Almost 40 days on the road and we have truly settled into being away. We are surviving, but more importantly thoroughly enjoying New Zealand and now preparing for a month in Australia. The highlight for me was kayaking with the dolphins in Milford Sound. Since there is so much to see and we have limited time (Yes, I know you may not believe us, but we do feel the time crunch), we must move on. Several times however, we have said to each other, “When we come back next time, we are going to visit…”
The cycling started out rocky and bumpy but came to be one of the more enjoyable means of travel despite fixing 10 flats. I’ve been on many long cycling trips and ALL start out challenging. The first few days are never an indication of the future. This one even more so.
Cycling allows you to truly see the country side and stay in the small towns and talk to the locals which are often the heart and soul of a country. While fixing a tire on the side of an ol’ farming road the other day, a 70+ year old man, Bob, stopped his old beater of a truck in the middle of the road just to chat. He turned the engine off and told us his life story while he sat in the cab and I tinkered with the bike. Apparently he needed to talk more than we as his wife of 48 years died a few months back from cancer. While he never shed a tear, you could tell from the well-aged face that he truly was grieving the loss of his companion. As cars came upon us, they just drove around and waved and we’d wave back. If we didn’t say that we needed to be moving on, I’m sure we’d still be sitting there. Throughout our conversation, he’d start up the ol’ truck as if to leave then be reminded of another story. For him, we were an ear to be held, for us he was a vivid snapshot in the time along our journey.
Since we extended our stay in extra week in NZ to cycle, we decided not to take the bikes to Australia. So, we just sent them home and will miss the freedom they afford us along with the daily workout. While it may seem odd, it is a good feeling when your legs can barely move because of a hard day’s ride. It also helps to justify spending hours in the thermal pools and eating tubs of ice cream. The area just south of Auckland is filled with thermal activity. This meant that several of our places had hot tubs or thermal pools. The muscles were rewarded with several hours of soaking.
Part of what made this country enjoyable to cycle through were the friendly drivers. I was starting to think that car manufacturers didn’t install horns down here — until we arrived in NZ’s most populous city, Auckland. Prior to arriving in Auckland, rarely did I hear a honk or toot. New Zealanders appear to be more patient than we. A few weeks ago I spent 10 minutes watching a car back up on a busy city street in order to find a parking space. He was blocking cars, causing traffic to go around him and just making a mess of the street. For 10 minutes! No horns, no swear words, no fingers. The others just went around. How civilized. As we walked through cities, cars actually stopped for pedestrians. Well that was before Auckland where it feels like any big city. A very beautiful city located on the Tasman Sea, no doubt.
The weather however is a different story. If any of you are following the weather in New Zealand, it’s a useless endeavor. I got an email from my mom the other day asking how we were handling all the rain over the past few days. She’d been reading the weather report off the internet. The previous two days we had been riding in 107-degree weather – no clouds. It was hot — but not raining. We have come to give no credibility to the weatherman. In all fairness, it is a relatively small island surrounded by several large bodies of water making accurate weather predictions virtually impossible.
However, I am still amazed how any profession could be so inaccurate, so often. How do you think your boss would react if you said, “There is a 65% chance that I will complete that report and if I do, it will be 50% accurate.” Try it. Next time your boss asks you for the status of a project, answer like you are a weatherman. Please don’t hold me accountable for his/her response but I am interested in the results of your conversatio
The drivers are different, the weather is different, and the language is different. Audrey was explaining to me how Kiwi’s (New Zealanders) shorten words. She was saying, “…in the morning, they have their brekkie (breakfast) then make a sammie (sandwich) for lunch. If it’s raining, they better take their brellie (umbrella). And in the afternoon they will have tea and bikkies (biscuits/cookies). I nodded and said, “Well, lets go have some nookie.”