This trip report was put together from the emails we sent home to family and friends while we were travelling.
Well, after a very long and tiring flight we’re finally here and have had a few days of really great weather/company/riding. Here are some highlights…
Friday 8 February
Finally arrived in New Zealand and caught a small flight down to Christchurch. The plane was a bit delayed as the airport was closed due to a ‘security incident’. Once we finally landed we went past a small plane which the captain told us had been the cause – apparently a Somali woman had hijacked the plane by stabbing the pilots. It was big news here, did it get to the UK?
Christchurch airport was at a complete standstill so we joined the others on the grass outside and enjoyed the sunshine whilst we waited for our lift. Or rather I sat on the grass whilst Richard and Kevin got their technology working!
Bed and Breakfast was delightful. Our hosts, Helen and Ron, really made us feel welcome. We had a quick wander round the town and made contact with the bike shop. Everything feels very English and it’s weird because it makes it seem not so ‘foreign’. Then you see something like a statue of Captain Scott and plaques saying that this is the setting off point for a lot of the Antarctic expeditions and it comes home to you that you’re actually on the other side of the world! We made our way back for an early night and slept like logs!
Saturday 9 February
Picked up the bikes and went for a ride round – a lot of the country is large square fields with huge hedges and lots of cows, sheep and deer grazing in the fields. Eventually got onto a really good bendy road for a final shake down before we started out with all the luggage.
Sunday 10 February
Before we left Ron treated us to the sight of his 1909 Sidley motorcar which he ‘restored’ (or ressurected) from a pile of bits.
We left Christchurch for the North Island, the first bit was much the same as yesterday’s early ride. The UK campaign against leylandii would have a fit if they saw all the beautiful, large, hedges made from them or other pine trees. The overall scenery is a mixture of flat plains with farms and rolling hills/mountains – these are mostly covered in scrubby grass that has gone very brown from the prolonged drought they have just had this year.
Rode up the east side of the island towards Kaikura. Just as we approached Kaikura the bike started to splutter and we’d run out of petrol. Luckily, Richard had enough to go to the next petrol station and bring some back.
The coast road is, to use an over-used American term, awesome! You’re riding round bends that go on for miles with hills/mountains on the left and the sea on the right. No houses built on the coast here.
An inspection at the ferry terminal showed that the ‘Chicken strips’ Richard was so concerned about yesterday had disappeared and were now a lot thinner than on his bike (at least on the front). We’ll have to keep an eye on the tyres, as it seems likely that they’ll not last the 3 weeks with luggage and baggage; a swap with Richard’s bike might be in order at some point.
The ferry was from a place called Picton and this bay is where Capt Cook came on one of his early trips here. It is very beautiful and it’s easy to imagine what it would have been like for him.