Australasia | New Zealand – For cyclists only

Australasia | New Zealand – For cyclists only

Cycling New Zealand plus – For Cyclists Only

This entry is for the cyclists out there. It’s about the good, the bad, and the ugly on cycling New Zealand and other places as I end up riding around. Please bear in mind that February 2004 was the worst February on record for weather in New Zealand, so that will colour some of my comments for better or more to the point, for the worse. I didn’t keep all of my stats, and distances are approximate. For example, 60 kms could quite easily be 59.55 kms and 151.26 could be 150. I didn’t do as much riding here as I wanted, but the weather was brutal with 120 km/hour wind gusts in some parts, sub-cyclone level winds in others courtesy of cyclone Ivy, and drenching rains that created flooding throughout the country.

First of all, I’m riding:
Rose MTB frame branded “Red Bull” w/
Magura racing brakes
Indy XC Rock Shox
WTB All Terrain Tires and Slime tubes
Shimano XT components
Older style Cannondale Handlebar Bag
Toe clip style pedals
MEC Rack Pack and Axiom Rack
Serratus in frame tool bag
Cat eye cordless computer and a bell (hey! The bell’s been fun!)
2 water bottle racks
Trace Velcro front fender
Kryponite cable and u-lock
Yak B.O.B. trailer, drybag, and flag

Aaron and Michael at Black Sheep Bike Shop in Vancouver did some modifications to the bike to make it more comfortable and dependable, namely changing the stem and handlebar system to minimize hand numbness and give me a more upright cruiser sense on the bike without taking too much away from my ability to go off road. That made some new cabling necessary, and they also changed some other parts that were getting a little long in the tooth, as well as put the new slime tubes and tires on. I’ve used the slime tubes before, and although they are more of a hassle going on and off the plane, they are much better on the backroads over time. Aaron even threw in a pair of gloves and a rag to clean my chain.

Repair stuff includes:
Patch kit and tire wedges
Finish Line cross-country chain oil
Multi-tool set
Small crescent wrench and small pliers
Chain Tool
All the crap that lets me remove my rear sprocket set (I’m obviously not that technical)
My rip proof, tear proof, rain proof, dave proof handy basic bike repair guide
Extra spokes and spoke key
Extra cables and extra tube for both bike and trailer
A couple of extra wrenches (two that I think I brought by accident instead of the kind I need and will sort that out by the time I leave Bangkok)
Some valve removers, extra zap straps, and grease hand cleaner
Zefal pump, Velcro tie-downs, and some alcohol wipes.
There are probably a few other things that I’ll remember I have and add later.

Books and Maps include:
Lonely Planet New Zealand – I’ve been traveling with the Lonely Planet regular guide to New Zealand, and quite frankly, it is much better as a planning tool, than a traveling tool. Information is so readily available in New Zealand that I think it would have been better left at home or at least back at the first hotel with other stuff I don’t need here.

Peddler’s Paradise $11 – I’ve also been traveling with the Peddler’s Paradise South Island book, and also, this is a book that could just as easily been left at home. Other than it’s name being more than a little misleading, I’ve found the hill graphs to be somewhat useful, but not really necessary. You can just as easily ask a local if the route ahead is hilly or not and where the hills are if it’s going to make a difference.

Kiwi Pathfinder Northern and Central South Island Map $7 – the free maps from the tourist office are just as good
Kiwi Pathfinder Southern and Central Island Map $7 – same as above

Dates – Route Details (including form of transport)- Riding Mileage (in kms) – Notes:
Feb 4 – 6 – YVR – Christchurch via Air – No thank you to LAX baggage for stealing from my luggage and less thanks to LAWA Airport Police for doing absolutely nothing about it!
Feb 6 – 10 – Christchurch – 55 kms local sightseeing and touring to New Brighton
Feb 10 – Christchurch to Tarras via InterCity Bus Line
Feb 10 – Tarras to Wanaka – 45 kms including detour – severe headwinds
Feb 11 – day off in Wanaka
Feb 12 – Wanaka to Haast – 150 kms – strong headwinds upper portion of Lake Wanaka and through Makarora Valley; Haast Pass incline not too severe; Sand Fly warning;
Feb 13 – Haast to Lake Paringa – 45 kms – nice stop at Ship Creek Beach including viewing dolphins leaping and surfing; A few hills at Knight’s Point; Sand flies galore: rainy overnight camp at DOC site;
Feb 14 – Lake Paringa to Jacob’s River – 40 kms – nice beach just past Bruce Bay and nice stop at Hunt’s Beach; heavy rains early, easing to showers;
Feb 15 – Jacob’s River to Franz Joseph – 65 kms – a few hills on the way into Franz Joseph; headwinds that made the grass lie down flat;
Feb 16 – day off at Franz Joseph for heli hiking; some rain;
Feb 17 – Franz Joseph to Hari Hari – 63 kms – nice stop at Wakarora; small hill up Mt Hercules; ask for room 8 at the Tomasi Motel; rain forecast, but mostly fine;
Feb 18 – Hari Hari to Hokitika – 75 kms – nice stop at Lake Ianthe;
Feb 19 – Hokitika to Greymouth – 40 kms – easy ride; rain;
Feb 20 – Greymouth to Punakaiki – 45 kms – hilly and gale force headwinds; heavy rains;
Feb 21 – day off in Punakaiki – gale force winds and rain;
Feb 22 – Punakaiki – Charleston – 30 kms – headwinds;
Feb 22 – Charleston underworld rafting and then car transport to Carter’s Beach;
Feb 23 – day off in Carter’s Beach touring Cape Foulwind Seal Colony (Good place to surf at Tauranga Bay!) – showers easing to heavy rain;
Feb 24 – Atomic Shuttles bus and ferry to Wellington
Feb 25 – Tranz Scenic train to National Park Village – negligible ride to town;
Feb 26 – day off doing “greatest one day” 17 km walk plus volcano ascents in Tongariro National Park;
Feb 27 – National Park to Lake Taupo town – 110 kms – some downhill for 2nd quarter, then headwinds from Taringa to Taupo;
Feb 28 – Taringa to Rotarua – 65 kms ride in increasing rain and cyclone winds – then lift to Rotarua from Cody of Rotarua (thanks Cody!)
Feb 29 – Mar 1– days off in Rotarua
Mar 2 – Fly to Christchurch and prep for departure to Oz on March 4
Total Kiwi kms: 832

FAQ’s

***What is the best thing I brought? Rain gear, fenders, dry bags, and more rain gear.

What do I wish I brought? My rain booties from MEC, as nothing here is really rainproof.

What must you have as a cyclist in New Zealand? A tent! Accommodation is booked solid and often the only thing left is a tent site. Tenting can also be the most reasonable form of accommodation, particularly on the south island where prices are 30% higher than the north island. Even if you book your accommodation all the way along, you could be faced with some delays and places that will cancel your bookings if you don’t show up by a certain time. Even tent sites can be washed out or submerged. Messages are not always passed along when you ring ahead, so beware and be prepared.

What I like most about cycling New Zealand is:
The challenge of the hills;
The crashing waves on the West Coast;
The ability to stop at will and enjoy the scenery when you can see it through the rain and or clouds;
That Atomic Shuttles on the South Island has bike racks on the buses, and the drivers actually don’t seem to mind taking bikes for the extra charge;
Riding through and meeting people in the countryside where most others don’t stop, and like most places in the countryside throughout the world, the people there have less greed in their eyes and are more willing to help you out or just be a little nicer;
That you can become a master quick change artist getting into and out of rain gear;
That you become an expert at applying water proof sunscreen and sweat resistant Kiwi Safari Bush Spray;
That there’s a lot of sheep to talk to;
That cows will come running toward you and sometimes away, if you ring your bike bell;
You can make a game out of counting carnage – dead possums, dead rabbits, dead hedgehogs, and dead birds;
That the milk truck drivers tend to give you a wide enough clearance when they pass;
That except when a massive cycling group is ahead of you, there are enough steak and cheese pies to keep you in bliss almost forever;
There’s a lot of deer penned up waiting to become venison;
There are a lot of ostriches penned up waiting to become whatever it is that ostriches become;
You can open your mouth while your riding and feel the rain pelting your tongue;
Domestically, Air New Zealand and Tranz Scenic Railways are very accommodating to bicycles, charging only a $20 handling fee;

What I don’t like about cycling New Zealand is:
The headwind that is simultaneously and almost continuously blowing north south east and west;
The smell of not too fresh, but not dead enough roadkill;
The taste that a sheep truck leaves in your mouth after it passes by with 350 stressed out ewes on their way to market;
The clearance that sheep truck, cattle truck, and logging truck drivers give you;
InterCity Buses acting like it’s a huge hassle to take your bike, and if they do, they are more likely to break something on it than any other bus line;
The fact that there’s frequently little if any shoulder to ride on, lots of blind curves, and drivers that lean on their horn for no apparent reason just as they come up behind you;
The headwind that is so loud and strong that you can’t hear traffic coming up from behind you;
Sand flies that eat you alive;
The gale force winds that batter the west coast, south island, center of the country, open meadows, river crossings, north island, mountain areas, etc.
The rain that doesn’t fall, but comes at you sideways into your ears;
The other rain that is more like a continuous pail of water being thrown over you;
The everyday stuff that is relatively expensive;
That the inter island ferries treat cyclists like fourth class passengers;
That where there’s sheep, there’s sheep sh*t, and it smells like it, and even where there are no sheep, it can still smell like sheep sh*t;
One way bridges where traffic coming the other way never wants to give you a break;
Have I mentioned the wind?
The other Sand Flies that devour you as soon as you stop;
The mozzies that take over in the unlikely event that the Sand Flies get full;
That there must be reason that the sheep all run away when you stop your bike – like what have those Kiwi’s been up to anyway – or is it just me?

Clothing I’m using that I brought:
Bernoulli gortex cycling jacket from MEC
Gortex cycling pants
Helmet
Bandana under helmet (great in the rain)
Cycling gloves
2 pairs of cycling shorts
one cycling jersey
2 t-shirts
1 pair of shorts
1 pair long sport pants
3 pairs of short socks
2 pairs of underwear
1 street wear rain jacket
1 fleece pullover
1 baseball hat

Stuff I’m using that I brought:
Laptop
Digicam
Binocs
Video cam
Alarm clock
Bungy Cords
Thong footwear
Reebok walk shoes (thrashed from scree skiing at Mount Ruapuhoe)
Discman (great for the big hills or coastline days)

Stuff I didn’t bring that I had to buy:
Sleeping bag and foam pad – it’s cold in New Zealand!
Street-wear rain jacket
Supposedly waterproof booties that don’t work and cost $70– brand name CIMA
Day pack from High Sierra
Camp cup, plate, and utensils,(I had this packed but took it out)
One more Seal Line dry bag
Small towel

Stuff I’m not using that I brought:
Bike tools (and I hope I don’t have to use them much)
First aid kit (and I hope I don’t have to use it)
Sunscreen (and I wish I did need to use it)
Deet (because it doesn’t work on Sand Flies!)
Pelican Road Case
Malaria Meds

Stuff I’ll need to buy:
A new Swiss army knife (I packed the knock-off instead of the real one);
New socks

Category : Australasia | New Zealand , Uncategorized