New Zealand Tandem Tour

29th December 2003 ~ 18th January 2004

Week 2

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All photos are by Neville and Tricia unless otherwise stated. The narrative is by Tricia.

Day 8 - Monday, 5th January 2004 - Franz Josef
White Heron Sanctuary trip via jet boat
White Heron Sanctuary trip via jet boat

At speed by Jet Boat
At speed by jet boat

White Herons
White Herons

Rain overnight and off and on during day.

Free day. Breakfast at The Landing (strange big sausage!). Various options of walk to the foot of the Franz Josef Glacier or a full walk up it, possible helicopter trips, White Heron Sanctuary trip via jet boat, shopping, internet cafés, bike maintenance, etc. The White Heron Sanctuary at Whataroa was an excellent tour with them collecting 8 of us from the motels, driving to Whataroa and then driving on gravel road to the jet boat for a fantastic 20 minute ride to the boardwalk through forest to the hide opposite the nesting site for hundreds of White Heron and Royal Spoonbill and Shag - very beautiful and fascinating. Dinner was "on our own" but most of us had booked in as one party to the Beeches Restaurant in Franz Josef where we shared our various adventures of the day. No helicopter or plane trips as the weather had been too bad with rain on and off and low cloud.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 233
N&T's cycling mileage: today 0, cumulative 207

The Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef Glacier
photo by: Bob Smith


Royal Spoonbills
Royal Spoonbills


Day 9 - Tuesday, 6th January 2004 - Franz Josef to Punakaiki
piece of driftwood which reminded us of Golom
Piece of driftwood which reminded
us of Golom from the Lord of the Rings films

Hokitika
Hokitika

Rain, hot sun, mizzle.

Breakfast and briefing at The Landing (lots of "lifting" options available). Rain started 100 yards down the road but a nice fast rolling ride to Whataroa (25 miles). Coffee and big biscuit in the café/shop, a look round the local craft shop with lovely carvings. Some rode on in the rain to the next craft/merino wool jumper shop at Harihari, others took the bus. All were loaded on to lunch at the Bushman's Café, Pukekura with a giant model sandfly outside as its logo and a piece of driftwood inside which reminded us of Golom from the Lord of the Rings films. All bussed on to Hokitika where the sun shone for our wander around the town, checking out the several jade (greenstone) carving shops, glass blowing shop, bike shop, museum, etc. All drove from Hokitika along the coast, through Greymouth to Rapahoe where we were offloaded to cycle along the coast to Punakaiki Rocks Hotel in low cloud and light drizzle with a grey sea beside us again (16 miles). Dinner in the hotel restaurant and briefing. Some hardy souls walked up to the Pancake Rocks blow hole at 23:00hrs in an attempt to see the blow hole in action at high tide - all rather too dark though.

Route mileage: today 136, cumulative 369
N&T's cycling mileage: today 41, cumulative 248

Cycling along the coast to Punakaiki
Cycling along the coast to Punakaiki

Day 10 - Wednesday, 7th January 2004 - Punakaiki to St Arnaud
Hydrangea at the Punakaiki Rocks Hotel
Hydrangea at the Punakaiki Rocks Hotel

Pancake Rocks
Pancake Rocks

Lake Rotoiti at dusk
Lake Rotoiti at dusk
photo by: Bob Smith


Very humid, rain, hot & sunny.

Again lots of "lifting" options available. All cycled up to Pancake Rocks and walked around the boardwalks looking at the spectacular layered rock formations and the caves and holes the sea had carved in them - no high tide at this time so no "blow hole". We cycled on along the undulating coast, suffering rather in the very high humidity, to the café at Charleston (22 miles), where we saw Mel lost for words for the first time, as a result of a little misunderstanding with the owner! We loaded on to the bus here but many opted to continue cycling and we picked them up at various intervals along the road later in the day. A picnic had been planned but it was decided the weather was too "iffy" so after collecting everybody off the road we drove alongside the Buller River and through the Buller Gorge to a late lunch at Beechwoods Café in Murchison - the weather had cleared and it was burning hot here. We drove on to Kawatiri Junction where we were all offloaded to cycle along a beautiful quiet road to St Arnaud: this was another of New Zealand's "trick" roads where it looked as though it was flat and easy but in fact was uphill all the way but the skylarks singing and flying high above us, the falcons and the beautiful wild flowers kept us going until we reached Alpine Lodge Hotel (15 miles). Dinner in the hotel plus Vegemite awards and briefing. After dinner a group went off for a walk at the nearby Lake Rotoiti.

Route mileage: today 139, cumulative 508
N&T's cycling mileage: today 37, cumulative 285

One of the various 'pick-ups'
One of the day's various 'pick-ups'

Day 11 - Thursday, 8th January 2004 - St Arnaud to Nelson
A close encounter with sheep
A close encounter with sheep

Picnic lunch site at McLeans Picnic Area
Picnic lunch site at McLeans Picnic Area

The Boat Shed restaurant beside the Tasman Bay
The Boat Shed restaurant beside the Tasman Bay

Light rain on and off.

We set off in light rain, soon coming to quite a steep, hairpin bend uphill where we encountered sheep being herded in the road, then a 50mph whiz down into a beautiful valley of wild flowers and birds singing with forest alongside this traffic free road through Golden Downs to the Kohatu Hotel for coffee and muffin. From there it was up another hill and through the Golden Downs Forest to finally find our picnic lunch site at McLeans Picnic Area, where it started to drizzle again. On in the rain along another lovely valley past many fruit orchards, vineyards and berry farms to Motueka (the rain had stopped) where we all loaded onto the buses for the final leg alongside Tasman Bay to the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson (very posh). Bath and spruce up and then a wander around the shops of Nelson before returning to the hotel for a drink and a bus ride to dinner at The Boat Shed restaurant beside the Tasman Bay.

Route mileage: today 98, cumulative 606
N&T's cycling mileage: today 66, cumulative 351

The colourful rooves of Nelson seen from the Rutherford Hotel
The colourful rooves of Nelson
seen from the Rutherford Hotel


Day 12 - Friday, 9th January 2004 - Nelson to Picton
Agapanthus flowers - east of Picton
Agapanthus flowers - east of Picton

In sight of Queen Charlotte Sound
In sight of Queen Charlotte Sound

Pouring rain and wind to hot sun.

The weather was so dreadful at breakfast that the decision was taken to visit the excellent World of Wearable Arts & Classic Cars Museum (WOW) - by bus before driving out of Nelson along a very twisty and mountainous road to Pelorus Bridge café for an early lunch. Although the weather had cleared up even before we left Nelson to hot sunshine, no-one fancied cycling along the busy, twisty and very undulating road beside the Marlborough Sound from Havelock to Picton so we all continued in the buses to the Beachcomber Inn at Picton. A quick turnaround for one bus to take all those "winies" on a wine tasting tour of the wineries around Blenheim; whilst a few of us stretched our legs by cycling east out of Picton, through Waikawa along a lovely quiet, winding, rolling road in sight of Queen Charlotte Sound. Back to the Inn to sit in the sunshine, do laundry, some even swam in the pool and then a drink in the bar and dinner, where Brian was presented with a model of a squashed possum plus an envelope as a token of our thanks for all his help as Assistant Guide as he was to leave us once over on the North Island.

Route mileage: today 69, cumulative 675
N&T's cycling mileage: today 16, cumulative 367

Day 13 - Saturday, 10th January 2004 - Picton to Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park
Aboard the Inter Islander Ferry to Wellington
Aboard the Inter Islander Ferry to Wellington

At Wellington the passenger gangway collapsed
At Wellington the passenger gangway collapsed
photo by: Clark Merrill

Planning the following day's route
Planning the following day's route

Hot sun.

We left our small bus and trailer in Picton to be used by another tour starting there, so after breakfast we walked through Picton to the Ferry Terminal to board the Inter Islander Ferry to Wellington. It was a calm 3 hour crossing across the Cook Strait, though very breezy if stood out on deck. The sheep and calves were fairly quiet in their trucks. Excitement on docking at Wellington when the passenger gangway collapsed whilst being manoeuvred into position; eventually we were ushered down to the rail deck and out of the ship that way. John, our new Assistant Guide, was there with a replacement small van and trailer and another van was hired to make the 5 hour long journey more comfortable and less cramped. From Wellington we drove north on SH1 to Bulls and on to the Skotel Alpine Resort, with a brief stop for ice cream and the loo. The hotel is situated in the Tongariro National Park between the snow capped Mt Ruapehu (2797m highest mountain on North Island) and Mt Ngauruhoe, a perfect conical shaped volcano. A welcome bath after the long journey and then a drink and briefing in the bar followed by an excellent barbecue dinner.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 675
N&T's cycling mileage: today 0, cumulative 367

View of Mount Ngauruhoe from the Skotel Alpine Resort
View of the Mount Ngauruhoe volcano
from our room in the Skotel Alpine Resort

Day 14 - Sunday, 11th January 2004 - Whakapapa Village to Rotorua
Bungy jumping heroes
Bungy jumping heroes
Dennis,     Vic
Bob,     Clark

Waiotapu fabulously coloured sulphur pools
Waiotapu fabulously coloured sulphur pools
photo by: Bob Smith


The Bungy Jumpers
The Bungy Jumpers at Zinelli's Italian Restaurant
Dennis,     Clark,     Vic
Bob


Very hot & sunny - 30ºC.

A wonderful 4 mile gentle downhill ride with the big mountains behind us and lots of waving pampas grass beside us - we did our first 20 miles in 1 hour without even trying! Up a final hill and part way down (unfortunately stopping the big whiz!) a lookout over Lake Taupo - huge; continuing down to Turangi where we all loaded into the buses to go to Lake Taupo Bungy Jump where the "mad 4", Dennis, Vic, Bob & Clark, each jumped off a platform suspended over a river, tied to a big piece of elastic - they all said they enjoyed it! and it was certainly fun watching them. After that excitement it was into the buses again to have a quick look at the Huka Falls before driving on to our picnic lunch spot at Waiotapu Thermal Reserve where several of us had a walk around the fabulously coloured sulphur pools and bubbling mud pools. Another super picnic lunch and then on to the bikes to cycle a lovely open hilly country route (very hot though: T&N achieved 61mph down a very squidgy, melty tarmac road - our fastest ever!) and then into forest (& welcome shade) and into the heart of Rotorua to the Princes Gate Hotel, described as "boutique", built in 1897 and very old fashioned. After settling in, bathing and dressing, we all met for a drink and briefing and then walked through the town to Zinelli's Italian Restaurant for dinner.

Route mileage: today 127, cumulative 802
N&T's cycling mileage: today 56, cumulative 423

Pampus Grass en route to Rotorua
Pampus Grass en route to Rotorua

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