Bike Odyssey
New Zealand 2004

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Journal for 30-Mar-2004 : Auckland

Another beautiful sunny morning as we rode out of Kawakawa Bay. Only a short ride over to Papakura, then train to near our Motel, and my dentist. We elected not to bother trying to negotiate Auckland's apparently notorious traffic. Compared with Sydney Auckland's city traffic seemed very tame, so this short train ride was something of a waste of time.

Motel room near the airport pretty nice, but plenty of attitude from the proprietors: no bikes, no internet, no smiling etc, and we were issued the room nearest the road and the neighbour's perpetually firing burglar alarm.

Rode bikes back to Papatoetoe (pronounced Papatoey) to leave our bikes to have all the damage inflicted by New Zealand's rough roads repaired (I hope). If you come to New Zealand to do much cycling I strongly recommend bringing your oldest set of wheels!

Bus back to our room. Only took us an hour and a half to find then wait for the bus, the walk 2ks from the wrong bus stop.

The riding in New Zealand is (mostly) over, and my reaction to that is: You Beauty!

If you haven't guessed we have found New Zealand something of a disappointment. Perhaps our expectations were a bit high based on our first visit in 2002. Admittedly we had some worse than usual weather (or so they tell us!), but the biggest disappointment has been our treatment on the roads. The only time I really felt safe on New Zealand roads was during the first week or so while was still passing off the regular close shaves as just bad luck. It's not that the traffic is heavy, aggressive or that the roads are necessarily all that bad (just ridiculously rough surfaces on anything that's been worked on in the past five years), it's just a Kiwi's idea of being careful when passing a cyclist is to look back in their rear view mirror to see if they got you. And there is a substantial minority of drivers that simply assume we're going to vacate the road for them to overtake us, no matter that that might require us to magically float above the river the road is crossing, or roll up the sheer cliff, etc. On at least 10 occasions we were run off the road when there was good visibility, no other traffic and at least three lanes other than the one we were using for the turkey to pass us. And even when the road is wide and apparently safe, we still have to watch out for people driving only half on the road, or who've forgotten which side is left and which is right (a tough concept for a lot of Kiwi's I know).

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