Posted by: paulgilders | November 28, 2012

Wanaka to Queenstown

From Wanaka, we decided to follow the scenic route to Queenstown. The Crown Range Road is the highest sealed road in New Zealand (1076m), but the guys in the local bike shop said it “wasn’t that bad”. We believed them.

After about an hour and a half of slow climbing, we reached Cardrona and had lunch outside the beautifully kept old schoolhouse.

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On leaving Cardrona, we came across this sign. Should we turn back?

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The last part of the climb was really steep – too steep for riding. We pushed our bikes up the last 2km – I don’t have pictures of this embarrassing spectacle.

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The view from the pass was impressive. We loaded ourselves with oat bars before donning jackets for a wild and windy descent.

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This is looking back up the descent.

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The views over the valley were stunning.

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The land in the valley is surprisingly green.

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We stayed a night at Arrowtown – a pretty town, but very expensive.

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The following morning, we completed the rolling journey to Queenstown.

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In Queenstown, we decided it was time for a break from camping and as a result, we have a bargain apartment for a few days. We have a good view over the lake.
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The T.S.S. Earnslaw steamship is still burning coal – very original, but very smokey. The vessel is surprisingly quick. We hope to take the bikes on the steamship across the lake for our next destination.

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Posted by: paulgilders | November 28, 2012

Christchurch to Wanaka

Our flight from Hong Kong was thankfully uneventful and were soon outside Christchurch airport under clear skies, but cold winds. We booked in at the nearby campsite – deciding to take a cabin to perform bike reassembly. New brake cables were required for the tandem and we also set about obtaining maps to plan the next few weeks.

Christchurch itself is still recovering from the earthquake, with much of the town centre undergoing either demolition or construction.

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After a few days preparation, we cycled west from Christchurch and then south along the eastern side of the southern Alps. We stopped at a wonderful and cheap campground in Mt Somers, with a great view of the peak.

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We were soon making our way west again and approaching the snowy peaks of the southern Alps.

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We stopped for a few days at Lake Tekapo.

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Overnight at the Lake Tekapo campground we had snow fall. It was pretty chilly for camping!

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From Tekapo, we rode along the Tekapo-Pukaki canal – it should have been an easy downhill ride, but we were riding into a steady headwind.

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We found wonderful free camping on the shore of Lake Pukaki, with great views to Mount Cook.

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Here is the view from our tent – camping doesn’t get much better than this!

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After two nights in Omarama we headed over the Lindis pass (971 m). It was a difficult ride, but a perfect day.

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After the pass we camped at the derelict Lindis Hotel. The campsite was free and with wonderful natural bathing in the Lindis river.

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We had one more hill to cross before arriving in Wanaka.

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The views from Wanaka are wonderful and there are blue lupins everywhere.

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Our campsite at Wanaka was close to the edge of the lake. We had wonderful views to Mt Aspiring. After many days of eating soups and pasta, we managed to get a proper barbeque and enjoyed some New Zealand lamb – wierdly expensive in New Zealand!

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Posted by: paulgilders | November 28, 2012

Last of Europe and Hong Kong

After our stay in Tuscany, we headed north towards our exit airport of Zurich. On the way, we stopped briefly in Pisa to check on the leaning tower.

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On our way through the Appennines we encountered some cold nights and snowfall.

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A brief roadside stop saw the girls exchange snowballs – I think Poppy won…

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After making up, the girls then both made snowcreatures…

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After a couple of days making our way north by van and train, we eventually reached Zurich. Here we spent another three days preparing for departure – boxing up bikes and generally trying not to spend much money (impossible in Switzerland).

Our exit from Switzerland was complicated by the fact that we had overstayed our time in core European countries. If we had stayed in the UK for 2 more days, we would not have had a problem, but we had returned within a 180 day period and therefore during our time in Switzerland and Italy we had unknowingly amassed 30 days of overstay. We were hearded like criminals into the immigration area before our flights, where they totted up a hefty fine. Fortunately, Gill asked if having British citizenship made a difference (we were travelling on Australian passports), and found that, yes, that would nullify any wrongdoing. We were given 2 weeks to provide copies of our expired British passports (thankyou Heather and Mike for digging them up).

After all that panic, the flight to Hong Kong was a breeze. We left our bikes in storage for 2 days at Hong Kong airport and took a taxi to our apartment on the beach on Lantau island. We were finally back to wearing shorts and T-shirts after the chilly European autumn.

We visited the Big Buddha on Lantau island overlooking the south China sea.

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We also took a ferry over to Hong Kong itself and took the cablecar to look over the city. Hong Kong is as busy as ever!

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