Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cycling In New Zealand 2018: Days 1 & 2 - Kia Ora & Welcome to Auckland

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018Days 1 & 2    |     Go to D3/D4/D5/D6/D7-8/D9/D10-11/D12-13
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Cycling New Zealand 2018: Days 1 & 2 - Kia Ora & Welcome to Auckland
New Zealand, North & South Island : Sunday & Monday, 21st & 22nd October 2018
This is part of a cycling tour North Island & South IslandNew Zealand:
Cycling Distance: Not Applicable.     Level: Not Applicable
Cycling Time : Not Applicable
Time Taken :  Not Applicable

This is page 1 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to Bikes On Planes       |     Go to Other Days       |       Go to D3 Queenstown >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Traffic in New Zealand is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
   Some New Zealanders can get quite impatient when it comes to driving. So do not hog the road, stay within your lane and put on your indicators when turning or changing lanes so as not to irate them.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    New Zealand has fairly well developed cycling routes that run in the cities, town, villages, and country side. Some of the cycling trails are on dedicated cycling lanes, some on shared lanes with pedestrians or other traffic. Some are on paved tracks while others are on gravel or earth trails, and they go through fairly busy towns, green forests and bright blue lakeside.
    The New Zealand Cycle Trail site provides an interactive map of exciting journeys on 2,500km of trails suited to everyone from sightseeing easy-going riders, to hardcore mountain bikers up for a challenge. New Zealand law requires cyclists to wear helmets while cycling.

3. Navigation
    We used Google Maps in Cycling Mode for navigation but there is a lag when starting off, so one would have to cycle a bit to get the orientation right. Google Maps is also useful as it shows various places of interests that were not shown on GPS units.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.

4. Weather
    On 21st & 22nd October average temperatures in Auckland averaged 20°C and 13°C respectively for day and night.
    Useful weather forecast sites for the New Zealand are the New Zealand Met Service and AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

5. Places of Interests
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
- Auckland Sky Tower (GPS: -36.84844, 174.76219).

6. Food
    On 22nd October we had dinner at the Depot Eatery (GPS: -36.849, 174.76239) in Auckland, the menu included
    - small plates that included Fergus Bone Marrow, Lamb Ribs with skordalia, Crisp "Freedom Farms" Pork Hock, Hapuka Tortilla sliders, fresh Pacific Russel Oysters from Orango Bay, Potato Skin with "Kingsmeade" manchego, etc.

7. Accomodations
We stayed with friends in the Greenhithe suburbs of Auckland.

8. Travelling By Plane And Bringing Bikes Onto Planes In New Zealand
    From Kuala Lumpur, we flew into Auckland by Air Asia via the Gold Coast in Australia. The odd thing is that the airline charges for checked in luggage and sports equipment twice - once for the Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast leg, and another time for the Gold Coast to Auckland leg and then vice versa for the return flight. Click here for AirAsia guideline and fee on sports equipment. The fee differs for short-haul and long-haul flights.
    We managed to get cheaper fares by booking months earlier and also booked 20kg sports equipment each for the outgoing and return flight. Our Brompton bicycles were packed into Dimpa bags, and our cycling gear (jerseys, zippable pants, etc) with shopping purchases were put into a spare Dimpa Bag Air Asia allows cabin luggage of two pieces (a normal cabin sized bag with another smaller bag); both must not weigh more than a total of 7kg. They are very strict on this policy and will charge for any weight beyond this. A tip, simple but important. Ensure that you DO NOT carry your tool kits or any long/sharp metal objects in your hand luggage. Put your tool kit into your checked-in bike bags. I often seen friends forgetting about this, only to have their tools confiscated at the security checkpoints.
    
9. Communicating with Each Other
   When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest. Vodafone prepaid phone cards can be bought at the Vodafone stall located just outside the Arrival Hall. We got ours from a promoter at the shopping arcade within the arrival hall, with each of us getting the prepaid mobile cards at NZ$25 (inclusive of GST) which came with 1.5Gb of data lasting 30 days. Also included were 200 minutes for local calls and calls to selected countries, including Malaysia. This also includes text messages to the selected countries. There's also free chat data when using FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp.
    Most hotels, motels, home-stays, restaurants, and airports have free Wifi; do note that these free wifi may not be secure and registration could be required. But one can safe on one's mobile data by using these especially for uploading or downloading videos.

10. Communicating with Locals
    All locals speaks very good English and communicating with them should not be a problem.
    
11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

My buddies at me at the Otago Central Rail Trail, four years ago.
Close to four years ago, together with some buddies, I went on a cycling tour to South Island of New Zealand; (called Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud by the Māoris) and really enjoyed the beautiful place with it's scenic bright blue lakes and snow-capped mountains. This year I am making a trip with my better half to visit relatives in North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui), and took the opportunity to do a bit of cycling. It turned out to be more than a just bit of cycling as we cycled in several places; although some of the trails were not easy, we thoroughly had good fun there amidst the beautiful scenery. It was a multi-mode cycling tour, as we did road trips & bus tours to further away places, and even on a short flight to Queenstown in the South Island (Te Waipounamu).
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THE JOURNEY

This map shows the locations of airports on our flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) to Auckland via the Gold Coast and some Auckland places of interest. Zoom out to see locations of KLIA2 and the Gold Coast Airport.
Cycling Distance - Not applicable     Level: Not applicable


Here's Lynn, after checking in at KLIA2, eager to go for our journey to New Zealandmysteriously called Aotearoa by Māoris. But it's a name that simply means "The Land of the Long White Cloud", a name that is clouded by fascinating folklore of the island natives.


Our "sports equipment" consisting of two Brompton bicycles packed into Ikea Dimpa bags. being rolled over to the "Oversized" check-in section.
By booking months ahead, we had managed to get cheaper fares from Air Asia which flies to Auckland via the Gold Coast in Australia. This will be a trip by just the two of us, a trip to visit our relatives residing in a country that's one of the world's most isolated places and yet is one of the world's most beautiful spots.
But we will also be bringing our Brompton bicycles along, to cycle whenever we have the opportunity. The bicycles were individually packed into Ikea Dimpa bags lined with Impraboards. A third Dimpa bag held our helmets (New Zealand law requires cyclists to wear helmets while cycling there), and a Mini O bag, suitable for short bike rides.
We bought checked-in baggage and sports equipment a few days prior to flying off. The odd thing is that AirAsia charges charges twice for these; once for the Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast leg, and another time for the Gold Coast to Auckland leg; and then vice versa for the return flight. The additional charges incurred by this together with some pre-booked in-flight meals came up to almost a third of our total flight cost. Still, overall, this was cheaper than flying by conventional airlines.


11:40am - Goodbye Malaysia, we will be back in about two weeks time! Our total travel time will be 12 hours with a 90-minutes transfer layover at the Gold Coast.


After a 9-hour flight (with some snoozing in between), we arrive at the Gold Coast and were greeted by the white, sandy famed beaches of the renown tourist destinations, too bad we could not enjoy them as we were on transit and will not be leaving the airport. Perhaps next time we will do that, cycle at the Gold Coast!
The plane will let off passengers who are travelling here from Kuala Lumpur and pick up passengers travelling from the Gold Coast to Auckland. We were required to disembark to wait at the transit hall while the plane was being refueled and cleaned, a new flight crew will take over; there was no need for us to fill in Australia's disembarkation forms as we were on transit only; however there was a Customs's security check for our carry-on luggage. For those who want a quick meal or to pick up some souvenirs, there's a restaurant and a shop at the transit hall of the Gold Coast Airport.


Three hours later, as we approached Auckland, a strata of white clouds greeted us. They formed a layer of long white clouds, one can see why the Māoris call their country Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Below us we see Auckland Port and the city's busy town centre. We will not have much time in Auckland for the time being; as taking advantage of cheap fares, we will be flying off to Queenstown the following day. But no worries, we will be back for a few days in this city later on.


5:10pm (New Zealand time) -
KIA ORA!
Welcome to New ZealandThe country may physically isolated from the rest of the world but it is famed for it's scenic blue lakes, snow-capped mountains. One can appreciate its clean rivers with bustling clear water while breathing in the freshest air in the world. Food-wise, the New Zealand fare is famed for it's super-fresh, super-tasty beef and mutton. It is also renowned for it's creamy Pacific Bluff Oysters and tasty Green-lipped Mussels and has one if the tastiest burgers in the world - Fergburger!
Did we miss Malaysian food? No! Our relatives did cook up some delicious meals while we were there 😋.


The first thing to do when visiting a foreign country? Pick-up pre-paid phone travel sim cards. There's a Vodafone stall just outside the arrival hall; but we got our Vodafone simcards from a promoter within the shopping arcade of the arrival hall who also helped us set up the sim cards. The above shows the different packages offered; as our stay won't be long, we picked the NZ$25/- package that gives 1.5Gb of data with free chat data using FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp. It also has 200 minutes of call time to New Zealand lines and selected home countries, which also included Malaysia.
That done, we are READY FOR NEW ZEALAND!


Cuz Koh, together with his wife Lily and daughter Naomi, picked us up and whisked us to downtown Auckland for a good introduction to NZ food at the Depot Eatery. It's located just below the Auckland Sky Tower


The restaurant was not overly precious or pretentious – just fast, fun and fresh. It's the perfect place to drop in and refuel. Run by chef Al Brown’s, it reflected perfectly his attitude towards food: in season, beautifully cooked, and to be enjoyed with friends. Most of the cooking is over charcoal or hard wood so there’s a real succulence to the flavours.


 Naomi being familiar with the eatery, ordered of a selection of small plates and medium size plates. We also had the New Zealand oysters; the Pacific Bluff Oysters were not in season, so we had the Russel's oysters harvested from the Orongo Bay.
The plump and creamy oysters were served on a cool platter together with some dip sauce. I resisted the the temptation of the dip sauce and had the oysters NAKED! Don't get me wrong, I am not a lusty old man; to understand why I had them naked, read this blog.


The small plates we had included these Kingfish sashimi served with oyster cream, apple & Fennel seeds. The did look like tuna and tasted as good too.


And then came these sliders packed with tasty Turbot fish pickled with lemon mayo and served with chopped watercress.


Not to be missed are these wood-fired lamb ribs Lamb Ribs served with a mix sauce of Skordalia, Cumin, Paprika Oil. Damn! These were very good... after-all we are in NZ where they have one of the best lamb in the world.

Next was this Pork Hock (from Freedom Farmswith was crisply good and reminded me of the Deep-fried Crispy Pork Knuckle from Nibong Tebal.

The Fergus Bone Marrow was an interesting dish, with the bone cut in half to exposed the nicely done brownish bone marrow. It's eaten as a pâté spread on slices of bread.
It's interesting how bone marrow has worked it's way into the culinary diet of people all over the world. We had something akin while cycling in Taiwan; over there it was lamb bone marrow serve in a steamboat. Patrons were provided with straws to suck out the marrow.... sounds a bit vampire-ish... Haha!


All of these good food was washed down with a light Monteith's Imperieal Pilsner.
It was a real, grand meal; very good call, Naomi!


As we ate, the sun set and in the dark skies, the Sky Tower lit up brightly, looming tall over us. Take away its viewing platform and it would look like a Russian Vostok rocket, ready to launch off!
It was a great introduction to NZ, eating in that cool, easy and comfortable atmosphere among close relatives. What a welcome it was!


High above, the viewing and rotating platforms of the Sky Tower looked surrealistic like a flying saucer. Often from the top platform, sports enthusiasts would do a Sky Jump, jumping down 192 metres.... Whoosh!. Haha!, that's not for this old man with a weak back and an even weaker heart!


But our celebration was not over yet... back at Koh's house we had a cake cutting..... it's Naomi's birthday.

Rā whānau hari, Naomi!
(That's "Happy Birthday Naomi!" in Māori)

(For more photos of the day Click Here)
This is page 1 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to Bikes On Planes       |     Go to Other Days       |       Go to D3 Queenstown >

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Days 1 & 2    |     Go to  D3/D4/D5/D6/D7-8/D9/D10-11/D12-13
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