New Zealand & Australia Tour

January thru March 1997

After leaving home, four hours late at 2:00AM, we took Amtrak (train) to San Francisco, flew to Los Angeles and on, overnight, to Auckland. We arrived in the midst of Cyclone Fergus which didn't do much to Auckland but dump buckets of rain. We luckily were in a Hostel for two days as this passed. New Years morning we pedaled south from Auckland. Traffic was very light, possibly due to others hangovers. We made it to Manukau City the first day.

I promptly came down with a bad cold which held us up for a few days. A good chance to become familiar with tent, our new home. After a few days, still not feeling too good, we rode to Miranda where we spent a few days recovering further. At least this was a great Caravan Park with hot pools. The ride to here was nice, rolling hills.

"Stop. Stop! The director liked you." she said running after us as we passed through Waitakaruru. They were shooting a promo for Channel 2 and wanted us on our short wheel base recumbent bikes loaded for camp touring in it. They promised to send a tape to us but never did. Oh well, fame is fleeting. Then we rode to Paeroa (flat) and through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi and Waihi Beach. The Gorge was scenic and a nice ride, heavy traffic but everyone was courteous and passed safely. The road to Tauranga, Hwy 2, was busy but wide with good shoulders, a pleasant ride.

In Tauranga we heard another cyclone was on the way, Cyclone Tarina. This took some though & one night in a Hostel but turned out not to be a problem. It didn't bring nearly the rain Fergus did. However, the ride south to Te Puke was assisted by a 35 - 40 mph tail wind. Too much fun. Then on to our (Klamath Falls) sister city Rotorua. Hw 33 goes up to Rotorua, a reasonable climb. This road was very busy which made riding less than perfect but it had good shoulders, we never felt in danger.

We stayed in Rotorua several days being tourists. Rotorua is a pleasant and interesting but very tourist oriented town. Not to be missed. We enjoyed watching other tourists running around, on and off tour busses, etc. While we, on the other hand, were on bike touring time.

The aluminum boom on my bike broke in Rotorua, I tried to get it welded but this didn't hold. We decided to catch a train to Hamilton and find a frame builder there, or travel to Auckland, to have a replacement made. The train was great, we simply rolled our bikes on fully loaded and rolled them off at the other end. Somewhat different than Amtrak here in the USA.

At the train station in Hamilton we called around to the bike shops and were put in contact with two frame builders, Clarrie and Trevor. They went way out of their way for us, from picking us up at the train station, stopping everything to fix my bike, putting us up for the night. A wonderful experience from what could have been a disaster. All the Kiwi's we met were great but these guys were above and beyond.

From Hamilton we biked to Waitomo Caves and saw the glow worms. The weather was good but we had a few showers staying at the caves. We spent much of a day at an aviary in Otorohanga, well worth the stop. Then on the train to Wellington and across to the South Island.

The ride from Picton to Nelson, as it turned out, had the worst hills of the trip. Not that the ugly little hills of the North Island weren't noticeable, but these were nasty, steep and long. We then rode up to St. Arnaud which was another climb but Lake Rotoiti was beautiful. Then down the Buller Gorge to Westport. We saw the seal colony at Tauranga Bay.

We rode down the West Coast to Hokitika. This was a great ride with nice coastal scenery, and the weather was great. Throughout, the hills slowed us down more than we anticipated so we decided to catch a bus and make up some time. We stopped at Franz Josef and spent two days looking at and climbing on the glacier. Then back on the bus and over Haast to Queenstown. We spent over a week on the West Coast and had only one day of rain while waiting for the bus in Hokitika. We were very lucky.

In Queenstown we rented a car and drove down to Milford Sound. It was raining while we were there but it was still probably the best scenery of the trip. Waterfalls and shear cliffs everywhere. I'm glad we rented a car though, the tunnel getting to the sound isn't a good place to be on a bicycle. Queenstown was interesting in a tourist sort of way. We saw some bungy jumpers but didn't partake in any of the adrenaline sports.

From Queenstown we again took the bus, this time to Mt. Cook. When we arrived there it was pouring rain and we never did get to see the mountain. We put the bikes together and rode down the valley until we were out of the worst of the rain. This storm did give us a nice tail wind though.

From Twizel we took Hw 83 to Oamaru. This was a very pleasant route, not too hilly and not as traveled by tours and tour busses. A great ride. In Oamaru we spent a few days looking for penguins. We got to see both the little blue and yellow eyed penguins. Finally we took the train to Christchurch to spend a few days relaxing, biking and visiting with recumbent bike enthusiasts. We stayed with David and Judith who showed us more Kiwi hospitality.

We took the train from Christchurch to Picton, ferry to Wellrch to Picton, ferry to Wellington, and night train to Auckland getting there about 6:30 AM. We packed our bikes and caught an early flight the next day to Melbourne and on to Hobart, Tasmania.

We took a break from biking and rented a car there for about 10 days. This way we were able to see most of the island at least through a window. The country was nice but rugged. It would be difficult to bike here, the roads are narrow and the hills are even more extreme than in New Zealand. I'm glad we rented a car.

We then flew to Melbourne and took a train to Warnambool, to spent about two weeks biking back the Great Ocean Road. This was the best part of the trip for bike touring. The hills weren't extreme, the scenery was wonderful, the roads were good with many small interesting towns along the way. This was also in early March so the crowds and traffic were light. A great way to end our trip.

The best part of the trip though was the people. We found the Kiwi's to be friendly, courteous and helpful to a fault. We were also impressed with the locals in Tasmania but the people of New Zealand were our favorites.