Well well, more inactivity on my website. However, it'll all be worth it when you hear what I've been up to! Oh yes - as soon as time and fast internet access come together in the greatest of combinations, I'll have 3 brand new blog posts up for you to enjoy. Until then, here's what you can look forward to:
The South Island Begins - Marlborough, Nelson and Westwards
WestSide - Westport to Haast, and across the pass
Mountain Time - Wanaka, Queenstown and the highest road in NZ
There's also 'Bottom of the World - Invercargill, Stewart Island and Dunedin,' but that one isn't written yet, and I'm still in Dunedin, so a few photos are perhaps a little premature.
Anyway, keep yours eyes on the site, expect content soon!
To see all the photos from this section, and the trip so far, go to the Photography section under the media tab along the top.
Around 3pm I reached the Waterfront – a stunning, pedestrianised path stretching the length of ground where Wellington City meet the Bay. Positively Wellington Tourism had kindly arranged with the YHA to give me 4 nights complimentary accommodation, and so this was to be my first destination. On a trip such as this, those long, cold nights in a tent on a hillside are what make me feel alive in so many ways, but the need for a warm bed and some comfortable sheets once in a while cannot be underestimated. My private room was a little slice of perfection and after unloading my belongings I went to see about getting my video camera fixed. Unfortunately the news was not good – it may have to back to Sony. But this is a story for another time; the bottom line is I can still make my documentary, so all is not lost at all.
The road to Wellington became a much quicker one than I’d imagined. Shortly before leaving Rotorua, my video camera followed the lead of Lola (my bike) and decided it was time to cause a little trouble. The camera is a Sony HVR-A1 – a HD camera which is perfect for documentary filmmaking due to its small size and weight (relative to it’s very high quality.) However, in order to make the dimensions smaller certain manual switches have been sacrificed, and as such a lot of the functions are operated via a touch screen. As you can imagine, when this touch screen goes dead then there are problems. This is the situation I am now in. I can still adjust focus, iris, white balance and zoom, but most other adjustments are now out of the question. The main issue is that I’ve had to switch to recording on the internal microphone as I can no longer change the audio level of the external mic. What this means is that I’m making a significant loss of quality in the audio. The problem is not yet resolved, so if anyone has a solution I’d love to hear it - a right royal pickle.
It's Sunday night, my last few hours in Wellington. I’ve been here since Thursday night enjoying great complimentary accommodation and a host of activities and interview subjects organized by Positively Wellington Tourism. It's been a really productive few days in terms of the documentary, and my body and soul are feeling extremely grateful for the time spend in a warm bed. A full blog post will follow shortly, including stories and pictures of my ride from Rotorua to the capital as well as my time here over the weekend.
For now though I wanted to ask your help! My video camera has rather annoyingly decided to start having some problems. The touch screen has stopped responding, and unfortunately on this particular Sony camera that’s a pretty big deal. Manually I can still change the focus, iris, zoom and white balance but most other features are now no longer adjustable. I am still able to film, but it’s definitely not ideal and I need to find a solution sooner rather than later.
It seems that I may have to send the camera back to Sony for repair, and this would mean I’d have to do without for 3-6 weeks. That is absolutely a situation I don’t want to get into.
So I’m appealing to everyone in NZ, and even beyond. Does anyone know where I could borrow an HD video camera for the duration of time that it will take mine to be repaired? Or does anyone have any contacts in an electronics store or company who may like to sponsor me for a replacement camera?
Or, alternatively, any other ideas are also most welcome.
Thanks everyone, keep an eye out for the new blog posts coming up soon!
Rotorua started with good news and bad. Beginning with the bad, Lola (my trusty bike) started to complain. This happens so infrequently that I know to listen when it does. The chain slipped on the middle chain ring – first once, then again, and again. All the way from Tirau to Rotorua it occurred at irregular intervals and I feared for the worst. I worried that I knew what was wrong, but took it into KiwiBikes in Rotorua hoping for an unlikely positive assessment. Unfortunately, that was not forthcoming – my middle chain ring had some serious shark’s teeth. This means the metal teeth, which catch the links in the chain, had worn away so it became loose and liable to slip. Unfortunately changing this meant also getting a new chain, which stretches to fit the ring, and a rear cluster to boot. Damage estimate – NZ$220, about £100. A financial hit I really couldn’t afford to take, but I had no option, so on Saturday morning I checked my bike in.
But luckily there was good news to balance it out. On Friday Jane Hope from Destination Rotorua contacted me. We’d been in touch virtually about my journey, and she rang to say they had organized for me to meet with Shaloh Mitchell, managing director and resident of the Maori village of Ohinemutu. A book launch was taking place in the village honouring one Haane Manahi – a Maori soldier who had been nominated for the Victoria Cross only to be denied it for unknown, but highly questionable, reasoning. Jane also sorted out great accommodation for me, and I was all set for an experience quite unlike any other.
Leaving Auckland behind
My journey out of the North Shore did not go quite as planned. An extended breakfast led to me rolling out of Murray’s bay at 9am, which although not horrendous is later than I like to hit the road. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again so it wasn’t a big deal; a much more serious problem was when I got a flat tire. Lola doesn’t get punctures! I refused to believe this ludicrous situation, but within half a mile it became quite clear that I was going to have to. It was a slow leak, but I swapped the tube anyway and headed for Devonport to catch the ferry across to the city. By 12pm I was just disembarking and had covered a measly 8 miles – I normally like to have at least 30 done by midday. If my mood was a little low, it was certainly lifted by getting recognized not once but twice on Queen Street! I’d met with Tourism NZ a few days earlier, and it seemed they had been very efficient in getting the word out about my journey. Feeling a little like a rock star, I finally found my rhythm and pedaled through the suburbs of the city. It seemed to take an age to leave the remnants of the city behind, but by the time I arrived in Bombay I was able to see fields and mountains again. At Te Kauwhata I felt I’d covered enough ground to call it a day, and camped outside the Catholic Church as a guest of Father Keenan. I often take the diversity of my camping spots for granted, but this time I was very thankful for the offer of a spot to pitch my tent. Looking for spots to camp wild can be one of the highlights of my journey, and undoubtedly the remote places I’ve slept are among the most special, but at times it can really be an energy drain. So to the Catholic Church at Te Kauwhata, thank you!
Leaving the city behind, I headed North out of Auckland on the East Coast Road, paralleling State Highway 1. There is only one section of motorway here of the type which forbids bicycle, and it runs through Auckland from Puhoi in the North to Bombay in the south. Winding back and forth between the coast and the inland hills, the landscape of Northland, the region that encompasses everything from Cape Reinga down to Auckland, began to show itself. Primarily, it must be said, in the form of incredibly steep gradients going up and over any elevation in its way. People had warned me of this - 'They didn't know how to build roads up here like they did in the South Island,' a local in Orewa told me, 'you won't see many switchbacks here, you'll just see the sky when you're going up and the ground when you're coming down.'
Due to the nature of my life in constant transit recently, it's an interesting side effect that things no longer phase me in the way they once might have. I arrived into Auckland quite untroubled by my continental change. The flip side of this of course is that I was not as excited as one may expect upon arrival in a new land. It seems I have developed a tendency to just react to whatever is in front of me in a somewhat similar way, that of acceptance and calmness, whether that be running out of cereal in the morning or crossing the Pacific Ocean. I'm being a little facetious obvious and exaggerating, and I think it's a good thing - a control of my emotions to ensure I'm in the right frame of mind, but I'm wary of becoming apathetic.