That was the toughest moment of my trip so far. Then it occurred to me that if indeed I was as far from home as I would ever be, then every step west I took for the next 4 months was bringing me closer.
That cheered me up a bit.
My good buddy Tony saw me off. i was ever so greatful he was there. During the bus ride, and ferry crossing to horseshoe bay I was super aware that I was seeing all this for the last time in quite a while. Made me really appreciate everything. after the flight to San Francisco, it was 14 hrs to NZ. It was something to imagine nothing but the pacific below me for so long.
Cabin lights came on about 3am and breakfast was served. Landed few minutes ahead of schedule but it took awhile to get my bike box, get through customs, get it built and get on my way. Then awhile more to get my bearings.
While parked on the shoulder at an off ramp debating direction, a polite, relaxed, amused copper pulled up behind me, came over and joined the debate. We discussed the pros and cons of riding illegally on the motorway amongst many other things including feijons.. An in season fruit id never heard of or tasted before. In the end, I took his suggestion and the off ramp, headed for the "Great Southern Roadway" which twisted and turned, rose and fell, crossed the #1 back and forth through wonderful countryside past grazing sheep horses, cows, and even a road bike race which i somehow found myself in the middle of. Rather amusing for the spectators i imagine. A good bit of road to practice getting used to riding on the WRONG side.
It's a bit unnerving when your looking around and suddenly a car comes around a corner at you from up ahead and it's in the right lane. Even more so when you notice a kid is sitting where the driver should be and isn't even paying attention to where he/she is going.
Day one was a fun initiation. The climbing was tougher than anticipated but I enjoyed it. Day two was even tougher and day three tougher still. By then my legs were pretty worn out. Was loving the pure freedom of being able to just get up and ride all day everyday though. That's really what it's about.
New Zealanders (kiwis) are a friendly helpful bunch. I didn't get one finger, or FU out a car window. No frustrated honks as cars raced by. Nothing like that. Actually, lots of thumbs up from truckies and bikies. And lots of encouraging honks from passers by.
Twice I had police go out of their way to help orient me in the right direction. That was a huge help in Wellington.
Roundabouts are amazing in their simple efficiency. I would stop, pull over, and watch at some of the larger ones that served as a hub for many lanes merging and exiting.
The 3.5hr ferry ride from north to south island (wellington-Picton) was entertaining. It was mostly full of 20something travelers resting up for the next leg of their adventures. That occasion, and a night I spent at a backpackers reminded me that there is a whole world of people, traveling on the cheap and I just want to say here, now to everyone in their 20s reading this. Get out there and see some of the world if you can. Make it a priority over that new car you've been eying, or any other of the many distracting trappings.
The network of people you will meet and the infinite possibilities of how that might impact your life far outweigh the 3-500 dollar a month payments you are thinking about tying yourself to for the next few years. Just sayin:)
My first night on the south island I spent in a caravan. It was at a motel and was only 25 a night. Clean and cool. There was a communal room with laundry, cooking and chilling out facilities. Second day I got to ride along side the ocean most of the day. It was awesome. The rollers coming in would make such a crash and an explosion of white spray mist. At times right across the road. In other spots, seals dominated the rocky beach for miles. Frolicking in the tidal pools. And in others, suffers were out taking advantage of the swells
The weather was great for the first 4 days but then got cold and wet. Was still scenic and fun... But less so. It slowed me down some and I decided to make Christchurch rather than Invercargill my exit point.
While in Christchurch, a 5.3 aftershock struck while I was in motel lobby. The whole building was moving, we all ran outside and were joined by everyone who'd been indoors in the neibourhood. The trees and bushes were all shaking. The fear and concern was apparent on the faces of those around me. Two more small tremors happened later that night and had me planning my escape route and what to grab if I had to rush out the door in the wee hours. This is what the people here must do and feel every day.. Very stressful...and brave
I had a day to get bike box etc. Wasted day as far as the attempt goes but it blew by fast. I got to see some of the city. Not as much as I wouldve liked but..
What else..big diversity tween north a d south island. Big temp dif too. So much to see and do. Could easily spend a month on each island cycling around.
So roughly 1100k in 7 days. Just a tad shy of 160kpd. (approximate)