Friday, 11 December 2009

Queen Charlotte Sound

As a final goodbye to New Zealand, I decided to travel to the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the North Island for a kind of holiday with Sofia. Throughout the majority of the trek, the weather was fine, and the diversity and natural beauty of the area overwhelming. The pictures below were taken by Sofia, by far the superior photographer.

We trekked for three days, and camped along the way in some beautiful coves. The camping was great, even with a punctured mattress and all-round bad planning for the trip on both our parts.

I am now back in Australia, for Christmas, and waiting for the flight to Buenos Aires, which has been pushed back a few weeks due to ticket availablity and price. I now leave on the 20th of January. Check up after that date for some updates.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Windy Wellington winding down

Sometimes you don't realize how good something is until you have left it behind. This isn't one of those times. Due to a canceled overnight camping trip, my weekend was free and I decided to simply cycle around the hills surrounding the city of Wellington. Beautiful vistas and incredible winding roads have been right at my fingertips and I had not realized this until today! The weather created a picture-perfect day, and the temperature was not too hot in the sun and not too cold in the shade. T-Shirt weather has finally arrived. I almost feel like I miss the place already. I have six weeks until I hit the wide open roads of Patagonia shortly after navigating the cultural explosion and hustle of Buenos Aires, and then, such a serene, easy living, easy place like Wellington will be a distant and hopefully not too lusted-after memory.

I had a taste and reminder of Australia recently with a short visit for my mother's wedding, and while I loved seeing old faces, and I recognize Australia as a place of many foreigners daydreams, sadly it is not for me. I will spend Christmas there with loved ones, but it will be another short visit, South America's call is like the siren at sea, impossible to resist, but hopefully not as deadly!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

New gear and setup

I have been updating much of my gear that I haul around for lighter, more high-tech stuff. I have also been working hard to cut down on the amount of stuff I needlessly haul around and I have been able to get rid of the need for my front panniers. I will likely strap extra water to the front rack, for those long stretches of desolate road in South America.

Everything I will take to the Americas for over a year

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Has he not gone-a beyond the hills

Recently, I have fallen into the ultimately unavoidable state of mind I hit when I have had my fill of a certain place, when the lustre of an unexplored and unknown city and culture have grown a little dull. I am aware of the beauty of the city, but still constantly, happily dream of the next suburb, city, country or continent I hope to visit. I have remained fairly anonymous within Wellington due to incessant saving for the next trip, but am still enjoying myself thoroughly. The classes I am taking are not helping my wanderlust abate, learning Spanish has been enjoyable, motivational and has been firing all sorts of images into my mind regarding the cultures of South America. Lord knows what I am going to do with my life in the long term, when three months at rest leave me climbing the walls in eagerness and anticipation to be off into the wilderness again, when every resting second of each day makes me think I could be putting it to better use, and every morning waking up to the silouette of my bicycle at my window before the morning sun makes me want to call my work and tell them I won't make it in today, or ever again for that matter, as I am too busy putting the limited time I have to better use! But of course, I am just a regular, ordinary person who must earn my keep, my rewards, and even a day back to the grind at work thinking about the next great adventure is a privelage I should be thankful to luck of birth for.

Is there anyone else out there in the same situation, thinking and feeling the same thing? Let me know. Does leaving for South America from New Zealand circa September by any means possible, be it yacht, container ship, paddle boat, hot air balloon or even the dreaded airliner and arriving possibly tired, malnourished and weatherbeaten, jumping on a bicycle and pedaling north appeal? I hope so, because it certainly gets my heart racing, the looming test of whether I can mentally and physically stand up to a task that isn't actually unique, that many, many miscreants have actually completed before me will hopefully prove or disprove my bravado and naivity and leave me a better person afterwards, regardless of the result. I could certainly use some improvement!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Gorse: A Makara day ride

I went on a ride out of Wellington today, a trip through Makara to the west of Wellington and south along the coast back into the city. I had planned to make it a two day ride, but I finished it in about 6 hours! As usual I carried my bike full of gear.


Beach pushing, worse than gorse

Fewer gorse here

Friday, 13 March 2009


The latest stopping point

I am now well and truly sorted out in Wellington now, I have a full time job and a good room in a house. The perfect position to start saving up for my future adventures. I have had quite a few guests since I moved in also, several couchsurfers (good to be giving back to the community by hosting others), my friend Gijs from the north, and my father.

Wellington waterfront

Midnight Espresso, part of W'tons great cafe culture

Maori Totem

Matthias and Gijs

Hutt Valley

I stayed with family friends in Upper Hutt for two weeks. During this time I sorted out a place to stay in Wellington, and a job for the next 6 or so months. Nicole and Tony were the most gracious hosts.

I did some hiking with Tony while I was in the valley, quite a good climb up to Cannon Point, and a descent on the other side to a lake.

Descent to the lake

My father had told me of the beacon at the summit, so it was good to able to retrace his footsteps, andsee his original hometown from a magnificent view above.

Summit navigation beacon

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Half Done

The photo directly below was the last taken on my cycle trip through the North Island. Just before Upper Hutt, in the Akatarawa ranges. The previous two weeks were full of family and friend meetings and reunions, hard but enjoyable cycling and constant suprises regarding the scenery, people and general vibe of New Zealand.

I left Toon and Gijs in Hamilton, ending the "Three Musketeers" partnership we had formed. The two of them were looking for some farm work and I decided to press on south. A gradual uphill, remote road for towards Lake Taupo was my companion for two days, and was glad to be rid of it when I first saw the great lake. Relatives looked after me in Taupo and Napier, to the east.

Art-deco Napier waterfront

Gorge road

On the way south, along the east coast of the North Island, I once again used couchsurfing to meet new people and find a place to stay for the night. After a few hair-raising experiences on the gorge road over the central ranges toward Palmerston North, I continued south, now on the west coast, toward Wellington.

Lake Taupo

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

New Zealand

On the way to Auckland, at Brisbane Airport, a man approached me after spotting my pannier and introduced himself as Toon, a Belgian cyclist planning on cycling and working through New Zealand. We decided to stick together for the a while, landing at the Auckland Airport and cycling our way into the centre where we met a friend, Gijs.

We boarded the ferry the next morning, after an early night, to the Coromandel Peninsular, making our way through beautiful scenery and arriving in the port to the south of Coromandel town. We decided to forgo the sealed main road and took the less-traveled gravel road 309 to Whitiangia. Very steep but very enjoyable, we descended over the range and set up camp on a beach after a good dinner and some wine. Toon entertained some locals with his impressive juggling skills.

A nice breakfast of scrambled eggs saw us off south, through some mixed forests of palm and deciduous trees, following the bluffs of the east coast of Coromandel. We enjoyed a break at an observation point overlooking 'Sailor's Grave' under a blistering sun. Smooth tarmac downhill to the next town where our party of three cyclists grew to five, as we met a couple of European travellers, Ben and Roberta, in Waihi.

I had my first genuine puncture in over 4000km of touring, and was helped eagerly by my new friends as it was repaired. The next camp was in some sand dunes to the south, Whangamata, on a beautiful coastline with a shady campsite and good food and company to keep the morale up high.