NZ biking – a final two-day solo ride along Forgotten World Highway, through spectacular rainforest, and… sheep. Oodles of.

I’m going that way. In the heart of Forgotten World Highway country.

OK, my name is Mark and I’m an internet addict.

And this is positively (probably) my last post (sounds of trumpet) from solo biking in NZ, with a map to show you where I started and where, on this last Saturday in 2012, I’ve ended up.

Which is, slap bang in the middle of the North Island ready for car collection by Kat and Mela and transport on East to Napier and the vineyards of the East Coast.

Read on beyond the map below for some concluding thoughts and some pix of an amazing two days and 160km/100 miles from Stratford (near New Plymouth and, yes, complete with a mock Tudor clock tower that plays, supposedly, lays from Romeo and Juliet) to Taumarunui. And as ever, a fuller set of pictures on Google+ here.

Starting this collection of pictures with proof from my cycle computer that I really did cross the 1000-mile mark, just in time before the end of my solo biking in NZ.

Which started in Queenstown three weeks ago today ( Saturday Dec 29th) via the South Island West Coast, and up via three days Christmas rest in New Plymouth with daughter Kat and partner Mela to where I am now.
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Daughter Kat and Mount Taranaki both reached. 900 miles in 16 days. One chuffed psychlotherapist.

Mount Taranaki, spied suddenly on rounding a bend towards New Plymouth.

As always, fuller set of photos here.

I said I probably wouldn’t blog again very soon, but rounding a corner yesterday on the final stretch into Kat’s home province of Taranaki, seeing the local volcano looming above the clouds just stopped me in my tracks, and I couldn’t resist sharing a couple of views.

A real volcano. Though the clouds are clouds and not fire and brimstone. At this point.

So, a final day of 90 miles/146km saw me spinning up the south coast of Taranaki with a fabulous tailwind in burning sunshine, a bit up and down, but allowing self and Raven to complete the first part of this amazing journey in speed and in style.

Kat and partner Mela, with Mela’s Mum Laura, had prepared a fabulous, and thanks to a couple of Tui beers also a cooling and liquid welcome at Mela’s childhood home in Normanby, just off the main highway out of Hawera north towards New Plymouth. Continue reading

NZ Biking: Days 13-15, Nelson in S Island to Bulls in North

A long and winding road. Queen Charlotte Drive down to Picton.

First, for a fullish set of photos from today, follow this link

So, approaching the end of the heavy riding of this New Zealand tour (just 85 miles or so to go tomorrow, bringing me in 16 days to nearly 900 miles in total since Queenstown, before joining Kat and Mela for Christmas and then some gentle biking a trois around Hawke Bay), this last Saturday before Christmas finds me…

a)      not vapourised in the end of the world that didn’t happen (at least here in NZ. Did your world end by any chance? If so, please let me know as it may affect my return plans to the Northern Hemisphere…) and

Direction signs in Bulls. Do read more closely.

b)      in a lovely little place called Bulls, about half way between Wellington and my immediate destination tomorrow in Normanby, where Mela’s parents live just south of Mount Taranaki volcano.

The three days since I last posted have continued – surprise, surprise – totally fabulous.
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Murchison to Motueka and on to Nelson – 200k in 2 days & wit wit wit.

Tui Birds at Dawn – here drinking nectar from a flax plant.

Before I go ANY further, you must listen to what’s been waking me up pretty much every morning at five for the past two weeks of camping.

Tui birds chattering to each other, and quite clearly having a conversation. The most lovely – unsleepable-to – sound, captured on my mobile phone today. About a minute long, and do listen all the way through.

So, back to what I was going to say…

First, here are the pictures for the last two days on Google+. Also, click on any of the pictures in this post, (except the Tui, which will bring up the recording) and they’ll take you to the album. I hope.  Continue reading

Day 10, 64 Miles from Westport to Murchison. 520 miles in total so far.

Murchison, near the top of the South Island, right up in the hills.

Two things to capture today – 1) how the actual biking is going, and 2), I think I’ve cracked how to post photos in sufficient detail without taking three hours to upload them to WordPress.

As some of you will have already been notified, I’m putting a daily selection up on Google+, and the link to yesterday’s post, with lots of wonderful Western Coast road and all photos, including those of the amazing glacier flight, now annotated and captioned, is here.

A link to today’s photos, capturing a fabulous but if in the end rather wet grind uphill from Westport to Murchison, is here.

And, a further link that should work for the first pictures, is here

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Swapped bike for chopper over Mount Cook: 250 km from Haast to Ross…

Taking off for Mount Cook and the glaciers.

Right. A bit of a delay in posting, thanks to helicopter flights over Mount Cook (read on), some 160 miles of utterly amazing cycling over three days, a need for early nights and a severe paucity of internet and even mobile phone connections down New Zealand’s West Coast.

Riding into the rainforest.

There’s a lot to report, so I’ll miss most of it out, and include instead a few thumbnails embedded in this text, and a lovingly long slideshow of photographs on Google+ which you can access by clicking here.

New Zealand must have the oddest set of naming conventions of any country I’ve ever visited. Continue reading

Days Three and Four – reached the coast

Lake Hawea, on the road north from Wanaka. Look carefully, and you can see LOTS of Japanese tourists disgorged by bus, also taking photos. They too travelled hard - don't knock the NZ-in-seven-days-from-top-to-bottom approach.

Lake Hawea, on the road north from Wanaka. Look carefully, and you can see LOTS of Japanese tourists disgorged by bus, also taking photos. They too travelled hard – don’t knock the NZ-in-seven-days-from-top-to-bottom approach.

Greetings, friends and relations, from Middle Earth.

There have been moments these last two days, my third and fourth in NZ pedalling first into a ferocious hidwund (sorry, headwind) some 45 miles from Wanaka to Makarora, and then today a further 50 miles through blazing heat and increasingly rainforesty mountains to Haast on the South Island’s West coast, when I could have bottled the feeling and the fun:

– Waking this morning at the Makarora campsite to the utterly enchanting, bubbling calls of two native New Zealand Tui birds with, I leaned last night, two separate voice boxes that allow them to  mimic almost any sound, including speech, with clicks grunts and even chuckles. Continue reading