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Travel Gallery


New Zealand

December 2002



December 1-4



Dec 5 – 13

Picton to Nelson


Dec 14 – 18

Nelson to Motueka and Kaiteriteri


Dec 19 – 25

Motueka to Nelson Lakes


December 26 – 31 

St. Arnaud - ?


Jan 1 – 6

Westport - Punakai






















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December 1-4   Wellington

We arrived at Auckland 7am.  The flight wasn’t as bad as we anticipated.  We had 2 seats across near the rear of the plane, just behind 3.  So we had extra storage near the window and New Zealand Air had lots of leg room and OK on the width.  The headrest had little flaps you could lift up and keep your head from rolling as you slept.  Nice food along the way and wine with dinner and breakfast.  Larry likes the country already.   We had to unpack our tent and our biking shoes for them to inspect.  Next time we’ll know to wear them or pack them on top.  I think Veronica from Auckland warned us about this .. but we were thinking of when we left, not when we arrived.  So a bit of unpacking, not bad.  It made us quite late for our connection to Wellington.  We just made having the Domestic counter take our bags .. else we would have had to cart them to a bus and get it all on to go to the domestic terminal.  We had to choose 2 bags that might not make this flight.  We chose our bikes.  But at Wellington all 6 of our bags came off first.  We had to pay $80 per extra bag we each had, in Madison and in LA.  When we go back to the states we may be paying for extra weight as well.


We hailed a taxi instead of trying to find the Orange Bus.  For $25 we were quickly taken to the Backpackers Hostel on Bunny Street where we had RSVPs.  The room wasn’t as large as it sounded, but turns out the fancy name and extra $10/day was for Sky TV and a coffee pot.  The room needed to be cleaned, so we headed out and roamed around the city.  By dumb luck .. which we seem to have a lot of .. we found our way to the Thorndon Street Festival.  Lots of street vendors and such.  Had a hot dog and a soda.  It was very hot and clear.  Stopped at a pub for a beer and ginger beer and some guys in some sort of costume and bags and such came in and had a round and sang a song.  Rugby team I was thinking .. but also how difficult it would be that day for them to get to that pub with all the fair taking up blocks.  They left, we left soon after.  They were out in the street entertaining with some sticks and maybe chanting and singing.  There’s a picture of them in the slideshow.  Our room still wasn’t clean when we returned so we went out to the Queen’s Wharf nearby and enjoyed the views and a pizza and salads. 


The next day we took the Cable Car up the hill and enjoyed the views.  We made RSVPs at the planetarium for the next evening, then walked a bit and found some lovely neighborhood shops.  We walked back down from the Cable Car and the whole way was wonderful Botanic Gardens and later a very old cemetery area.  Wonderful place.  We bought better maps and the Lonely Planet NZ guide.  We checked out the train station across from the Hostel and found it very active.  Dinner at Kitty O’Sheas .. lovely meat pie with Guinness gravy and veggies for only $10.  A feast and a bargain.  The next day we bought day passes and rode 3 routes train.  The route to Paraparamu was the best.  We saw wonderful sea views, hills, deer and sheep farms and had breakfast in Paraparamu.  Bernie from Manchester befriended us and we chatted.  The other 2 routes were all suburbs with a nice shopping town at the end.  When we finished around 5 we heard that the wire was down on the way to Paraparamu and the train halted.  We’re lucky we got back.  Back up the nice neighborhood past the Cable Car and wood fired pizza and lovely salads at the Red Tomato.  Planetarium shows on the moon and the Southern stars, but it was too cloudy to have the program to actually see the stars that night.


Te Papa Museum was the next day and more time at Molly Malones pub.  We had breakfast at Mr. Bun and I had the best Fr toast ever:  2 slices with bacon/ham on top, yummy fruity syrup, sliced banana, and the plate dusted with powdered sugar with strawberry halves and kiwi slices around it.  I checked at a pharmacy to see if you need a prescription for antibiotics  .. and yes.  The pharmacist pointed me to a Dr. nearby and I had a visit and got a prescription for $55 cash all within the hour. And he wrote me an order to have my blood tested for the Hep A followup down the road and have the results sent to him and I can phone his office.  That was cool .. and the drugs cost about $14.  Looked for refills for my butane curling iron and they’re not to be found.  Went to the Warehouse .. NZ’s Walmart .. and bought lollies/candy.  They have these lovely Crunchy candy bars that Larry’s bud Paul Stoffel gave him a sample of when they hosted a NZ girl recently.  They’re like our angel food candy.  Yumm.


There are 2 ferrys to Picton, one new fancy hydroplane type like the one we saw in St. John’s Newfoundland … and the older slower type.  We seem like the older slower model but it was down a very busy road from us and when we walked down there to scope it out … we couldn’t figure out where we’d board … with the train cars??  So we decided to go for the fancy new Lynx which was just across the street from the hostel.  So we spent the evening with Larry assembling the bikes, me doing laundry, and both of us packing our panniers and getting a bag to fit into the trailers.  The bike trip begins tomorrow.


Dec 5 – 13 Picton to Nelson

Up early to catch the Lynx for an 8am sailing.  On after the big trucks and they’ll secure them for us.  Breakfast of a ham, cheese, tomato croissant and a long black.  A long black is the coffee we order here.  It’s almost all instant and powerful .. like a big espresso.  You can also get a flat white and the usual cappacino and mochas and such.  No refills and a flat black can be $1.80- $2.50.  It’s usually gone by the time the food arrives.  It’s cloudy but not as foggy as the past days.  Pretty but not great for pictures. 


We regroup after leaving the ferry and enjoy the harbor view.  Groceries in town.  A couple from Melbourne stop and chat right away and leave their name and invite us to visit.  The hospitality is starting!!  Larry looks for a fuel cartridge for the stove we got last year and finds that none work.  So he tosses it and buys a new one that will work with NZ fuel.  Will we do this in every country?  Lunch of the roast of the day for $12 each:  pork roast, gravy, 2 roasted potatoes, carrots, creamed cauliflower and beans.  Got our veggies for the day.   It’s already after 1pm.  We’d better get going.


We climbed out of Picton and worked damned hard for the first day.  We only went 22km that day, but we were bushed when we got to Linkwater and the Smith Farm Holiday Park.  I sat .. Larry put up camp.  That night I had the worst cramps in the back of my legs.  Larry had a little too … but he’s soooo strong.  People write in the Guest Book that this is the best campground in NZ and they wish they could stay longer.  Could it be the fresh muffins the hostess gives you?  So the next day it’s pouring rain and we do get to stay longer.  Campgrounds here have a kitchen area you share so we hung around there and under the large overhang with picnic tables outside of it.  It was pleasant watching the 5 tethered sheep grazing just beyond our tent and the brown rooster that visited us.  The kitchens have these hot water units hanging on the wall, so it’s easy to make coffee and tea anytime.


Finally we head out towards Havelock .. the green-shell mussel capital of the world. The radio says we could have the odd shower.   It’s raining when we get there .. only 8miles .. and pouring after we have a full Irish breakfast at the Darling Dill.  No cabins available at the campground, so we get a motel room.  The lady gives us a ground floor unit for 5 for the price of a studio ($90), so we have room to spread out our wet gear.  It rains for 2 days, with thunder no less.  The clouds are just misting off the mountains .. you know Gandalf is out there someplace.  Sky TV is funny.  You can get something on about 6 channels … but it’s the same thing on 5 of them.  We did see a nice special on the making of Lord of the Rings and one on a big fancy party held the night before in Auckland by Louis Vuitton.  Had some green mussel chowder at Mussel Boyz.  Wanted crostini and dips as we saw on the menu in our room .. but it’s an old menu and they don’t have it anymore.  Wahhhh … I wanted crostini like Sooz makes.


Finally head out after 2 nights.  The first mountain pass is just ahead but we don’t want to do it today.  Stop at Pelorus Bridge Reserve for a meat pie and ice cream.  We talk with a couple from Phoenix who also sold their house and retired.  They hiked the Appalachian  Trail and now are biking here for 3 months.  They told us about tuna in yummy sauces and little plastic tubs of pasta sauce, both of which we start buying and loving.  We pushed on and stopped again in Rai Valley.  Some bikers told us about a free camping reserve just ahead and we camped there, near a river and with a toilet.  Chatted with 2 couples in 2 bus type campers.  All from Hamilton, near Auckland.  One couple has been on the South Island for 2.5 years without going back North.  The 3 grandchildren take turns flying down for holidays with G&G.  They have not seen their daughter for the 2.5 years but now are going back for Christmas.  I think that is a hoot.  Makes our 1.5 years away from family look puny.  When we tell what we’re up to, we hear our first “Good on ya”, which we will hear many times to come and love hearing it.  We decipher the toots and thumbs up we get as more “Good on ya”s.


Next 2 days do 2 mountain passes.  Push, walk, sweat .. downhill wheeeee.  Larry many times gets to the top or a plateau and comes back and pushes my bike up while I follow behind like a tired puppy.  Free camp between the passes/saddles.  A lovely dairy beyond the second called Rest Awhile where we enjoy chips, a sandwich and ice cream.  12 more miles after the Gentle Annie Saddle  with headwind and we’re finally in Nelson.  Find the caravan park and rent a cabin.  Do town stuff for 2 days because it rained again so we stay awhile.  Shop, pubs, the Victorian Rose for wonderful lunches, a double-decker bus tour.  I find a curling iron that is cute and little, but takes way toooooo long to get hot. 


Dec 14 – 18  Nelson to Motueka and Kaiteriteri

Brian and Wendy from Bath, England are interested in our gear.  They too are biking.  We head off with them toward Motueka, but we are slow so they are soon ahead.  When I was struggling up some bikepath hills, 2 different older women told me to put in another 6-pence .. fuel to keep me going I guess.  We stop at El Taverna for a lovely lunch in Richmond, enjoy the odd shower, and bike on through vineyards and farm land.  Too bad we’re too full to stop at the Grape Escape.  Hilly but beautiful, sometimes along the coast.  Ice Cream at Ruby Bay.  A couple from Richmond had just set up their tent at a nice reserve up the road and will come back after Christmas and spend 5 weeks there.  Hmmm …  We make it to Motueka and set up camp and sleep like babies.  We walk into town the next morning and enjoy breadfast at Hot Mama’s Café, then wander the Sunday Market and buy smoked sausages, rolls, peas and raspberries.  More groceries and fuel and back to break camp and move on to Kaiteriteri. 


We pass a Flying Fox and see it in action.  It’s like  a spaceship that holds 6 and it  backs you up into the hills, then shoots you back down and you land in a big water puddle for $25.  There are Flying Foxes in many campgrounds in the children’s play area but don’t involve water, just a gadget they sit on and push off and swing along on a wire to the end, then back.   Many hills later we get to the campground and find a spot that is not reserved for the next few days.  We walk the beach and enjoy the golden sand and the many kayakers.  We wanted to head up the road to Golden Bay, but there’s a BIG hill in the way, so we’re enjoying this golden beach.  A tour boat backs toward the sand and drops a gangplank and the riders get off, carrying their shoes.  There are no boat docks here.  They use the gangplank at low tide and the dinghy at high tide.  Gary and Lynette in the next site are very chatty and later invite us over for a drink.  Lynns mother  from South Africa is visiting.  We have a great visit and when discussing what we eat, Gary suggests peeled lambs tongues and Lynn offers us a can.  Yumm ..  Larry will be enjoying those on some special occasion .. maybe Christmas.


We just sun and rest the next day, then take the boat to the Abel Tasman the next day and walk 13km in the frequent odd shower.  We are advised to “organize our own lunch .. there won’t be much on the boat .. just teas and chippies and things … be sure to organize a lunch.”  We take a tidal route at one point and get our biking shoes wet, then wetter when we board the dinghy .. so we stay another night to dry out. There were dolphins playing alongside the boats when we went out this morning, but we find that is not a frequent attraction.  We go down to the beach the next morning hoping for a repeat, but no luck.  We had some lame hot chocolate on the boat that made us want better.  So I check the grocery store and although there are 3 products, they all say to add to milk .. no instant just add hot water.  We’re spoiled.  Chat with 2 families that are teachers.  Secondary schools get out earlier than primary, so they took their kids out of school for a few days holiday before Christmas.  It’s the end of the year for the schools and they go back in February.  Then they have 10 weeks of school and 2 weeks off and repeat til next December.  So this is their only long holiday.  This place will be chockers after Christmas.  Chockers?  Yes . chock-a-block .. full.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh .. chockers.    Discussing the Haast Pass with one couple, she thinks there is some gravel road.  He brings out the map and asks here where’s the white line?  You don’t have to get cheeky .. she says.  We love their expressions.  Another lady says we’ll be “Fit as the Butcher’s Dog”.


Back to Motueka, groceries, picnic in the park and we’re off toward Nelson Lakes.


Dec 19 – 25  Motueka to Nelson Lakes

We are told that campgrounds will be chockers for Christmas and Boxing Day so we’ll get to Nelson Lakes and stay put until the traffic subsides.  Heading out of Motueka we see only mountains a few miles ahead.  But surprise .. it’s the Motueka Valley and we have a wonderful road always going just slightly uphill along the Motueka River.  We don’t think we’ll make it to Tarawaka and the campground, so a passing cyclist tells me there’s a reserve 10 minutes ahead on the river.  When I catch up with Larry he is chatting with a guy who has a B&B.  We talk about our gear and what we’re up to and such.  He’s from England and has an old folding bike in the barn.    Way more than 10 minutes later we find the reserve.  The river is there .. but OVER there .. beyond those trees and stuff.  Wahhhh … 


Lovely rest at Tarawaka the next day and a great chat with the I lady, who has been to the states several times.   She told us about a solar powered A-bike that Lee Iacoca is involved in and which we should check out.  She suggests Samoa or Fiji over New Caledonia.  She also suggests that we stop at Quinneys Bush not too far ahead and get an early start tomorrow for St. Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti.  Great idea.  Ice creams, laundry, dry everything out.  I’m working through the Adventure Cyclist magazines I brought along from WI and am really enjoying them.  Why was I too busy to read them all these years?  I’m enjoying virtual tours of the Danube, Novia Scotia, Newfoundland, South America .. all over ..  Larry is listening to a Dave Barry book on the MP3 player and laughing his butt off all the time. 


We biked 30 miles the next day and did we climb hills.  The first 10 miles were easy, just uphill with a headwind.  Felt like good training.  Then we hit hills and walked and pushed and walked and pushed.  We had extra water along in case we free camped … but were afraid to use it in case we free camped.  Finally we determined that we would push on to St. Arnaud and we drank the damned water.  Those snow capped peaks in the distance weren’t so high above us now.  Larry had a flat about 6pm so I pushed on to St. Arnaud.  A Power Bar stop helped me along.  He pulled in at 7:30 not far behind me.  Someone on the sidewalk told him that his biking partner was down in the campground.  We do stand out with all our stuff and our funny looking bikes.  Dinner and a free shower and we were all refreshed.  Again bed felt good.


Sunned and walked about the next day.  There’s a store 10 minutes walk, so we got salad fixins and had 2 big plates of salad, then minced/ground beef sandwiches for dinner.  Yummy.  Brian and Wendy from Bath pulled in as we were eating dinner.  They sea kayaked in the Abel Tasman for 5 days.  They stopped for tea yesterday at the same B&B place where we had talked with the guy from England, so they knew we were ahead of them and would probably be here.  Now they are off again as they will walk the Milford Track on January 20 so we likely won’t see them again.  But they did invite us to visit when we get to England … and we will. 


We’re enjoying eggs and ham and toast and omlettes.  The store had a sign that you could order raspberries for Christmas.  No one knew what size or how much so I ordered 3.  Monday there were little half pint dish sizes like I got at the Sunday market.  When I asked if I could take just 1 from my order today and the rest tomorrow, they agreed.  Himself went in the back and brought out this big trough size .. way more than a quart.  Gulp.  It was only $7.50.  I asked if we could just have one today and one tomorrow and perhaps he could sell the other to someone else?  Sure.  So we had boysenberry ice cream and raspberries one day and vanilla ice cream and raspberries the next with Fr toast and raspberries for breakfast.  Life is good.  And today for Christmas breakfast Larry made easyover eggs, ham, some precooked sausages and toast and OJ.  A liter of OJ is $2.30 which is cheap.  A bottle of Coke is usually $2, so we now get the big old bottles for only $2.50 or less. 


Christmas Eve it started to rain in the afternoon.  We sat under the tarp in the rain and cold and sandflies and even wore our stunning mosquito netting “jackets” for awhile.  They cover the head to the waist and wrists.  We looked like bank robbers.  We went into the tent for a couple of hours while it rained.  OK for a quick dinner break .. then more and more rain all the damned night.  Christmas Day started gray and cloudy but turned out sunny and beautiful.  Lots of water around the tent but dry inside.  Dried out, laundry, log and ready to hit the road again tomorrow.  Trying to recharge batteries and the only plug is on the washing machine.  I was sure the machine wouldn’t be busy on Christmas Day.  Was I wrong!!  We hear the sandflies are bigger and more of them down the west coast.  Can’t wait.


Right now our average is $111NZ per day but that is dropping.  Wellington and the ferry were higher days.  Although there is EFTPOS at most every place we spend money, our Debit card doesn’t work here and Lonely Planet says that foreign cards will/may not work.  Most places will also charge, so we are mostly doing that and saving cash for when Cashpoints aren’t available.  VISA charges 1% conversion fee on the NZ charge, so it is adding up.  We’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.  That’s $1 on a $100NZ charge that is costing us just over $50.  Campgrounds cost from $7-10 per person and have wonderful facilities.  Sometimes showers are free, sometimes $.50.  So we have to save our $1, $2 and $.50 coins for showers and laundry.  They hang laundry out to dry a lot .. campgrounds have several of the spiderweb type lines on a pole .. and there is often 1 dryer for 3 washers.  A fight on rainy days.


December 26 – 31  St. Arnaud - ?

Boxing Day rings … raining!!  Damnit all Bobbie!!!  Larry got up at 7, I resisted til 9.  We have eggs and toast on the benches outside the kitchen.  We start packing during the odd not-so-rainy spell and finally get everything loaded by 1.  Then it’s pouring rain so we get into full raingear and don’t regret it, although it is sunny by the time we get it all on.  We head to Murchison, 66km west but essentially downhill.  It rains, it suns, it hails .. but the pedaling is great .. rolling along, mountains, sheep, little traffic the first half, following the Buller River.  Larry assures me it will be sunny and bright for us to set up camp.  NOT!!  We fantasize of a cabin or motel room .. but it’s Boxing Day.  Into Murchison and we DO find a nice little 2 bedroom cottage for $75 about 6:30.  And there’s a double rainbow.  Unload, showers, look for Take Away.  All closed.  So we have dinner at the Hotel and loudly enjoy a porterhouse w/ veggies and pan fried blue cod w/ chips and a lovely salad bar.  Uhmmmm ..  What a day!


OK .. the sun did stay out for the next glorious days.  After Murchison we stopped at the Longest Swinging Bridge in NZ and walked over and hiked an hour through the rain forest to Akiri Falls on the Buller River .. but it was low so not spectacular.  Ice cream and we pushed on and camped at a DOC campground at Lyell, which was wiped out by an earthquake sometime.  We dried out all the gear but the sandflies were atrocious.  Donned the netting again.  Pushed on the next day and biked 45 miles / 70km and got to Westport .. and chose Carter’s Beach campground.  Wanted a cabin, but none available.  The wind was howling.  Set up the tent and anchored it on all 4 sides and it held.  A wonderful full Irish breakfast at Donaldino’s Bakery the next day and off to the Seal Colony.  It’s the first time we biked without all the gear.  Wheeeeeeeeeeeee   Stopped at the Star Tavern on the way to restore our fluids, then biked to the Lighthouse and walked an hour on a beautiful walk along the Tasman Sea to the Seal Colony and back.  Saw lots of fur seals.  Back to the Star Tavern and wonderful burgers and chips and more libations.  A walk on the black sand beach and a little kite flying made the day complete.  As Sandy Muschitz wrote to us … it’s too bad we’re not having any fun.