36ml. Short day due to the rain starting. Had to shelter a couple of times along the way. Campsite was on a grass shelf on the beach side. Was cold again tonight and rain forecast all night. Cornflakes for tea then early to bed.
36ml. Short day due to the rain starting. Had to shelter a couple of times along the way. Campsite was on a grass shelf on the beach side. Was cold again tonight and rain forecast all night. Cornflakes for tea then early to bed.
Lazy day riding around today. Arrive at Ken, warm shower host’s. Receive a warm welcome from him and his family and have a great pasta evening meal. Ken travelled extensively in his younger days. I loved listening to his tales. A really nice and kind family.
28ml. After drying tent out I ride to a shopping centre and look around for a couple of hours just to kill some time as I’ve another night in tent before I can arrive at warm shower host near Sapporo. I go to an onsen on the outskirts of Chitose and meet a young German cyclist called Patrick who’s going to a campsite which isn’t on my map so I decide to go there after the onsen if the rain doesn’t start, rather than a small park around the corner.
36ml. Rode to Lake Shikotsu and the clouds looked dark. Was going to go all the way to Sapporo but the warm shower host couldn’t accommodate me a day early so I rode out to the coast on a bicycle path and the weather turned cold. The rain came down so I found a shelter in a park to set the tent under.
52ml. Great day today, the views around lake Toya were breathtaking. I met Sue and her husband coming the other way, they are from Australia and it was really good to chat to someone who spoke English. I eventually reach my rest station but it was closed due to renovations but I found a quiet spot to camp around the back.
61ml. Followed route 5 and then do erred around lake Onuma and joined the 5 further north from the lake on a quiet road. Big shoulder to ride on the road. Parked just outside the town as a sign in the park said no camping. First I’ve seen in a park. I probably would have been ok if I’d have set up late but it was quite chilly so decided to find somewhere else.
36ml. Woke up to the rain just starting so I manage to get the tent under cover and packed before it gets wet. I use this opportunity to fit a new chain and brake disc pads. Set off for Cape Oma where I planned to camp but it was far too windy and the temperature had dropped, was cold at Cape Oma. So I decide to catch the ferry to Hakodate port Hokkaido. I found a quiet road that bypassed Hakodate and made it to a new rest station just north of Nanae on route 5. Found a small nice piece of grass to pitch the tent at the back which was perfect and quiet from the road.
36ml. Rode to Kanika ferry port and got the ferry across to Sotogahama. Big climb going up towards Cape Oma. Went straight up at the junction instead of heading to the coast to see some tourist sight of a formation of big rocks. Was going to camp at the top of the hill at a small rest station but there was too many monkeys so I carried on and found a disused sports ground just on the way into the village.
83ml. Another flat road day with good tail wind. Found a nice river road from Hachirogata to Mitane with no traffic at all on for 10miles which was great. Camped at a Michi-no-Eki rest station.
81ml. Left Taka after a nice breakfast of museli and followed the coast north. The wind was quite bad, more of a cross wind but was hard going. I had a bad 20ml stretch of highway which couldn’t be avoided with lots of tunnels then I had 20ml of cycleway, happy days. It’s forecast bad rain tonight so I’m looking for a shelter to pitch the tent under but unfortunately I was out of luck so I just camped out on a disused sports field.
46ml. Best day cycling so far here. Great quiet roads coupled with fantastic scenery. I took the 471 then onto the 360 to Toyama. I receive a warm welcome from Taka who I met in NZ and advised me to come to Japan. I’ve been getting lots of route information via email from him. He made a great meal, a veg curry and washed my dirty clothes which was great.
56ml. Changed my route after setting off today to a more quiet side road. Was hilly but worth the effort as there was hardly any cars. I rode up past Iwaya dam which was beautiful and managed to find a spot to camp on this isolated road just before dark. I was a bit worried as I’d seen lots of monkeys a few Kms back so I covered by bike and bags with my bike parka.
42ml. Late start after a lovely breakfast with Robert and Jacqueline, she kindly rode with me showing my onward route and all the quiet roads through small villages. We. Parted after about 13miles and I rode over a pass, which unfortunately had a chain across at the top. Too far to go back so I carry on hoping I can get through. They’d been a landslide but was ok for me to get through on the bike but down the other side I had to take all the bags off the bike and lift it over a locked gate across the road. Hot a big urban area but just followed the river path’s and found a place to wild camp at the Riverside with a toilet just before dark.
35ml. Easy day making my way to warm shower host. Nice along lake Biwa, especially the botanic garden. Spent a while just chilling and enjoying all the beautiful plants and flowers. Met Robert, very funny man, and Jacquelene at their lovely house and enjoyed a great meal and conversation. A few Kms before I arrived and a man invited me in for tea and his wife made me some food. What a coincidence, he knew the yellow house where I was headed as Jacqueline used to teach him English.
36ml. After breakfast I rode the few Kms down to Nara park where the biggest Budda statue in Japan is housed in the biggest wooden building in the world. A fantastic place with lots of friendly wild deer that let you stroke them, but they’re only after treats. The Tojai-ji shrine is enormous and worth paying to go inside. So after my sight seeing I decide to miss Kyoto out as I heard it’s just so busy and full of tourists, I get to Kihan island at Lake Biwa and camp at the side of the lake in the park.
52ml. Quieter roads today till 20ml from Nara. Then urban hell again. Met Kisen who spoke English and told me not to camp in the park at Nara as it’s full of deer so he kindly found a campsite for me which was closed but he rang and arranged for me to stay there the night. I met a guy who was a professional darts player in Japan on the way to the campsite and he gave me some food and drink and we threw a few arrows ha. Was great to meet him and his lovely Mrs and he gave me his number in case I had any problems. Japanese people are so nice and polite.
49ml. Better day riding today, took route 1 over a big hill and never saw a car. Then hit another urban area but it was pretty quiet as it’s Sunday. Got a ferry from Tokushima on the island of Shikoku to Wakayama back on to the main Honshu island. I followed a river path and found a lovely place to camp on the side of the river. Met Sako on the river path he’s been travelling over thinka year pulling his little house along. He does about 25kms a day. I’ve sussed it now. If a river is going through a city or town and it’s it’s heading the way you want to go, then follow it even if it’s a little out of the way. It’s quicker, no traffic lights and quiet, no traffic and good places to camp along the way.
55ml. Flat roads today but bad due to urban hell with heavy traffic. Managed to find a wild camp before dark.
57ml. Got the ferry back to Kure and cycled to Onomichi where the start or end is for the more famous Shimanami kaido cycleway. You have to get a small ferry from Onomichi on Honshu island to the first island, a bit like the Woolwich ferry back home, ¥100 then you’re off. It was getting late so I got to the second island and camped on the campsite on a park with a big dinosaur model on it.
47ml. Caught the ferry from imabari to Okamurajima to do Tobishima Kaido. A cycle route that connects 7 islands by bridges. It’s fantastic as there’s little traffic on route. After arriving on Honshu I cycled to Kure and caught a ferry to Hiroshima. I was going back on myself at this point but I had to visit the atom bomb museum or peace museum as it’s called. A great place to visit although very sad looking round the place. I returned to the port and camped in a small park at the side. I went into a Lawson convenience store and met with Kav, an Irishman who lives there. First person I’ve met who speaks good English. Early ferry again in the morning so early to bed.
65ml. I leave Kyushu island and After an early rise I get the ferry to Yawatahama on Shikoku island. I was cycling and was going to go all the way to Imabari but decided to fall short and go to a campsite on the beach about 8mile short. Nice and quiet and rain came down as soon as I set up the tent so was a good choice.
62ml. Changed my route after an hour on the road. I got a reply off a warm shower host at south Aso so I head there. It’s a hard day over 2 mountains. I arrived late at 18.45pm. was cold also but Jiro and his family made a lovely meal and I camped in a greenhouse on the farm. I end up staying 4 nights as I hike up Mt Neko Dake and ride up Mt Aso, an active volcano. I also try an onsen for the first time and wow, I’m going to stop at many while I’m here.
31ml. After a 2hr delay in Hong Kong, I arrive in Fukuoka late to assemble the bike in the dark and rain. I find shelter at a football stadium and camp for 2 nights due to the rain. I set off all nervous not knowing what to expect. I do 31ml in the rain and camp at a rest station under a bridge to shelter. The new stand alone tent comes in handy. Lot of travelling on pavements today and the urban areas seem to go for ever and never end. I’m not over excited at this point but things can only get better.
41ml. Wow is all I can say. I couldn’t stop taking photos along the route of the beautiful Queen Charlotte drive. I met a couple going the other way from Blenheim who I met on the Molesworth. Was great to see them again. After lots of pictures I land at a warm shower host’s, Don and Val who kindly let me camp in their beautiful garden and enjoy a fantastic evening meal. Up early for the ferry in the morning back to Wellington so it’s goodbye south Island.
41ml. 2 climbs and good shoulder on the road to cycle on. Late start 1pm, after fishing with David and his son, and arrived at Rai valley. A small hamlet really but free options of camping each side of the village but I chose to camp at the Tavern for $10 and have a good meal and few drinks. Lovely place. Even met an English lad here who was travelling around in a van.
57ml. Fantastic day on quiet roads and cycle paths. Wakefield to Nelson on the great taste trail was good. I arrived in Nelson at David’s house, I met him and his children on the Molesworth. A really warm welcome and delicious meal. His wife was lovely and was great to meet again. So kind in letting me stay another night and took me fishing on his boat in the morning. Really great stay.
50ml. Took a gravel road to lake rotoroa. Bit of a climb but hardly saw a car this way. The lake was beautiful but was being eaten alive with sandflies so I moved on. Also there was a lovely campsite, really quiet before the climb in a big garden for a few dollars. Got to Lake Rotoiti where I was staying for the night and it was overpriced doc site so I went back to a cheaper one a few miles back.
54ml. Steady riding today with a call in at Lyell and Inangahua to look at the earthquake museum and interesting history. Arrived at warm shower host’s house, Owen, a great guy and let me stay another day so I could hike up a hill to have a break from the bike.
37ml. Steady day and weather a lot better. Stopped at a lovely campsite at Ikamatva on route with a nice Tavern attached and chatted for an hour with a lovely couple. I’d have stayed as it was also st Patrick’s Day, but it would have been to far the next day as I’d arranged a warm shower stay. Was a lovely campsite at Reefton and the cheapest holiday park so far with a great kitchen.
24ml. Day 1, Fit a new chain this morning and I’m now doing the wilderness trail. Sunny start to the day and only did a short milage day enjoying the scenery through beautiful woodlands and stayed at Hokatiki at a warm shower host’s, Kevin, a retired scientist and an avid tramper in his younger days.
29ml. Day 2. Hokatiki to Trapper’s rest. Rained all day after leaving Kevin’s and a great breakfast. Was soaked by the time I reached Cowboys retreat just short of the summit. Was offered a cabin at a special price of $100 by the owner but passed, ha. Rode over the hill and down to a little siding with lovely grass. An old bus with a double bed in it, a Teepee and even a shower. I stayed in the teepee and it was so peaceful. I left a donation for the owner who traps possum’s. The rain was relentless so it was a big relief to stay in the Teepee.
44ml. Day 3, Trapper’s rest to Greymouth. Rain had stopped in the morning but it was grey like it was going to start any minute. I finished off the wilderness trail and arrived in Greymouth, it was a lovely town with a holiday park but decided to push on to Blackball and stay there. An old mining town and was intrigued with the history. I had 3nights here due to the rain and loved it. Luckily it was weekend and the hash harriers were there and another group from Christchurch who were up for the annual cricket match. ( Tragedy in Christchurch this weekend with the racist attacks) Live band on in the club sat night and was a really good weekend. This town is expecting an influx of tourists soon as a new tramping trail is being put in which ends/starts at this small dying town. Tramping is very popular here in NZ. Good luck to Blackball and I hope it brings in lots of tourists to this beautiful community of friendly locals.
54ml. 2 climbs today then mostly flat. Good weather again and saw 1 cycle tourist on the other side of the road lying down with ambulance in attendance and a campervan and cars stopped. Obviously been knocked off his bike. Got to pine grove and it was a fantastic little place, only enough room for a few tent’s and a lovely little lounge/kitchen area. I rang through the day before just to book in advance, although I’d have been ok, as only 1 more tent arrived, but you never know.
Today was fantastic for views but a hard climb over crown range, the highest sealed road in NZ. I got a reply via email off Sally and Malcolm, friends of Jill from white cliffs, so that was good news and they were a great couple who made me feel really welcome when I arrived and made a great evening meal. Their son was a fell runner and also a great guy. Windy day but great sunshine.
34ml. Rode by Lake Wakatipu on the gravel road to Mt Nicolas where, after a 2hr wait, I caught the ferry to Queenstown. $34 from here or $50 from Walters peak, which is 11km further and the ferry is an old steamer called Earnslaw. Queenstown was very touristy and campsite wanted $45 for a tent so I rode out towards Glenorchy 7ml to a doc site on the side of the lake.
41ml. Left campsite and decided to take a gravel road short cut to Lake Mavora road. After lots of climbing but a very quiet road I came to a gateway, no access, private property, you are under surveillance. Oh no, if I go all way back I won’t make lake movara campground. I ask a lad on a tractor, tell him my predicament and he says go back. I’m just having a sandwich when a pickup comes through the gate. I flag him down and ask if he’s the farmer. No he says I’m a fisherman, well you just came through I say. Well I ring the station manager for permission. So he gives me the number and I ring, tell him I’m just an old man on a bike who’s dropped a bollock. He gives me permission. Phew. I make beautiful lake Mavora for camping and met an American called Mike who’s also touring on a Surly.
20ml.Woke up expecting heavy rain but it fined up and the sun came out so I packed up and set off. 20mins later and a full on head wind and all waterproofs on. Sheltered in a garage due to the heavy rain and the owner and I had a good old chin wag. I set off again in the rain as I didn’t think it would stop and called it a day at Clifden suspension bridge campsite.
32ml. Left Tim UK cyclist at campsite as he developed a bad back and wanted to rest it. Wanted to make Clifden but had 2 punctures and the wind was bad. 1 of the punctures was caused by a burr on the rim where it joins together, so I had to file it down and put a rubber patch over just to be on the safe side. Made it to lovely little campsite 20ml short of Clifden.
40ml. After a lovely breakfast and goodbyes to my kind hosts, I go to Waipara point lighthouse on recommendation from the nice farmer’s wife, Pip, and what an interesting place to visit with a very interesting history. It started raining but I loved the small detour. On the way to Invercargill I call in a cafe to shelter from the heavy rain and meet a belgium touring couple who I met at Danceys pass. I have a coffee with them and the rain turns to beautiful sunshine riding into the central holiday camping park. The belgian couple turn up and also Tim from England. I plan a day off tomorrow to see Burt Munro’s memorabilia in town at Hayes hardware store.
Was warned about the bad wind forecast for today so I left the tent at campsite and just set off to do a ride out to slope point, the most southern point of nz south Island. After a few miles I didn’t think the wind was so bad so I turned round and packed all my gear and set off to get to fontrose campsite via a side trip to slope point. Big mistake, the side trip to slope point was very hard hills to get there in bad wind which blew me off. I left the bike at the top of the hill looking down on slope point and hitch hiked to the car park as the wind was so bad. Met a lovely American couple who also gave me a lift back up to the bike. The wind got worse and I stopped at 2 farms to ask if I could camp in a field but no one was about. I went further and was nearly hit with a car as the wind blew me across the road. I decided to camp at the rear of Otara community hall but a lady came in a car and asked what I was doing. ( It’s forbidden to wild camp) I explained it wasn’t safe she told me to wait. Next thing she turns up in a farm pickup truck with a small trailer on the back. Put the bike on there she said and took me to her farm house, gave me accomodation and a chicken dinner. I was drinking a beer, watching rugby an hour later with the husband. Such kind hospitality. It’s like this all over NZ, really kind people.
42ml. Left campsite and joined the Clutha gold trail. This follows the Clutha river down to Lawrence. But after 12km the trail ends and you have to catch a ferry to Roxborough Dam to pick up the trail again. This was $100 so I went back and took the road to the Dam. It was not a pleasant experience. 30km of up and down with no shoulder and quite a lot of traffic. Back on the trail it was great down to Millars flat campsite. A fantastic quiet little site. I went to the cafe for an ice cream before checking in and there was a live band on, so was a good end to the day.
57ml. Steady day but came off the Alps to ocean path as it’s not finished in places. Passed lots of lake’s and beautiful scenery. Got to Duntroon and decided to get to Danceys pass camping before the rain. Big mistake, got my waterproofs out after 10mins. After pitching the tent, when I arrived at the campsite, I dried my clothes in the dryer and was bone dry in my tent on a Very wet night.
46ml. Met a lovely Canadian couple at the campsite and was great to share stories and they gave me some food and beer. Happy days. After saying goodbye to Chris and Kim I called in at Twizel for some food and a new chain. Made it to a freedom camping spot and a young Dutch couple invited me to share tea with them. Had a wash in the river before bedding down in my cosy tent.
50ml. Nice route to start with along the blue water canals then onto the Alps to ocean trail around lake Pukaki. Mt Cook and surrounding mountains look awesome. Got a puncture on the road up to Glentanner but made the campsite before the rain.
51ml. Another really hot day. Not too exciting along the road today but a fantastic camping site at Fairlie. Talked to the owner and very friendly, gave me a towel for the shower and some teabags. Nice chap.
59ml. Steady day on good roads but not very scenic only in the distance of a mountain range. Arrived at warm shower host, Jill. Lovely house and a lovely person. I was impressed that she had cycled the top to bottom, Te Areora route solo in two months with panniers. One fit lady. Great chatting about travel etc. Fantastic pasta meal and a lovely breakfast. Didn’t want to leave.
26ml. Well it’s a shame it’s ended but great experience. I set off late today and experience more beautiful scenery. Finally over jacks pass and drop down into Hanmer springs and the pines holiday park for a well earned day off tomorrow. I clean the bike and do some maintenance on the bike in the morning then go to the hot sulphur pools to see if it does my leg any good.
37ml. Another fantastic day of scenery and admiring views. 35° heat and hard climbing again. Met David and his 2 lovely kids and they made me some tea which was very kind of them and also for the second night running, gave me a cold beer which went down well. Rob the ranger here passed me and offered to take my luggage to Acheron, but I wouldn’t have got up the two remaining climbs with no weight on the loose gravel surface. Finally arrive at Acheron camp and Rob the ranger gives me a cold beer before I set the tent up.
35ml. Woke up and still suffering with groin and getting on bike. In pain when I walk but pedalling is ok. The road is isolated so you have to take your own food and get water from the mountain streams. A very hard day with some steep climbs but beautiful scenery and isolated road. Im riding alone as Josef likes to do his own pace and tells me to set off and not wait. I try my hardest on the steep climbs as if I stop, I wouldn’t be able to push it up with the injury. The heat is also making it hard work as it’s 35°. I arrive at 16.30 at Cob cottage to camp for the night. There’s only a toilet and running water. Josef turns up a few hours later.
42ml. After breakfast at Rene’s, I head to Blenheim and take Taylorpass rd. This is gravel but cuts out a corner and the main highway to the Molesworth. I head with speed through a ford in the bottom of a dip. Big mistake, the concrete under the water is like ice. I’m down and suffer abrasions down my right side. After checking myself and the bike and mopping the blood up I carry on. I’m in pain and think I’ve torn or strained my groin muscle on the right side. I can pedal but find it hard to get on and off the bike and stop putting my right foot down. Anyway I manage 60km and ask a farmer if I can tent in his field and he lets me. I also meet a Hungarian lorry driver, Josef, who is touring on the bike like me and he catches me up and also stays in the field in his tent. I hope a night’s rest will make the leg better.
38ml. After breakfast at Baden and Shelley’s, I follow the river to Wellington after Baden very kindly booked for me the previous evening. I was going to follow queen Charlotte drive round to Nelson but there was no campgrounds anywhere and I got off the ferry at 6pm. Luckily I received a reply off a warm shower host 20km south of Picton. So route changed again. I arrived at 7.30pm just in time for tea. Rene and his wife were great hosts. So relaxed about life. He advised me to take the Molesworth station trail to Hanmer springs. What great advice. One of the highlights of my trip.
48ml. Hit Martinborough and called in a bike shop for a new cassette. Fit a new chain and 36/12 cassette, old one was 34/11. Hills are steep here so hopefully I can get up a little easier now. I took the Ripataku rail trail to upper Hutt, wow great trail but headwind all the way up the 7km climb. The wind blew me off the bike once. Lovely scenic route to Upper Hutt. I stayed at warm shower host’s, Baden and Shelley’s, fantastic host’s. Very kind and great conversation about their travels.
76ml. No wind today. Very hot 35°. Great route 52 to Masterson then on a quiet road to martinborough. Warm shower host on longbush rd was Tom. He had to work so left the empty house to me. Beautiful quiet place. Tom was a great host and stayed and talked to me for 2hrs before he left. Loved listening to his travel tales via tandem with his wife.
Well after 4wk staying in Havelock North and exploring the area, in between helping out at Napier, I’m heading south tomorrow. Was great visiting fishbike most days and chatting with Brian the owner and wade who had cycled 95% of NZ and gave me advice on routes to take. Here are a few pics of the area around.
Well I arrive at my mum’s Airbnb but only Doug is there. Lots of expletives come out when Doug reslizes it’s me. Ha. Mum arrives an hour later and is very emotional with happiness as I surprise her with my arrival. Karen, who owns the property is there and very kindly allows me to camp in the big beautiful garden which I share with various fruit trees, lots of plants, lovely lawned grassed areas and 2 chickens. It’s paradise for me and end up staying for 4weeks due to volunteering to help out at a cycle rental shop 14ml away. This was great as it helped cure any boredom I would have through the day and allowed me to spend this extra time with my mum and Doug.
54ml. 2 big climbs after leaving Putorino but beautiful scenery again. Eventually you are following the coast and when you arrive at Bay View, the cycle path starts on a network of over 250km around the area of Hawkes bay. Due to the Xmas hols and lots of families visiting I find it hard to get a positive reply from any warm shower host’s but late in the afternoon I get an invitation from Dave and his wife to camp in the beautiful garden. When I arrive they have family staying over from Hastings but welcome me with open arms and sit me down for a great family meal which was delicious. After a great English breakfast made by Dave I set off on a 1.5km journey to surprise my mum and doug for Xmas.
54ml. Nice weather again today and had to rejoin state highway 2 so the shoulder isn’t too wide so you have to be careful as it’s a busy road without an alternative. I tried to get to lake Tutira but arrived at a small town called Putorino which had a freedom camping area but it was 13km down a gravel track. I asked in the bar if there was anywhere nearer and the locals said I could camp outside the sports ground around the corner. Happy days. I end up in the bar all night with the locals for a few sherberts or more.
38ml. I wake, the rain is relentless so I have to shelter until 11.30 before setting off. I stopped to dry the tent out when the sun appeared later in the day. I had now reached Lake Waikaremoana and the scenery was stunning. My progress was slow on the gravel road and I fell off a few times due to loose road surface combined with bad cambers on the bends. My own fault for not pushing the bike on these bad bends but there was no damage to me or the bike due to the low speed. Got a rear wheel puncture but was going again in 15mins after a quick change of tube. After running alongside the lake and the beautiful views for a long way, the road turned back to asphalt, I sheltered in a barn due to a heavy downpour. I waited for a couple of hours for the rain to stop but there was no easing of the downpour, 10ml short of my camping area I walked to the farmhouse to ask permission to sleep in the barn and the farmer said no worries. He made me laugh as I walked away, he told the dog off and told it to wash it’s ears out because it never alerted him to my presence ha.
67ml. Lovely day and got to Murupara for some dinner. After leaving here the road was quiet regarding traffic. I got a 3ml and 5ml section of gravel and then when I arrived at Ruatahuna and filled my water bottles, the gravel section started along with the ascent. The hill wasn’t too steep but it was long and the loose surface made it tricky and harder than normal to pedal a 60kg loaded touring bike. I made it to the top and on the downhill, managed to reach a freedom camping area next to a stream with only me there. It was going dark and I just managed to warm up my Beans on the stove and make a cup of Yorkshire tea before I lost the light and retire into my pitched tent in a lovely spot in the middle of nature. The sound of the running water and sounds of nocturnal animals and insects soon put me to sleep under the star lit sky.
23ml. Late start this morning after leaving Dave’s and heading to Havelock North on the east coast via Murupara and lake Waikaremoana. I only got to lake Okora and it was so nice and it had freedom camping on the edge of the lake, I decided to stay there for the night. I travelled to Kerosene creek, after pitching the tent, and the water at the small waterfall was so hot it had steam coming off. Then it was back to the tent for a tin of Irish stew with some bread for my supper before listening all night to the chorus of mating calls from hundreds of tree frogs.
52ml. After leaving Phillip and Helen, I head to Te puke then take a quiet road down to Rotorau. I got a last minute reply from warm shower host’s, Jim and Lisa which I was grateful for as I was struggling finding a freedom camping area. As I stopped to check my navigation, a cyclist stopped to ask if I was ok and after a bit of a chat he offered me a place to stay the following night. This is typical of the friendly people here. I camped in Jim and Lisa’s beautiful garden and after chatting for a while about how they came on a working holiday and decided to stay, ( so many people I’ve met here from the UK have done this) I bedded down for the night under the star lit sky. In the morning I took their dog for a walk around the redwoods I explore the thermal springs, a Maori village and the beautiful lake then head to dave the cyclist, who I met the night before, for a few beers, great conversation and a fantastic roast chicken dinner. Turns out Dave’s mate from Auckland is on warm shower and I talked with him on the phone when I was up there. Small world.
50ml. After a day off and a 50ml ride up the Coramandel peninsula and back, I say goodbye to Maria and Geoff and head to Katikati via the Hauraki rail trail to Waihi. A great trail and very scenic with no obviously no traffic. It’s an old rail line made into agood gravel cycle trail beside flat green pastures, gold mining relic’s and a forrested gorge honeycombed with gold mining tunnels. Then I headed out to Waihi beach and then the last 10ml to my next warm shower host’s, Diane and Ian. I meet a German woman at the end of the street walking her dog and invites me in for a cup of tea and chat about my travels. This hospitality is one of countless times from the kind people of NZ. Diane and Ian are great host’s and let me sleep in my own room with on suite bathroom. Really lovely and kind host’s with a lovely breakfast to help me on my way.
32ml. Have no other option than state highway 2. I kept skirting off into the old road but you had to rejoin due to the old road heading into a different direction. Very busy and not a lot of shoulder, in fact the shoulder disappears on the bridges. Not nice on the highways as most seem to be speeding and don’t give you much space when passing, even if nothing is coming the other way. I arrived in Tauranga via Bethlehem to miss out the busy road into town. I arrived at my warm shower host’s for the night, Helen and Phillip and received a warm welcome and was treated as family, as all the host’s have acted in NZ, and had a day off to go up Mt Maunganui. Phillip had already done a 60km ride by the time I surfaced that morning ha. Kids were also great and their manner towards me was as if I was an old friend. So blessed to experience friendly and trusting host’s.
75ml. Arrived in Auckland on 30th Nov and my old mate, Mark chaddy Chadwick picked me up from the airport. He kindly put me up with his girlfriend Kathy in their lovely home and took care of me while I departed south to surprise my mum.
I headed to a warm shower host at Matatoki, south of Thames, via Clevedon, Hunua, Mangatawhini and Miranda, choosing quiet roads. The route was scenic and I struggled the last 20ml due to having new spd shoes and the cleats being in a slightly different position than I was used to. I arrived at Maria and Geoff’s in the evening and pitched my tent in their beautiful garden. Maria served me a lovely broccoli soup and I had a good night’s sleep. In the morning Geoff suggested I stay another day and look up the Coromandal peninsula.
66ml. Today I reached the Caspian sea and the capital Baku. I can’t go further by road as it’s too cold for me now so I wait here for winter to finish and catch the ferry to Kazakhstan and make my way to China, or I set off back for home on a different route through the Balkans. It’s a great city and lots of sights. I book into the Zion hostel and go sightseeing while I make a decision on my next move.
61ml. After a day off at the restaurant due to torrential rain I make it to Pirsaat but no hotel. I find a empty building with what looks like accommodation blocks at the side and luckily found the caretaker who let me stay on a seetee. Was cold and windy today and was glad to find somewhere just after Pirsaat.
100ml. Rain forecast for next 2 days so did a big day of milage today on the highway. No scenery to speak of so just head down and give it big licks. Arrived at Kurdamir exit and there was a restaurant set back off the highway 50m so I asked if I could camp and they gave me a bed for the night. Really kind owner and his son’s. I was glad too as it rained all night and the following day.
61ml. All flat again today. Old road turned bad at Zehham to Sankir so I joined the highway again. Got to VM guesthouse which I booked on booking.com and even after confirmation email from them, they said some guests didn’t check out and decided to stay, so they were full. Found another hostel in town not too far away and was lucky I got last bed.
68ml. Left Tbilisi after breakfast and took the old road to Rustavi and Gardabani. Apart from a small climb just before Rustavi, the road was flat all the way today. After 33ml I was at the border with Azerbaijan. The Georgian exit was quick but the Azerbaijan entry took about 20mins. It’s a very quiet border post. After that it was a very quiet road all the way to Agstafa. I tried 3 hotels in town, one was full, one wanted 30 manatee (€15) and the last one I got for 20manat (€10). Shit hotel as well. It’s more expensive here than Georgia especially accommodation.
25ml. Short ride to Tbilisi. We t riding around the city to the Vake area to visit 3 bike shops to see if they had my new front caliper brake pads. Not one had them. Bought a spare chain. Found my guesthouse called beautiful. Nice garden and had upstairs to myself with a kitchen. Secure for bike and nice garden with grape vines and pomegranate trees. Also nice view up to Mtatsminda park. Had to wait for Azerbaijan visa and also tried for visa at Iranian embassy. Was refused politely at Embassy of Iran. UK citizens have a hard procedure to obtain a visa. I eventually stay here 8 nights before leaving for Baku.
37ml. After a day off in Gori to visit I headed down the old road to Mkskheta. Great quiet road with hardly any traffic but had a bad headwind after dinner making it hard on the neverending false flat. Lost my backeye today also after 6months. Most upsetting. Booked into my guesthouse and had a look around the beautiful cathedral. 2nd largest in Georgia.