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.

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.


  1. thanks for the updates, What you've seen of New Zealand so far sounds amazing!

  2. and so the adventure begins :-}
    glad you made it safely you have me hooked with the updates already.

  3. Hey guys,

    Glad to see you're getting some miles under your belt, and not taking too much advantage of the famous Kiwi hospitality!?
    Thanks for the updates, looking forward to reading the next chapter of your epic adventure.