Monday, January 24, 2011

Long weekend cycle tour

This was a test to see how light we could travel mountain bike touring. We just had back packs with water proofs, food, water and bike tools and spares, then we had a change of clothes in our new under-seat bags. We had booked backpacker accommodation and were just going buy food along the way as we needed it.
All our stuff at the start of the trip in front of the garage

Day 1
We set off from the house at 6:30am to catch the ferry over to the South Island at 8am. It is about 30 minute ride to the ferry terminal - which is in the middle of town. The crossing was a little rough, so Aaron took some sea sick drugs and passed out. Personally being back on a big ship got me quite excited about my research voyage in April.

Aaron passed out on the ferry

Once we got in to the Marlborough Sounds it calmed down and Aaron was fine again. But the rain clouds were looming and it started to shower just as we approached the ferry terminal at Picton.
After a quick stop at the Picton Bakery and the latest shower had passed we head out of Picton to the east, up and over the hill in to Port Underwood.

On the road heading north out of Picton

The Port Underwood road is very hilly, twisty, and with several sections of gravel. You really feel like you are off the beaten path with about 5 cars passing us all day. While there is a lot of forestry in this area there are a few nice little bays along the way which we stopped in for short breaks to eat some snacks along the way and to recover from the last hill.

Robin Hood Bay

Three large granny gear hills later, we could finally see the Wairau River plain where we were heading for the night. While it was a relief to be riding on the flat, with the wind behind us, it was rather boring after the scenery along the east coast.

Wairau River plain

First day - 72 km in 4 hours 50 minutes. A well earned shower and greasy pub meal.

Day 2
Unfortunately when we woke on day two it was pouring with rain. We headed off in the hope that it might ease, but if only got heavier. So we bailed from our original plan of heading over the Waikakaho-Cullen Track (also known as the Linkwater Longcut) as the hills were in the cloud and the idea of pushing our bikes through mud for 5-6 hours was really not appealing. Instead we rode around the mountain range on the main highway from Renwick to Havelock. After 2 and a half hours of riding in the pouring rain we got to Havelock and headed to the nearest bakery for a coffee and cake to raise our spirits and dry off/warm up again.

We finally dragged ourselves out of the warm cafe and continued on to Anakiwa at the end of Queen Charlotte Sound. Day two was 64 km in 3 hours.

We arrived at the backpackers had a shower and hung up our wet clothes to dry and spent the afternoon and evening hanging out, chatting to a couple travelling around NZ from Belgium, playing scrabble, cards, and a pathetic game of pool - fortunately the other couple were as bad as we were!

Day 3
Finally it stopped raining and we head out on Monday morning to ride the last part of the Queen Charlotte Track. It was a little slippy after all the rain, but mostly rideable. After an hour or so we turned around and headed back down to Anakiwa and took the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive back to Picton to catch our afternoon ferry.

Just before starting the Queen Charlotte Track

Queen Charlotte Sound with part of the Richmond Range in the background

The trip back to Wellington on the ferry was slightly rougher than on the way over and Aaron decided that this time he would fight the sea sickness by eating. So he demolished all our left over food and then moved on to a revolting looking hotdog!

Aaron about to demolish a hotdog to counter the sea sickenss!!!

After that he started to feel sick - hard to tell if it was sea sickness or the effects of eating all that food topped off with the hotdog!

We got home at 6pm after riding back from the ferry terminal. A total of 50 km in 3 hours 30 minutes for Day three. So not a huge total distance, but lots of hills. It took both of us a couple of days to recover. I'm not convinced it is the healthiest weekend, even though we were exercising we were also eating lots of bakery cakes/scones/pies and lots of lollies and other junk food.... I'm not convinced the calories in = calories out! However, we did prove that we can travel very light.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


We spent the weekend landscaping. Starting with removing all the garden debris that mum and dad and we have removed from our previously overgrown garden. We also had to remove lots of weeds which had grown back on the bank in front of the new fence. Then we started planting some native plants - flax, hebes, Marlborough daisies, Chatham Island Forget-me-nots and some native ground cover. Hopefully the plants will grow quickly and help to stabilise the bank.

Purple flax, ground cover and Chatham Island forget-me-nots - imagine me in 2-5 years time!!

Chatham Island forget-me-not

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Featherston Bike Epic

After spending most of our Christmas break painting, organising, spring cleaning the house we have decided that we need to get out of Wellington over the long weekend at the end of January. We are planning a bike tour in the north of the South Island. So to practise and get some fitness and endurance for the bike tour we have been doing a few longer rides around Wellington. On Saturday we took the train over to the Wairarapa and rode back via the Rimutaka Rail Trail and the Hutt River Trail. Neither of these trails are technical, so this was just to build up our endurance. The whole ride was just over 100km and took us six hours of riding and a couple of stops. Unfortunately it was a southerly so we were riding in to the wind most of the way down the Hutt Valley.

Helen emerging from one of the several tunnels on the Rimutaka Rail Trail

Heading towards Siberia Gully

Aaron crossing the ford

Hutt River Trail

Fitness was not so much of a problem - the biggest problem was the sore bum's - after about 70km it was hard to find a comfortable position to sit on the saddle. Anyway we made it and rewarded ourselves with Fish and Chips and a beer, sitting on our deck in the sun! Needless to say we spent most of Sunday holding down our new couch recovering... need to do some more training to cope with three days of riding!