Grim Up North

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Featherston Motel and Camping

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, June 2, 2011

We were up and at the free breakfast before the crowds. Rosemere hostel was rubbish but clearly had a loyal bunch who were working in the capital and were keen on their cereals and toast.  We beat them to it and cycled off down the steep Macdonald Cresent and onto Dixon Street to catch the EastMeetsWest ferry.   Last night we had been lucky enough to meet up with Tim and Sam (I think Tim likes to be called Timmy Boy so I will go with that).  Timmy Boy and Sam, very good friends of Lau and Tom, went all out to make a perfect evening.  They picked us up from the hostel and treated us to an exquisite Roast Chicken.  It was a really lovely evening and we loved hearing about how they had also travelled through Asia to reach NZ, we missed them narrowly in Vietnam but look forward to meeting up with them again in the UK when they return….if they return.

We were an hour early to the ferry so I shot off for hot chocolates before we discovered Polly's bike had a broken gear cable.  We were both hugely surprised and equally pleased that I managed to fit a new gear cable to the front derailleur in the 30 minute wait for the ferry to depart.  Also in the wait for the ferry we met a mad old bloke who was celebrating his 76th birthday by cycling 76km.  The Dutchman obviously loved his bike and was cycling around Wellington for the day.  He invited us to stay with him for the night and enjoy the sauerkraut that he was preparing for his birthday meal. Unfortunately our tight time line from here up to Auckland meant that we needed to make ground today so we politely turned down his invitation….that would have been a strange evening, I’m sure.

The lad from Ipswich helped us load the bikes on, it bought back memories of stressful boat boardings in Asia, this one was extremely straight forward.  The sun was out and Wellington looked beautiful as we left it behind.  On the east side of the harbour we were dropped off in Eastbourne.  It was not much more lively than the Eastbourne back home so we pedalled north along the shoreline excited about the next leg of our trip on the North Island of NZ. 

Soon we hit boring and grim industrial zone.  For 15 miles it was rubbish, it felt like we were cycling through Fratton.  On deciding to join National Highway 2 we started to make ground before we took a side road.  We put in 10 minutes of serious sweat only to decide (correctly) that it was the wrong road.  Back down we went and rejoined the Highway 2.  Then to add to our confusion the man in the garage said that our road across the range was closed for bridge repairs.  It was another curveball and left us feeling completely unsure as to which way to head next.

A few miles on we were satisfied that the Highway 2 was taking us steadily to Auckland.  That was until we hit a ridiculous hill.  It was not in the same bracket as The Crown Ridge but it was certainly the 2nd biggest climb in NZ.  The mountain mist enveloped us as we climbed and we were not really enjoying things, at all. That is until we hit some pretty serious roadworks near the summit.  The STOP-GO man greeted us with 'you must be joking Bro’ when he saw us pull up on bikes panting and sweating.  He was a very funny bloke who clearly doesn’t understand why anyone would cycle up a big hill, in fact cycle at all.  He even suggested we should be carrying beers in our bar bags!  When we got the green light from him we led the traffic jam around some pretty tight bends to the summit. As we struggled up the last mile the people waiting in their cars from the other direction clapped and shouted words of encouragement.  It was brilliant and one of the best reactions we have received around the world whilst going up a big steep hill.

The several mile freefall was hazardous but we emerged from the fog and soon we were riding into Featherston.  Although we had only cycled 39 miles it had been a long day and it required little discussion to turn off into the Featherston Motor and Camp park.

We were greeted by Colin.  Colin was an absolutely lovely guy, allowing us to pitch for free (the site was not really for tents).  He said that we were the first people during the 4 months he has been open that have wanted to camp.  He duly took a photo of us putting up the tent, hopefully we will appear in his promotional brochure and encourage more campers to Featherston.  It was lovely to talk with Colin and we had a very relaxing stay on his site.  We checked out the town centre and settled in a cosy pub next to a roaring fire.  Then it was back to the tent to enjoy our new in-tent cinema.  Not as we planned today but sometimes they are the most memorable.

Miles Cycled:  39 and I’m not sure we are any closer to Auckland

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Colin on

Hi Guys, Watching your progress on this site.Great to have you stay and yes I will use the photo to promote our motel and camping. Good luck with the rest of your journey.

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