Blog: Mountains in New Zealand
10 Jan 2013 | 11,614 views | No Comment

Glenorchy, Queenstown, Te Anau, Invercargill, Alexandra, Mount Cook.
Highlight: Yellow-eyed penguins, scorchio on Christmas Day, New Year in a puddle, mountain walks.
Day 349 – Dec 19 : Lake Sylvan
We got up early since the sun was hitting the tent with force and the hungry sandflies were waiting greedily for us.
We did the two hour walk through the forest to pretty Lake Sylvan and followed the old mining tramway back to the campsite.
Driving back from Routeburn track and Glenorchy is hard work, keeping your eyes on the road and where you are driving is nearly impossible when you have the beautiful distractions of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding snow capped mountains.
We stocked up in Queenstown and headed to Te Anau. We had heard that the road to Milford Sound was closed because of a rock slide and they were wondering what to do with an especially big rock laying just above the road. But, by the number of tour buses coming from Te Anau towards us it was clearly business as usual in Milford.
We headed to the free DoC campground around six kilometres south of Te Anau, according to the DoC camp book, but when we got there …

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Review: What we like about our Hilleberg

We have recently described our frustrations with the zippers on our Hilleberg failing in this blog post. There are plenty of features we do like about the Hilleberg, however, and if they could only get the zippers problem sorted, we think it would be the perfect tent.
Fabric strength: It has taken some serious beating. We have heard of people losing or ripping tents while pitching theirs in Patagonia. We pitched in very strong winds which we could barely walk in and even in the middle of the night on Tierra del Fuego, and the fabric withstood such battering admirably.
Rigidity: We endured a massive thunderstorm with winds from all directions which shook the tent and bent the poles down so they touched us laying inside, for more than 12 hours on New Years Eve, 2012. Other campers bailed out and hid in their cars or the refuge shelter, while we woke up dry albeit in a ‘waterbed’ with 10cm of the wet stuff all around and underneath us.
UV resistance: Camping for more than a year in summer temperatures and in strong UV light in New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile and the USA has caused the fabric to fade, …

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Review: When Hilleberg zippers fail. And fail again.

UPDATE: (07.08.2013) This issue has now been solved.
Since we first wrote this post we have received comment on this blog, via email and other online forums about our honest post about our experience with Hilleberg.
Hilleberg have come back to us offering to fit new zippers on our tent, so we’ll update our blog once that has happened.
Faulty zippers aside, as regular readers of our blog will know (as we bang on about our tent so often), there are many things we appreciate about our Hilleberg. If they could get the zipper thing sorted out, I think it would be the perfect tent. Read our Review: What we like about our Hilleberg.

Original post :
I blogged last July about the problems we’d had with the zippers failing on our (otherwise wonderful) Hilleberg Kaitum 3GT tent.
Despite Hilleberg replacing the sliders on the outer tent and providing us with a discounted brand-new inner tent, our zipper frustrations have continued. We’re now stuck with an unusable tent and here’s the story of how we got here.
In August 2012 I contacted Hilleberg’s US office in Redmond, Washington to explain that three out of our tent’s five zips had broken down irreparably. They …

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Blog: New Zealand, North Island : Onwards through the centre

Hot Water Beach, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, National Park, Pipiriki, Wanganui – 414km (Total 6895km cycled)
Highlights: Active volcanoes, ice cream, wonderful hospitality, hot mineral pools, rainforests.
Day 309 – November 9 : Bus ride from hell
We had booked a bus to Tauranga to gain a few days and bypass a narrow and busy stretch, which had the nickname “The Suicide Highway”. A wise move, we thought.
The first bus arrived on time and the driver was helpful, nice and drove very sensibly. We changed buses in Thames and the new driver was a nightmare – swore at us, was unhelpful when one of our bags went missing (“I don’t care about your bag! I’ve a bus full of pissed off people and you’re pissing me off with your missing bag!” etc) and drove like a complete idiot. Yet another reason why we didn’t want to do this bit…
But after seven kilometres ride from the bus station in Tauranga peace was restored. We were in the beautiful home of John, Sylvia and Heather, the brother and family of Penny and Paul, two lovely Kiwis we’d met when we visited the South Island in 2010. We enjoyed a delicious meal and …

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Blog: New Zealand, North Island – Coromandel Peninsular

Auckland, Thames, Coromandel, Whitianga, Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach – 362km (Total 6481km cycled)
Highlights : Wild camping in Auckland, tailwinds, stunning views, new friends, hot water beaches and getting reacquainted with ripio!
Day 309 – October 31 : Leaving Auckland again
We got the bus at eight and pretty much backtracked the route we’d taken up to Kaitaia over the last few days. In Auckland we went via the university where – thanks to the kindness of many friends, and friends of friends – we managed to collect a supply of Peli’s asthma drugs to last her the next three months.
Then we joined the 50km long Tamaki Drive Cycle Path out of Auckland which snaked its way along the bays to the east of the city. The first part will for sure be packed with pedestrians and cyclists on a summer weekend. The path gave excellent views over the CBD (central business district, as they call town centres down here). We had a few hills to climb as we got out of town but spotted plenty of places to do a bit of wild camping in the many parks along the water and bays.
After a little stake-out we …

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Blog: New Zealand, North Island – Northland

Auckland, Helensville, Dargaville, Whangarei, Russell, Doubtless Bay, Kaitaia – 569km (Total 6119km cycled)
Highlights: Back in New Zealand, cycling with friends, Boysenberry ice cream, beautiful views and surprisingly good driving from lorries.
Day 293-295 – October 15-17 : Back in NZ
After being in the air for two hours from Portland to LA and then 13 hours to Auckland, where we missed out on October the 15 completely, it’s not really the best time to be spending three hours outside a windy, cold Auckland airport at 8am putting our bicycles together.
We cycled the ten kilometres to the nearest campsite, crawled into bed (we’d booked a basic cabin for two nights) and proceeded to sleep for 18 hours. We even missed dinner time! I know I watched four films on the plane, but can only remember three. We will never get used to long distance flying.
We spent a day pottering around a sunny, windy Auckland trying to find free and working internet access, which turned out to be rather hard. We had become used to free, fast and available wifi in the remotest of places in Patagonia and North America. But New Zealand is still stuck in the stone age of the digital age …

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Blog: Olympic National Park, Seattle and the San Juan islands

Seattle – Aberdeen (via San Juan islands) – 1046Km (Total 5550km cycled)
Highlights: Beautiful weather, beautiful views, beautiful orcas and beautiful sunsets. A reminder of the joys of cycle touring!
Day 233 – August 30 : Train to Seattle
The Amtrak Cascades railway route is one of the very few trains in the USA which allows bikes without needing to pack them into cardboard boxes. So the 3-hour journey from Portland to Seattle was very easy and stress-free.
We had ten miles of riding to get to our warmshowers host. They’d given us a brilliant route description which took us away from the busy road and onto good trails.
Day 234 – August 31 : Hilleberg visit
From Seattle to Redmond there is an offroad rail trail which runs almost door-to-door from our hosts’ house to Hilleberg’s USA HQ. So we made a day out of it, testing Peli’s legs on her first ride after all the asthma business, and we got to explore a bit of Seattle that not many visitors see.
The Burke Gilman trail goes around Lake Washington on the north side and then follows the Sammamish river all the way to Redmond. Yes, the same Redmond where Microsoft …

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Review: Showers Pass Elite 2.1 – update from the road

Since I wrote the below updated review of the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket (quick summary: thumbs up!) we’ve had another visit to the Showers Pass offices in Portland. My replacement jacket was a lovely electric blue colour, but while cycling down the Pacific Coast I felt a little invisible, so wondered if I could swap it for a brighter colour. No problem, was the answer, as I was presented with the NEW Women’s Elite 2.1 in a quite delightful shocking pink colour (I appear to be having my ‘pink phase’ later in life, though my mum reckons I did have a flirtation with a pink tutu aged five – but we won’t go into that). If pink isn’t your bag there is also a nice bright gold colour, or the electric blue.
More importantly, I was very pleased to see the updated features of my men’s jacket had made it to the female-specific design, such as the sensible (non-neoprene) cuffs and heavy-duty waterproof zip. And the staff at Showers Pass were as welcoming and helpful as ever. I’m really impressed with these folk and their passion for their jobs.
Next stop: New Zealand, and we understand they are no …

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Blog: Driving Miss Peli
16 Aug 2012 | 9,751 views | One Comment
Blog: Driving Miss Peli

Santa Fe, via Yellowstone, Missoula to Portland, Or. – 0Km cycled but 2200 miles driven (Total 4570km cycled)
Highlights : Endless roads, Dinosaurs, Old Faithful, The two J’s, Glacier National Park and back to our second home in Portland.
Day 210-211 – 5-6 August : Route 66
The All American Road Trip started with yet another trip to the ER after we’d only managed to make it from Santa Fe from Albuquerque. First stop was Urgent Care with unusual symptoms accompanying Peli’s wheezing. The doctor said we’d better get her checked out by ER as soon as possible, so we spent another delightful night strapped to machines. Peli got the all clear after blood tests, an EKG and x-rays, though we – and the medics – are still not sure what kicked off her asthma. At 3am we found a crap motel with cigarette burns on the bed sheets and an air conditioning unit that made more noise than cold air. Yes, it was definitely time to get the heck out of New Mexico.
We jumped into the car after a few hours sleep and headed north in hope of better motels and lower altitudes. Peli felt OK in our little air conditioned …

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