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. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 1

Got up at 5.15am, all prepared.... Sunglasses broke. Bugger.  Forgot water bottle... It's ok,  I have a spare.

 The train is actually comfortable, much like business class seats,  I had a Isle sear and the guy on the window sear  could move out with our me having to get up all the time. 
It's a different carriage from the the last time I went, very quiet,  smooth,  a little bit of swaying but not too much to get sea sick, but enough to rock you to sleep,  I kinda slept most of the way. 
Think I may have drooled at one stage. 

There were no long stop at the National park like last time, only a5min stop to pick up, drop off passengers on the way. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Planning

There is nothing like a plan coming together and its all smooth sailing, without a worry or issue to frustrate your journey like walking a mile with a pebble in a shoe.

Expectations is to expect the unexpected and check everything is in place for the inevitable.
NZ weather is a mixed bag, expect rain, hail, snow...and sunshine.

Accommodation has been booked already and months in advance, as the trip was schedule during school holidays,  a busy period.

This journey started with the Nationa wide World famous Kiwirail scenic trip, and morphed into the WestCoast bike trail as the main attraction.


The trains, ferry has been booked and the schedule is as follows.

First day. Monday check in at Auckland Britomart.

(see the link for more details,its all there)

  • Board the new Northern Explorer at 7.20 am
  • Arriving in Wellington around 6.25pm
  • Overnight in Wellington

Tuesday check in the Wellington InterIslander

  • Sail from 8.30 am
  • Arrive Picton 11.45am

  • Hop on to the Coastal Pacific at 12.30pm   kiwirailscenic.co.nz  
  • Arrive Christchurch 6.00pm
  • Overnight in Christchurch

Wednesday check in the TranzApine

  • Depart 8.15am
  • Arrive Greymouth 12.45pm
  • Cycle 37 Km on the WestCoast Trail to Kumara.
  • Arrive Kumara approx 5pm and stay at the Royal thearte

Thursday, continue on the West Coast Trail up to Turiwhate

  • Cycle from Kumara up to Turiwhate peak, around 25Km
  • Cycle back from Turiwhate peak to Kumara for a cuppa. 25 Km
  • Cycle from Kumara to Greymouth 37Km
  • Overnight in Greymouth.
As you can see on this day, I would expect to travel over 87km? (depending how far I want to go).
Its fairly downhill on the way back, so I could go easy on the 50km battery range on the bike.

Friday check in the TranzApine

  • Depart Greymouth 1.00 pm
  • Arrive Christchurch 6.05 pm
  • overnight in Christchurch

Saturday check in the Coastal Pacific

  • Depart Christchurch 7.00am
  • Arrive Picton 12.00pm
  • check in InterIslander, Departs 1.45pm
  • Arrive Welliington 5.00pm
  • Overnight in Wellington

Sunday check in Northern Explorer

  • depart Wellington 7.55 am
  • Arrive Auckland 6.45pm....Home.

So, as you can see, the Rail to Ferry to Rail to Rail, all sort of fit in nicely as a week long trip.

There is the option of stopping at some other stops and spend a day or so there, but then you have to consider accommodation and timings.

More to follow when I start on this journey.

E Bike?

The choices...
I like riding bikes, but the last time I did a mountain trail with no prior training, I almost spew my guts out. 

Time, age and work prevents me getting prepared for the Bike Trail.
I want the ride to be enjoyable, sight seeing stuff.

So I though a little help would be nice and decide to test ride some e-bikes.
A visit to Butes bikes, the guy there was great, show me the in outs and I tried a 300w 26"wheel  cruiser, It was smooth, quite, and I can feel the power but had a bit of trouble going up a short steep hill (I had my pedal gearing too high).
Then I tried the compact foldable 300W  20" one, it was sweet , the smaller wheels but same motor means more torque, and made up the steep hill effort less, (but the top speed was lower due to smaller wheel, the trade off).
I can say the bikes were nice and well made...but at over $2000, a bit pricey for me.

So the other option was to buy a kitset to install on my old existing bike.
Found a golden motor kitset for $1,300 which includes 36v 12ah battery.
This motor is version 3 of the magic pie,  at time of this blog, they just released a new version,  the magic pie vector,  a true sine wave controller.

As I browse the internet, trade me,  the seller also sell already made up ebikes with same motor and battery, these are 500w motor, upgradable to 750w (with 48V).
Cost was about same as butes bikes,  but not as nice but a 500w motor!
Choices  choices... But there no model near by to test drive, the seller was in New Plymouth.
He also advertise the bike at half price! I assume a demo model,  making this cheaper than the kit set? 

After weeks of saving and hope it does not get sold sooner, I bit the pocket and brought it.

I took the bike for a test ride, just one weekend there was a fine day in winter. People were out about on the Orewa bike trail.
I came a cross a old fella with a E-bike and stopped to have a chat with him as he was unloading..
Next minute another bunch of people with e-bikes came along and joined our chat session.

I notice all their bikes were the Pedego brand,  mine was the odd one out with it massive motor.
The Pedego has a reducing gear type hub, so is a bit smaller.

my bike with a pannier.