A New Zealand "Sabbatical"
Permanent link to archive for 02/03/05. Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Returning To Auckland

It was blowing and raining on Monday morning in Invercargill. I left the Southern Comfort Backpackers early, about 8 am since I didn't know how far it was to the airport. It was only about 5km, but the wind was 65-90kph directly out of the direction I was going--and raining. It was a virtually flat ride, but in the next to lowest gear on the bike most of the way. The Roaring 40's were definitely roaring.
Once I got to the airport, they were vey nice at Air New Zealand. The only preparation that I had to do to the bike was to tape the cranks so they wouldn't rotate. I also turned the front fork of the trailer inside the trailer and lashed it in place. It all arrived in Auckland with no problems.
I am evidently still a United Premier Executive Frequent Flyer, even though I haven't flown on United in at least a year, since that was marked on my ticket and they gave me a pass to the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge as an Star Alliance Gold card member. They treat their frequent flyers much better than United. In Invercargill, they had a full selection of juices, coffee and tea, biscuits, muffins and sandwiches. In Christchurch they also had the fixings for a full lunch: salads, meats, breads, fruit and all kinds of beverages, including fresh espresso and capuccino.
Invercargill airport was interesting, there were absolutely no security checks. I went from the counter to the lounge to the plane. Once I was on the plane, I realized that there had been no security check. I guess they figure that there are so few ways to get to Invercargill that it is highly unlikely that there would be problems. I did have to go through security in Christchurch to get to the gate.
Both flights were uneventful, arriving in Auckland around 4pm. What took me nearly four weeks to ride took less than 8 hours to cover, of which under three hours were in the air. I caught a shuttle van to the ferry terminal, since they had a bike rack, and got there just in time to meet my friend, Mark, and return to his home for the next couple of days.
It is now Tuesday and the bicycle has been repacked in its case, the bag for the trailer and the rest of my stuff has been heavily repaired with duct tape (the airline managed to really tear it up on the way down here) and it is mostly filled. A couple of visits with other friends in Auckland tomorrow and I will be heading home on Thursday. The trip is just about over.

Posted at 11:33:21 PM  

Leaving Stewart Island, March 3, 2002

The day was very wet as it rained all night, including a rather severe thunderstorm early in the morning. It then was a series of passing squalls all day long, withe stroing winds. The strength wasn't truly experienced until the ferry back to Bluff.
This older couple, from Santa Fe, that I met yesterday came by Valerie's little coffee shop and I sat and chatted with them and the woman guide from Colorado, Talie Morrison, who stayed last night. We talked about places in New Zealand and in the Southwestern US, right up until I left for the boat. They are an interesting couple. They are seventy-five and are in New Zealand celebrating their 50th anniversary. They've been coming to NZ for the past five years to travel though. I hope that we are in as good shape as these folks when we're 75. They have a "hobby ranch" outside of Santa Fe; a mere 2000 acres. They mentioned their various neighbors who have real ranches of about 100,000 acres. Life is different in the southwest.
Those pictures in the magazines and around-the-world sailing films of the waves in the Southern Ocean have always been awe-inspiring. I now know what they look like up close. As you may notice from the map, Stewart Island sticks out into the Roaring 40's. They were roaring today as we crossed the strait to Bluff. The ferry is a god-sized power catamaran and just charged across, but there was a lot of water spraying over the afterdeck. I was a little queasy by the time we arrived in Bluff.
When I got off the boat it was cold, rainy and the wind was blowing 30+ knots right out of the direction I was heading. There was a little shuttle bus with a luggage trailer there that transfers people to Invercargill. I asked if he could take the bike and trailer. He said sure but it would be an extra five dollars (NZ$15 in total). I could spend $15 and be warm and in Invercargill in a half hour or I could pedal 30km into a cold rain and a 30 knot headwind for about three hours. Tough decision--Okay, I wimped out.
I stayed at a really nice hostel in Invercargill overnight, the Southern Comfort. It is probably the nicest in-town hostel that I've been in. It is in a good residential neighborhood, just a block from the city park. It is an old home behind a brick wall with wrought iron grates and a well-kept garden. The rooms all have high ceilings which are either highly decorated plaster or pressed tin in excellent condition. It is really clean and the staff is nice. And--they have a locked bicycle storage room.
The only thing that they don't have is Internet access, because they have only a pay phone, but there is little place up the street, Herenet, that I can use. It is a little one room building that has a single computer and phone line that you need a door code to get into and it works on the honor system, NZ$2 for 25 minutes. I met the fellow who owns it, when I went over there, and he said that there was no problem with using the phone line directly. An interesting concept, that would probably not work elsewhere.

Posted at 10:34:23 AM  

Daily Digest 4 March 2002

  • Cycle Dist: 5km (to Invercargill Airport)
  • Total Elapsed Time: approx 10:00
  • Spent: NZ$588.00 (incl Plane and bus to Auckland)
  • Start: Southern Comfort Backpackers, Invercargill
  • End: Mark & Marines House, Waiheke Island
Bicycle to airport, fly to Christchurch, fly to Auckland, Shuttle Van to Ferry Terminal, Ferry to Waiheke, Car to Mark's.

Posted at 10:20:42 AM  

Southern Comfort Backpackers

  • Southern Comfort Backpackers
  • Valerie & Willie
  • 30 Thompson Street
  • Invercargill, New Zealand
  • tel:+64 3 218 3838
A pleasant and comfortable hostel in an old well-maintained house with a nice garden and good architectural details. Almost always fully booked.

Posted at 10:14:55 AM  

Last update: 3/6/02; 11:57:22 PM
Copyright 2002 - Steven Magnell

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