Sunday, 30 March 2014

ALPS to OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Lake Tekapo the turquoise lake, New Zealand


This lake with it's turquoise water and majestic snow capped peaks in the background would have to be one of the most beautiful scenes in the world. For a moment, allow your imagination flow, you could be in a canoe gently paddling across the lake or perhaps in a small sailing craft being propelled by icy winds blowing in from the alps and making you feel fresh and alive. This photograph was taken in March, our Autumn (fall), so imagine how enhansed this picture would be if there was snow all the way down to the water's edge.

It gets even better, how would you like to be immersed up to your chin in hot spring water with snow completely surrounding you. I can almost read your mind as you try to mentally calculate how much a trip to New Zealand would cost. To indulge just a little more open the link Tekapo Springs On the way to our accommodation, we stopped off at the springs for an hour of pure relaxation. It was heaven and to top it all, after you have whiled away some time soaking out the aches and pains, you will be able to sit in their cafe with a drink of your choice and take in the surrounding views.
Lake Tekapo with Japanese twist
An alpine garden, Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo
A view of the famous church, The Good Shepherd built in 1935
The accommodation that night in Tekapo was the Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort,, which surpassed all expectations as not only was it modern and well appointed but also opened onto a balcony with a fabulous panoramic view of the lake. It didn't take too much persuasion to relax with a couple of ales whilst being entertained by a couple of newly wed Japanese trying to set up their own 'selfie' wedding photos with the lake and mountains in the background. I felt sympathy for the young bride as she patiently waited for her husband to assemble the equipment as it seemed to take forever.
 For further reading on Lake Tekapo please open the following link

My next post will describe the day travelling from Tekapo to Twizel which will take in such features as Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook , the Tasman Glacier and a challenging 51 km ride into a 20 km wind blowing down from the alps.

Cheers and safe riding,
       Jimmy Bee

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

ALPS to OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Day 1, Christchurch to Tekapo, New Zealand

Having spent a great night at the YMCA in Christchurch, I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the accommodation, although basic, it was clean and comfortable and with ensuite. There was a coffee shop and a separate restaurant serving modern Asian which was well above par.  The service was good and you had almost as many amenities as you'd find in a 4* establishment. Very impressed.

It's hard to suppress excitement in a group especially in a restaurant surround. The noise was deafening but the staff coped well considering we failed to notify management that a hungry horde was going to descend on them at such an early hour and expect breakfast.

Our Trek hybrid bikes loaded and ready to go.
Adventure South sent two small buses to collect this unruly mass of humanity and transported us to their home base where we collected our bikes and helmets and received a briefing on what to expect from our two guides, Pip and Fiona.

It was to be a two hour drive to Temuka where we had a coffee break before starting our ride. Well! what a way to start, home made cakes, biscuits, pies and an assortment of other delectable fare, all made on the premises at the 100% Homemade Cafe.

Although the bus trip was 2 hours, it went quickly as our guide/driver explained a number of points of interest on the way and we just took in the scenery and relaxed, after all, we were on vacation. A nice way to start the tour.
Mapping technology supplied by Map my Ride...

This mapping technology supplied by Map my Ride..        

Our first glimpse of the Alps
Easy on the eye
Pip giving directions
The first ride was from Temuka to Gudex Road via the Opihi Winery, a distance of almost 47 km and everybody was fired up and ready to go. Although the gain in elevation was 285m, the rate of elevation never exceeded 3%, a nice steady climb. I was back in New Zealand, one of my favourite places to tour. Overall, it is a set of two small island but there is so much of interest to suit every taste, that it appears vast and here I was once again doing what I love, cycling and photography, as happy as a pig in ......well! you get my drift.
Clifton Cottage Cafe, Opihi

Our riders climbing past the vineyard, Opihi

At a little over the half way point, we stopped for lunch at the Opihi Vineyard and Cafe, another fine choice by our touring company and
you can read all about it by opening the above link. It's the type of joint that you could quite contentedly ensconce yourself in for the afternoon with a good book and a glass of red or two.....well maybe one if you are driving or two if you have an understanding driver.
One of the great things about an organised conducted tour such as this is that everything is done for you including taking away that awkward time reading a menu and making choices. I think that in this day and age, there are too many choices and perhaps that is why I have an aversion to large shopping centres.....everything is similar and it's bloody hard to make a choice.
The Kiwis are renowned in these parts for a fine roast lamb

For a moment, I thought I was in Vietnam, in the rubber plantations......probably my vivid imagination

A very long tube of ensilage wrapped in what appeared to be gladwrap made for long tubes of ensilage.

There are a few cases of wheat beer or loaves of bread in these fields

After lunch we rode for another 21 km. I think the guides thought we had had enough for the first day so we hopped onto the buses and were driven to Tekapo. I'm not lying when I say there is just one opportunity after another to snap that precious moment in time all the way to Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo is such an amazing place as to warrant it's own blog post and therefore, I'm going to do a special post just on Tekapo with it's hot springs and beautiful lake.

Cheers and safe riding

Jimmy Bee

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Avon River
Christchurch was like having a large English or Scottish town teleported from Great Britain to the South Island of New Zealand complete with river meandering alongside banks resplendent with huge northern hemisphere trees and...... what British river would be complete without it's resident punt silently transporting young lovers on a Sunday afternoon in spring.
Christchurch Cathedral-2007
At 12.51 pm on Tuesday 11 February, 2011, an increasing rumble was heard accompanied by severe shaking of buildings which intensified and people knew from experience that this quake was going to be devastating and it was, for it claimed 185 lives, mass destruction, chaos and bewilderment. A beautiful city left in ruins and the city's population in deep shock.
Christchurch Cathedral post earthquake

The above photographs show a fraction of the damage caused by the 2011 earthquake
 At approximately 3.30 pm on 2 March 2014, 16 cyclists from Redlands University of the Third Age (U3A) arrived at Christchurch Airport to begin an adventure, riding from the Alps to the Ocean. No big fanfare as we were not the pro cyclists you have seen in the Tour de France but none the less very excited and full of energy. After unpacking and having some refreshment, we broke into small groups and set out to explore the city.
I don't think anyone was ready to take in what we encountered as we walked around the old CBD. Personally, I had a mixture of emotions, firstly, it was a feeling of grief and loss. This emotion was not personal as in the loss of loved ones but it was a feeling of sadness at what these people had experienced and the loss they had to endure, an emotion I can't remember having had before. As I walked around, the emotion changed to one of wonderment at the resilience and resourcefulness of these people. From a near complete loss they had started to rebuild their lives and not from nondescript rubble, but in vibrant colour, as if to say - 'Hey! Hughie I might be down but I'm not out yet'. Out of this rubble and mud they had started doing business shops and bars, brightly painted boutiques in shipping containers, inspirational graffiti painted on condemned walls of buildings. Colour everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. I've never had so much respect for graffiti, it looked great and I think.....gave people hope. I read somewhere that it may take between 50 and 100 years to return to a normal economy but with the resilience of these people I don't think so, 10 at the outside and it will be like the birth of a beautiful flower forming from the bud.


It didn't take long to take in the devastation but it's memory will be ever lasting. My mate Murray and I found a bar which was packed with both locals and tourists alike and tasted our first New Zealand beer since  last year when we toured Hawkes Bay on the North Island. We didn't dwell on what we saw because everyone around us was in good spirits and knew that like Phoenix, a new Christchurch would rise from the ashes and be bigger and better than ever.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

Wednesday, 12 March 2014




                                                  UNBELEIVABLY BEAUTIFUL



The ride was all of the above and AWESOME! as well.

For 5 days we were pampered like royalty with loyal servants at our beck and call.

There was not one one little part of the trip that didn't meet my expectations, in fact, all my expectations were exceeded to the point where on the last day I thought, 'I wish this ride would continue, but alas the good fairy was not interested and instead I was bundled onto a kerosene slurping budgie and sent packing back to Oz.

I think I was still high three days after we arrived home. My wife was suspicious at what I had been consuming. It took some convincing but I was able to allay her suspicions

                                             No, there was no weed
                                             There was no coke

                                              Just oxygen.

Imagine that..........high on oxygen. My lungs were on vacation.

That's what it is like over there, on the South Island of New Zealand.......Alps, mountains, hills, lakes, glaciers, rivers, creeks and oceans.. Added to that, world standard accommodation and fresh food with an array of fine wines to whet anyone's taste.
Pip and Fiona
We had all of this and more on a five day cycling holiday arranged through Adventure South. However this would never have gelled together if it hadn't been for our vivacious and attentive guides Pip and Fiona who gave substance to the song "Don't worry, be happy." Their attention to detail is what transforms a mediocre company to par excellence.

Keep tuned as I bring you a day to day description over the next few weeks.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee