Huzzah! I’ve finally made it. Well, actually, I’ve already been in NZ for over a day now, but am only now finally getting a chance to write up a little post about it. My flight yesterday went very smoothly, not a single complaint from me. I was supposed to be picked up at the airport by Greg’s brother Kevin, so wanted to make sure I got through customs quickly and efficiently. As my last post mentioned, NZ is very tough on their biosecurity measures, so I wasn’t sure that things would go all that smoothly upon entry. However, my fears were laid to rest, and I actually made it through in record time. I actually think it was one of my fastest customs checks of my life, especially considering all the gear I had. I was also blown away by how quickly my bike made it to me in the luggage area. I had barely gotten my duffle off the conveyor belt when a side door opened up, and a fellow rolled in the box. Sweet. Anyway, read on for the rest of the past 24 hours excitement.
Once clear of customs, I had to wait a few minutes for my ride. He’d been couting on a bit of a customs delay, so wasn’t quite there right away. I didn’t much care though, since I was getting both a ride from him, as well as a place to stay. Not a bad deal, and also gave me a place to get all my stuff sorted out before I hit the road this weekend for real. Of course, the first thing that I noticed is the fact that they drive on the other side of the road. I immediately tried to get in the wrong side of Kevin’s car, to which he laughed. I’m sure I’ll be an expert by the time I get back, but there will no doubt be a couple of awkward moments in the meantime.
We headed straight to his place so I could offload my gear. Luckily, the bike box just fit in the back of his Subaru, so that worked out well. Kevin and Hollie have a little 2 bedroom place, and I was lucky enough to get the guest room, even though there was also another person staying there temporarily. Apparently, I had been given the green light before the other person, so I got the room 🙂 After dropping stuff off, we hopped out for a bite to eat at Wendy’s. I had a Big Kahuna Burger, which has a chicken filet, bbq sauce, cheese, bacon, and a huge slice of pineapple. Sounds odd I’m sure, but it was quite tasty. Although menu prices look high at first, they always include all taxes, and there is no tipping, so with the exchange rate, prices are actually quite reasonable.
After lunch, we popped over to Kevin’s parents’ house, so that I could take advantage of their Internet connection (Kevin doesn’t have one), and make use of their VoIP line, which has an Ottawa number, to call Jody finally. Internet connectivity isn’t as great as we’re used to. Upload speeds are tedious at best, which means uploading photos is going to be rather problematic I think. As you’ve probably seen, I managed to put a few pictures up, but kept losing my connection. I also had a hard time chatting with Jody, but I think it was due to my picture uploading as well. I did get to check my emails though, which was nice. Then, we played some Nintendo Wii for a bit. Kevin’s mom came home, and we were invited for supper. We went out to pick up the steaks and potatoes, and I picked up a bottle of wine to offer up as well. Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc. It was tasty.
The BBQ was outside and we had a great meal, and some great conversation as well. Kevin’s dad is the Chief Operating Officer for one of the broadcasters down here so we talked shop for a little while, and I learned about the NZ broadcasting system as well. Oh, and did I mention that I built a crib as well? Yup. I did. Greg and Elaine are spending the holidays here with Maya, as well as Greg’s sister and her baby as well, so there are all kinds of baby things that have to be done over at that house, and I volunteered to put together a crib while Kevin ran some quick errands. It was pretty easy though, not like building a bar! As you can see, the first little while was a bit lazy, but it was nice. I also had a chance to finally get a good shower, shave, and cut all my various nails. I definitely felt like a new man yesterday.
Today was the day to get the ole bike and trailer put together, and run the bike through it’s paces. I got up at a reasonable time of 8h30, and set about doing a load of laundry. It was a sunny day, so I got to hang my clothes out to dry in the NZ sun. I learned something else today. The NZ sun is powerful. Damn powerful. You see, NZ has a very close proximity to the hole in the ozone layer, so getting burned badly is extremely easy. I already learned that in one day. I hadn’t put cream on my legs, and in the process of biking, burned the tops of my legs quite badly, even though it was a bit overcast.
Speaking of biking, I put on my first 50+ km in Auckland today. I took a few hours to get the bike all set up this morning, making sure everything was tight and running well. The transit didn’t cause any damage, so the Epic was rearing to go once I was ready. I popped on the GPS, grabbed some cash and my NZ LP book, and hit the roads.First stop was a cafe for some food, then it was off to the waterfront, and subsequent exploration of various corners of Auckland. The city is quite sprawling, so I didn’t even cover that much ground. However, with over 48 volcanoes in the city, there was no shortage of hills to try my luck at. I can see that this trip will have some challenging parts to it.
Oh, if you are curious about my bike route, I also put together my first official map of the trip, which you can check out by clicking on the maps tab on the website. I’m still working out all the timing bugs, so I’m not sure the times will be correct, but the route and the pictures certainly are. I think I should have changed all the times at once, rather than camera, then GPS, then computer, etc. etc. That’ll all get sorted out eventually though.
My relatively short day of biking today was a good starter for me. I have to get used to driving on the left, and learn the peculiarities of NZ driving, of which there are a few. That includes some rather stupid yielding the right of way laws that only exist in NZ. There are also many roundabouts. And while I’m completely comfortable with them, the fact that we are on the wrong side and go the other way around them kinda messes me up a bit. I’m happy to report I had no big mis-steps today, in spite of riding some of the very busiest streets at rush hour. I think I’ll get the hang of it pretty easily.
Well, I see it’s already after 11:30pm, so I should probably turn in. Sadly, I still didn’t get a chance to post my recent entries online, so that means when I finally do, there will be a plethora of blog posts for y’all to read! I’m doing my best. At least I have all the stories written, it’s just hard to get them posted due to my limited connectivity. Goodnight from NZ, hopefully there’ll be more to share shortly.