For previous blog entries of our ride through NZ, Australia, South East Asia, China and Central Asia, click on the little arrows beside the dates in the Blog Archive below and use the scroll down menu.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Please don't forget we are raising money during our trip for 2 very worthwhile charities.

The first charity we’d like to help is El Shaddai. Based in Goa, El Shaddai help families to stay in their native state by providing them with water, education and income generating projects. They help abandoned street children by providing them with food, shelter and love and have already opened several shelters and community centres. However, more are needed and we hope to raise money for them so they can continue their good work.

Please help us raise money for el shaddai by donating from our justgiving page

The second charity we’d like to support is based much closer to home. Since 2006, the Unity centre has helped over 1200 asylum seeking families, providing practical support and solidarity. They have helped over 100 families return to safety in Glasgow after they have been detained by the Home Office. If someone is detained, they help contact their lawyer, friends and family, arrange for their belongings to be looked after and provide emotional support and encouragement. The centre is run entirely by volunteers and funded entirely by donations from supporters so any money we raise will go a long way to helping the continuation of the centre.

Please help us raise money for the Unity centre at our other just giving page:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Leaving Auckland

Matilda and Kate
The Sky Tower, Auckland
Sacha and Ben

A handome devil

Our free cabin

Tina and co

Camping at Onaka

Dig in!

Me, Rob, Sally, Roisin

After spending 3 nights in Auckland(the last of which was spent with our friend Lucy's sister Sally)we finally set off on our epic journey. Thankyou so much to Sally, Rob and Roisin for your hospitality. Winding through unfamiliar streets, bumping into friendly locals, it took us quite a while to get out of Auckland as it's very spread out. After cycling 30 miles we arrived at a campsite in Onaka, where we stayed the night for free, with a spectacular hill-top view across the sea. Ben made some pea and mint soup which I gave 10 out of 10. Oh yes. Refreshed and well-slept, we set off South in the hot sun(hurrah!), stopping on our way to pick grapefruit, oranges, avocados and lemons from trees by the roadside. We saw some particularly juicy looking oranges in a garden near Mareitai and asked the owner if we could take a few. Before we knew it, we were drinking tea and eating mussel omlettes with a lovely family from Tonga/Samoa. So thanks to Tina, Desmond, Amelia etc etc. You are a great bunch and no mistake! Next morning we said our goodbyes and headed 6 miles down the road to the town of Miranda for a shot in the thermal springs and to have a day off the saddle. We had planned on wild camping this night but I explained to the woman at the campsite that we were doing a very long charity bike ride and asked if there was any flexibility with the price. Indeed she said, there'll be no charge, infact have a cabin and access to our hot thermal pool, showers, tv and kitchen free of charge! We were two very happy people that night I can tell you, as we lay in our free bed. We both want to say a BIG thankyou to Sacha Williams from Miranda Holiday Park for her amazing kindness. It is so heartening to meet people like you on a trip like this. The great nights sleep we had in the cabin did us the world of good. You're a star. You can experience the hot pools in this amazing geo-thermal area at Miranda holiday park

We left Miranda the next morning in our first bout of terrible weather. Ah, it felt just like being at home as we battled our way through the rain, fog and a raging headwind. We cycled through the stunning Karangahake Gorge and and camped at a nice spot near a secluded waterfall. Today, Wednesday we upped the mileage a bit more to reach, believe it or not Bethlehem! Jesus Christ I hear you say, that's a bit out of the way. No, not that Bethlehem, it's a town near Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. We met a couple on the flight from Hong Kong, Kate and Matilda who had just spent a year cycling around South America and Europe. They said we were welcome to stay with them if we passed through Tauranga and that's where we are now, having our dinner made for us. Cheers you two, and Kate's parents Rob and Kevin for putting us up.Our next stop is at our friend Lisa's sister Kim's house in Ohope, 90 kms away. We hope to be there by tomorrow evening.From there it's round the coast to Gisborn, a possible highlight of the trip many say.

One criticism I have of NZ though is that the roads here are NOT set up for cyclists, only muscle cars and huge logging trucks. Most of the time you have no choice but to go on the state or provincial highways which allow only a tiny slither of space between you and the traffic. Sometimes, there's no space at all and if you are on a stretch of road with two lorries coming from each side of the road, you'd better dive in the nearest bush cos these guys don't stop for anyone. It makes me appreciate the hundreds of miles of cycle paths we have in Scotland which mean you don't have to mingle with the traffic at all on many journeys. I don't mean to worry anyone, I think we're through the worst stretches of roads(namely the Karangahake Gorge and Paeroa to Tauranga on Highway 2) and we've got plenty of quiet, scenic roads in the South Island.

However, all in all, we LOVE New Zealand so far. We've always felt a connection with the place having so many Kiwi friends in Glasgow. Sweet as. We are upping the mileage day by day and will be making some real progress soon. The scenery has been, in parts, spectacular in the North Island so far but I'm sure the South Island will be even more stunning. We are having a fantastic time.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

We have arrived!

We arrived in Auckland last night after the journey from hell. 24 hours sat bolt upright in an uncomfortable seat in a "tin can full of other peoples farts" is not my idea of fun. Just before take off in Glasgow, Ben brought out a ring and asked me to marry him. I told him I'd rather gnaw my own leg off. Only joking, I said yes of course. The morning of our departure we were treated to a champagne breakfast by the Gobeo-Lyons family and were waved off at the airport by the Whitehead-Morrisons. Thanks everyone.

Our first flight was Glasgow to London, then London to Hong Kong. We only got to see Hong Kong from the air but I've never seen anything like it. It's a mass of neon,flashing lights and huge buildings. Quite an amazing sight though.

Arriving in Auckland, our first impression was that everyone was super friendly and looked far healthier than Glaswegians. We were a bit disappointed though to find out the weather wasn't that much warmer than Scotland. We built up our bikes and cycled to our friend Lisa's sister, Briar in Ponsonby. The traffic in Auckland is quite scary, however I'm sure we'll encounter far worse along the way. Arriving at Briar's, we were met by a very friendly bunch who put us up for the night. We were pretty delirious by this point and passed out for 12 hours. Lisa is arriving later with the rest of our stuff, then we'll set off on our travels, heading South to Tauranga, where we have yet another place to stay after meeting a couple of Kiwis on the plane who'd just cycled from Norway to Nepal. After this, it's on to Rotorua, then we'll see where the road takes us from there.

We are so glad to be here but looking forward to getting out of the city to experience the true natural beauty of New Zealand. We'll keep you posted as the trip goes on.