Saturday, October 4, 2014


Back on  northern Explorer to Auckland. Much like day 1 in reverse. Sleep time.

Good night

Friday, October 3, 2014

Day 6

Early 7.00am train Christchurch to picton.
Quite frosty for a early morning ride, at least not raining,  thermal gloves do wonders, but still a bit nippy with fingerless gloves.
I have seen other riders wear thermal liners and rubber gloves to keep the fingers dry and warm,  not sure ìf they get wet after awhile from the sweat.

I loaded my bike on this time,  heading for picton ferry,  seems we running a little late.
Weather is calm and sunny, smooth sailing.  Had my ginger just in case.

Most people on ferry seem to just want to sleep,  not as enthusiasm as when they first sailed across.

Arrived at apartments at six, going to Joes garage. Here some Wellington thing

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 5

Today back on the TranzAlpine to Christchurch  a 1.45pm, so have some time for lunch in a local Cafe,  actually tried two as the first one had no burgers, so just had a coffee, and fish chips.  Was recommended by a parking warden who told me footpath not for bikes,  man,  it's hailing and I can hardly walk,   was said to be owned by a political from way back? Next Cafe,  Maggie kitchen,  big burgers (see post on burger explorer)

The train is slightly delayed,  it's cold,  wet and windy.

Usually I help the bag handlers to load my bike on  so I know it's on,  they said  just leave it that and we will put it on later.

So I hop on the  train an watched them  load the bags first,  the bag trolleys seem to obscure the bike. After all the trolleys are empty I cannot see the bike, as the trolley is in the way,  then as the train started moving,  I saw my bike still on the dock between the trolleys? Wth?  I jump up a and pushed the emergency stop button. And told them my bike is still there?  There was actually two bikes to load?  Not sure what they doing.
They finally load it  on and then the stewardess spent 10 minutes trying to unlock the emergency stop.
A big round of cheers when she does,  I somewhat partially to blame?

A quick stop at Arthur pass, couple days ago, it was sunny and warm. Today,  it is snowing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 4

Sleep in today, no train to catch. Today is a free day as there is no schedule.

Last night I talked to the kumara ĺocals in the hotel,  interesting bunch.
Ťhis town has a population of 350. It had a lot of history with gold miners, the locals are still miners.
There used to be ĺots of Chinese from China,
They were hard working miners and market gardeners,  they generally kept to them selves and were called "coolies", not sure why.
I ask them were have they all gone, .?  Apparently they have died and bodies were shipped back to China,  mostly were men so there were no or little children.
There is a town nearby called shanty town.
Which has all the knowledge of the history,

I had breakfast with two other ladies,  a bit older than me, who were teachers, we talked about BYOD  at school and other bits. They are going to cycle up to there next stop,  a place called paradise cowboy. Some 32 km away. My plan was to go there to... Then back to Greymouth,  that's 32km there,  32km back, then 29km to Greymouth =93km. I asked if there is a cafe at cowboy paradise,  so I can recharge my batteries an have lunch,  apparently they do.

After breakfast, it's now 10am, and we head off,  I tried to peddle as much as I could to conserve  the battery, but there some big uphill, around 350m up total.
It started to rain.

I took most my photos  on the way up,  as I know, the weather going to get worse and I'm just going to zoom back.

I arrive at cowboy paradise around 1.45pm

It was more like a ghost town,  there was no one here,  I don't think they even had power,  running on generator I assume.
I hang around for 20 minutes having some lunch (can of sardines,  some complimentary cookies from kumara, ) the others have not arrived  so I will start on my way back.  I calculated,  my average speed was around 10km. Meaning with 60km to go,  it's going to take me 6hours, I need to average 15km. Battery was still good, about half or 1/3.

Really raining now,  mostly down hill now. About 10km back,  there some small Hills,  the battery was struggling,  20 km... Very low,  not enough voltage to assist much.
This would be around the 50km range.
Bear in mind,  that range was base on a 60kg person, flat ground, sealed road,  no peddling.
Now I am 90kg, with 15kg bags,  on gravel road,  and uphill.

I'm averaging around 9 km.  I'm thinking get a charge back at kumara.
It's wet, cold,  and I'm getting a head wind. It's all slow going.
I reached the reservoir, and I see a road going back to kumara,  I decided to take the road than the track,  it does make a big difference,  and it's shorter about 2km.

Arrive at kumara and It's now 5.30, I really need to start moving before it gets dark,  there no time for a charge,  even a 2 hour charge wouldn't do much.

So I change to dryer clothes,  gloves.
The rain coat is waterproof but it's the sweat and rain falling in from my head making it wet.

Now back on the road,  with strong headwind. Like pushing manure  up the hill, I have an option of keeping on the road, in the open rain and passing traffic, or take the trail back to the bridge,  I opt for the trail as is seem safer, and shelter in the forest from the rain.

I finally approach the bridge and from the local advice,  hop in the centre and when at the bottom indicate you are to stop and move over to the left across the rail tracks. It worked okay this time.
Now the slow hog back to Greymouth.

My legs tired, Battery was not doing much,  just a dead weight, I can only average 9kmhr, and 25km to go. I calculated,  it's going to be about 8.30pm I get there

My average speed slowed to about 8kmhr now,  and as the counter reached 5km to go,  I have a burst of energy, but it was short lived,  even at some small Hills,  I had to hop off and walk, then I couldn't really walk anymore. I just had to keep pushing,  there were at times Wth just a few km to go,  the rain turned to hail,  I just want to give up. But no,  I need to finish it,  and I did.

A marathon,  98km, 10.5 hrs.
Now I just need to get to the back packer place....

I check my Google map,  it says caution in beta phase,  I had to cross a bridge go up a steep climb.... 44minutes? What the hell.. I thought I booked some where close.

So off I go,  across the bridge and it started to hail,  so I keep going straight after the bridge,  but I'm supposed to go right,  back track and go right,  it does not look good,  it's dark, the road up is a open road(100kmhr), and there is a bend as I approached it,  a rock cliff face and the main road, no gap for me at all.  ttere is no way I'm going there,  I will be on the road with cars going 100kmhr, in the dark and up the hill.

It's now about 9pm, the backpackers  lady has been waiting for me since 7.30pm.

I went back over the bridge. And into the town,  what a disaster,  I went into subway to get a roll,  the only option I can see is to stay some where else,  or get a taxi,  so I ask the subway Guy to call for a taxi with a bike rack, but there is none with bike racks,  I ask the subway Guy if I could then leave my bike here in the shop and pick it up tomorrow,  he says it's ok, and called a taxi for me,  even gave me a free apple pie!
Finally reach the backpackers  Lodge and the hostess was kind and made me a cup of tea. She even turn the electric blanket on for me and got the fire going to dry my shoes, I think she wanted to tuck me in bed but had to go,  I told her I probably call a taxi to pick me up in the morning (train departs at 1.45pm), but she offer to take me in,  so kind she is.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 3

Missing  my chickens and kids and wife and the free coffee at work.

One tends to appreciate the simple and free things in life that we take for granted.

Slow ride in the morning with no power,  just to try out going power less,  was not too bad,  average 12kmhr,  as Christchurch is mostly flat,

Had the last night chips and gravy for breakfast.

I must say the TranzAlpine ride is spectacular,  photo will not do it justice,

It's like going to a live concert,  you can waste time trying to capture the show on video ext,  but usually they come out hopeless,  best to relax and absorb the realistic beauty of the live show.

Well here some hopeless shots...

Here is the start of the Greymouth trail 

It's mostly coarse gravel,  with a heavy bike with pannier, it feels like a could slip........ 

Well,  I did? 

You can see on my trail,  there a massive bridge, it's a road and rail bridge combined,  plus it's one way with traffic giving way at one end. 
There was no mention of this bridge,  so I follow a car going up,  the track is wooden with patches of Tarheel,  bumpy as hell,  I tried to go to a smooth section in the middle,  separated by a rail track,  I assume it was flush,  but no,  a gap big enough to catch my wheel and jam in... Came off on my right arm.. Ouch,  slight graze. 

Apparently,  they tell me there supposed to be a clip on soon,  as a few people have come off on it. 
Just talked to some other cyclist,  you suppose to go in the middle? Well theres no instructions, 

At Kumara now,  the Grand royal theatre hotel is actually quite nice. 

And not run down old spooky hotel in the middle of nowhere. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 2

Got up early again to catch the interislander ferry,
Wellington roads is like amaze,  one way trafiic and angle roads,

While cycling down a street,  I hit a few bumps,  my phone on its holder bounced out onto the road... I moved over but there was a tram behind me,
I watched helplessly as the team pass over my phone,  hoping it will miss it.
These Samsung phones has removable battery, so when they get drop,  usually the battery fall out and cover comes off.
I went to retrieve the phone,  Battery, cover and case... Expecting the worse,  with a big tire track on half the phone.
Putting it all back together, it seems OK,  apart from some big scratches on its back.
 The case was destroyed however.

So I finally made it to the ferry terminal after going thru some sort of roundabout overpass built for cyclist and peds.  Yes there appears to be many cyclist in Wellington.
Leading the bike on the ferry I realise how big it is,  they were loading several truck trailer units.

Arrived,  Pistol at 11.45.
Lovely harbour scene. 
Lovely little town.  

Hop onto the Coastal Pacific,  not as full and I have two seats for myself.

Again,  I sleep half way,  some nice mountains and coastal scenes. 

Arrive Christchurch after 6.00.
Quite a sad town, with the earthquake.. 

There appears to be more cycle friendly here, Christchurch being more flat and all. 

Exploring the Burgers

New Zealand has some sort of obsession with fish and chips, burgers and takeaways.

On this Trip, I will attemp as many burger place as I can.

Wellington first stop

Well, I will stay away from main stream places like McDonald or burger fuel,  as we already know what they like. 

Here is a funky place called Ekim. Like about 4 people working in a small caravan... It is small. For a Monday night, it was busy, located at the end of Cuba Street,  I had to walk pass all the other temping food places. 

I had the tremor burger and some fries,  it came to a whopping $14. 
They added some sauce, thick and chunky sauce to the rough cut chips. Slightly spiced seasoning,  but too salty for my liking. 

Burger was a good size,  tasty and juicy... But I was still Hungary. So I went to a pizza vendor down the road. 
Tasty but seem to lack a tomatoes base,  it smelled good. 

Christchurch second stop

With half of the city in ruins,  I was not sure what to find,  the local McDonald's, KFC,  dominoes,  subway all surviving,   I found a little gem,  a bit far for walking so cycle there.

Chips and gravy?  A excellent combo.
100% Angus beef patties.

I had the billie  blue burger,  it did not look large,  but the fries portion were.
Not over salty like Ekim.

Greymouth 3rd stop

Well,  I'm only here for lunch,  so the nearest burger place for a quick bite.. 

DP1? $10 for beef and cheese,  includes chips. 
At that price it should be good!  I though 
No lettuce, no tomato,  a bit of sauce,  onion,  and a cold slab of cheese? Was okay(I hungry).  But I thought it was appalling,  no effort at all.  Chips were good. 

Kumara dinner

At this award winning hotel,  
There new menu is different from website,  they have the quarter pounder white bait for $22, 
I opt for the burger of course.
Actually it is quite good the burger,  the bum is toasted with garlic butter,  so like garlic bread.  Two sauces. And all beef pattie. 

Greymouth 4th stop

No burgers tonight as just arrived in greymouth at 9pm, ordered a smokey beef subway footlong  and a taxi. 

But in the morning, TranzAlpine departs at 1.45pm so had time for lunch. 

Maggies kitchen seem busy and buzzy so I tried that. Overall presentation was good for $13, much better than that Cafe DPI one. 

The pattie was, however, a little like sausage meat,  not all that bad but not like a pure Angus pattie. 

Christchurch 5th stop

Not really sure about venturing out tonight as forecast is thunder storms, it's cold but dry so why not. As I cycle into town, I can see the lightning and dark clouds,  I'm in the city so silly find shelter if it goes South. 

astro Cafe sounds interesting,  got some sort of space,  trekking or star wars theme. 

Was a bit dark,  with most lights provided by candles,  I order the recommended burger, think it's beef, bacon, eggs, cucumber? 

Pattie seems a little dry but real beef. Flame grill apparently. 

Wellington 6th and last stop? 

Now at Joes garage,  place is busy with metropolitan type people,  probably because it's a Saturday?

Having a strawberry thick shake and mushrooms burger.

Wth,  it's just mushrooms, beetroot lettuce, tomato on a nice toasted garlic bun, ? I thought they forgot the pattie,  but no, it's a vege burger,  so I ask them to stick a pattie in it,  they did nicely.
Pattie was a bit chewy,  dry however. Tasty but.


Best burger?  Think burgers and beers,  came out well,  the chip and gravy really hit the spot. 

Worst would be DPI $10 burger chip combo.

Most of these were premium price burgers,  how well would they do compare with the takeaway priced  burgers.. Stay tuned to find out.