New Zealand post 1: Pre Amble
My head is pounding fit to explode! We’ve been travelling for 35 hours thus far and still have1 flight to go. I really am not enamoured of this aspect of travel. If only we could employ some floo powder and just materialize at our destination, but alas, I fear that this, or some similar facsimile of instant travel, is still a good way off and I won’t see it in this lifetime. Anyhow, as Steve points out, we’re saving around R20 000 by going via,via,via and that’s quite a respectable coffee budget for the next 6 weeks.
The completely anal Kiwi customs officials do nothing to ease my pain and by the time we’ve unpacked our tent, bikes & cycle shoes for inspection and subsequent decontamination, my equanimity is at breaking point. If they had 1/10 th of the signs explaining the transit procedure as they do warning about the imminent invasion of stink bugs, we wouldn’t be standing at length in the wrong queues only to finally get to the end of the right one, to be informed that we can only check in 2 hrs prior to departure and must come back in 2 hours. Only coffee can save me now along with 2 pain killers that I dig out of the first aid kit (just as well we couldn’t check the luggage, as these really do the trick) Caffeine and codeine – great combo!
After 43 hrs of travel, we finally make it to the Air B&B in Wellington and pass out to the sounds of howling wind. We are told that this city has the dubious distinction of being the windiest in the world – I can see why. I thought Hout Bay was windy!!
We awake after 10 solid hours of sleep to the continued sound of the howling wind – eish, not a cyclists best friend, but hey, we’ve got people to meet and a city to explore, so we brace ourselves and head out into the gale.
The day is spent being guided, fed and watered by Russell, Wellingtonian and restauranteur extraordinaire. Long story short: around 50 years ago Steve’s Dad gave 2 Kiwi hitch hikers a lift and stored their excess kit while they toured SA and they formed a connection that has never been forgotten. He is now determined to pay it forward and Steve and I are the happy recipients of his generous hospitality.
We thought we’d say a quick hello, then proceed with our plans to buy gas, plugs, food, etc. and load up our bikes, but soon all this is shelved and we surrender ourselves to his kind ministrations and finally make it back to our lodgings in time to hit the sack again, not one of our chores seen to, and tomorrow we are due to catch the 08h00 ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton. We quickly decide this will not happen and change to the next departure at 13h00.
Good decision, as we spend hours the next morning faffing with bikes and panniers, before wobbling off to do our deferred chores, then on to the ferry…
We only reach Picton at 17h00 and decide it’s too late to head out on the bikes as planned, so we defer for one more day, instead settling into a comfy motel and marvelling at the pristine toilets and the all-round lack of litter and general law- abiding nature of the society. There’s something surreal, almost Stepford wife-ish about it. Everyone is so friendly, smiling & compliant. Can this be real? I guess the next 6 weeks will tell and tomorrow we will be on our bikes for sure ( despite the rather dire weather prediction). Can’t wait to be out and pedalling…!