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1st blog

I have arrived in Queenstown on my second day so quite pleased with that and weather has been good and giving me a slight cross tail wind. The other two riders I have met coming the other way say I’m going in the easy direction because of this fact, south island can have a predominance of south winds and I’m going north! Time will tell. Very quiet roads as its mostly large sheep and cattle stations.

I have been talking about my ride with people I meet and when I can put up an I-pledge flyer card I got made on notice boards or just to talk to people I meet. It always sparks up some conversation which I’m wanting.

Yesterday days ride was a hard one for me even though I had a good conditions but I covered too much for my second day and the first full day, about 140km so will have to make sure I don’t try and do to much and pace it so I make it to the destination!

I got to lake Wakatipu yesterday and my guide booklet said they had started a new camp at Walters Peak lodge which is a very lovely place for visitors to go and have a meal and walk around the gardens, the ride over on the Earnslaw ferry from Queenstown and is a historic and biggest steam ferry built in NZ, still coal powered! Alas the camp is still under construction and not yet operating so I couldn’t stay but the people at Walters Peak where very accommodating to me in other ways and I was allowed to have a shower and then tea coffee and caught the ferry back to Queenstown that night with the large group there for supper.
So off the next day with some good hills over a few days before the West coast.

2nd posting

I have arrived at my friends John and Bernadette place in Greymouth on the West Coast after a long day of about 160 km so pleased I got here ok without any problems or body complaining too much. The last few nights I have had a Doc campsites which have been fine but do not have have showers or sometimes running water but usually a river or lake near by. The weather been very generous and again sunny with not much wind. My friend is a physiotherapist by not needed but hot shower and washing was!

Something to give myself thought today and a bit of regret for various reasons was an unscheduled ride in a helicopter today! As I was riding first thing this morning I was stopped and asked if I wanted to go on a helicopter flight over the mountains, glaciers and a bit of Mount Cook. The ride was going to go with or without me and it was half price, and a beautiful day! I hesitated but took it as it may be the last one I ever do here again….but on a ride about climate change was my lingering thought all day after. Also my experience was mixed in the flight as I felt disconnected with the environment and more a touristy spectator, which I was. So who ever reads these can judge for themselves. I personally would not do it again for these reasons and the fact of being removed from what I was experiencing.

Each day I try and connect somehow with others about what I’m doing and that may be just putting up my flyers or talking to people. My friends got a full days worth of talk about it but they are very supportive and also concerned even though the West Coast is very susceptible to what happens in the mining, forestry and resources.

Photos will come when I can find the way to post them!

3rd last of the south

Leaving Greymouth on a weather threatening day but good for cycling to Reefton and then onto Lyell campsite, a beautiful place but many sandflies. Doc camping sites are a good and reliable place to stay even though they have put the prices up just recently making the almost double what they use to be. I Talked to some people in Murchison about my ride and put up fliers. People are usually quite receptive about what I-pledge ride is about but look at the list of suggestions on the back side of the card and see flying as a challenging one. As a NZer I understand this as we are so far from many places in the world we feel we need, many times, to do a flight to get somewhere more interesting or luxurious.  Although many who come to see this country see it as the very height of luxury here!

The rain has started and there is news that because of the Kaikoura earthquakes there is a much greater use of the road, I’ll be going on, by trucks but also most other traffic. The warning is out that bikes stay away from the St Arnaud /Blenheim route. But to keep with my planning i decided for right or wrong reasons to do it. So well lit up with clothing and leaving 6am I started. And yes the weather was wet the trucks very large and road quite narrow in places. The trucks sometimes would hook well back in advance others would wait until they were speeding by inches away before giving a good blast. I guess it just reflects how we all are in society, the patience and the haste. But eventually made it through the mad road and then through wine country of Marlborough and the last wet leg to Picton ferry and to my nephew and his family in Wellington 10 o’clock that night.

Thoughts along the last section of road were in line of calling this a south island ride only for a number of reasons: I was feeling the animosity towards me as cyclist, the effect that this ride would have anyway, myself feelings of stress riding in wet, uncomfortable and unwelcome. But also realising it is easy to talk ones self out of these challenges. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they criticise and fight you then you win” Gandhi

So onwards…and maybe not to much upwards!

Northern lands

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Spending time, though briefly, with my nephew Ben and Fran and children, and niece Sarah, was such a welcome rest stop and refresh. I used Wellington as day of rest on a beautiful day and when Wellington is at its best especially around the docks and harbour.

The next day was off to leave through the Rimutaka old railway line (Remutaka is place of rest in Maori, alas not for me) and to end up the other side of the Rimutaka’s and Featherston then Masterson. Met two young ladies heading up to the railway as well but they were hesitating at an odd bit of cycle path on the motor way out of town so we all took it together and found our way. Had a shared lunch with them ( mostly their food, thank you!) But they later dropped away because of weather getting more precipitationous! But nice to have the company and we all discussed the climate and woes of it all as well as some ideas. At the start to the track my wanderings got me in the wrong direction for a couple of hours so had to make it back and camp to start the next morning, in a way fortunate as it was getting wetter.

The next day was better organised and it really is a lovely cycle and not steep and lots of information posts to read to find out how it all was started. Meet a another couple of woman who were doing NZ on bike, one from Oz and the other from USA. Had a brief chat but then we all had a good coffee and food stop at Featherston. So with a tail wind made good miles to Featherston and then Masterton for the night at a camp.

Today made the decision to ride to Woodville and go to Palmerston nth from there but after speaking with info Center staff and the wind conditions I opted for a 15 mind bus ride over this section as there is a high use of trucks, no shoulder to ride on in places and the wind conditions! It all added up to me. I guess this is what the trip for me is about making decisions what what we have and doing what we can, but staying safe.

So tonight I’m lucky enough to have a bed at Warmshower place so good food and hot shower and bed for the night.

Kiwi’s still fly!

I Left Palmerston and made my way to Mangaweka, well just before, at a camp spot. Meet a German women travelling in a Juicy Van and she had about 2 weeks left in NZ and had had about 6 weeks already! I felt a bit sorry for her as the weather has been not great and lots of wet and wind, maybe it’s going to continue for a bit for her going on forecasts! But offered me her left overs from her meal and a glass of Sauvion blanc so a nice change to my routine.

Ohakune the next day with wet head winds and quite looooong sections of uphill working towards Tongariro National park and now joining with highway 1 and more trucks and traffic in general.
The loss of freedom camping and precautions is apparently related to farmers being told by authorities that any people using their land for camping they are libel to any health and safety issues arising so it is making it harder to just to do ones own way of travelling and camping at unofficial places, it is frustrating for me as it’s a concept I have grown up with. I understand the reasons behind why there is a strong ruling to try and reduce freedom camping and the like as we are having a huge increase in tourism and people wanting to access our environment but maybe there needs to be a moderate balance and helped by education and more facilities put in place.
So trying to break out of this curtailment and wanting to connect with the land and people more I approached a couple of properties to ask if I could camp on their land. The first was not possible because wasn’t  really a farm just a property but the second was farm and Maori owned and ran by a manager who was happy for me to use the spare cottage at my discretion, with hot shower and working kitchen essentials! Not highly looked after but a roof and hot water and a friendly farmer and his children. The wind and rain the next day only really allowed about 50km but at least got to National Park and a camping spot at the backpackers, so again hot showers, kitchen and drying space. These places always have notice boards to pin up my flyers and talk to others sometimes.
Today was a good weather day with a tail wind so made it to a place called Pirongia about my longest day of 170km and days I’ll need to continue to make it by Christmas to Cape Reinga. Here a landlord of the pub allowed me to put my tent up in the large grass area for cars and use some facilities at no cost. Then another big day to Auckland and a camp site only 5 km from airport called Ambury regional park, a real unexpected gem, quiet, animals for children to see and be with. So then my next hurdle was to get across Auckland and to Helensville were I catch the ferry across the Waipara harbour where only about 10 days ago 7 people lost their lives trying to cross the bar to get out to sea and fishing. I’ll only be crossing the harbour at 5am! The people who run the ferry here are lovely and have let me camp for 2 nights so only had to wait a day instead of the week booking they normally ask for! A day of rest is good and needed. Christmas day hmmm……..?

This is the end…

So a restful day with Rod and Cheryl who feed me, let me camp, took me out to Muriwai Gannett colony in the evening and the most impressive Christmas lights in Helensville! Then a 4am start next day as the ferry left at 5, we picked up about 12 Korean fishermen and headed out to fish for about 4 hrs them mainly catching snapper and trevelle, 4 or 5 of them being quite sea sick. Just a week or so ago this was near where 7 fishermen were drowned on the Waipara Bar all in the same boat. So I was happy to be dropped off at Pouto point and firm land. The next bit of road gave me my second puncture of the trip as they were just resurfacing the unsealed road and the gravel was very sharp. Lots of logging trucks and dust to keep me aware and dusty but a good day weather wise and a long stretch to Dargaville of about 60 km helped a bit by slip streaming a tractor and trailer for about 15k. Reaching Dargaville decided to carry on to Kia Iwi lakes but stopped a few km beforehand to put my tent up at a woolshed for the night the farmer came around later and was cool about me being there.

The next day would take me through the Waipoua forest and a fair number of hills then on to hokianga harbour. The forest is one of my favorites as it has our oldest and largest kauri trees and just lovely cycling because of the shelter of the trees and the traffic being somewhat slower and gentler paced. I visited the groves of trees not far from he road and felt connected because of the energy of the forest and the accientness of some of it. Then on to the Hokianga harbour and across the ferry to Kohukohu where I spent the night in the grounds of the old school.

I knew the next day would be long as I made the wish to get to Cape Reinga by the end of the day, maybe 170km. Hilly at first then onto 90 mile beach which luckily I struck when the tide was low but after about 4-5 hrs time had came in far enough to make it soft and for me to seek highway 1 up through farmland. After about 8-9 HR day on the bike saddle I wasn’t prepared to carry on and stopped at the last camping spot about 25 km from the Cape. That night the mosquitos kept me awake for the night, I have NEVER seen or heard some many, luckily only in my tent fly but they’d still ravaged me if I ever needed to go to the toilet or reach out to grab something from my bag! Hence a very early start to do the cape leaving a 6am. Very windy, mostly head and side winds and hilly. But  1 HR or so I was there and mostly had it to myself apart for Francis who did the YouTube recording for me and another chap who would have been surfing if he could have. The wind was tremendous but so was the veiw and the feeling of having done it all now.

The day still needed a cycle back to kaitaia and with hope of catching buses to Auckland and then Napier I’ve the next couple of days getting there in time for Christmas and family…which happened just  😆

Watch the YouTube clip:

 

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY CLIMATE CYCLE:

I found it very useful to have a goal and a purpose to what I was doing otherwise it may not have been finished as planned. This was very evident for me at the end of the south island where the weather had turned and I was feeling a bit of animosity from traffic and also from me to traffic!

Each step we take towards our goal whether it be to reaching a destination like on this ride or towards helping reduce climate change is important and acheiveable the finale result will always feel a long way off.
There are dangers on the road and elsewhere but our fears are even more real and limiting. Through planning and common sense we can limit the dangers if we listen and take care of ourselves and others. This is so important to the whole climate change situation the planet is in and how we deal with it.
People want to help and they will if they know your need and what you are doing. Unlike my first I-pledge climate cycle in Britain were we all had banners and flags, t-shirts etc this time I was on my own so less of a spectacle so not so promoting of what I was doing. It’s easier to do this with a group.
Connecting with the land and people is very important and sometimes difficult if you are just staying in touristy places or trying to get the miles under your tyres. One important way for me is to be able to stop and camp where my journey took me but as I have said before this is getting harder in a restricted and even frowned upon in a No Freedom Camping age.
Having the website link and small blog was also something that was valuable even just for me alone as it did help to keep me focused on my goal and purpose. And if only a few people ever read of my travels this would not matter because it will be a record of what was done and may just motivate someone else to do similar.
This is my wish that I-pledge climate cycle continues and I alone (and maybe not but with others) will continue to do such activity on a bicycle for our planet.
Many blessings and much Metta to you all for this new year and years to come.

 

 

I-pledge climate cycle

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