492km Raetihi to Te Kouma
For most cyclists, New Zealand ends at Bluff, the little township at the bottom end of the South Island that faces out to the ocean and the icy world of Antarctica. But for us, New Zealand finished on the Coromandel Peninsula, in the tranquil sheltered bay of Te Kouma.
We arrived there on a sunny autumn afternoon, the culmination of 11 days cycling from Wellington through gorges, over high plateaus and around vast lakes. Like most of our farewells to a country, this one brought a strange mixture of jubilation and sadness. We celebrated completing another country with fresh oysters from a seaside shop (divine with a dusting of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of chilli sauce) and then settled down in a park to ponder the next step: San Francisco and a summer in North America.
The next few months will bring some of the world’s most soulful scenery our way, from Rocky Mountain highs to lonely prairie plains and all the while we’ll be getting steadily closer to home. In a way, we’ve been edging slowly homeward from the day we stepped our our front doors. The whole time we’ve worked our way further and further east, knowing that inevitably we’d return to where we took our first pedal strokes, just outside Montreal, and to where we grew up, in the Maritime provinces. But it was hard to imagine this while we walked through the souks of the Middle East, camped out with nomads in Central Asia or cycled through remote villages in Laos.
Now, after nearly 3 years in the saddle, our arrival in North America will be the first time we’re back in our home culture, a place we ought to know and understand intimately. Instead we’re bracing for a second round of culture shock, the same kind that hit us when we entered Australia from Singapore. We know that many friends and family are waiting to see us, and that will be wonderful, but what we’re far less sure about is whether Canada will feel like home at all or ever again.
One thing is for sure. We won’t have time for much leisurely contemplation once we reach San Francisco. With an ambitious goal of cycling up to 8,000km in just 5 months, including a few weeks visiting folks along the way, we’ll be putting in some long days to reach Nova Scotia before the snow flies. Then it’ll be time to sit back with a hard-earned mug of hot chocolate, admire the glorious autumn colours we’ve missed so much while we’ve been away and ask ourselves the big question. What next?
23rd April 2009 at 10:55 pm #
I am so enjoying living vicariously through you in your adventure. I don’t envy you the task of reintegration. The loss of freedom could be tough. Of course, it could just be until you are ready to head out again on the next adventure! You do inspire….
24th April 2009 at 12:47 am #
Hi Liisa, this whole reintegration thing seems like the scariest thing we’ve had to face up to in a very long time! A bit like walking out the door in the first place… if you have any good ideas for two cyclists let us know 🙂
23rd April 2009 at 10:00 pm #
Hi Friedel & Andrew,
Wow, I just can’t believe it has been three years. It sounds so amazing. I was talking to Paul the other day, and he is excited about seeing you soon. He gave us a write up that you had done for a paper where you are leaving Launceston for Devonport. Bruce and I did a very little bit of cycle touring in Australia when we visited my sister Heather and her husband Ron and there two girls. We had a blast.
Have a Safe Trip!
Can’t wait to see you and talk to you.
Daisy & Bruce
24th April 2009 at 1:28 am #
Hi it is getting towards winter here down to 14 so not like Canada it is a bit sad that your trip is heading towards the end.
I think that you should buy a B&B somewhere on the cycle path so i can come and visit cause after you get home you will get ants in ya pants and want to hit the road again i am sure.
Take care and see ya on the road hugs from OZ
24th April 2009 at 12:03 pm #
Wishing you a very happy time on these last days in NZ. Thanks once again for taking the time to stop by our place and maybe one day we will be able to do the same. The B & B with all manner of cuisine on the menu sounds good to me. Don’t forget to practice those Pavlova’s !!!!! (when you get an oven!!) LOL 🙂
Big Hugs & safe journey
Jenny & Jim
24th April 2009 at 1:21 pm #
Hey you two, dont ride too fast, I’m planning to ride ‘Frisco to Vegas sometime near August / September but I guess you’ll be ahead of me.
I’ll look forward to your road reports paving the way.
Keep up the great work!
24th April 2009 at 3:09 pm #
David, just come a little further east and you can accompany us on the final leg home! Come on…. you know you want to 🙂
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