The Beach

Westport, South Island



The hardest part was yet to come.


Sky and Earth

En route to Wanaka


Sunrise at Haast

Setting off through the Clouds towards the Haast Pass


Hot Springs

Roadside Refreshment for Mind and Body in Turangi


Parked Beauties

Don's first spoke broke right after Cambridge



After never-ending Climbing and Headwinds a birds-eye View of Queenstown is the Reward


Rainstorms and Thunder

Nelson to Murchison was accompanied by Nature Unleashed


We're one a Boat

A final daytrip to Milford Sounds


Taking a Dip in glacier-fed Waterfalls

On a hot 145km day from Haast to Wanaka well deserved


Rainforests and Alps

Spectacular Nature from Hari Hari to Fox Glacier


Leaving the Glaciers

My bronchitis was as steady Companion on the way to Haast - so was amazing Landscape


Fox Glacier

Climbing on a off the Bike all Day


Lunch on a Quay

One last Sandwich before climbing up to Franz Joseph Glacier


2014 was the Year of the Bike and after kicking it off with a cycling trip to Taiwan, we had already decided early on in the year that we were going to close it with an epic trip. Both Tasmania and New Zealand were discussed and in the end New Zealand won out.

I ended up building a new bike for this trip with the help of Jeff and it proved to be a worthwhile investment.

The trip was to be about cycling as much as possible and since it turned out that Christmas was an incredibly expensive time to travel (duh!) we said good-bye to the original plan of circumnavigating the South Island and instead opted to ride from Auckland to Queenstown, which would save us the initial connecting flight over Christmas.

The week prior to departure, our friend Don decided he was going to join us and so the three of us set off from Shanghai on December 21st in the whee hours of the morning from Pudong Airport with China Eastern (two bags each and they didn’t mind the overweight bike bags!) to Auckland. We arrived late afternoon and built bikes and had a good rest before kick starting the adventure.

Day 1 – Auckland to Huntley
see Strava route.
After a great breakfast and coffee (New Zealand, the place where everyone loves coffee and they make it well and charge it dearly) we headed out south through the suburbs of Auckland. Sunny, warm, hardly any wind and a first taste of what was to come.
My pre-planned Garmin route ended up leading us towards a section of gravel and the small side streets towards Huntley. We learned the hard way (the hungry way!) that there isn’t much in between towns in New Zealand and even though the North is significantly more populated than the South, we still ended up arriving in Huntley starved. After a seafood feast on main street and a subsequent nap on my end we hit up the local camp ground by the lake and set up for the night.

Day 2 – Huntley to Rotorua
see Strava route.
A super early morning start and a pleasant ride until lunch took us to Cambridge where we sat down for a meal. After lunch it took only a good 15kms before we had our first bike challenge. Don broke a spoke and so we detoured back into town to get it sorted. Ice cream stop for me. An hour later we were on the road again and the aforementioned Garmin challenges in regards to gravel would turn out to be rather significant this day.
We cycled through the shire and spied for Hobbits and finally ended up on a very steep climb on a very small road. This road then ended in a fence and a sign stating that the road had been closed since 2002 due to hazardous conditions. Since turning around and taking the highway to Rotorua would have meant a 60km detour, we decided to go ahead and give the road a shot.
4 hours and 20km later it was pitch black night, we had overcome steepest gravel road and had been mistaken for poachers by the local authority (who of course was much better equipped on his badass electro-mountainbike).
We arrived in Rotorua around midnight, dropped Don off to snore on a bench while scouting for the best spot to pitch our tents. A hardcore 188km day that would keep on giving a few days later.

Day 3 – Rotorua to Taupo
see Strava route.
The next day we had some trouble getting a very early start and started the day with Pasta and Eggs before setting out of Rotorua towards Lake Taupo. The initial goal for the day had been Turangi, however, our previous day’s adventure had taken a bit of a toll on all of us.
Around 20km to go to Taupo and a deafening explosion announced the end of Jeff’s tire. He sorted it out for the remaining 20km. It was Christmas Eve, so prior to setting up tent we bought steak, salad, wine and the usual carbs to prepare a well-deserved meal.
In Taupo we ended up staying at the Top Ten Holiday Park. One of the more expensive campground network in New Zealand. Sadly, their kitchens don’t come with the appropriate equipment so our feast heavily depended on our fellow campers’ utensils.

We desperately needed a new tire but over the holidays it was impossible to purchase one. We then decided to cut the next day short – being already behind schedule and not having made Turangi we would head to Turangi the next day and accept that we would need to adjust our route.

Day 4 – Taupo to Turangi
see Strava Route.
We left Taupo behind after Jeff had McGyvered his tire to hold for the day with half a plastic bottle as a tire liner as well as a decent amount of zip ties to keep the tire in one piece. We’d be lucky to make it to Taupo, we thought.
The ride that day was beautiful along the lake under clear blue skies. On the way we met a nice couple from Christchurch who had also cycled from Auckland, albeit a slightly different route than hours. In Turangi most places were closed due to the holidays and the couple recommended to carry on to Tokaanu, which was 1. very close, 2. had natural hotsprings and 3. had a free DOC campsite.
The hot springs displayed an amazing array of colors, however, the cold river we had to surpass to get to the hotspring was an unsurmountable obstacle for me and I ended up not hotspringing. That night we camped and the rain came on, cutting our fire and wine session a bit short.

Day 5 – Turangi to Wellington
taking the bus
Boxing Day was no better in regards to open bike shops, and so we made the call to get a bus to Wellington where we then would be able to sort out our bikes. Furthermore, the North wasn’t all that exciting in regards to landscape as it was a never-ending view of rolling hills, cows, more cows, more hills, some sheep, more cows and hills. We hadn’t prebooked any bus but we got lucky and all five of us arrived in Wellington by the end of the day of various buses. We checked into the Downtown Backpackers, which is a decent place and were actually quite excited about our 2 days off until we would catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton on the 28th. Until then we wanted to enjoy the windy city.

Day 6 – Climbing Mount Victory in Wellington
see Strava Route.
We spent the day eating and drinking our way through Wellington and sorting out our hardware. We then went for a little ride along the shoreline sans helmets and almost getting ticketed subsequently, but it was nice to feel some wind in the hair.
We climbed Mount Victory for a fabulous view over the city and all decided we loved the place.

Day 7 – South Island, Picton to Nelson
see Strava Route.
We took the early morning ferry from Wellington to Picton and arrived on the South Island at around 2pm. After two rest days we then decided it was still early enough to head to Nelson. It was supposed be hilly but only around 90km, which we deemed feasible.
We took the Queen Charlotte Drive along the coast and it was beautiful. A lot of it reminded me of our Taiwan Eastcoast cycling trip in regards to scenery.
There was lots of climbing this day and also rain. We didn’t know yet but we would have lots of it in the South. The last climbs cost all the energy we had and everyone needed some gels that day. And of course Sour Patch Kids. Constant snacking seems to be a pre-requisite for successful cycle touring. Before our last big climb a really nice guy pulled over to see if we were doing alright, which we were. He invited us to stay on the campground he worked on, which we ended up doing. We made it to Nelson before sunset, which we were quite happy about.

Day 8 – Nelson to Murchison
see Strava Route.
From Nelson to Murchison it was supposed to be a full day’s worth of riding and after heading out in pouring rain we were less than excited to have such a long day ahead. Rain was our steady companion until lunch time when the consistent up culminated in a steep climb to the Saddle Path. The last few turns I ended up pushing my bike and was completely exhausted by the time I reached the top. It was however, a great place for lunch and I was ready to change into some dry pants. We had our sandwich and were quite stoked about the remainder of the day as after 70km of up, we were about the get on to the next 50km of down. The descend from Saddle Pass was super fun, we broke the 70km/h speed mark despite being heavily loaded and lots of tight turns and traffic. Super extra fun.
The rest of the day blasted past and we made it to Murchison at around 4pm. Finally a day we finished early and had some time to enjoy a cider before having to pitch the tent and cooking dinner.
The camp ground here was quite neat and it was nice to throw in a wash and have a glass of red wine. By now our established choice was a bottle of red Matua.

Day 8 – we stay in Murchison
no cycling.
After waking up in the morning of Day 8, we quickly realize that today we won’t go anywhere. Man down – stomach flu, we need to check into a local hostel so that Jeff can have a rest while Don and I set off to sample the towns cakes and ciders. Our hostel is the Lazy Cow Backpackers, a family run place with a lot of character and a small and really nice group of guests. We actually socialize for a change and will end up meeting some of the people again along the way.

Day 9 – Murchison to Westport
see Strava Route.
We got up really early and sadly is pouring down buckets. However, we are a bit antsy after having sat around all day yesterday and decide to head out anyway.
It’s a bit eery with low clouds and strong winds and constant rain but we make good progress. We want to stop 60km in at Berlins’ for lunch. Shortly after setting off Don is nowhere to be seen – it’s finally the kind of weather that lets him unfold his true potential. The colder the better it seems. I start out a little bit miserable but once I’m soaked I actually tremendously enjoy the day. The same goes for Jeff, who takes a bit longer to warm up to the conditions, but by the time we reach Berlins’ and have our Whitebait Sandwich and Carrot Cake everyone is quite happy. Outside the rain and winds are picking up making the last 40kms quite adventurous. Waterfalls spill over the street, winds come from all directions and I’m having the BEST day.
20km before Westport, Don has pulled over to the side of the road. It seems Don at full force is is a bit too much force for his poor vintage bike which is now useless with a broken derailleur. We flag down a helpful man with a track that loads up Don, his bike, his bags and continue onwards to Westport.
We check into the local hostal to try and find Don and are ready for New Year’s Eve. One more bottle of Matua and lots of Lamb for the Barbie.

Day 10 – Westport to await the 4th Cyclist
we just cruised around town and hit up the beach.

Day 11 – Westport to Greymouth
see Strava Route.

… to be continued….

See full Flickr Photo Album here.