From winter to summer. We left Shanghai where the heater was on with the mercury hovering around 10°C and arrived in Auckland quickly looking for the air-conditioner with temperatures averaging in the high 20’s — a sweaty but welcome relief.
On a note of trivia, this journey is my third time south of the Equator and my second time south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is Annie and Mia’s second for the former and first for the later.
I enjoy gazing at the constellations at night and am looking forward to seeing the Southern Cross once again. Like Polaris in the north, It’s a pretty cool sight to peer at late at night.
Jerry at Evo Cycles on Quay Street graciously stored our bike boxes for us while we’re exploring on the North Island. The backpacker hotels we checked with had limited space and were unable to accommodate us. But Jerry took us in straight away. No worries.
Checking out Auckland by bike has been the best. For the past couple of days, we’ve been taking in the the city’s local color, which is much richer and quite a bit more diverse than I expected. Along Maori and other Aucklanders, we’ve bumped into people from all over the world, such as Glasgow, Scotland; Norfolk, England; Fiji, India, China, and Lithuania, just to mention a few.
Being the largest urban area in New Zealand, the city center and waterfront are well worth a look. Tasty eateries and pubs abound (Beware, prices for everyday food items can leave one breathless). Auckland is one of the few major cities to have a harbor in two separate bodies of water: The Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
So far, we have been met with nothing but friendly smiles from locals and travelers alike. In just a couple of days, we have several Kiwis to link-up with for a beer, one to go on a bike ride with, and one for a BBQ and to pitch a tent on his lawn. These New Zealanders are some pretty fine chaps.
New Zealand has a significant cycling culture, which scads foreign cyclists as well. I counted at least a dozen other bicycle containers at the luggage pick up at the airport before we departed.
Bike paths and cycling trails abound in New Zealand. It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible to thread the perfect on our journey that will touch all of the incredible sights and experiences these islands have to offer.
Though we’ve been warned several times about Kiwis drivers, we’ve had no issues thus far. Drivers have been courteous and polite, and have always made room for us on the road. As advised, we’ve stayed clear of the notorious State Highway 1 and plan to for the remainder of our stay.
Travel Tip 1: Bio Security is a big thing in New Zealand. Kiwis are very concerned about keeping harmful plants and pest that would harm New Zealand’s environment from making their way to the islands. Customs agents hand inspected our tents and scrutinized our bicycles upon entry. All of which, I’m pleased to announce passed with flying colors.
Travel Tip 2: Respect the land and the people’s way of life. On more than one occasion, Kiwis have mentioned to me about foreign visitors disrespecting the land by free-camping where they’re not supposed to be. So far, we’ve stayed in commercial campgrounds or backpacker hotels and will camp only in designated areas. We fully respect the Kiwis wishes and keeping New Zealand beautiful and as pristine as possible. Leave No Trace, and be only where you’re supposed to be.
We haven’t seen any kiwi birds yet, but the journey continues. Cheers.