The flights were uneventful, and down right pleasant if you ask me. Air New Zealand runs a good show. we left our house around 2m on Sunday, and arrived NZ at about 10 am on Tuesday because of the various time changes and date line. However, the body-clock time is only 4 hours earlier in NZ than Utah, so the jet lag isn,t too bad.
getting the bikes, Christchurch, and a real home stay!
We picked up the bikes and rode around Christchurch for a bit, picking up important items like water bottles and bug spray. Chch has and excellent bike trails, complete with sensors like we have for cars at stop lights in the US and stop lights with little bikes on them. But the times we had to ride on the streets were harrowing. It is left hand traffic here - so difficult to get used to.
We had to stop often and get our bearings. One place we stopped was this nifty "pop up mall". they love their coffee here.
That was just after a bit of geo-voyeurism surveying the damage from so many recent earthquakes.
One site we did not expect to see was an Occupy protest, but here it was in downtown Christchurch.
My cousin hooked up us with the contact of an old friend of his from North Dakota who now lives with his family in Christchurch. Justin and his wife Debbie took us into their home and fed and entertained us like they were running a top notch B&B!! They said it is the Kiwi way, but to us, it was an extraordinary act if kindness and generosity. The food was awesome and getting to know them and their three fun kids was infinitely better than pedaling around Chch looking for a reasonably priced hotel. It was so nice!
Day 1: to the top and back down.
The next morning we pedaled early to the train station.
But the fun ride and beautiful scenery took me back to the present.
Let the pedaling begin!
But we came here to bike tour, and it was time to start.
we pedaled a few hundred meters to a cafe for lunch first. :-)
Keas are these big parrots that apparently will rip a backpack into shreads if left unattended.
Why not start at the top of the mountain!? At 924 meters (about 3000 feet for us Americans) Arthur's pass is not as high as our mountains back in Utah, but high enough to get great scenery and steep grades.
Those signs behind Drew say 16%! And percent isn't different than in America.
The ride down to the west from Arthur's Pass was a rush! I was worried my cantilever breaks were not going to be able to stop me and my 60 pound bike. There was this one really cool part of the road where we went. Under a stream.
Pedaling is overrated.
The road eventually leveled out to rolling hills, which we were not prepared for. In planning, we thought we could make it easily the 97 km (55mi) to our destination seaside town of Hokitika, being that it was all downhill and we are Cyclists. By the time we stopped for a coke at Jackson's at 31 km, we were already tired! Time to work together against the headwind. We got into a pattern of trading turns at the front and slowly ticked of the miles. We averaged about 19 km/hr on the flats, so that's not too bad for our first day on loaded bikes. Visions of hamburgers and local beer at a seaside restaurant kept us going.
We did stop a few times, once to fix a flat
And once to explore this awesome cave walk.
It was sooooo cool, but we were really really tired by this time and so we pushed on. Some other cyclists has tipped us off to a slight shortcut, but what we really liked about it was the lack of traffic on smooth road through beautiful farming county.
Rolling into Hokitika, the first place that was on my list as potential lodging said no vacancy. Uh oh. The second place was too expensive for what you got, but the third place was just right. There was one tent spot left at the Dirifting Sands hostel. We were home for the night.
Soft grass, the ocean a few hundred feet away, hot clean shower, and super friendly German travelers to rehash the day with.
We walked into town (tired of that saddle!) for a huge guilt free fish and chips for me and pasta for Drew. Ride time on Day 1 was 4 hrs 25 minutes. Travel time more like 6 hr. That made for a few kinked necks and sore butts, but overall we are in good shape so far. Nice work on Day 1!