Doug & Janice's World Tour -New Zealand Journal

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    Tahiti was a blast, and so far NZ is cool, but in 3 days we've not done too much other than try to get organized and do some bicycle upgrades / repairs. 200 + miles in Tahiti / Moorea took it's toll on some of the cheaper components.

    We're here in Sunny New Zealand. Tahiti was great, and we stayed in a couple of budget buster hotels. The kind that have the 'over water bungalows' but we elected to stay on dry land, for a significantly lower, still outrageous rate. New Zealand looks perfect for camping.

    Now we're in Coromandal, a very tropical area, and will do some bike touring through the parks here on their limited number of dirt roads.

    We just finished a tour of Waiheke island. Definitly the toughest hill climbing we've faced in years, exhausting..... Great ferry ride from Auckland to the island but then it was up hill. How can an island only have up-hill roads? We expected to find ample camping on this island but didn't realize until we got there that this was an expensive vacation area. We did find the only camping area on the island, it was run by the Dept. of Conservation and was a nice area on the water.

    After a few days it was time to move. We found a ferry that went from the east end of the island over to Coromandel Town. Only a 25 mile away ride...sounded easy but things aren't always as they appear. This ended up being a 25 mile ride up-hill (again) and into the wind. I think the only downhill on the island was the approach to the ferry dock! Lucky for us we made it...the next ferry wasn't for 2 more days.

    1/15/2008 Recap
    It's been 30 WONDERFUL days!
    The difference between a tourist and a traveler; A tourist doesn't know where he's been and a traveler doesn't know where he's going...

    We definitely don't know where we're going!

    Where we've been...
    Tahiti and Moorea. We did some sea kayak, and had a shark for company. We did some snorkeling, and Janice had a shark for company. We did some scuba dives, and there were sharks, twice Doug's size, all over.

    We stayed at a place owned by 'the Bali Hai boys' a group of 1960's surfers that became legends in Tahiti, even making life mag and US talk shows. They were a blast to listen too recounting life in the early days of tourism...

    As we were riding to the airport, we got involved in a 'parade', on our bikes we just fell in with them, arriving at some sort of political rally. The police found us in minutes, and politely escorted us through the mob to the other side so that we could continue our ride, and get out of their hair.

    Then, off to New Zealand. After some bike repairs, we're off to Waiheke island. 30 miles long, and what seemed like 3 miles high as we tortured through the hills. Then to Coromandel, still 3 miles high....and gravel roads...

    And what do we find? HILLS!
    The Coromandel Coastal Walkway combined with the Circle Coromandel tour was the hardest 75K of our lives. Hills, steep gravel and a beautiful backpacking trail. A technical issue has become that on the downhills, our bike wheels are getting too hot to touch from the braking...we'll need to address this if the hills continue...

    More next time, but so far,we're having a blast, living a dream....

    Doug and Janice

    Well, it looks like we're getting better at this bike touring thing!
    We had a great time riding around the Coromandel area. Camped in Coleville (a town of maybe 125 people). It was another hard ride there but we have gotten rid of some of our excess baggage (we sure did over pack!). We took a great day trip up to the tip of the Coromandel Peninsular, nice to travel without all the luggage but it was still exhausting. And we never thought it would 11 hours to go 74 miles! The dirt road turned into a dirt trail...time to push the bikes. But it was a beautiful ride. Beautiful cliffs over the ocean and great tropical forest.

    From here we crossed over to the east coast side and enjoyed the blue waters of the Bay of Plenty. Waters like the Caribbean and hidden coves. Then we stopped at Hot Water Beach - hard to explain, an area where hot thermal waters are just below the sand and when the tide goes out people dig "sand hot tubs".

    Next it was on to the thermal area of Rotorua, boat races in Taupo and arrive here in Wellington just in time for "The Sevens".

    Well, we are still having too much fun!
    Doug and Janice

    We're in Dunedin, South Island NZ now. It's been cold and rainy, and there are some trees showing Autumn colors already. Time to head North to warmer weather, so we're off to Queenstown.

    So, let me get you up to date. Once we crossed over to the South Island everything changed. This is very rural compared to the North Island. We had 2 days in a row with "great wind" - at our back and went well over 100 miles each day. Then we went into Christchurch and decided to stay a while and enjoy the city. Great parks and lots of outside entertainment and festivals. These people know how to enjoy their summer.

    From Christchurch we traveled to Omaru and saw the penguins then off to Mt Cook. A few days trekking around Mt Cook and even up to Tasmer Glacier. You could hear the mountain top avalanches from the camp site.

    Next it was on to the Otago Rail Trail down the center of the island and finish in Dunedin.

    We're down to our last 4 weeks in this fine country, so here are some statistics.

    1,500 miles on the bicycle. 2 flat tires. 7 broken spokes (all on Doug's bike), new tires, slicks, and narrower ones for Janice, so they roll easier, like the wind, which, has been better to us of late, sometimes we don't seem to pedal at all. The wind has been up to 50 MPH at times, and when in the face, it's a show stopper. But, a wind like that blowing from behind- priceless. 3 ferry rides, one train ride, 2 bus rides. We seem to be seeing more cyclists here than on North Island, and we all pat each other on the back when we meet while discussing our achievements.

    one attack by these big $&^%& parrots called Kea's, who chewed, among other things Doug's brand new bike saddle. They were a real menace at Mt. Cook.

    Well, we'll send more in a while.
    Until next time, Doug and Janice

    A quick update since we leave New Zealand tonight and next head to Australia.

    The past few weeks have been great. We visited Milford Sound and had a great (but rainy) boat ride on the fjords. Next on to Queenstown (home of bungee jumping). Doug is much more adventurous than me ...15 years ago he did the bungee jump so this time he did "fly by wire" The man actually thinks he can fly!

    Next it was over Haast Pass - this may be the lowest pass in the Southern Alps but it was still 1,900 feet. From here we went to Fox Glacier and up the road to Franz Joseph Glacier. Amazing to touch ice that is hundreds of years old!

    At this point it was a few buses to quickly get back to Auckland and on to Australia.
    The big news is China...we have decided to go to China after Australia. We will join some other bikers there and cross the country for the Olympics...bought the airline tickets...big step!

    Still having more fun than anyone deserves,
    Doug and Janice