Dirt Roads and Happy Hearts: NZ Honeymoon

  

  

We have had an amazing first week in the South Island. After the ferry ride we started out on a 60km detour along the coast which included four steep climbs (half of which were on gravel) along a very quiet road – the sort of road with only a car or two an hour. It also included our first penguin sighting, an afternoon sipping tea with two kiwis in their amazing 1950’s bus, and an evening exploring little bays and beaches.

   
    
    
    
   

  

We stocked up on food and then headed out through Molesworth Station which is a 210km gravel road that runs through the largest farm in New Zealand. The farm, which was started in the 1860’s, is still in use today with over 10,000 cattle, fifty or sixty horses, and up to forty working dogs. They employ five seasonal ranglers who ride throughout the mountains finding the cows and bringing them to their next grazing area, while the overseer of the ranch (along with his family), the cook, and a few other full time employees live on the ranch full time. During the summer months they have opened up the area for recreational use (there is a 60km section you have to get through during daylight as they lock the gates at night) and it proved to be our kind of cycling, complete with clear beautiful rivers, gravel climbs on a quiet road, and jagged peaks all around. The photos really don’t do this place justice; the valleys and peaks were so much more all encompassing than a simple photo can show.

   
    
    
    
  
         
        

Something else we enjoyed along this route (and something we have enjoyed in general here) are the kiwis who, when they pass, roll down their window for a chat. More often than not they are middle aged or retired kiwis on a “gap year,” meaning they have taken a few months or a year off of work, or semi-retired, in order to travel around in their camper for an extended period of time (often with bikes and kayaks attached!). We had always heard that kiwis were friendly but that is a serious understatement.

After stocking up on food in the resort town of Hanmer Springs we spent a rest day by the Clarence river fishing, reading, and swimming, before beginning a true mountain bike trip along the St James Loop (which will be the next blog post). 

        

And, for those who are interested, here is a link to our wedding photos from the blog of our photographer.

Moments after we got married we jumped on this sled and went down the hill!

  

Feel free to follow us on Facebook (The Wandering Nomads) and Instagram (@awanderingphoto) for photos and stories throughout our journey.

Gear, Routes, and Rings: Honeymooning in New Zealand 

“Let the dream devour your life so that the life does not devour your dream.”

  
Kevin and I are currently sitting at the airport in Sydney waiting for our final flight of the day which will bring us to Auckland, New Zealand, where we will begin our three month cycle touring honeymoon. We left straight from our two-day wedding campout – which took place around a huge campfire in a ranch at Silver Falls State Park – and can’t wait to begin life as a married couple on our bikes enjoying the absolute freedom that cycle touring brings.

I got the snow I had been dreaming of, and though the recent ice storm made it impossible for some of our guests to arrive, for those who made it it was absolutely beautiful! There will be more photos in the coming weeks once our photographer has a chance to go through them all.

  
Our plan these next three months is to cycle through the mountains partially using New Zealand’s new  bikepacking “Great Divide” route – Aotearoa – and partially following whatever mountains and rivers seem most appealing as we make our way south. We are setting out with our typical overarching goals as well; to find beautiful small rivers to fish, peaceful and breathtaking places to camp, and small rough mountains roads to climb. 

  
Though I still have a comprehensive gear post from our last big trip, I figured I would give an update for this one-season summer trip as we have been able to reduce our gear to just our back panniers. For information about packing for a multi-season world tour or for more about our bikes feel free to check out our previous post about gear

Clothes (for one person)

 

1 light down jacket

1 rainpants + rainjacket 

1 warm hat

1 sunglasses

1 buff

1 cycling gloves

1 neoprene gloves (going downhill in the rain = very unhappy frozen hands)

1 neoprene socks (so that I can wear Keens when it’s raining)

3 small bags (to sort and hold clothes)

1 thin fleece jacket 

1 pair track-pants 

1 Icebreaker 200 merino wool base layer

1 thin (silk/merino wool) leggings base layer

1 pair keens (I wear these in all seasons with different layers of socks)

1 running shoes

2 cycling shirts (not cotton)

1 spandex shorts

1 knee length shorts (cycling or around town)

2 thin socks/ 1 longer thing sock/ 1 big socks

2 sports bras/ 8 underwear

1 dress (for around town and rest days)

1 running shorts (swimming/sleeping/hanging out)

1 tanktop (swimming/sleeping/hanging out) 
Electronics (for both of us)

  

1 Garmin GPS etrek 30 – open source maps of New Zealand

2 back lights (small rechargable)

2 headlamps

1 solar powered lantern (if you haven’t seen these, check them out they are under 20$ and awesome!)

1 Go pro (thanks to Kevin’s brother for letting us borrow his)

1 camera (both my old cameras broke so now I have a canon G5X)

1 Gorilla pod

1 Ipad

1 Kindle

1 power bank

Bike stuff (for both of us)

1 Pump

1 knipex (extra small) channel locks 

1 leatherman

1 hub wrench

1 bicycle multi-tool

1 cassette remover

1 break cable

1 shifting cable

1 Patch kit

10+ zip ties

Assortment of bolts/ miscellaneous small parts

4 BB7 brake pads

1 roll electrical tape

Chain oil

Cooking/Water stuff (for both of us)

1 Katadyn water filter

2 Fuel bottles

4 water bottles on the bike

2 nalgene water bottles (1L)

1 Primus stove

1 flint lighter (no more running out of lighter fluid)

1 six liter MSR bladder

1 pot/ handle

2 bowls

2 long spoon

1 Victorinox knife (we love these, they are very sharp)

1 can opener (p38)

1 small cheese grater 

Other (for both of us)

50 feet p-core

1 first aid kid (plus waterproof matches)

1 sewing kit (needle, dental floss, patch kit for Thermarest/tent/waders)

soap

toothbrushes

Contact solution/mirror

1 quick-dry towel 

 

Down sleeping bags, sleeping pads (Therm-a-Rest Neoair), and our three person Big Agnes tent.

 
 

We are trying out a waterproof backpack this time around which will sit on our back rack and be used for day trips without our bikes.

 
  
  
One additional thing I’ve brought with me this time around is a small handheld running water bottle, my running shoes, and my running watch in the hopes that I will find some time (and energy) to run semi-regularly along this trip. 

 

Photo taken just before my first 50km trail race a few weeks ago!

 
Feel free to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@awanderingphoto) for photos and stories throughout our journey!

Favorite Cycling Routes: South Yungas (Bolivia)

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This green and very hilly route will take you up and over two 4,700m passes as well as over smaller ones in the almost jungle-like vegetation for a total of 10,000m of elevation gain. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the villages are picturesque as they sit atop hills for as far as the eye can see all over the various valleys. We found this route to be difficult due to the heat and humidity, though it was a nice change from the high altitude cold nights.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Double Salars (Bolivian Altiplano)

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Though I visited the Salar de Uyuni by jeep on a trip years ago, cycling across was a whole different incredible expedience. The first eighty kilometers were busy with tourists, but after that, we had the other half and the whole other Salar completely to ourselves. It’s really easy cycling across the salars as its flat and hard-packed, though the forty kilometers of sand in between was much slower going. This is definitely a must do route for anyone cycling Bolivia as its just so unique to spend days cycling across pure white salt.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: The Carretera Austral (Chilean Patagonia)

Cycling into Torres del Paines, Patagonia.

Cycling into Torres del Paines, Patagonia.

The Carretera Austral is said to be the most popular cycling route in the world, and I can certainly see why! This Patagonian treasure is full of colorful clean rivers, beautiful snowy peaks, and easy wild camping opportunities around every bend. The cycling is easy, the route seems to have more cyclists than cars along it, and the fishing is wonderful for those of you with poles; overall it’s a wonderful Patagonian experience for those who love nature.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Eastern Turkey

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Turkey is a hospitable country with easy camping and great food, and though we found some of the country monotonous and boring, we absolutely loved the whole eastern section (after dropping in from Georgia). Snowy mountains, small quaint villages, and tea breaks whenever you please; what’s there not to love about cycling through eastern Turkey.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: The Country of Georgia

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Georgia seems to appear on nearly every world tourers favorites list, and we are no different. It’s one of our favorites too. And how could it not be? Where else are you invited to a crazy picnic nearly every night just because you were passing by? Georgia has some of the friendliest, most hospitable people on this planet, plus, their beautiful country has many small roads without much traffic, beautiful mountains, and easy wild camping opportunities next to a new river every night.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Far Western Nepal

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The Far Western corner of Nepal was by far my favorite region; in fact I liked it so much that after cycling through it (and across the rest of the country), I bused back with my backpack in order to explore the remote foothills. This region is very different from the rest of the very tourism-reliant country, as no westerners ever venture this way and there are no hotels, restaurants, or shops like you see throughout the rest of Nepal. I particularly enjoyed my stay in the west as the people were hospitable and friendly.

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Favorite Trekking Routes: Zanskar Valley (Northern Indian Himalayas)

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Zanskar is one of the most isolated regions in the world, and for most of the year, this high altitude valley is covered in snow. The only way out in the winter is a ten day frozen trek on ice, though in the summer once the snow has melted, it is a fascinating place to visit. I loved the tiny patches of green which marked a village, and the beautiful monasteries throughout the valley. The climate and topography in this region make for some of the harshest living conditions in the world, and these Tibetan Buddhists who have been living here for thousands of years still live for the most part as they have for centuries.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Ladakh (Northern Indian Himalayas)

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We can’t post a series about our favorite routes without mentioning the famous Leh to Manali route, as well as the Kargil to Leh route in the Indian Himalayas. The region of Ladakh is a high altitude disputed territory which boarders Pakistan and China and is full of monasteries and Tibetan monks, desolate dry mountains, and a few beautiful rivers. Ladakh is a wonderful place to cycle for those of you who enjoy isolation, endless high altitude passes, and easy camping.

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