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New Zealand lockdown

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Joined: 16 Mar 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 1:04 am    Post subject: New Zealand lockdown Reply with quote

A few pitches and 2 spears
When we decided to have a motorhome holiday in NZ I really wanted to have access to a bike.
That was the deal: we go on an organised trip with tour guides, as long as I can have the freedom to take off for an exploratory ride when we reached camp. I could take my bike from U.K., hire one at each destination, or hire one for the duration.
I opted for the last of these and I am so glad I did. The first 2 weeks on South Island B.C. (before covid) went without a hitch. I was able to use the bike when we reached our campsite having researched local routes. Terry Barrett, a stalwart of Sol CC and a long time fan of the land of the long white cloud gave me a book of cycle touring in NZ which became my starting point. Augmented by web sites and leaflets I was always able to find a few miles of gravel, tarmac or singletrack to add to my kiwi adventure.
I rode part of Alpes2ocean in Te Anau, some of the Otago Central cycle trackway from Hyde to middle March, and a wine discovery trail in Gibbotson, Queenstown.

Then it all changed as we got to Picton for the ferry across to north island. NZ had moved quickly to level 3 which meant many shops and public buildings were shut then as we got to wellington lockdown at level 4 came into effect . We were able to drive to the Rotorua campsite, where we have been ever since. As a place to be in lockdown it has merits. The well stocked supermarkets are a short walk away, and there are plenty of parks nearby to exercise in. But as a destination for cycling it really comes into it’s own.
Rotorua held the world UCI mountain bike and trials championships in 2006 and now has a web of 180km of trails in the famous Redwoods forest just south of the city.
In addition there are many more roads here than found in certain parts of NZ ie South Island so the riding is more like we are used to in U.K.
I will post more later Smile
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Joined: 16 Mar 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:18 pm    Post subject: New Zealand lockdown Reply with quote

This is our last full day in Rotorua and I’m going back up to the redwoods MTb trail to search out another nice easy route. Yesterday I rode around lake Rotorua this time anti-clockwise. The roads were even quieter as it was Good Friday and all the shops were shut, so no reason to drive around. People here seem to ‘get it’ that in order to protect everyone you do not make unnecessary journeys. Police have been on duty to check on drivers but have not stopped me. My rides have been between 6 and 28 miles. I have seen other riders out and about often alone or in small family groups. I have done a total of 220 miles since I arrived here on 24th March.
I’m just back from my ride to the redwoods and after a smooth tarmac uphill I got onto Te Pou-koropu, which was a grade 2 cross country trail, ie not all downhill.Arrived at the top to find a new car park being built for about 200 cars. The council know how to spend money on infrastructure and make full use of their natural resources. Speaking of which the energy in this area is mostly generated by geothermal which they have in abundance. The downside is that they have small earthquakes every day, most not felt by humans. I rode back through a broad forestry road to the valley bottom and then the Te ari aha cycle trail back to the campsite.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Impressions of NZ as a cyclist
Now that I’m home I can reflect on our stay down under with less anxiety. Our journey home although long was fairly uneventful, apart from the guy in the row behind being noisily ill for most of the flight from KL to Heathrow, poor chap.
Outdoor activity is definitely a thing in NZ. When I picked up my bike in Christchurch it was from a warehouse full of every type of bike imaginable, from full suspension trail monsters to slick road bikes. They even had Surly touring bikes complete with pannier racks and dynamo hubs.
I opted for a hard tail MTB as it gave me greatest flexibility, and enabled me to ride whatever surface was available.
The riding I did on South Island before covid was more representative of normal life in that the roads carried the usual amount of traffic. Tarmac or sealed roads as they call them offered smooth riding and there was often a shoulder for cyclists, although at pinch points such as one way bridges, and tight bends these would often disappear, just like our cycle lanes in the U.K. !
I came across many Aotearoa brevet riders going south as we went north and many of them had rigged up some pipe lagging, or foam to stick out a right angles from the bike on the road side in order to remind passing traffic of keeping a safe distance.
One of the things I love about being a cyclist is the contact with others of the same ilk, examples of which follow:
Monday 30th March
Today I had in mind to climb the hill that I can see from the campsite. I looked online at the route and set off after lunch when the air had warmed up and the prospect of rain had reduced.
As normal I rode along an A road to start but was soon on a side road, called paradise valley spring road. It was the most beautiful route; a narrow winding undulating ribbon of tarmac with exotic trees and shrubs on each side, framing views of farmland with happy cattle and sheep. There were a couple of tough climbs and I had to use the granny gear at one point, but it was always enjoyable with the ever changing views. It looked like a desirable place to live with the occasional houses set back from the road, built of much better quality than the clapboard bungalows one so often sees in NZ towns. It was a trip of 16miles with a short detour of 3km up an alpine type road to a vantage point overlooking the lake and town.
1st April
Not a big ride today, just a supermarket trip and whilst packing my goods away into the rucksack and bag and unlocking my bike, I caught the eye of a shopper waiting to go in. ‘Nice day’ says I.
‘Come far?’ She asks ‘Just from campsite where we’re staying’.
We get talking as she is inching towards the head of the queue, and tells me she has just completed the ‘T.A.’ ie tour aotearoa. Of course I am suddenly animated, full of questions about her experience. She and her friend started in cape Reinga mid-feb and completed in 23days. All that for an unsupported bike packing trip of 3000km from north to south of New Zealand with 60% off road. I could have chatted forever but she had to go shopping and my rucksack was getting heavy. It just shows yet again the community of cyclists is shortcut for meaningful contact and potential friendship.
Friday 3rd April
Lunch then out on the bike and today’s ride was a corker. 30 miles of the best rural roads Nz can offer. The first part of the ride was an arterial road out of rotorua going north along a wide avenue fringed by up-market hotels and spas until reaching a new roundabout where I took the Te Ari Aha cycle way which followed the road but was much more pleasant.
The signage and the track all looked new and well used and I felt confident that I could follow it even though the garmin said not to.
Eventually after a sublime ride through an exotic forest gorge I came onto the road I had left 3km before and followed the garmin again for the rest of the ride. There were close cropped fields on rounded hummocks with my tarmac route threading its way through, up and down in a constantly changing ride. It reminded me of our regular sat morning ride but here the sun was shining from a clear blue sky.
Highlight of the day was spotting a NZ kingfisher perched on a telegraph wire which obligingly stayed there whilst I got my phone out, signed in, selected camera, focused and snapped. All for a miniscule picture of something framed by a white cloud in the far distance that I could show to a sceptical audience later.

Will I go back? I would love to, there is a lot more to see. I would like to do the T.A. But take longer than 23 days and enjoy the scenery rather than racing through audax -style.
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