Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflective Sunrises, "Beach Balls," and Flying Kiwis in Disguise

We had a fairly tame day following the adventure in Hooker Valley as we headed back out to the east coast with a brief stop in Oamaru. We continued just south of there to our lovely campsite on a grassy cliff overlooking the beach where we had a bit of an epic dinner preparation while trying to battle the severe winds! 

When broomsticks weren’t cutting it, I was stationed to hold up the kitchen door which was supporting tarps to block the wind so the stove wouldn’t blow out… that is until I used a bit of “kiwi ingenuity” and suggested a supportive strap being attached to the bike rack on top of the trailer!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Few Extreme Flying Kiwi Adventures!

After we enjoyed some post-whitewater-rafting hot showers, it was time again to hit the road. We stopped briefly in a town called Geraldine (pronounced by our guide with a proper southern drawl) and then headed toward Lake Tekapo. Some of us hopped off the bus early to enjoy a bike ride into our camp at a holiday park on the shores of the lake. We were told it was a fairly easy ride, but there might be some wind.

It turned out to be one of those rides where I wished I could have changed my mind 1 km down the road. The bus pulled away and we set off, immediately encountering some headwinds. It was a struggle to power through and we had about 25 km to go! Once again, those riders with machine-like quads took off, though they didn’t disappear quite as quickly this time. Naomi and I fell into pace again as we struggled to battle the severe winds.

First glimpse of Lake Tekapo

It was a relief each time we approached a downgrade, as I got my hopes up for some easier pedaling and a moment to rest while gravity took over to carry me down the hill.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Whitewater Rafting with the Flying Kiwi Crew

Since I had skipped out on swimming with dolphins during my second visit to Kaikoura, it felt like it had been a couple days since I participated in any of the optional adventurous activities available to us on the Flying Kiwi tour. Sure, I chose to do the cycling rides and any short walks that were available, but there is something about New Zealand and the spirit of adventure it encourages. This is particularly evident when surrounded by a busload of people, most of whom are only in the country for a short time. Adrenaline activities are everywhere in NZ, and it’s easy to be persuaded into joining in!

The van when it was almost full... getting ready for some water!

We were camped outside the home base of Rangitata Rafts and, in the morning, some of us gathered to head whitewater rafting down the Rangitata River! We were suited up with wetsuits, thermals, booties, fleeces, wind shells, life jackets, and helmets, and then piled into the van for a ride up the river to our launching site. When I say piled into the van, there were about 15 passengers, 6 crew members, and a dog… oh, and don’t forget the hitchhiker we picked up along the way who had to stand in the stairwell!

Photo courtesy: Rangitata Rafts

We had been given a safety briefing and were broken up into our three rafting groups at the river’s edge. The guides were good at getting us psyched for the ride and we hopped in our raft to set out down the river. Our guide sat in front at first, giving his spiel about how to paddle, how to stay in the boat, and what to do if anyone took an unexpected swim.