Can we start with a statement? We already expected it when we were cycling the Timber trail on the North Island, but we became more critical after cycling through 28 countries. But after cycling for two days on another so-called ‘Great Ride’ – the Alps to Ocean – we know for sure: New Zealand has the most beautiful cycle trails and scenery on our world bike trip (ok so far)! Sorry Turkey, you were on the top spot, and you are still the finest country, because of your hospitality and the fact that drivers in Turkey are not trying to get rid of cyclists. New Zealand can still work on the latter area. But we think that will be fine someday.
The problem of the sandflies remains: they are small, they are sneaky, they are everywhere, they are suicidal and therefore not afraid of anyone, they are bloodthirsty and hungry! A bite ensures that you are assured of terrible itching for days. After a shower, all bites become extra active. Scratching the bump creates a wound and your leg increasingly looks like a “war zone”. The worst thing, of course, is that they mainly prefer Harry, in contrast to the mosquitoes who always prefer Roelie. Other than the sandflies, the other creatures in New Zealand are pretty sweet (especially if you compare this with Australia), although the NZ-landers think differently: the so-called invasive species, such as the possum, the rabbit, the ermine and of course the rat, are actively and massively fought with poison (which also applies to a number of species of flora). Non-native is not good, it doesn’t belong here and is therefore often contested. We sometimes joke that if you continue this line of thought, you also have to remove all cows and sheep. And actually all whites, because they weren’t here 200 years ago either. Of course with the exception of those who are just touring on a bike!
Yes, cows and sheep dominate and characterize the cultivated part of the landscape in New Zealand. This is a cute sight in the spring here, because unlike the Netherlands, cattle is nicely outside and the calf and the lamb just frolic under mother’s umbrella (or better: udders) in the meadow. As far as the calves are concerned, they are separated from their mothers after a while, but then you see them with their peers still happily in the meadow. Where do you still see calves in the meadow in the Netherlands? We can only wish New Zealand one thing and that is the hope that it will not proceed to intensive livestock farming, with all life disappearing in the stable.
What a chatter about things other than cycling. Weren’t we going to start that famous Alps to Ocean bike tour in this section? Oh yes of course, excuse us. We have a week or three left before we are expected in Queenstown to bring a motorhome back to Auckland. There are three routes that we will definitely cycle: the Alps to Ocean trail, the Otago Rail trail and the stretch between the cities of Oamaru and Dunedin, respectively the end of one trail and the start of the other. How we continue from there in this beautiful part of New Zealand? A huge choice of routes remains. We’ll see.
The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail officially starts at Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, and to get to the bike path, a helicopter must take you to the other side of a river. Probable unforgettable , but also pricey: a brochure showed a fee of more than $500 per person. That is a bit too much for us and that is why we opt for the alternative and also most popular start from Lake Tekapo. We had already said in our previous blog that Lake Tekapo village is a tourist trap. We are therefore happy that we can cycle out of this place quickly, but not after we have taken a look at the old, picturesque church. It is still early and there are few tourists on the move to admire the beauty of Lake Tekapo: the turquoise color, the mighty solid mass of the Southern Alps as background and the beautiful colorful lupins (incidentally also not native wildflowers). We take the compulsory church picture and then leave this place, mostly overcharged by Chinese tourists, resort: we start on the A2O!!