A love affair with New Zealand

In love
In love

I feel as if I have fallen madly in love with New Zealand. I am now besotted with the place, and for the first time since I left forty years ago, I yearn to go back. I want to buy a campervan and inch my way around the country so that I can soak up the beauty. Alas that may still be some years in the future, so for now I must say farewell to my lover.

Before we leave New Zealand here are a few of my favourite things:

Funniest moment: When we were queuing to leave the inter-island ferry an announcement was made “Would the person who left Continue reading

Sweaty & Close to Tears – The Waikato River Trail

In case you didn’t realise, when riding a bike, there’s a big difference between a rail trail and a river trail. Let me explain.


Anne and I recently enjoyed cycling the Otago Rail Trail with our friends Mary Ann and Lawrence. We captured Continue reading

Fit enough for the Otago Rail Trail?

P1070035Whenever we think about undertaking a bike trip in unknown territory I get scared that I won’t be able to do it. I fear I might become stranded somewhere, half way up a hill, too tired to go any further and with no way to get home. Physical exercise has never been my thing so contemplating riding 152 km does not come easy to me. I’ve had to turn back on one bike trip and get frustrated trying to find information that gives me a real sense of how difficult the trip will be. I want to be challenged but not distressed.

So this blog is for someone like me who wants to know what to expect from four days on the Otago Rail Trail. Steve has written his account of the journey in the posts The Otago Rail Trail – Clyde to Wedderbern & The Otago Rail Trail – Wedderburn to Middlemarch.

Our party of four were all over 50 years old and at 58 I am the oldest and the least fit. I’d been Continue reading

The Otago Rail Trail – Wedderburn to Middlemarch

Departing Wedderburn Cottages saw us head into our longest day on the trail, with a ride of 48km to Hyde. We were feeling pretty good in the knowledge that for the next two days our path should lead us downhill. The climbs were now behind us.

StravaI tracked our ride with “strava”, and it was interesting to note that whilst much of the day was certainly downhill, we also climbed 389m. Whilst on the topic of climbs, please don’t be put off by the seemingly big numbers. Although the Otago Rail Trail topped 618m above sea leave, the maximum gradient during the four days was 1 in 50, meaning that the steepest parts of the ride gained 1 metre in height over 50 metres in distance……that’s not too hard at all.

Before we get any further, let me answer the question I left you with in my previous blog. Lamb, hogget and mutton are all terms used to describe the meat from sheep. Lamb is up to 12 months old, hogget is between 12 and 24 months, and mutton is older than 2 years.

After the summer snow Continue reading

The Otago Rail Trail – Clyde to Wedderburn

The prospect of heading off on a 152km cycle trip over four days, in the knowledge that the first 2 days would require you to push those pedals and climb a 618m summit is more than a little daunting for we non-Tour de France riders. But that’s what Anne and I, and our very close friends, Mary-Ann and Lawrence did, and our smiles could not be broader.

P1060972 (2)The Otago Rail Trail has not disappointed us, in part due to the wonderful organisation and communication with Sandra and the team at Trail Journeys, based at the start of the trail in Clyde, and also in part to our own preparation. Trail Journeys sorted all the logistics, from collecting us in Queenstown, providing our bikes, booking our accommodation and moving our luggage each day. All that was left for us was push the pedals and enjoy the experience.

Over the past few day’s Continue reading

Day two on the Otago Rail Trail

P1070088_editedDay 2 on the Otago Rail Trail provided a feast of memories. Freshly stewed apricots, summer snow, Lauder Ukulele Festival, Men-Oh-Pause, courageous stroke survivor, the summit (618m above sea level), 544m of cycle climb, open fire, hard labour on the line, bird watching and Waitangi Day. I feel a story in the making.


And so the adventure begins

Sometimes, despite the planning, things don’t quite go the way you envisaged. Anne and I have been working toward running away for a number of months, and today we set off……on a bus, and 5 hours late.

imageA bus was not part of the plan, but it became a late inclusion when last night Vigin Australia advised us that our 9.15am direct flight to Queenstown today was cancelled…….”but do not fear Steve, we have booked you on a flight from the Gold Coast to Christchurch at 5.45pm, with an overnight stop, continuing through to Queenstown on Thursday morning, arriving at your final destination at 9.50am”

Great I thought – that  means I only miss 18 hours of my holiday, a night out with friends in Queenstown, and the bus to connect with our 4 day Otago Rail trail bike trip.  mmmmmmm take a deep breath.

After a long wait on the phone, we finally saved the Otago Rail Trail bus connection, getting an earlier flight out of Christchurch and arriving in Queenstown at 7.50am – still a long night ahead, but hey – it’s an adventure.

We followed Virgin’s instructions today, and caught a cab to the Brisbane domestic terminal (a little early because that’s how I like it), only to be told…. “sorry Steve, you should have gone to the International terminal…. you were given the incorrect information last night…. here’s a ticket to catch the shuttle bus to the International terminal”. So dutifully, we headed back outside and caught the shuttle. Arriving at the International terminal, where we were met with nothing… the place was deserted!  Still holding things together, we found a cleaner who was very helpful….” go up there” she said. So we did. From up there, we were directed, back “down there”. Gee, this is great. Finally, we found a little Office with a Virgin sign outside, so I knocked. A young lady directed us back “up there…… someone is on their way to assist”. We didn’t find that person,  At 2pm, when the bus was due to depart, we were still lost, when our names were called over the airport public address system……. asking us to hot foot it to level 2, as our bus was waiting. Finally, acknowledgement that we were expected.

imageI’m writing this blog on my iPhone (that’s interesting…. I need my young eyes on for that) sitting on the bus from Brisbane to the Gold Coast to connect with that Christchurch flight, looking forward to a Bloody Mary (our favourite holiday starter).

I’ll see you on the trail…..no doubt starting out with less sleep than we had planned.

If everything else from here on in goes to plan, this is just a hiccup. What’s your worst travel planning story?


Lycra, Prawns & Pinot

Cycling shouldn’t just be about sweat and spinning wheels across the pavement. We mamil’s (middle-aged men in lycra) are far more couth than that!

Prawns & Pinot

The idea of a Prawn and Pinot ride came to me last Easter, when I recognised that our favourite route not only included the parklands and foreshore of Moreton Bay, but went right past the moorings of the Moreton Bay prawn trawler fleet on Cabbage Tree Creek.

Since that time I have enjoyed the experience on three occasions. The latest was yesterday on Continue reading