Sara and I flew into Auckland and got ready to ride mountain bikes with cycle panniers mounted on the seatpost. We took backpacks and didn’t have much gear but a tent and some basic clothes. We didn’t have a set route, but had a basic map. We were pretty much going to head south, avoid major highways and ride as many dirt roads down the coast as possible.
Riding the empty roads was exhilarating. One of the best things was that every small town seem to have some kind of hostel or B&B. New Zealand is pretty deserted and not built-up. The beaches and campsites are incredibly clean and tranquil.
We meandered through zig-zag roads and road around a barrier and found ourselves somewhere we probably shouldn’t have been. A truck pulled up to us and the driver harshly explained that we were in a military shooting range, and that we needed to leave immediately. He escorted us out to the other side, which was a heavily armed entrance. We were thankful for his advice as we left unharmed.
Eventually we made it to New Plymouth and hiked the perfectly-shaped Mt. Taranaki.. This single mountain volcano sticking out on the coast was an ambitious climb. We did the mountain and then make it back to the bike shop to pick up our bikes. Even though it was an intense day, the views were well worth it from the top.
We meandered through zig-zag roads and road around a barrier and found ourselves somewhere we probably shouldn’t have been. A truck pulled up to us and the driver harshly explained that we were in a military shooting range, and that we needed to leave immediately.
We arrived in Wellington we checked into a hostel. It was nice to leave our bags off in the hotel and did some real mountain biking without our gear which was a blast.
The South Island
Taking the ferry from Wellington, we got to the South Island. We signed up for The Queen Charlotte Track, where we could ride along the coastline just north of Pickton as a boat supported us by moving our bags from hotel to hotel. We were gifted with some amazing views down on Pickton and the coastline watching the sea ferry come in and out each day.
We continued all the way down the East Coast to Christchurch, to the very southernmost point of New Zealand. After Invercargill we headed up to the Fiordland National Park where we left our bikes to go on a boat trip. We headed out to the Milford sound with rushing waterfalls all around us, someone alerted us to a whole shoal of dolphin came towards us under the boat and into the sound. The captain was heading for the ocean he said as soon as we got out of the fjord he could fish for our dinner. It was pretty amazing he proceeded to catch 10 fish in minutes when he finally decided he had enough food for dinner he left us have a go. None of us caught anything, which made us even more impressed with his skills.
After the boat trip, we decided to head into Queenstown from the South on a dirt road we’d heard about, which would allow us to get a boat across to get to the town. Again, we were thrilled to find completely open roads, finding a a cabin that was recommended to us in complete peaceful isolation. Eventually, we got to Queenstown via the old steamship. It was a perfect, trip that ended up back in the presence of my friends where I used to live.