Three weeks have passed since completing the tour. I have filtered through the thousand plus photos that were taken along the way, the bike has been rebuilt, a few maps were drawn up for the route section (but they still need a bit of tweaking!), and I’ve even made a start on the book. So in short, I have had time to reflect on the events.
It was a great little tour, highlights include riding over the rough gravelly road to Molesworth Station and Hanmer Springs. Also riding alongside the Tekapo and Pukaki Canal was an unique experience, never before have I seen such a backdrop for a day on the bike. The Queen Charlotte Drive is another one to mention, as well as the Otago Central Rail Trail and the Catlins.
There were highlights everyday. Some were easy to spot; sunset on Mt Cook is one that springs to mind. While others were subtle, like feeding the rather curious robins.
Fond memories could even be found amongst the bad experiences. Finding out that I had a broken toe was not good news at the time but it healed without hindering my daily progress, and battling with a head wind from Dunedin to Manapouri was hard work, but made you grateful for the day it pushed you along.
If I had the chance to do it again I would definitely give myself an extra month to allow for other activities like walking on the many tracks that are inaccessible by bike. To get the most out of New Zealand you really do need to pack the tramping shoes.
The extra month would also allow for a few detours. The road to Karamea and the Rainbow Trail sound like they should not be missed. Having extra time would also mean that you could miss out the over rated Trans Alpine Railway, and ride over Arthur’s Pass and through Castle Hill Basin instead.
I would also do it off season, maybe April/May, to avoid the feeling that I was participating in mass tourism. On a bad day the sheer number of camper vans and the sight of grumpy tourists can leave a sour taste.
As for the bike, it was brilliant. It was stable off road and also in the wake of trucks. The tires would be the only thing that I would change, they were great on road, but were slightly too narrow off road. I found the side walls to be too weak, as you can see from the photo above they received three cuts like this one, and that’s with only 3500Km on the clock.
When it came to flying back to the UK I narrowly avoided a $1000 excess baggage charge. It was only after showing proof that I came via LA that I avoided this charge. So if you want piece of mind, don’t fly via Hong Kong. One day I hope to return to New Zealand to do another tour, but I think it won’t be for at least 10 years – basically the time it’ll take me to recover from the 29 hours sat on a plane!
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for following me. I would especially like to thank my sister and her husband for allowing me to use their apartment as “Operation HQ” for the start and finish. Thank you and Hei konā rā!
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