle in Rotorua where the staff were extremely friendly. After dinner it was time to say goodbye to Phil, Anne, and Graham.

Michele, Tony, Brett and I went back to Pog Mahones and listened to the Irish Band for a while. Due to the weather conditions Michele and Tony were not able to go on the trip to the Milford Sounds and an alternative was organised for 6am tomorrow morning.

After that it was back up the hill again to the hotel. Tomorrow is the last day of the holiday!

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I made a friend in Queenstown

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Day 25: Friday 9 Dec – Lake Hawea to Queenstown

94km to ride – 1,244 to climb and 1,241 down

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Last day’s climb!

It was a beautiful morning. There was no wind, the sun was shining and the lake looked stunning.

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Early morning on Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Before breakfast we all met down at the lake in our Trans Oceania riders shirts to have a group photo. Well all of us that is apart from Dan, who apparently never wears the ride shirt, not even for the five minute for a group photo . . . each to their own.

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Group photo, before setting off for the final day of riding (Photo credit: TDA Facebook page)

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The group photo with the banner

In the photo the front riders are holding the Trans Oceania Ride Banner – or so it seems! Actually this has been photoshopped in as the actual banner disappeared during the trip. The riders in the front row just had to have their hands out as if they were holding it.

There were a number of group photos, plus a photo of Tony the tallest rider (6 ft 4) with his bike and Lani (about 5ft) and her bike, as well as a photo where Tony had lifted Lani onto his bike and her feet couldn’t touch the peddles!

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Anne has got her mountain bike with her and kindly offered to bring it to me and take my bike if my bike breaks down today. I felt much better reassured that one way or another I will be able to complete the ride as I set off.

The first few kilometres were rolling hills and then through Wanaka for a brief look at the town, then onto the Cardona pub for a coffee.

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Cardrona Hotel

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Coffee stop at Cardrona Hotel

Just before the pub is the Cardona Brewery, and along the fence are hundreds of bras. I found out after it’s for breast cancer awareness.

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Passing the Cardrona Distillery and the bra fence.

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Cardrona – or Bradrona? – Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Cardrona Valley (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After the coffee stop the climbing for the day began – the Cardona Crown Range needed to be climbed 😐. The first few kms were not too bad, a steady upwards gradient but the last kilometre to the top my legs went on strike and I was off walking (I found out later so did at least half of the riders).

Lunch was at the top but I wasn’t hungry, and did not think about making anything to eat later as I had forgotten dinner wasn’t till 8 pm.

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At the top of the Crown Range, only 40km to the finish.

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Michele at the Crown Range summit (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

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Sue on the Crown Range Pass (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

After lunch lots of downhill, firstly quite steep and then a big switch back. I have rim brakes so had to stop to let the rims cool half way down the hill.

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Switchbacks to zoom down (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Crown Range pass (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once down the bottom it was 5 km to Arrowtown where we stopped and had a drink with Sue at the Pub. With 20 km to go Tick Tock was still clicking and rattling along.

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Drinks stop in Arrowtown

I rode with Sue from Arrowtown, Brett rode ahead so he could take a photo of Sue finishing the ride. We are not having a convoy or finish line photo due to the difference in riding abilities – a few riders would have to wait for at least 2 -3 hours and the slowest would feel the pressure all day. Sue has achieved EFI (every f*cking inch) on this ride. This is great achievement as there were some really long hot days in the Australian section of this ride, plus a few days of pouring rain and floods.

Into Queenstown, yay we are here! Just a few steepish streets and then we made it to the Earnslaw Lodge, the finish hotel. We needed to box the bike straight away as the owners won’t have them in the hotel unless they are boxed. Pretty reasonable really and saves doing it tomorrow.

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Arriving at the hotel in Queenstown

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Sue and Kaye celebrate! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We have a room with a lovely view over the lake and a balcony. We had 3 hours to relax, get cleaned up and over the road by 7 to the Copthorne, where we have a video presentation of the ride at 7pm and then dinner at 8pm.

The total kilometres for the trip was 2,278km, and climbed 23,628m. There were no serious injuries. Sue got EFI the whole trip, and of the riders who joined in Auckland Kevin, Charles, Bill, Michele, Tony, Chris, Linda, Brett and I rode EFI.

The Earnslaw is not right by the town center and I did not think about going down to town to get any food so by now I was starting to get hungry. The presentation was good, then there were a few speeches, and Sue was presented with her EFI medallion, plus we had all got together and signed a book of NZ photos for Sue in recognition of her EFI.

 

We had another group photo, and Dan who never wears the ride shirt was wearing it at dinner, so he managed to stick out again for the opposite reason!

We went up to dinner, which was nice food – pumpkin soup and a roll, salmon and mashed potatoes, a piece of broccoli, plus a panna cotta dessert, but not in right the quantity for hungry riders! We convinced the staff to give us another roll each which helped.

After dinner a few of us went to the hotel bar for another drink. People are starting to leave from tomorrow so we may not see them again unless we met up on another ride.

Then it was across the road to bed, no riding tomorrow but we do have to change hotels.

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Sunset over Earnslaw Lodge, from the arrival dinner.

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Day 24: Thursday 8 Dec – Haast to Lake Hawea

128km to ride – climbing 1,465 meters and 1,100 down

Today the weather was fine and not to cold. My biggest concern was my bike may not get through the next two days. When I am riding with Brett he doesn’t have to look behind to see if I am with him, my bike has been renamed Tick Tock, it clatters and clicks and rattles along.

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A sign we saw leaving camp this morning

Today we have to ride through the Gates of Haast which is quite steep, but the ride is pretty much an uphill gradient all day. The first 50km it was quite cool in temperature as we were going along the river with lots of overhanging trees.

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Cloud clearing along Haast River Valley

When I got to the Gates of Haast I got  up 400m of the 1km steep hill before getting off and walking, till it flattened out a bit. There was a “loss of brakes” run off with an uphill, but with the winding and steepness of the road I would suspect vehicles would go off the road before they got to this point, unless the breaks had only just failed. Part of the way up the hill I made the mistake of looking over the side – bad move it was really steep and the river was a very long way down.

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Gates of Haast (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

Lunch was at 61km, when we got there the two TDA staff were in the van, which was unusual, normally they are sitting outside. The reason quickly became apparent: the local population of insects had also arrived for lunch. Luckily I had sprayed with Bush Man’s repellent before leaving camp this morning, but other riders got very badly bitten. After lunch it was about 2 km to the top of the hill, then some nice down hill.

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Climbing, climbing, climbing (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Gates of Haast

At 81km we stopped and had a drink, 47km to go. I set off thinking “Ok another 3 hours to camp, that’s not bad” but actually it was endless. It was only 3 hours, but it was hilly, there was a head wind, and every corner you came around you could see another hill stretching away in the distance.

We were riding through some stunning beautiful scenery and I was not appreciating it at all. I ran out of water and ran out of any enthusiasm, after a number of hills I started muttering to myself about “f****in hills”.

I found at camp most riders had felt the same, that the day was hard and endless, which made me feel better. Riders who got to camp before us also ran out of water so the lunch truck went back to give water, neither Brett or I saw or heard it go past. I was just totally focused on pushing myself to keep on riding to camp.

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Made it to the top of Haast Pass

Once I got to camp and was no longer focused on the the tarmac stretching endlessly into the distance, I noticed the stunning scenery. Lake Hawea is beautiful. The campgrounds were stunning, right by the lake with lots of trees and a great big open fire. We had a cabin so headed off to shower and change.

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Lake Hawea (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Today we had Jim from Timaru come to visit and stay for dinner. Jim has done a couple of TDA rides so was keen to catch up with Brett, Walli, Ray and Ursula. Jim bought a big box of cold beer which was appreciated by all the riders.

We also had Phil, Anne and Graham join us and stay the night here and a couple of nights in Queenstown. Phil is the rider who was injured in the South American ride (he came off his bike going down hill and had a bad head injury). Phil is making steady progress but has not been able to return to work (ICU nurse) and gets tired very easily. Anne and Graham are two of his good friends who are driving him to and from Christchurch to see everyone.

It was great to see Phil again. Brett and I had caught up with him in March in Christchurch where we had met Anne and Graham (we stayed at Anne’s house). Sue and Chris were on the South American trip so they were pleased to meet up with Phil again as well.

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Phil Kissel and Jim Pearce joined us for last night celebration dinner.

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South American Epic 2015 reunion! (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

As it was the last night in camp TDA had put on some wine and cheese followed by another amazing meal by Yarnez.

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Nice place for wine and cheese (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Yarnez pulled out all the stops tonight: steak (all options from rare to well done) with burnase sauce (yellow stuff) plus asparagus, salad and then a baked Alaska! Unbelievable. (Editor’s note: I think Mum means béarnaise sauce

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Yarnez’s Baked Alaska surprise

After dinner we were handed out our trip riding tops for photos the next morning. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the last riding day already.

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Gorgeous views from the campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Sunset over Lake Hawea (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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Day 23: Wednesday 7 Dec – Fox Glacier to Haast

119km – 1,000 meters climbing and 1,150 down

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The last three days of riding!

The weather forecast for today was not good and it turned out to be correct. I woke up a few times during the night and could hear the rain pouring down.

In the morning it was on with all the wet and warm weather gear and off out into the weather. Yoav and Asia came in to say goodbye and wish us the best for today’s ride, they were sensibly going to have another rest day.

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Wet and rainy morning (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The first 90 km was mostly flat with some rolling hills. At 25 km I had to wait at a one way bridge whilst work was being down, thankfully the workers took pity on us and let us across quickly. The rest of the day the traffic came in bursts, as it was all stopped at the bridge. There were no trucks and only one bus, and mostly camper vans and camper wagons.

At 62 km I stopped for coffee at a salmon farm, but did not look at the salmon as I was worried about getting cold. When we left the salmon farm the rain was very heavy. All the way to lunch at 77 km my coffee kept repeating on me which was not pleasant. I did not eat much at lunch as I was feeling a bit nauseous. Emily had boiled water and was making tea and coffee and also vegemite soup (I did not try it, I just had tea) which was greatly appreciated.

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Rainy and wet lunch stop (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

There was a self supported rider – Ida – coming the other direction, so we waved her over to have something to eat and a warm drink. Ida said she had started cycling from Bluff 7 days earlier, she rode for 8 hours every day, and then camped at the side of the road if there was no campsite. Not sure that I would be brave enough to do that.

The one good thing about the rain is that it kept the bugs at bay, although there were a few sand flies hovering under the awning at lunch.

At Bruce Bay there are a stack of rocks and small boulders that passing tourists have written their name on, and now it has become an attraction. All different nationalities.

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The stones at Bruce Bay

Brett rode down here with a group at the beginning of 2015 and said it was a very nice ride, but with the rain and mist it was hard to see much of anything today.

At 92 km we had a hill climb for 6 km, the tail wind assisted us, then a big downhill then rolling hills, and flat the rest of the way to camp. At about 100 km I could hear my bike making a click click sound, but couldn’t see anything when I got off my bike to have a look. So I kept going, hoping it would get me to camp.

There were a number of signs along the way “Coffee in 8 km at Bruce Bay”, “Coffee in 2 km at Bruce Bay”, but once we got to Bruce Bay nothing was open – or even looked like coffee stop! Then as I got closer to camp the signs said “Whitebait fritters 3 km”, “Whitebait fritters 500 m”, “Whitebait fritters by the bridge” then “Whitebait fritters closed”. I would have stopped if they had been open.

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Outside the Haast Information Centre

Tonight we stayed at the Haast Top 10, I was really pleased I had a cabin and also it had a heater, shower and toilet, and jug. I was totally soaked so it was very good to get out of my wet clothes. The cabin was quickly turned into a Chinese laundry with wet weather gear drying on every available surface. I was still cold so crawled into bed to warm up and napped and read until dinner time.

I had a book emergency – I only had a few pages left and my next book was in my permanent bag which I wouldn’t get again until Friday. Luckily there was a book swap in reception. Not great pickings, three books about werewolves, two books written in German, a number of love stories,  and a Jeffrey Archer book called “Mightier than the Sword” which seemed to be the best choice. I had just finished a book by Minette Walters called The shape of snakes which was better expected.

Micah looked at my bike for me. He straightened the derailleur and fixed a cable, and said it should get to Queenstown (approx 220 km) but after that I will need to take into to get the freewheel looked at. Hopefully it doesn’t just go like it did in Peru, if it does the bike is not ride-able.

Luckily there was a covered area where dinner could be cooked and eaten. Dinner was macaroni cheese with bacon with a crunchy top, and a walnut and apple and cucumber salad. The weather forecast predicts a fine day tomorrow so fingers crossed.  Tomorrow we have have 1,700 meters climbing including a steep climb through what is known as the Gates of Haast.

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Ship Creek

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Day 22: Tuesday 6 Dec – rest day in Fox Glacier

There are 25 riders and 5 staff members on this trip – and only one washing machine at camp, and no laundromat in town. The machine was fully in use last night and the sign said don’t use after 8 pm. Michele and I were up at 7am to get ahead of the rush to the washing machine and dryer. Getting the laundry done is a main focus of rest days.

I was surprised that with the amount of camper vans etc that no one had popped a small laundromat into the town, especially as the lady at the town general store said it had been great having two fine days as they had had 27 wet days in row before that.

The weather forecast for the next three days is rain with the worst for later today and tomorrow. I was hoping to be able to book accommodation tomorrow night so planned to be straight onto it when the board with the information came out.

After putting the washing on, I sat around drinking copious cups of tea waiting for the washing to wash and dry. Yoav and Asia came in to have tea and coffee and toast as well.

At about 9am we (Brett, Tony, Michele, Yoav, Asia, Justina and I) rode to Lake Matheson, 6 km down the road to find the 4.4 km walk around it. When it is a really calm day the lake reflects the mountain and it can be spectacular on a day with a calm and bright blue sky. Today most of the mountains were covered by cloud but it was still a good walk through the bush.

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Lake Matheson

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Lake Matheson

There were lots of notices about the different trees and what the Maori had used them for. I always think about my Dad when I am walking through the bush, and remember the walks he would take us on as children.

We had lunch at the cafe, I had some really nice pork and fennel sausages, then had a look around the gift shop.

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Lake Matheson

Then it was back to the motel and the next three days riding was up on the board, along with the details of where we were staying tomorrow and the next night – another Top Ten Holiday Camp. Unfortunately when I rang up I found they were fully booked, drat! So I asked if I could go on the waiting list in case anyone cancels, which the lady laughed at but said sure and took my details just in case. Oh well I thought, one day in the rain and putting up a tent in rain is ok. Brett got on the phone and booked accommodation for the following night in Hawea so at least it won’t be two wet nights.

I went up to the shop to get a card as it is time to start writing thank you cards for the staff and sorting the gratuities (it’s not enforceable, but the expectation is that you give a gratuity to the staff. Most riders do, but there are some who say they have already paid for the trip, sadly often these are the people who could easily afford to). I got four really nice cards in Napier but had forgotten another TDA staff member was joining in Wellington, so needed another card.

Just after I got back from the shop my phone rang and it was the Haast Top Ten, unbelievable they had had a cancellation! Someone had booked for tomorrow but got their days mixed up and turned up today. Yay! Tomorrow when I am riding along getting soaking wet I won’t have to worry about putting up a tent at the end of it.

About 5 minutes after I got back from the shop it started to rain, the mountains disappeared. It wasn’t windy but the rain was steady and it got noticeably cooler.

Then it was time to relax, update the blog, and read a book until dinner time. I managed to update the blog but didn’t get around to reading. I went back to The Last Kitchen for dinner. I had seafood chowder and the ribeye steak with crumbed mushrooms, yum! Plus a shared bottle of La La Land Malbec again.

Then it was time for an early night, only 3 riding days to go.

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Yoav, Justina and Asia at Lake Matheson

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Day 22: Monday 5 Dec – Hari Hari to Fox Glacier

86km – 1,250 metres climing and 1,200 down.

The weather remained fine and warm, and not too windy. Today there were 4 hills, one at at about 8 km and the other 3 in a cluster between Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier, starting at 68 k and finishing at about 82k.

The first hill was quite kind, it went on for a while but was only about a 6% gradient, which meant the serious climbing would be in the final 3 hills. Not a lot of traffic early in the day, and as the day went on it was mainly buses and camper vans and wagons.

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I stopped at 30 k in Whataroa for coffee. I was amused to see a sign for the newest tourist attraction: fault line tours. I wonder how many tourists sign up for that.

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Wonder how popular this is?

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At the coffee stop in Whataroa

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Loved this sign at coffee stop at Whataroa

Lunch was quite early at 50 k . There were a couple of jokes as expected about not sitting in front of me etc.

Last night we had a conversation about silly things you do as children with contributions such as (these were not me) – holding onto an electric fence for the longest, getting electric shocks by touching your tongue against a wet telegraph pole etc. This conversation resumed at lunch. One of the rider’s Kevin has three children, the middle one is a bit of a trouble maker and one morning in Canada in sub zero conditions he convinced his older and younger sibling to lick a frozen pole. His wife came out of their driveway on the  way to work to find two of her children with their tongues stuck to the pole. She had to go back to the house to get water to get them unstuck.

Poor Justina – not only did I throw an apple at her head yesterday, but when she got to camp and touched the fence it was electrified and she got a shock, and then this morning when she came out of her tent a fly flew into her mouth! She says bad things come in three’s so hopefully this is it.

After lunch it was 10km to Franz Joseph, where I stopped for a cup of tea before the big climb. I have been here before so did not feel the need to add to the day’s riding by cycling and then walking up to the glacier. I applied sunscreen, bulked up on water ,and set off.

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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Leaving Franz Joseph (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The climb was mostly ok but steep in a few places. I got off three times to catch my breath and have a drink of water. It was a good feeling to get to the top of the final hill and 5km downhill to Fox Glacier.

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On the climb between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier

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Made it to Fox Glacier!

We stayed at the Rain Forest Motel. For the first time on this trip we were sharing rest day accommodation. Thankfully it was Tony and Michele in with us.

Then it was time to unpack, have a shower, and relax for awhile, then up to town (approx 500 meters) for a look around, and food and drink. We decided on a place called The Last Kitchen with the plan that we would have a drink and a snack there, and then move. However the food was so delicious, and the staff so nice, we ended up staying there for the evening.

We started with green mussels in ginger, cream and coriander, a fried Camembert, and kumera wedges with cold beer. Guy, one of the other riders, joined us just after we had eaten our entrees. I was trying to decide between the blue cod battered fish or the lamb burger, as was Guy. We decided one of us would buy one and one would buy the other and halve it. Problem solved. The others all had the steak. The wine was a bottle of Aussie Malbec chosen because it was called La La Land. It was ok.

The conversation was very convivial until somehow we got onto occupations, and Guy said he was retired but had worked for Monsanto (genetic engineering of crops), and then there was quite a heated discussion on the pros and cons of this. Possibly not all of us will be dinner companions by choice of Guy’s in the future. Guy did not stay around for long after he had eaten, but long enough to express surprise that we were getting a second bottle of wine (between four people).

When you are doing long rides you often see self supported riders, and they are also welcome to stop at the lunch truck for food and for dinner in camp. Last night a touring heavy laden couple arrived at Hari Hari, unfortunately after we had had dinner. Whilst sitting on the balcony at The Last Kitchen we saw them ride into town about 7pm, we waved out and called out good effort. We had found the hills challenging and we didn’t have heavily laden bikes to contend with.

They rode up the street and about that time the bugs started biting so as the motel was so close I went back for the bug spray. As I was coming out again the two riders rode around the corner and they recognized me from when we had called out to them before.  They had had trouble finding somewhere to stay and it had been suggested they try here as there were lots of cyclists. However it’s not a campsite so there are no amenities, and the motel owner said they could only stay here if we agreed and let them use our facilities. They seemed a nice enough couple so I handed them our key to have a shower and said when you are ready come back to the pub and we would shout them a drink.

Justina came back up to the pub with me, by this time the group had moved to a table with gas fire in the middle, so it was nice and warm – got to love those NZ summers. We had a good chat with the two tour cyclists. Yoav is from the Netherlands and Asia is from Poland, but they met and both work in America. Asia is a scientist working as NASA and Yoav is currently not working but his last job was as the Global Campaign Director for Earth Day. They carry two of everything – two tents, two cooking stoves etc. Asia says that way they are staying together because they want to, not out of necessity.

Then it was time to return to the motel, I went to bed happy with the thought that tomorrow was a rest day.

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Fox Glacier

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Day 21: Sunday 4 Dec – Greymouth to Hari Hari

112km today – 800 meters climbing, 750 down.

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The weather remained fine and today should be a relatively easy day, not much climbing , not a long distance, and not much rain.

We had the choice of the highway, or following a bike trail which would keep us off the main road but would add about 35 km and the surface was gravel and possibly not hard packed. Given it was a Sunday I decided the traffic would be lighter so chose the road.
There was probably only three trucks the whole day and they were milk tankers which would work 24/7, but also quite a few buses.

At 12 km we came to the last remaining shared bridge in NZ, which is shared by cars and trains, and until recently by cyclists. Thankfully when they created the bike trail they clipped a bike lane to the bridge.

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Shared bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

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The bike path on the side of the bridge (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 36 km we stopped in Hokitika for coffee, and we went down to the beach. There is a concrete armchair down there that looks just like a real arm chair. Outside the coffee shop was a big arm chair made of driftwood, pretty impressive, wouldn’t mind two of them on my deck at home.

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Concrete armchair at Hokitika

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Driftwood armchair

The ride was mainly rolling hills with some climbs but nothing significant. Stopped in a town called Ross for a drink and took a couple of pictures of a house and a general store with car number plates all over them.

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Interesting shop front in Ross

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Interesting house in Ross

The person in front of me at the shop was a local and had their shopping entered onto a card. To start off with I thought the guy behind the counter must be writing down all the purchases, but then realised the local was putting his stuff “on tick” (buy now, pay later – usually pay day). This took me back to my childhood where we would be sent to the corner store to get stuff “on tick”. Every now and again the shop keeper would say ‘Tell your mum she needs to come and see me”. Looking back that must have been when the tab was getting too high and he wanted to be paid, but he always gave us what we had come in for.

Lunch wasn’t until 82 km so I was getting pretty hungry by the time we got there. I had a sandwich and then an apple. I decided rather than throw my core in the rubbish bin, that as it was organic, I would throw it into the bush. Unfortunately I didn’t think about my terrible aim and actually threw it straight at Justina’s head! Oops ! It gave her a hell of a fright. I apologized profusely and she was ok, and thankfully it had not hit her eye or anything. Imagine the ACC report! Note to self: put all food scraps in the bin, always!

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Justina from Poland, works Switzerland. It’s her first TDA tour.

The afternoon saw some amazing rivers, and it got pretty hot. We were pretty happy to arrive in Hari Hari even more happy to find the Hari Hari Hotel open and we could sit inside and have a cold beer. I also bought Justina a drink as continued demonstration of remorse.

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A well deserved cold beer at Hari Hari pub, with (from left) Tony, Michele, Don, Walli and Brett

At the camp we also managed to get a room with a shower so we didn’t have to compete for the one female shower with the other riders.

Hari Hari’s claim to fame is that it was where the first pilot to fly solo Trans-Tasman landed. Upside down in a swamp! Guy Menzies told his parents he was flying to Perth and left them an envelope to open after he had gone, telling them he was flying to New Zealand. He had to land at Hari Hari as was out of fuel but did not realise it was a swamp, he thought it was flat ground. He walked away with only a few scratches.

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Hari Hari plane plaque

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Hari Hari’s claim to fame

Every riding day, before dinner, we have a riders meeting. At the start of tonight’s meeting, Emily (tour leader) said with a totally straight face “First of all, we have to deal with the serious matter of an assault on another rider. Kaye, you have been yellow carded” and handed me a yellow card. Emily said 3 more yellow cards and I would be off the trip.

The majority of the riders had already heard about the incident, and thought it was very funny. For the rest of the evening I had people sitting in front of me and then saying “Oh that’s right, not safe here” and moving etc – all in good fun. Justina has ridden past me a couple of times since then with her arm over her face.

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Getting my yellow card

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Trying to explain / defend my actions

Dinner that night was sausages with onion and gravy , smashed potato, broccolini and cheese sauce and sauerkraut. Plus fruit cake with custard and cream. Washed down with a shared bottle of Craggy Farm Merlot.

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Getting close to Hari Hari

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