Travelogue

Day 28 – The Final Day – 210.9km

Here we are team, the last day of the Circumnavigate NZ Challenge, 28 days of hard (?) slog, enjoyment and what really should be a sense of achievement, both as a collaborative and on a personal level. Through the contribution of us all – Barry, Mel, Becs, Shona, Dayle, myself, Campbell and Ben, we are on the cusp of achieving what we set out to do, covering almost 3,750km virtual KM of NZ by inputting hundreds of hours of exercise.

With just under 60km to go these are some of the actual (not virtual) stats:

Cycling

Week 1: 428.4 km; Week 2: 551.9 km; Week 3: 525.3 km; Week 4: 469.4 km (one day to go). Total Cycling = 1,975 km

Running

Week 1: 56.6 km; Week 2: 68.8 km; Week 3: 74.5 km; Week 4: 61.9 km (one day to go). Total Running = 261.8 km

Walking

Week 1: 69.4 km; Week 2: 89.2 km; Week 3: 65.7 km; Week 4:  103 km (one day to go). Total Walking = 327 km

Workouts

Week 1: 14 / 9 hrs 20 mins; Week 2: 8 / 5 hrs; Week 3: 15 / 9 1/4 hrs; Week 4: 12 / 7 3/4 hrs (one day to go). Total Workouts 49 for 31 hrs 20 mins

Rowing

Week 1: 33.5 km; Week 2: 13.5 km; Week 3: 13 km; Week 4: 12.5 km (one day to go). Total Rowing: 72.5 km

Well, as expected, we finished mid-morning, on the final day of our challenge. Mel did the honours and decided we needed rename QE II Oval to the Melissa Hansen Oval. I wonder what Gary Caffell would think…

We’re doing lots of victory laps as exercise keeps coming in. Some, however, maybe saving some reserves for the next round starting Thursday.

It’s been a blast.

So we needed 50-60km and we put in a massive 210.9. If only we could carry some across to the next one (but we’re not going to). We traveled 3,889 virtual km in 28 days and 2,689.5 actual km (almost an average of 100 per day).

Herein ends the Travelogue for this journey. Next one starts in just after 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 27 – 176.3km

The penultimate day has begun, as noted last night approx 250km to home, two days to do it in so a bit of breathing space. As at mid-morning we’ve moved a further 55km through Blenheim and Picton and have launched into the Sounds. Goodbye South Island, another 100km to dry land and back to the North.

With only 2 days left I thought today might be a nuffy day. I’ll work through some stats, not necessarily personal stats (but if you want me to I can) as Barry will show everybody up. I’ll update some of these as a wrap up tomorrow.

As we leave the South Island we’ve clocked up 3,678.95 virtual km, which in actuality equates to 2,489.30 real km. On top of that have been all the work-outs. We have been doing well!

Normally the Remutakas would sit there as a decent barrier to cycling to Wellington, virtually, it means we’re almost home. A day of 176.3km has left us at the base of the Kaitoke’s (probably sleeping at Camp Kaitoke) with not far till home, in fact only around 60km, we could be at QE II Oval by breakfast. A picnic one, on the grass, lots of food picked up from our travels (and maybe a wine at 9am) over the past 27 days. 27 days seems like its gone both slowly (which it has) but quickly in terms of the both this travelogue and our journey. I’ve enjoyed 99% of the minutes I’ve spent typing this rubbish, hopefully you’ve enjoyed at least 9.9% of your time reading it. A victory lap will have to commence tomorrow, we could probably head up to Eketahuna and back for a coffee and a visit to their most famous shop (for supplies? out of interest? or just because I kept typing about it).

Next challenge is well into the planning stage and details will be out tomorrow for a Thursday commencement. See you tomorrow for the end of the journey.

 

Day 26 – 189.75km

Inside the final three days people – is it a big push (no we’re not having a baby) or a stroll to the finish? Day 26 has started with us leaving the Canterbury Plains and into the hill / mountain country around Kaikoura. In fact we’ve left Kaikoura and it’s seals, whales and crays behind us as at 9.30am. We’ll make our way up the Coast before heading inland towards Blenheim. Guess what Blenheim is famous for? Wine! We (I) will be bogged down crossing the strait on the way home, however I’m sure empty bottles can be used as flotation devices so if desperate times call, desperate measures will be undertaken (no, I am not tipping it out, I’ll bloody well drink it).

You’ll notice we haven’t had a theme day for a while – it’s been a struggle for inspiration and even typing rubbish (which plainly I’m quite good at) is becoming a stretch after 26 days of it. However, if someone has to make up dribble then I’m your man. In about 15kms we follow the coast for quite a while, well, I’m pretty sure we still follow the coast – I wonder if Google Maps has updated the uplift after the Earthquake? About 40km to Clarence, again, a town, not a man. A bit further north we head past Lake Grassmere, so if we’re cramping up we can always immerse ourselves in an absolute ton of salt (thank god Regan isn’t with us). The top of the South is calling us, a bit far away to hear exactly what it’s saying – hopefully it isn’t “bugger off!”.

Righto colleagues, end of another day, 189.75km closer to home. We are now just south of Seddon, which is pretty damn close to Blenheim, which in turn is not far away from Picton. Time to start bobbing up and down like a rubber ducky in Cook Strait tomorrow. In fact 54km and we’re in the water and then 103km to Wellington. We won’t be home tomorrow so we have timed it perfectly for 28 days – couldn’t have worked out better. 100% uptake on a sequel. My initial thoughts are Wednesday off as a rest day between the two (Baz will scoff, as long as its not a cough – can’t have you sick Barry). I’m fleshing out 100% the design and will post and email details in the next couple of days. A good night sleep needed, big two days to finish. Good job!

Day 25 – 145.5km

Whilst some of us are easing lazily into a Saturday (not helped by sudden pouring rain and a bit of thunder, [Thor is back (Part II, The Dark World), Frankenstein Returns] others have been taking us up the road, away from the nondescript town that is Ashburton. We’ve crossed the longest road bridge in New Zealand at Rakaia (along with it’s big fish, is it a Salmon or a Trout? think it’s a Salmon…mmm smoked Salmon). We are pretty close to Christchurch with only about 30kms left to go, got to get past an Army Camp at Burnham (Baz, have you trained any poor buggers there?) and both NZ’s fastest growing town, Rolleston, and Templeton, famous for being the golf course I was a member of whilst living in Christchurch as well as to a lesser extent, the Cookie Time factory. If we stop there we’ll struggle to be peddling again.

With the weather as it stands it might be another quietish day although things are meant to clear this afternoon, so who knows where we’ll finish up, hopefully somewhere near a North Canterbury vineyard. Even better, a trip inland to one of my favourite spots in the country, Hanmer and a relaxing soak with a Waipara River Reserve Riesling, holy shit those are nice. PAUSE. That was a big pause whilst I day-dreamed about what I’d just written about.

Whilst talking about day-dreaming, and this is another brilliant segue (not Segway again, brrrm brrrm on two wheels). We are less than a handful of days from completing this virtual challenge. Some questions (not statements!). 1/. Has it been enjoyed and served it’s purpose in terms of offering an alternative to the boredom of lockdown? 2/. Has it given people a goal (not you Barry, you don’t need one, nor you Mel – I’m not excluding you, but being the pros you are you don’t need a goal) for exercising? 3/. Is there a will or a want to continue with something similar from Wednesday onwards? 

I have had requests from a couple of people about joining in very late in the piece and have deferred these, and some others have been a no-show despite opening the door for them. So, there are parts of the country that we haven’t visited, and just like Cole in The Sixth Sense, I have a vision (no, I don’t “see people”) about starting afresh (a sequel). Lockdown changes will still likely mean people working from home a lot and needing fresh air – so let me know (comments, email, text) if you are keen to be a part of the Great NZ Traverse. More details to follow.

Day 25 has finished and we’ve chased down about 145km of tarseal. Must have wanted to do some sightseeing in Christchurch so we slowed down, took in the reconstruction and maybe some sport and rec in Hagley Park before the Wizard (he died didn’t he? maybe he’s a zombie wizard) chased us out the north end of the city. We’ve finished up just past Waipara which is awesome for allowing me to grab some bottles of wine, not so awesome in terms of making things cruisier on the last 3 days in. Should be around 300km to Picton, 100km across the strait and 100km home – 3 days to do it, within reach but another day like today will add a little bit of pressure.

 

Day 24 – 174.5km

Ok, so Dayle walked and worked out into the night so we ended up bounding off the boulders at Moeraki and on the northern outskirts of Oamaru yesterday. That’s given us a leg up today and already close to 120km has been covered. We have flown along leaving the metropolis of Timaru behind, and appear to be slap bang in the middle of Temuka, obviously we’re in the market for pottery. Geraldine (not a person) is just north, and that’s where they make Barker’s Jams and sauces from memory (they don’t make them from memory, they have recipes, I was saying from memory that’s where they’re made). A nice warm start to the day, some rain forecast for later, I’m predicting Ashburton will be easy (not the population, that would be a horrible slur) and we could get quite close to Christchurch – which raises a quandary – we’re doing this quite easily all of a sudden. What do we do if we have days to spare…I will contemplate.

End of the day, and as was to be expected, a bit of a decrease in activity from previous days. Lethargy not really kicking in as 174km is still above the average we needed when we started – and this is Day 24 people (24!!!). We have finished the day pretty much slap bang in the middle of Ashburton. I don’t have much to say about Ashburton, it takes a while to get through (not quite Carterton on steroids) and that is about it. 70-80kms south of Christchurch, which puts us approx 400 odd back to Picton (driven that road a lot, pretty sure it’s 330 between the two). We won’t get a chance to check out the re-build, I won’t get a chance to re-visit old stomping grounds, but hey, maybe they can add flavour tomorrow. Four Days left in the original challenge, five days left at level 4 (hopefully, and I’m not referring to playing one of Ben’s x-box games). Let’s see what eventuates.

As an after-note, Baz exclaimed “other people” as his last comment for the day. Just because your name is in there six times Barry doesn’t mean others didn’t do anything. Some of us can’t walk due to our efforts – and it’s not through drinking too much.

Day 23  – 217.75km

We are in a part of NZ that I know nothing about so providing illuminating descriptions is going to be difficult (some would say, in fact most would say, in fact, no, all would say, that none of my descriptions are illuminating) so I’m just going to make things up. We’re on the road, cycling through paddocks full of grass (?) and animals (sheep, cows, tigers and other creatures). There’s the odd tree…being that far south probably very odd. 73.5km further on the road at lunchtime, although I know there is at least one of our team out there putting in a BIG shift. We’re about 22km away from Balclutha, so getting into Scottish territory (town on the clyde or something it stands for, so the Clutha river actually means the Clyde river in gaelic…does that make sense?). Heading towards the Edinburgh of the south, if we get there do we catch a Lime Scooter to the casino? Head off the Cook (and queue in -2 degrees), burn a couch or go surfing at St Kilda and watch out for Great White’s (there’s a joke in there but it could border on racist so I’ll leave it out).

This has been a ramble, and I’m not referring to the exercise.

Just over halfway through the afternoon and we have been flying (not literally, that would be cheating) and are already in Dunedin. I’ve decided a pub would suit me best after 23 days (I think I may had said something similar before) and the rest of you can do what you want, just not mountain-biking with the ex-Health Minister of NZ (is he ex? I have no idea, don’t pay enough attention, think his name was David Covid, or something). Personal story, one of the things I am missing through lock-down is having a jaffa with my coffee in Strada. Whilst in Dunedin I am therefore not rolling the little bastards down Baldwin Street.

When Barry picks us up we won’t be staying overnight, and instead will be off on the jaunt up State Highway 1. Question, is there anybody doing this challenge who has not been inappropriately drunk in Dunedin? I’ve had a couple of memorable weekends there in the middle of winter (that’s other people telling me they were memorable, not me remembering) and I know of at least one other participant who seems to have some Dunedin regrets. I put it down to warding off the cold and the dark, lucky it’s a sunny afternoon.

And as expected, Baz comes in with his late evening efforts – we’re now north of Dunedin, somewhere between Flag Swamp and Goodwood, and near a place called Shag Point. Good god there’s so many jokes to be had in that lot I don’t know where to begin. What’s up with the people of Otago? If you can’t make any jokes yourself, don’t come crying to me. We’re heading towards Palmerston of the South and Moeraki of the Boulders. Oamaru is only 50km or so North, let’s see if anybody rides in on a Steampunk bike – Timaru, Geraldine and even Ashburton if we go 5 out 6 200km plus days are all in reach.

 

 

Day 22 – 214.15

22 Days in and we’ve been pumping out some big days just recently, everybody seems keen to get to the end of this (more likely to get to the end of the Lockdown). Just before lunch and we’ve traveled close to another 100km to be just north of Winton, which again is just north of Invercargill (one of the few places in NZ I’ve never been to), which in turn is just north of Bluff. Now we’rrre in Southland terrritorrry something seems to be happening to ourrr accents. Got to make like the locals I guess.

Past couple of days we’ve been past some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the country and I haven’t even touched on them (hard to touch something virtually). Past receding glaciers, glacial fed lakes, southern alps passes, a lake with an island which has a lake, which has an island (Wanaka), the same lake has a petrified tree, there’s a joke in there about me and getting a fright (or encountering polystyrene…a long story) but I’m not going to make it. Then over the Crown range road (which we probably should have struggled a bit more with, has anybody ever been over that?). Then into Queenstown, no Bungy jumps as a stop off, in fact we didn’t even finish there (too expensive, even with no tourists) as Baz took us just south. 

Sun is shining, wind is blowing cold, autumn is here, best time to be in this virtual part of the world, we haven’t taken the Alexandra road which is a stunner with autumn trees, but hey, we can’t follow every road in the country. About 70km more (or so) and we’ll be in Bluff, with a sign pointing back towards Cape Reinga. I’ll be into the Oysters, even if nobody else is.

Late afternoon progress report, we’ve moved through Winton, most famous for being named after Oceania Footballer of the Century Wynton Rufer but they accidentally spelled it wrong. Not only through that town (honestly, no idea what Winton is famous for) but we’ve also shot through Invercargill, which was much smaller on google maps than I thought it would be…maybe all their streets and buildings have to huddle together against the cold. We are on our way to Bluff, 22km away, bottom of the South, next stop Antarctica, which is where todays wind was brought to you from. Once there (either this evening, Barry?, or tomorrow) we turn around, back to Invercargill again before turning off (and really, who wouldn’t – has anyone ever noticed that people from the deep south tell you how wonderful it is, but they only ever tell you this when they’re not there?) towards Dunedin.

Well, based upon that end of the day nobody wanted to hang around in the deep South…if it was Deep South ice cream it might have been different. Another 200km plus day, that’s three in the last four, obviously a sprint to the finish line, even though there’s approx 1,110km to go (thats a long sprint). Let’s hope it doesn’t finish up like this:

We’ve made it to Bluff, seen the signs, dragged Barry back from trying to row to Tokyo and now appear to be heading in the right direction – got back to Invercargill and have left that behind. On the long and winding (?) road to Dunedin.

Day 21 – 232.2km

Looking for inspiration for today and what better place than the art-world. Somebody inspired me yesterday so I’ll add in the odd art reference into our travel’s today (even though I can’t draw a line straight, colour between lines, or basically do anything that anybody would find recognisable as”art”). Was last night a Starry Night? Nope windy, and a bit of the same today, but not quite so bad. Enough about the weather, we’re on the road, past Haast and well into the pass, wending our way towards Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, the road we’re following actually looks like I’ve attempted to draw a straight line on a piece of corrugated iron.

Goal for today will be to get as close to Queenstown as possible but plenty of beautiful central lake district territory to get through first.

Sorry, team pretty poor effort from today – sidetracked by work and then stacking a ton of firewood. 232.2km is two massive days out of three and we’ve ended up just south of Queenstown. 7 days to go and according to my estimates if we average the 171km we needed to from the start we might end up at home with a day to spare. My estimate might be off and we might end up stuck in Cook Strait. No reason to slacken off – I will consider what virtual effort we might have to put in if Lockdown gets extended.

Will find some awesome photos of the landscape we’ve been through tomorrow when hopefully I’ll be more on top of things. Welcome back Dayle!

Day 20 – 143.90km

Morning all. Before I start anything today I do want to apologise to those that tried to partake in the Virtual Easter Hunt. Trying to be a bit clever and didn’t do the basics of it right, cocking up the first town in the clues. Pretty embarrassed and sightly stressed that it must have made everybody frustrated and probably wasted plenty of time in terms of not being able to find the answer (I know this affected at least two people…maybe the only two that pay attention to this travelogue). Feeling contrite, don’t think I’ll attempt anything like that ever again. Today will be about the facts and the journey plain and simply, no theme, apart from maybe the day the music died.

I therefore won’t regale you with what my flatmate did to my sleeping bag at two in the morning after a day at a certain West Coast beer festival, nor how I had to spend the night after said act. Details of climbing Franz Josef glacier will remain unsaid, as will some experiences in pubs with West Coast locals. Exercise well, let’s see if we can get through Haast Pass, about 170km or so south of where we are.

5.58pm,  a little bit of activity today, 111.90km as at this evening. This has taken us past both Glaciers and to a point in the road near Bruce Bay. We’re about 70km north of the starting the Haast Pass. If any more activity comes in I’ll update again.

6.10pm – more activity, another 32km further down the road, just past Paringa. Just under 40km to get to the start of Haast pass. If we hit our average of 170km tomorrow we should get somewhere near the Cadrona Skifield, 1/. if my counting is correct and 2/. if we decide to go that way.

Day 19 – 242.15km

And it’s Easter Sunday, apologies, I’ve been intent on setting up the Hunt for this afternoon and haven’t updated our meritorious travel efforts this morning. A massive 118.8km done before lunchtime (will today challenge for the biggest day yet) and we’re well onto the coast. Past Murchison and Inangahua (scene of two big NZ earthquakes…no shaking today…apart from my legs after exercising) and a loop past Punakaikai (mmm, pancakes…) and now down towards Greymouth. With progress so far Hokitika should be well within our sights and that, my friends, is what you call progress.

4.00pm is d-day for the start of the hunt, I’ll set up a new post above this one for it so you don’t have to scroll down. A few more clues to create so hopefully I’ll get there. No idea if I’ll balance it right (and after all, balance is better) and that it’ll make sense. Not many things I do, do.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another day, and a massive one at that. 242.15km. Where does that leave us, well to be honest, somewhere in New Zealand. Seeing as I couldn’t count the number of letters in a towns name maybe I’m not the best one to try to work out how many k’s we’ve done and plot it on a map. Thank god I didn’t become an accountant like my uncle wanted me to, I thought I wasn’t boring enough to do that (although my father was an accountant, and I take after him, he thought he was funny as well). No wonder I have to continually ask fellow umpires how many balls have been. Anyway, enough of my wallowing in self-pity that’s swiftly moving into a drunken stupor, not a great character trait, but fuck it, I stuffed up our virtual Easter Hunt so you have to put up with it.

Anyway, we are quite a way down the West Coast, somewhere between Hokitika and the glaciers. Tomorrow, if there is a Travelogue, god knows what the theme will be – maybe something along the lines of histories greatest mistakes.

 

Day 18 – 175.25km

And we’re in the South. That’s all I have to say on a beautiful Saturday morning. The birdsong, the sun and a slight chill in the air should provide artistic inspiration but it’s not, maybe I’m tapped out, maybe this is it for the Travelogue. 

Bugger that. We’ve moved past Havelock (of the South, the North one was quite a while ago) and wending our way uphill towards Nelson. Unsure what the target is for today, haven’t really measured it on the map so maybe we’ll just meander our way towards the West Coast, stop at a couple of Nelson’s lovely beaches (although Kaiteriteri is a little bit out of the way) and feel refreshed for Easter Eggs tomorrow. Which reminds me, some fool is planning something a bit different for this travelogue tomorrow. Watch this space.

What a day this is – stunning 22 degrees…I’m sure the coast would have looked awesome as we rode past, apart from this is virtual so no idea really. We have left Nelson behind, currently tracking in at 137.25 km and I’m sure a little bit more exercise to come in. We’re just north of Murchison so the Coast isn’t far away from starting…might have to pub it at Murchison if we stop there – a white, or a red, or a beer, or a cider, take your pick, or pick all four.

Now, earlier I foolishly committed to something different tomorrow, and here it is:

I found the cutest photo of a Bunny I could, it certainly looked better than the squashed one on Upper Plain Road I went past this morning (traumatised children anywhere?).

In keeping with the spirit of the season, because I KNOW that we all have an inner child somewhere inside of us, tomorrow, whilst we travel, is Easter Egg Hunt Day. By 4.00pm tomorrow I will have placed 3 Eggs at 3 different locations in NZ. These locations will be ones we have already traveled through. You task is to guess which ones. 

First one to get the answers I’m after and comment on here will win – and I’m putting this up – either a decent bottle of Red or a decent bottle of White or a dozen Heineken (or Exports) or Ciders. You don’t even have to drink them with me. This is therefore an Adult Easter Hunt (get your minds out of the gutter).

You cannot start guessing until after 4.00pm and you need all three answers exactly right.

These won’t be random guesses though – I will post on here a series of Clues / Questions. Each clue will provide you with a letter, of which there will be 21 letters. These letters form the names of the towns or cities where the Eggs are. In keeping with an Easter Egg Hunt, and in line with my poetic efforts on Day 7, I’m making it even harder for myself by rhyming the clues.

I’ll also post some photo clues – and continue to do this if people struggle. 

The one thing this will tell me (when nobody comments) is that nobody actually bothers reading the drivel I write.

 

Day 17 – 192.1

It’s Good Friday, 17 days into this challenge and it’s time for a change of tone (I’m not making things sad, I’m just speaking in a deeper voice). It’s also time for a story. This is, after all, a challenge derived by Wairarapa Cricket, and as such I’m going to give you some insights into Wairarapa Cricket staff. Well, one in particular. I think by now you have way too much understanding about the workings of my mind from simply reading these. Today is Mel’s day. 

Why (?) do you ask (well maybe you don’t) – After 6 months of unbelievable slog across a busy season, today, Good Friday, was to be the start of a wonderful leave period for those involved with the WCA, none moreso than Melissa. Today, Mel was to be jet-setting off to the top of her bucket-list, the pinnacle of North Africa, Morocco. I’m hoping this note in the travelogue doesn’t upset her too much, but I was thinking that as we travel down that wonderful tourist avenue of New Zealand, Horowhenua (!!! – we just made it through Levin, which to be honest can feel like it takes as long as a long-haul flight) that we’ll also take a tourist trip through Mel’s destination of choice.

Mel, you will hate me for this, but I don’t apologise. Either make yourself a freshly squeezed orange juice or a pot of mint tea and soak it up (not the drink, I’m not saying you’re a sponge). I know next to nothing about Morocco so I’ll learn something, maybe others too, and when  you finally get there (better be sometime next year) you can tell me afterwards how wrong I’ve been. So after 6 months of working unbelievably hard (whilst I just sat back and looked good – yes, that is in my job description), here is both a virtual travelogue of Horowhenua, Kapiti, Wellington, Cook Strait and Morocco.

This place looks awesome, wikipedia provides too many answers as to why it’s blue so I’m not going to try (however, did they lend some paint to Whanganui and its river?)

Chefchaouen near the Mediterranean. (Don’t even know if you were going there but I like pretty pictures).

Whoah, we have whizzed down the Kapiti Coast, thank goodness no Easter traffic and are already in our capital Wellington, so I’ll touch on the Moroccan capital Rabat shortly. However, pressing things to be answered. Still haven’t worked out an efficient way to get across the Cook Strait without it taking all day. Therefore, the call will be that we are 103km from Picton (Ferry Terminal to Ferry Terminal) and seeing as we are all getting much fitter we will treat our “Bike on a Boat” as being able to traverse water the equivalent of land. I’m not sure if Google Maps will let me show progress across the Strait but I’ll see. What this means is we have about 120km to make it to Picton and then we’re in the South.

However, for now, we’re concentrating on Capitals (if only I had done that at school my hand-writing would be far more legible). Rabat, the Capital of Morocco, only slightly larger population wise than Wellington on the Atlantic Coast. It was founded in the 12th century, and no, not by a magician pulling it out of a hat (excuse the cultural insensitivity).

And our journey continues – in NZ terms we’re right slap bang in the middle of Cook Strait, bobbing around like a rubber ducky after Baz pulled the plug out (hopefully not spinning in circles though…that can wait till later when we crack open the wine, beers, and seeing as this post is for Mel, the ciders!). It’s about 40kms to Picton but only around 10km till the safe harbour of the Sounds. Talking about safe harbour (see that’s a segue, not a Segway…we’re not on motorised two wheels here) we’ve left Rabat and it’s magician and we’re doing a bit of a tour. Next stop…Casablanca, of the “play it again Sam” variety, although an interesting fact (I have lots of these, well I think they’re interesting anyway…) that line was never uttered in the film. 

A whistle-stop at Casablanca as there’s more to see. Off to Marrakesh (or Kech if you’re French, je m’appelle Simon). Famous for it’s Jemaa el-fnaa bazaar (I’m famously bizarre as well…this is an attempt at a joke per sentence). I know Mel was heading here, because she told me, and sometimes I pay attention to things.  Plenty more to see, at least one more update to do today, as long as that spreadsheet of exercise gets more updates. Maybe this is Mel’s day, she’s cycled further than Baz and he will not like that!

End of the day, and we haven’t quite made it on to dry land – floating 10km out from Picton, in the Sounds, there’s probably worse places to be (in fact we may not stay there as Baz is taking his time again). The whole of the South Island awaits us with 9 to 10 days to get it done leaving us time to get home again. Morocco still awaits Mel, and whilst we have a sip of a lovely alcoholic drink to celebrate a successful day (in NZ as Morocco is an Islamic dominated country) there’s a bit more to learn about her intended destination (after all, aren’t we doing all this as an educational experience? if we are I’m the wrong one to be paying attention to). Don’t know about the rest of you but after spending some time with google and wikipedia I can start to see the allure of the place. Before we finish let’s visit Fez.

Oops, now that is what you call a sight-gag. The real Fez is the second largest city in Morocco, larger than Auckland, and the hat, as above, is named after it.

Finally, as evening falls, and before the effects of my wine sink in – I know for a fact that this was something that Mel was going to do. Sleeping under the stars in the middle of the Sahara, glamping, star-gazing, freezing (probably) and avoiding scorpions and snakes (possibly). It’s not quite the same being stuck here in Masterton in a bubble (nowhere near the bloody same), or even on a virtual NZ tour. We know it won’t last for ever. One day soon Mel, when the Chergui wind blows off the Sahara, over the Atlas Mountains, the time will be right, and Morocco will welcome you.

 

Footnote: As per normal Baz comes in with a hard-graft shift at the end of the day. Now on dry land, just outside of Havelock heading towards Nelson. I also had a little bit of insight into Morocco after this awesome travel programme at Christmas…here’s the trailer:

Day 16 – 140.6km (as at 5.00pm)

7.45am and we’ve moved almost 70km, over the Whanganui river and leaving that City behind us…soon far far behind us (does anybody get the feeling its not my favourite destination). Looking for inspiration for today, and seeing as its Easter tomorrow, how about a religious day?  Happy to provide 10 commandments but I probably won’t follow them myself. Also content to sup the sacramental wine, and I’d even go so far as bread, but the Lord’s Prayer, for me only if the MCC were reciting it at said cricket ground when England were 9 down, 400 behind NZ in the second innings (this is the WCA challenge after all so you have to put up with a few cricket references), but each to their own.

Bulls is only a hop and a jump away (Easter theme) and then we can bound (Bunny’s can “bound”) on down towards Wellington and that bit of water between the two islands. Baz, any idea how we’re getting across? – I’d be content with a luxury launch at this point in time but if we have to pedal on a pedal boat so be it. 

More activity as the day has worn on, even with the turning weather – back to cold and bleakish again. We’ve reached Sanson and made the turn South straight into the teeth of the wind. About 133km to Wellington (that was a weird approximation I just typed…about 133…should be about 130) and we won’t do that today. Our exercise crew is about to expand (not due to Easter Eggs and certainly not from inhaling from Bike pumps) but because we’ve got a couple of newbies to the Challenge joining us – Daniel from Sport Welly in Welly (will he wait till we get there?) and Anna from Primary Sport. Might take the pressure off Barry (although that is self-imposed).

Almost the end of Day 16, that’s 4/7ths of the way through and still in the North Island, in fact only just at Foxton. Getting closer to Cook Strait and I’ve been wracking the brain about how we cross it – the Ferry Crossing is 102km which is 55 nautical miles…a boat with a bike on it travels about 5.5 knots so that’s 10 hours…Baz obviously cycles faster than most so we could knock a few off. Will sleep on it and come up with a solution that aligns with our virtual calculations.

Day 15 – 173.6km

Even just below the summit of Mt Taranaki it is possible to become inundated with zoom calls, phone calls and emails which makes starting a travelogue for the day difficult, let alone finding inspiration for making it interesting. However, that is what I’m tasked with doing so here goes.

Up early on the mountain and the descent began for the 2300 metres to the bottom…finished off, as you would expect, by the inimitable Barry Hislop. Then Baz hopped on his Bike and we’re 12km down the road already, off towards Whanganui and the glistening black waters (black? dirty brown, believe it or not blue last time I went past it, must have been a paint spill somewhere upriver). Where will we finally finish up, definitely in areas more well traveled (by us) than some of the places we’ve been. All thoughts will now turn to crossing the Strait and how we achieve that.

Most of the way through Day Number 15 – that’s a lot of days, and a lot of drivel from my end. Good progress with pretty much everyone contributing on a grey day. We are just north of Hawera which means Whanganui is too far (whenever I go there it feels like I’ve gone too far). What could this mean going forwards? Well, if we’re going forwards, we’re not going backwards (god the jokes are getting worse) but we probably are a good day and a half at least from Wellington. Then the South Island…with around 11 days to West Coast it (compulsory pub stop at every one on the way down – tricky when Hokitika has the highest density of pubs per head of population in NZ), through Haast and down to the bottom (some would say I’ve already reached the bottom). Then we need to travail the East Coast, all the way back to Picton. Can we do that in 11 days – absolutely, if we were driving a car, or even Barry’s Breakfast Bus (there ya go Baz, a new business idea for you) – on a Virtual Cycle Challenge…well, there’s the answer, it’s a challenge.

 

Day 14 – 201.2km

Thought I’d set up todays travelogue slightly earlier before I get caught zooming most of the morning (not on a bike, and certainly not over the Remutaka’s like some Wellington residents…). Unsure if there will be a theme, pretty sure we’ll need to concentrate on Mountaineering. We’re approximately 100 to 110km from New Plymouth which marks the start of our ascent. If we average around 160km today that means we’ll probably get about two thirds up the mountain and have to camp out (which I understand is illegal but who will detain us in a lockdown). Jesus, that will be cold, hope you’ve packed your woollies…for those that feel the cold more woollies may not be enough, unfortunately we can’t install a heat pump up there.

Sun is shining again today, rain forecast tomorrow so let’s see how quickly we can get up and down and on our way again!

We are on the mountain, made it to New Plymouth, the site of many things, but in particular this effort from Mel and Co at Pukekura Park, which apparently is another of Melissa’s favourite cricket grounds:

Not visiting there today though. We have a Mountain to conquer. As I type we have already ascended 700 metres, so almost a third of the way up, pretty sure we can conquer the summit, but it’s the getting down that counts (just like the golden age of disco).

A bit of info on the Mountain

Trying to get a Map specifically of the Climb organised…I’ll see how I go.

End of the day, we’re 273 metres below the summit – but on the way down! Good effort team. Is there a Hillary Step on Mt Taranaki? If so we stepped up and down it. A cold, exposed night, like when the blankets fall off the bed, but we’ll survive. Back down the Scoria slopes (my Geography degree coming into play) tomorrow morning then on the Bike south. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 13 – 165.15km

I am struggling for inspiration, do we need a theme? Probably not but it does help me prattle (some would say no help is needed). After somebody put in a big effort first thing (and for once its not you Barry) we’re now leaving South Auckland, although Google Maps wants to do a bit of a round-about towards the Waikato river and then back towards Pokeno. I’m letting it do its thing (in other words I’ve tried changing it, sworn multiple times and walked away), as long as it doesn’t become a Children of the Corn situation where we never manage to leave (all roads return to Pokeno, he who walks behind the rows will be stalking us). There, inspiration…our theme today is Horror – it is the 13th day after all, even though 13 as an occult number is a load of codswallop.

We have about 30km to Huntly, 60 to Hamilton, then off down through the King Country. That part of the country contains a number of “Sleepy Hollows” but hopefully no headless horsemen. Waitomo could be a stop, heading into the caves just like in “The Descent”, will we be seeing glow-worms or cannibals? Just a headsup (only possible if you have a head) we are very close to our “challenge day” looks like it could very well cross-over Day 14 & Day 15 the way we are progressing which means its fitting in perfectly in terms of a half-way event. I’ll email details later today so everybody knows what it involves and how we are going to approach it.

Exercise (not “Exorcise”) well, enjoy the sunshine, before darkness descends.

Continuing on the Horror theme – details have just been sent to the participants around the challenge which is highly likely to commence sometime tomorrow. We’re climbing Mt Taranaki – it won’t be like “The Hills Have Eyes”, well hopefully not. Our virtual cycling km’s will instead be converted to virtual climbing metres. A days interlude before we head off down south. Will we make the summit and back tomorrow? Hopefully it doesn’t turn into this piece of French cinema.

An afternoon of exercise so please don’t let us get caught out in the open before the creatures of the night descend – you know, boy racers, suspicious old men, drunks who forgot the pubs were closed.

Last update, darkness is coming in and I’m holding my breath. Not in case of monsters dropping in, but more because Baz hasn’t updated since this morning. Is our final stopping place our final stopping place? Just north of Te Kuiti, what a place to be caught in the open – Black Sheep anybody? 144.15km today, a bit short of average. Might change though. And it did, Baz came in in the evening to rescue us, like a one-legged Knight on a silver steed (Bicycle). 21km more, somewhere called Piopio, don’t know it myself. Big day tomorrow, get the crampons ready, almost in the Naki.

 

Day 12 – 188.85km

We are almost half-way through, but are we half way there? I have no goddam idea, I’m focusing more on trying to keep what I’m typing interesting so that the crowds keep returning. I don’t even know if they are returning, Barry keeps commenting, probably in the 5 minute gaps between his many work-outs but others…thers…hers…ers….ss…there’s an echo in here so that probably tells me something.

A few bits of exercise so far today so we are now south of Whangarei and heading along the same road we moved up. Theme for today, I don’t know? Performance art? Right this will be a “mime” of our progress (with no noise, no echo). Maybe not, maybe it will be a surrealist take on cycling…that would be shit because to be honest all surrealism is shit.

Maybe it will be a stage musical of our journey? “Do you hear the people sing”…well no, because they’re locked inside their fucking homes. How about “I dreamed a dream?” Um, no. One Day more? It’s at least 16 to 17 days more so that song is not right for this at all. However they’re all from Les Mis, and that is probably apt for a number of us – peasants about to revolt, building barricades against boredom in our minds. I will work on the theme as the day progresses…esses…ses…s (there’s that bloody echo again).

More than halfway through a sunny day, and heading off towards “Some Enchanted Evening”. The theme, as it stands, is musicals. The Hills are probably alive with the Sound of Music, but quite frankly, nobody is allowed in the hills so what a waste of effort for there to be music in them. Do I know enough musicals, probably not, but I can dribble my way through. 105km down, we’re now just south of Warkworth, hopefully we’ll make it to Auckland, over the Bridge, possibly, “Over the Rainbow” absolutely not. 

And a big push at the end of the day thanks to Mel and Baz and we’re back in Auckland, taking a different route, we’re somewhere in Mt Roskill (Marathon’s Barry? League Clubs you were trainer for?). Anyway, we’re at the end of Day 12, heading down Waikato way tomorrow. This is when the big showstopper comes on stage for the day, but quite frankly, I stopped a while ago.

I was wrong, I hadn’t stopped, and nor had we, Dayle, on a late evening walk took us into Mangere. 188.75km, another good Sunday. Well done team, some were feeling it today, some of us were not.

Day 11 – 158.7km

It’s a Saturday, quite how we differentiate this from other days 11 days into our tour I’m unsure, maybe the fact that work emails don’t have to be checked. Otherwise it seems like a stretch of many hours, in the same place, with few distractions…except exercise. So let’s go. Today’s theme – I thought music. Can we create a soundtrack for the day, there’ll be some shit songs in there but requests are welcomed.

I’m going to start with this Journey, Don’t Stop Believing – 1. we’re on a journey, 2. do some of us still believe the lockdown will ever end? 

We have begun todays journey, 50 plus km’s on the clock, down past Kaitaia (and please note Google Maps took us off to 90 mile beach, but about 40km after I wanted it to). I just read on the Guardian website that the lead singer of one of the bands that made my Uni days has died of coronavirus…not a band many would know. Fountains of Wayne (famous for Stacey’s Mom and a video of Rachel Hunter in various states of undress), and here’s my favourite song of theirs (from years gone by) and maybe apt for things that are going on Fountains of Wayne, Troubled Times.

If nobody makes any requests, you’re gonna go through a personal back catalogue but I probably won’t share any Scandinavian Metal with any of you – be warned, my musical tastes are varied…classical for a change of pace?

Feeling drained after a Saturday (anybody else in that boat) – good team effort with 158.7km so things are moving steadily. A quick calculation with our total distance traveled and we’re averaging about 3km less per day than we need to hit the target, and that’s without our challenge stop (which as an indication is coming up in the next few days). That’s close though and one big day in the next little while will see us on track, 17 days still to go (my god, that’s a long time).

Gave up on the music theme, no requests and I’ve run out of puff (again).

Sunday tomorrow (in case you got confused between reading the start and end of this part of our journey). Almost back in Whangarei, then down (and hopefully through quickly) to Auckland.

Day Ten – 169.2km

Hey team, how are we doing now we’ve hit double digits in days? I was struggling for a theme for today (my brain may be starting to malfunction, but some may have thought that from the very beginning, or have known that for quite a long time). I will take suggestions (within reason) for daily themes from the comments section so feel free to put forward ideas.

Seeing as we are day 10 maybe it’s apt to do a statistics update, as well as actually keeping track of where we are, which at this point in time is approximately 50km short of the tip of the Cape (we have clocked up 50km already today) and this view:

 

 

 

 

 

Stats about how we are tracking (real nuffy stuff) will be posted as the day goes by and I get the chance. Happy exercising.

A few stats, of no particular consequence or interest (potentially) but as it’s the theme you have to put up with it:

Best exercise day: Day 5 – 224.2km. That was a Sunday, the Sabbath (Black or otherwise) but we put the work in and got the rewards.

Worst exercise day: Day 6 – 133.05km. Was it a coincidence that we followed up our best day with our worst, plus it was a Monday (either Manic or of the I Don’t Like variety).

Single longest piece of exercise (both in reality and virtual) – 52km by Baz (any surprise there?) on the first day when he waited in Eketahuna (we’re a long way from there today) and nobody turned up.

Right, we made it, lets head South…Bluff we’ll be seeing you.

And we are off straight away, checked out the Lighthouse, it was the middle of the day so nothing shiny happening, back down towards the PakiPaki Giant Sand Dunes (and they are). Google maps won’t let me head down 90 mile beach so I’ll pretend…back to Auckland via a different route is the plan then the West Coast.

Baz needs help with the next Leg – anybody?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re about 25km North of Kaitaia…Auckland the goal if we can tomorrow.

Day 9 – 145.65km

Chapter 1

The moral of this chapter is “the early bird captures the worm” or in other words, those exercising before 8.30am move us from Towai all the way to Paihia and Waitangi (oh the bay of islands, how I love thee).

I’m looking at a literary theme today, was gonna go children’s books, but that might insult the intelligence of some (or be too advanced for others? more pictures needed?) but maybe I might put that Shakespearian paper I took at Uni to good use…Bubble bubble toil and trouble (that’s the lockdown), a rose by any other name smells as sweet (that’s me, I have rose in my name), shall I compare thee to a summers day (that’s me as well), Now is the Winter of our discontent (that’s the Lockdown).

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles (something like that) – this is our response to the current crisis (or crises depending what you want to include) – taking up arms by exercising all they way around the country. For us “all of NZ is a stage, and all the men (Baz, Me, Campbell) and Women (Mel, Shona, Dayle, Becs) are merely exercisers”.

Chapter 2

The journey to the North continues. Soft, what light through yonder window breaks, its is the east and yes, it is the bloody sun which means exercise should be happening (no pressure). We’re off on the road North, next stop, Cape Reinga and the confluence of the Tasman and Pacific. That’s 150km plus additional to what’s already been done, might be a bridge too far (that’s a movie, not a novel) but we should get reasonably close.

Chapter 3

The previous chapter was short as other things took my attention. What we should be building up to is a big reveal or a conclusion to the story started in Chapter 1, however this might be the first book in a trilogy the way we are going. As at twenty to six we have covered 145.65km with about 80 more to go to get to the top, a good effort today but as Caesar said to Brutus “Men (and Women…he didn’t say that, sexist times) are masters of their fates”, we didn’t quite master ours today.

Looks likely to be a turnaround halfway through tomorrow and head back down again (I’m thinking we will 90 mile beach it seeing as its a main highway, but google maps will probably bugger it up). 

So, for today, it is at an end – unless Baz has some more activity hidden away: “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

 

 

Day Eight – 152.85km

This is not a rhyming day – brain must have exploded yesterday. I thought I’d make it like a TV series where they introduce weird episodes every so often – tomorrow is “Musical Day” (no it’s not)…unless anybody volunteers to sing our progress.

Apologies, this is going to be quite a busy work day so updates will be infrequent. However, I have kick-started things and got us through to Warkworth, somebody else can take over from here as I’m shattered (almost quite literally). Weather looks better. From Warkworth it’s approximately 90km to Whangarei so should easily be in our reach today. Whangarei to Paihia another 60km, which would be an awesome place to stop but we might struggle. If we get there we could head out on a boat and explore some islands, see some dolphins (I have a video, made in error, of Dolphin’s “enjoying” themselves which I probably won’t share) and probably have some more beer and wine, in the sunshine this time, yes please.

Well, we’ve made it through Whangarei, big efforts on the Bike from plenty today. It’s the time of the evening that I update and pretty much as soon as I’ve finished Baz adds his next round of efforts, holding my breath…

Right, now I’ve returned to consciousness we are around 40km outside of Paihia (and those horny Dolphins). If Baz does his thing we’ll be close, if not, well we’re camping out near Hikurangi. Either way, top of the North within our grasp tomorrow, that’ll be 9 days in. No photos today, I’ve got a few for tomorrow, just need this pesky work stuff to move to one side. Lack of humour in todays post (apart from copulating dolphins but didn’t even post that). Must have run out of puff (hopefully we all don’t start doing that).

Final tally is 152.85km, short of the average but not bad. Overnight stop at Towai (not a name I recognise despite probably having been through there not too long ago). 27km out of Paihia, About 180km (or so) to the top tomorrow. Sleep well, onwards and upwards from here.

Day Seven – 172.85km 

To change things up, a day of prose, why I had this idea god only knows. The result of a loss of sanity, definitely a case of living with inanity. 

We’re starting off with Thames to the South, not just the township but the Firth and river mouth. As always there’s that man named Barry, and on his shoulders, the team he tries to carry. The target is Auckland for the end of the day, between, not much to speak of along the way. Dreary weather with a hit of rain, avoiding it, taking roads that aren’t the main. God almighty this is taking some time, both the travel, and trying to make it all rhyme.

Into the ranges Hunua, a smaller version of ones we call Tararua, then pedalling away, finally, up the goddam motorway. As per normal at this time of night, we thought we had stopped, but we were not right. In the middle of the City ready for a vino, thoughts were expressed, what about the casino? Then Baz came along, somehow still going strong, leave the wine in the fridge, we’re off over the bridge.

The far north is calling, lets hope the rain will stop falling, tomorrow can we get much farther, around 150km and we’ll be in Kawakawa (thats a pretty shit rhyme, so this is time, like a drop in the bucket, for me to say f… it).

 

 

 

 

Day 6 – 133.05

And it’s started off raining, again, forecast for a bit today. Lucky yesterday was a record. Did Baz’s mascot help us hit that record?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off up around the Coromandel, Waihi and Whangamata are now behind us.

 

 

 

 

Further up the line is “the” Hot Water Beach so time for a rest-stop and recuperation before plowing on. Today is photo montage day – any you have to send of the Coromandel, or anything else of interest flick them through. Whitianga awaits, when will we get there – you can tell who provided this photo by the Export sitting in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress is slow today, weather (and for some, work) a determination around this. 77km (and a portion) done just prior to 5pm, maybe a 100km day? Weather not much better tomorrow so we might need some catch-up days moving forwards (if the sun shines again). We’re right next to hot water beach so I’m off with a spade to bury myself in the sand, the rest of you can do what you want. I think the next domestic holiday needs to be here – even better, team building claimed as a work expense? And then we move on. I’m staying at the beach.

A bit of a push at the end takes us past Whitianga and we’re just outside Coromandel. We haven’t quite made it back down to the bottom (in fact its about 50km to get to the Firth of Thames – are we in Scotland?) I’m still buried in the beach, Shona and Campbell are still having an Export, and Barry is just showing off. What sort of a support van do we need to take 4 different bikes for one day Baz – Watt, Mountain,Spin and what the hell is a Cateye Cyclosimulator (I now know as I googled it but good god…any others you can bring out tomorrow?). After a big day yesterday we’re still slightly ahead of the average. A similar day tomorrow will see us at the apex of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Far North beckons.

 

Day 5 – 224.2km 

We’re continuing our descent into the Bay of Plenty, more rain forecast and it is starting. It wasn’t raining at 6.30 when our journey today kick-started, although there were people doing suspicious things in cars (not that I was looking, that’s not why I’m out in the dark…). 

Quite a bit of activity first thing which means we’ve moved through Opotiki, and on our way around Ohiwa Harbour – this means we’re circumnavigating Ohope Beach rather than heading to one of the New Years “hot-spots” of NZ (I don’t think it’s much different to Riversdale). We’ll definitely make it past Whakatane today (hopefully White Island isn’t rumbling) but how close to Tauranga and Mel’s favourite cricket ground, Bay Oval, will we get? It’s cold out, windy, conditions are tough, the sort of weather where body-parts play hide and seek (you know, hands not wanting to go through sleeves, toes wanting to stay in socks – what did you think I was referring to?).

Holy cow team, the sun has come out and the kms have been clocking up. Mel overcame her PTSD and hopped back on a bike. Ben appeared to be lost but he just went miles further than I thought possible, Shona and Campbell clocked up the K’s and Dayle must be exhausted (surely). I almost felt like it was time to go for another ride (as the sun was shining) but then a cloud appeared and it was too difficult. All of this combined means we’re in Tauranga. We’ve skipped past Papamoa and it’s haunted house (yes, I’m not spiritual but the ghost of the old woman who walked the halls, opened doors and stood watching whilst I was asleep can bloody well stay where she is) – I’ve taken us to the Mount (rather than the shorter route) as I wanted a Gelato, we can all view one of Mel’s favourite cricket grounds (apparently only one of, not the favourite), and some of us might have wanted to ciimb the Mount like this:

 

 

 

 

 

If you send me photos, they get in the story!

This has turned into a record-breaking day and I’m assuming there’s still some more to come (if Barry hasn’t had another session what is the world coming to). We’ve now departed Tauranga. Mel (and whoever else has climbed it) have come back down off the actual Mount, just like Moses, but do they have commandments (holy shit I’ve gone from ghosts to biblical stories…). We’re approaching Katikati and moving into Gold-mining country. If we’re doing a true circumnavigation we have to include the Coromandel so Whangamata here we come, and that road is a shocker (maybe we have to make things more difficult Barry to cater for the winding and constant uphill). Where we will be at the end of the day, and can we keep up the pace!!!

And in comes Barry, late on a Sunday evening to carry us through to just south of Waihi and the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. Waihi, the richest gold-mining town in NZ. So gold platters to be manufactured for some (of a higher caste)  and maybe gold teeth (grillz) for those of the gangsta persuasion. Looking towards tomorrow we’re about 40km short of beautiful Whangamata, 100km south of Whangaparoa and somewhere around 180 to 190 to get around the whole thing and back down to Thames…a day excursion before traipsing up to Auckland and heading up to the far north. 5 days down, the first Travelogue without a reference to a particular store (I’m finding another topic to capture interest – clicks on the link subsided which either meant libido’s had dropped or the joke was old). Yes, I could see how many clicks to the links were being made! Back to work for some so maybe a subsidence in activity, Barry, how are your shoulders? No comments today so the presumption is Lisa Carrington wasn’t home.

 

Day 4 – 149.9km

Well, this day is starting with a bang (!) and potentially not much else. Drought is broken, Frankenstein’s monster is being re-animated, and the Thunder has struck. How far are we going to get as a team? We’re about 50kms south of Te Araroa, the first place in the world to see the sunrise, then Hicks Bay 10km further on, then about another 40ish to Waihau Bay, hometown of Taika Waititi and filming location for this NZ Movie (as those working in the sporting industry we should particularly appreciated the tennis coach reference at around 2mins 50).

That would be the top of the Cape done and we’re on a downward run into the Bay of Plenty. Can we get close to Opotiki (about 160km or so)? Well done to Baz who has started the day (once again). I think the rest of us are either envious he has the right equipment for this weather, or, more likely are quite content to simply weather-watch and contemplate whether a) the rain will ever stop and b) if it does stop is there potential of drowning in the puddles left behind (the answers are possibly and yes).

A day like this should encourage the sharing of tales – Barry, feel free to regale us with anything that’s not in the official secrets act. I’ve started my horror story with “it was a dark and stormy morning”, but that’s as far as I’ve made it as the cat is sitting on my arm, which makes it bloody hard to type.

Anybody else feeling guilty that Barry is the only one making any progress – if I go for a bike will I get struck by lightning (and if I do, will I become a superhero?). We’re currently at Tikitiki.

Many of us have now joined in – some of us sweating it out, some contracting pneumonia in the freezing wind and the driving rain. And we’ve made it further, now at Waihau Bay. Already made a Boy reference, can’t make another. Haven’t make a reference to a certain shop though, and here’s an awesome segue – did anybody else read the article that the world is facing a condom shortage? Eketahuna could be swamped. 

Another rhetorical question for this part of the day, why, in the background of a trip around New Zealand, can I only hear the incessant noise of reality tv shows?

More progress, Shona and Campbell have moved us further down into the Bay of Plenty. Questions – was Campbell’s walk in a straight line after Exports on the couch? Where are you Barry? You haven’t done anything for a few hours. Dayle? Do you not need to walk the Dogs, or do the Dogs not need to walk you? Is PJ Swimming?

128.9 km today so far which is actually pretty goddam good for an awful day, need about another 25 to make sure our average for 4 days is on point (and hey, aren’t we all content with being average? The answer is some of us are inherently too competitive to be average, and some gave up long ago and are happy to be just below, so as a collective average is an apt description – you know who you are SuperStars, Legends and Plebs).

Well, 149.9km looks like it might be it for today – not bad considering thunder, lightning and rain and the call of a nice warm drink (alcohol can feel warm) to wile away the boring hours. How are we entertaining ourselves outside of the exercise? Baz cleans gutters, I throw darts (pretty poorly), Mel is an artist, others? We are camping out at Omaio (anybody been there?).

Potential for tomorrow – who knows – weather meant to be not lovely again, breaks in the weather needed. Our average for the last couple of days would see us spending a night in Papamoa, maybe in the haunted house I stayed in at one point in time – awesome!

Day 3 – 159.1km

Setting off about 40kms south of Gisborne, it’s a long haul up the East Cape. Bad weather is setting in (rain, cold, hail), but with exercise the only form of release what are we inclined to do? Get the firewood in, have a coffee (for those that remembered to stock up on decent coffee…oh, Strada where art thou?) and laugh at people caught in the elements. No, of course not (well maybe at some stage today). Just because we’re 30 odd kms ahead of the average daily target (remembering that we have a challenge to stop off for at some stage) we can’t rest on our laurels.

Just picked up the morning paper after the first stage of the journey, WTF Coggie, where did that photo come from? And I would never say “much more” it’s “many more”…bloody well don’t get quoted correctly. I think he had a word-count to fill, adding “somewhat” to the end of sentences – FFS if he needed more words I can dribble with the best of them…as you can tell from our travelogue.

Half-way through the Day, we’ve moved to the other side of Gisborne and off towards Tolaga Bay. Anybody caught in the rain? It wasn’t raining when Mel made her visit there:

Hope you’re glad I’ve fixed the comments, not much abuse, very supportive. In 25 days we’ll be turning this into an autobiography on Barry Hislop’s life (minus the links to Eketahuna’s Shop of a Lifetime). There, three days in a row I’ve added it – what you all don’t realise is that through this website I can see who’s clicked on the links and how long you’ve spent on any particular site, nod nod, wink wink.

Rain has set in, no hail yet, no lightning, certainly has put a dent in some potential km clocking, Where are are? (We are somewhere on the East Cape near Tokomaru Bay (anybody been there?). Barry surely has some stories, Dayle?. We’re also about 20km south of Te Puia Springs, how do we miss these opportunities to bathe in heated water (self-isolation there, bliss). If this is where we end up we’ve got about 80km till Hicks Bay at the top of the Cape, through cold and rain tomorrow. Off for a wine.

Break in the weather, Baz made the most of it (indoors), Ben wanted a ride so we’ve added another 27kms. Just past Te Puia Springs but close enough for a soak!!! Yes – Legend.

 

Day 2 – 181.2km

Righto, let’s see how far up the East Coast we can get. The presumption is that Barry has kick-started us already by a few hundred kilometres (?), and to start your day, here’s some sights:

The sun rising in all it’s glory:

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try to add comments sections (and I have!!!) to the page so that you can abuse all you want – any photos or stories of overcoming adversity (I do that every day just opening my eyes) email them through. 4.00pm and nobody has done a thing, obviously all too busy exercising, working and refraining from murdering family members.

I originally started this sentence off with “evening is setting in” and it sounded like a horror story…who knows, maybe it is…BOO…I think I could write a fantastically scary tale about a group of intrepid exercisers lost on the remote East Cape, but that will happen tomorrow, especially as the weather is turning, even some hail on the way. Instead we’ve made it 169.2km and are near the turn off to this place. How could that be scary?

And here’s the more. We’ve moved 2km further up the road so unless Baz has done another 3 hours on his bike we’ve set up camp. What’s good is we’re near a road where there exists a Soap making place. This is good as most of us will smell after two days of hard exercise (some worse than others – you know who you are), what’s weird is that the website doesn’t have anything on it apart from either a kitchen implement or something that could be found in Eketahuna’s most famous shop. That’s two days I’ve mentioned that place, three’s a charm, which must mean I have a fetish (they may cater for it).

Still no comments – what’s wrong with you people? Am I screaming into an endless void?

Anyway, I’m true to my word, here’s the wine that I’ve enjoyed, anybody else do the same?

And what happens? Baz does another 10 kms, pack up the tent, off up the road. Past Morere Hot Springs (what the hell Barry? Who wouldn’t want a hot spring now) and into the middle of goddam nowhere on a bend in the road. End of Day Two – where’s PJ? Join in Kerewai.

 

Day 1 – 197.05km covered

We had made it from QE II Oval to about a km north of Waipukurau, then Baz decided to go for another 22km (I need to put more lines in the spreadsheet just for one person) so we’re past Te Aute College and almost in the small settlement that is Te Aute. Barry kick-started things by making it to Eketahuna and sat at a cafe. Trouble is, he didn’t tell anybody, and really, does a coffee had by oneself in Eketahuna have the same taste? Was Eketahuna’s most famous shop open? 

Only 2km short of the average 171km we need to get around the whole country. Where did Dayle and PJ disappear to? They know it’s a virtual cycle trip not a walkabout? 

At least we made it out of the Wairarapa and aren’t far from wine territory. Maybe we can reward ourselves with a Hawkes Bay (nice) or Gisborne  (never tried it but TripAdvisor reckons its good) vintage tomorrow night. 

Dayle then joined us late, after both a walk (about) and a run (about) and carried us away from Te Aute, turning off at PakiPaki and moving around Hastings until we set up camp near the Hawkes Bay Regional Sports Park – perfect for Baz tomorrow with lots of workout opportunities, and to my understanding, one of Mel’s favourite cafes in the World, the 13th Stag.

26km further than we needed to go, missed the wine tonight (even though we’re in the Bay), will have to catch-up tomorrow night.

 

43 Comments

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  4. Simon Roseingrave

    Apologies, I can’t count…first town is 10 letters!!! Jesus

    Reply
  5. Mel

    Whangamata, Patea, Picton???

    Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Well, we have a winner. Probably took an hour longer as I can’t count, buggered the first town from the get go…apologies to all. Well done, Mel. sorry people…I will now creep into a hole somewhere and cover it up.

      Reply
  6. Simon Roseingrave

    Fourth additional Clue is now up

    Reply
  7. Simon Roseingrave

    Is anybody doing this? Any clues needed – I put one on straight away so if yes might wait till 4.30

    Reply
    • Mel

      Yes!

      Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      2nd clue is up now…will post another in 15 if necessary

      Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Third clue now up.

      Reply
  8. Barry Hislop

    Oh! dear, we are now entering a zone where one of the Wairarapa’s greatest Volunteer Legends comes from ???????. be aware they tend to be over-friendly I have a few navy mates that I wish to avoid as it will take my training opportunities away. Still the journey continues and folks just in case you are wondering my day start are 6 am (sleep in) through the day may have intervals of training 4 – 5 times.

    Reply
  9. Barry Hislop

    What a beautiful place, the Coromandel. This was where the Naval survival discovery training zone was and where I spent many days in the hills taking new recruits and survival missions through their paces.
    Today has been a little tough, as requested by my brother the bagpipes needed to be play – he has lost his battle and is now at peace. Tough not being able to be present. Still we have a mission to complete

    Reply
    • Simon

      So sad to hear Barry, thoughts are with you and the family. The Pipes are Calling from Glen to Glen (I know, it’s my Irish Heritage but the sentiments are there).

      Reply
  10. Mel

    Barry- you could use the assault bike tomorrow to add to your different bikes that you used today!

    Reply
  11. Barry Hislop

    Well, Folks, we are pressing on – nice stuff. Just checking our map and there was a reflection point as I look inland, the Rotarua Marathon 42.0 Km I remember it well the first one I completed was in 1973 in a time of 2hrs and 55 min a respectable time I completed 4 more at Rotarua and the best time was 2 hr 43 min it was a tough one. I reminded myself today to spend time on the roller need to keep injury-free for the bigger challenges ahead. While I’m here might call on a few friends – keep isolated and well.

    Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Roller been in action for a few days Baz – swearing at my muscles never felt so good!

      Reply
  12. Barry Hislop

    Well, Folk battling the wind, rain and lightening what a tough day being inside and doing this tour. Another session underway and hopefully, Lisa will be home to share her 2021 Olympic programme. The Bay of Plenty, yeah!

    Reply
    • Shona

      Being the good citizens that we are and following government rules Campbell and I thought we would clock up the km’s by just doing laps round our block. I tell you it got pretty bloody boring!
      Since the route took us past Dayle’s house I was really hoping that by at the least the 4th lap she would have been out the front in her cheerleaders outfit giving us some inspiration! :)

      Reply
  13. Barry Hislop

    Well, folks once we get the momentum going we can achieve our goal, mind you, I did reflect on the Cook Strait row, maybe about 4 hours – there is no way my butt will be stuck on the rower that long (tide/wind/mental strength) sooo ….I thought a day with intervals of 2.5km. What a down poor, running out clearing the downpipes was necessary, hey! do you think dry land swimming can be included? we will be entering Lisa Carrington’s country soon so we had better be on our best performance.

    Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Baz, this is how we’re going to do it…cycling all the way.

      Reply
      • Barry Hislop

        Yep bags being up front

        Reply
  14. Barry

    Now getting ready for the north – south crossing mmmm it’s going to be a two hour row. Better up the game, that the goal row for 2 hours. That means 5 min per km total distance 22 km ( the pressure). But that is the goal.

    Reply
    • Mel

      You are crazy Baz! But thanks for carrying me today #restday

      Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      So that’s for the rowers Barry? You and Shona? The rest of us can get a tow behind? Maybe water-skiing?

      Reply
      • Shona

        Happy to sanitize my rower and leave on the street for collection……any takers? to be returned after we hit the South Island :)

        Reply
    • Shona

      I did mention to Campbell that his efforts have been quite poor to date.. his reply as he sat down on the couch and cracked an export “i’m sure Barry’s got our backs today” #Barryfor2021Olympics

      Reply
  15. Barry Hislop

    Well folk another day and an opportunity to perform. Fond memories as we pass through the Poverty Bay
    Although Cook was able to obtain some herbs to ward off scurvy, he was unable to gain many of the provisions he and his crew needed at the bay, and for this reason gave it the name Poverty Bay.
    Well, that reminded me when I served on HMNZS Endeavour when we circumnavigated six months of Captains Cooks sailing. We landed at Young Nicks Head on the 200-year celebration. A great occassion at the time, not sure if would be celebrated that way again with the current thinking. As we travel North we will be visiting toward Tolaga Bay – there I was drafted on a secrete mission while in the Navy (lips are sealed it was to do with underwater detection (the Russians are coming. Oh but wait big UP’s to my Athletes in the Tairawhiti Sport Gisborne programme. Check out the F.B. page.
    Happy journey ALL make each moment count and a SNACK-a-Cize works well and keep on “pushing Play”

    Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      I always wondered if you’d been part of the SAS Baz

      Reply
      • Barry Hislop

        Oh my gosh! did you see the time. Just finished another session. Time for a nice East Coast white. and of course Friday special “baked beans – sausages” oh dear

        Reply
  16. Melissa

    Not too much wine tonight Simon..dont want you hungover from our 9am Zoom call tomorrow morning..so just pace your self

    Reply
    • Shona

      Sounds like rather than toilet paper Simon and Bec got their priorities right and stockpiled wine……

      Reply
      • Shona

        So Aiden has been doing just as much exercise as me, if not more and I thought it would be great to get him on board. This is how it played out…..

        Me: Hey Aiden do you want to take part in our awesome mission to ‘virtually cycle’ all around NZ by exercising at home?
        Aiden: Do I win anything?
        Me: No but you’ll get a sense of achievement and better health
        Aiden: No thanks 

        (face slap emoji!)

        Reply
        • Simon Roseingrave

          Ha ha ha, that’s awesome…Ben was all over it and is gutted I cycled before he woke up. Gutted = extremely grumpy.

          Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Think I’ll have another tonight Mel, need warming up. That lovely alcohol glow.

      Reply
      • Mel

        Do I drive you to drink that much? :(

        Reply
        • Simon Roseingrave

          Not you Mel, many other things, including the cold :-)

          Reply
  17. Barry Hislop

    Oh! almost forgot —— don’t forget the stretching

    Reply
  18. Barry Hislop

    Working toward a well-recognised place the Vines in Tairawhiti Gisborne nice wine and great BBQ. Tough ride trail behind and cannot wait for the next stage. Hey, maybe when we get to cross Cooks Strait we could ask the rowers to take us across!!!!! But wait we have a way to go. Shona maybe they serve a cold export up there.

    Reply
    • Shona

      Go easy on the exports Barry! rationing will kick in very soon.

      Reply
  19. Barry Hislop

    Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed your brief stay in Waipukurau – Did you know that is where I went to college at Central Hawke’s Bay College. Yeah! I know you need to comment. But remember this the whole 12 went through that college and I was the first, imagine the strife they had to face. Good to know their children carried on with the tradition.
    This is my turf and as you passed through Waipawa you were thinking what a cute place – Nah. well folk that is my birthplace steady (no comment). Oh I could go on but the trip up to now has been a cruise so wait until we get to the hills.

    Reply
    • Simon Roseingrave

      Top quality stuff made in Waipawa Baz, Laver and Wood Cricket Bats and Barry Hislop

      Reply

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