This weekend I was out ripping around at Woodhill Bike Park have a pretty goodtime. Usually when I see someone on the trail Ill bust my ass to catch up and pass them, just a bit competitive I guess and it keeps ya pushing yourself.
Well this weekend some dude passed me and I thought, not today buddy. So I get off the saddle and catch him staying on his back wheel. He’s fast and a good rider. We have a bit a chat as I follow, just the usual; where ya from, what are you doing in NZ, have you been to Canada ect. He is a pretty chill dude, but a hell of rider. So I ride out to the trailhead on his tail and he just breaks into another track, no break/water just riding. So I follow suit and ask him if he minds me riding with him. He’s keen and we are off.
As we ride he tells me that he is an ex-pro tri athlete and that he is training for a couple races. That explains the speed and super fitness – this isn’t a ride in the forest it’s a race against time. Buddy would sprint for 4 minutes and then ride for 4 minutes and then back to sprinting – yikes! I ride with him for an hour and we hit a tonne of tracks. We end up at the back of the park and I am done. I need a water break and I know buddy is not stopping, so we part ways.
It was a great ride and really pushed me. I hope to catch up to this guy on the trails again so I can try and keep-up. That is what it is all about, meeting someone who is better and just trying to hang. It only makes you better I guess, though it did make me feel like I was going to puke ehehe.
Photo: AAP via Press Association Images.
This past Friday was the opening of the Rugby World Cup and it was EPIC! The Auckland City Council had contacted all of the local business to recommend that they let staff off at 3pm and luckily my employer agreed! From the get go in the morning there was a buzz and excitement in the city. Everyone was rocking black and white in support of the All Blacks. To be honest it had to be one of the most unproductive days in New Zealand history. I think everyone was just waiting to start the party!
At 3pm we had a couple beers in the office and then it was off to Base to have some drinks on there balcony bar. The streets were just getting busier and busier by the minute. I didnt even bother to try and get into Party Central or even hit up the Queens Warf as it was already full – I could see that it was backed up at 2:30pm with people waiting to enter, so I wasn’t going to go fight those crowds. I was happy to be at a bar watching it with a group of Rugby mad travellers from all over the world! With the beers flowing we watched a fleet of Waka’s arrive into the harbour, a mass haka, live music from Dave Dobin and the Finn Brothers. After a couple beers at Base we shifted down the road to the Bluestone Room that was packed full with partygoers. Here it was jug after jug of beer with a bunch of rugby fanatics from France at our table.
There was a massive fireworks show at 8pm. Six thousand explosive shells wereill be let off from four floating barges in the harbour, the SkyTower and four buildings in the CBD. EPIC! The streets were packed with people supporting their team and the party was in full motion. People were on top of bus shelters dancing, in the streets, up light poles and on any space available. The fireworks lasted 12 mins and it was mesmerizing!
With the fireworks done it was back to the bar to watch the opening ceremonies before the game. The opening ceremonies included mix of Maori tradition and rugby heritage. It was amazing too! Well-done New Zealand! Soon enough the game was on and the Rugby World Cup had begun. The All Blacks and the Tongan’s each did there haka.. awesome! Then the All Blacks easily beat the Tonga side, but it was a fun game to watch and the atmosphere was electric.
This is mid-afternoon. It only got bigger!
On the walk home from the pub the CBD (central business district) was packed with people. It was estimated that 200,000 people were downtown and the Queens Warf had an additional 12,000 people. That is a lot of partygoers! For the most part there wasn’t a lot of trouble. Of course there were a couple fights, but with that many (intoxicated) people in one spot it is bound to happen. In the end the police arrested 63 people. Overall, it was an EPIC event! New Zealand should be proud as they represented very well. The tournament runs for 6 weeks, so this is just the beginning. When the All Blacks win, it will be pandemonium!
It is not too often you get experience something that happens once in 72 years and today was one of those days! What happened? Well it snowed in Auckland. It hasn’t snowed in Auckland in 72 years. It’s not unusual for the south island and the mountain in the north island to get snow, but for it to reach this far north is pretty crazy.
The bitterly cold polar blast that is hit both north and south islands has closed roads, schools, airports and cut power to thousands. The snow has made some roads impassable and down south people are being asked to stay home and stay off of the roads.
Met service believes that more snow could fall over the next couple of days. The snow is not sticking around in Auckland as the ground isn’t that cold, so it wont accumulate. But it is still quite the event. People on Queen St are kind of just looking upward at the snow, wondering wtf! I love it.
Now you can’t really compare the ‘snow storm’ to anything Canada has, but to a kiwi this is a full blown winter storm. Pretty funny to read about and I am just glad I am not on the roads. I know how Canadians drive after the first snow storm of the year (terribly – you would think they didn’t see snow every year!) so I can’t imagine how a kiwi would drive. Yikes.
The newly renovated Auckland waterfront is looking great!
Auckland’s grimey waterfront has now had a major facelift just in time for the 2011 World Cup of Rugby! They built a new spring bridge to connect downtown Auckland to the Wynward Quater where all the cool new attractions can be found. The once industrial waterfront is now filled with tourist friendly restaurants, bars, cafes, art displays, kids play area, walkways and even a 1920′s red tram which loops the around the waterfront showing off all the new attractions. There is even a piano under a veranda that is free to use.
This past weekend over 50,000 people visited the newly $120 million renovated water front area and 4000 of them qued to ride the tram loop. It will be a huge pull during the World Cup and a great area to visit while in Auckland.
It’s back to the grind for me! My month long vacation has come to an end and I am now back in New Zealand. My trip home was amazing. It was great to be able to catch up with my friends and family. My month consisted of visiting friends in my home town, a couple trips to Toronto to visit old co-workers, hanging out with my young niece and nephew, helping my brother move into his new house, and two weeks of bliss at the cottage. To be honest I think I forgot how beautiful Canada was. Maybe I took it for granted, but going home with fresh eyes made me realize how lucky I am to be able to live in Canada. I know I rave about how stunning and amazing New Zealand is, but Canada is right there beside New Zealand.
Im now working on obtaining residency in New Zealand and hopefully it will be a smoother process than obtaining my second work visa for New Zealand. I love being in New Zealand. It just feels like a second home. Flying into Auckland felt great, it just felt right. Don’t know why, but it did. I do think I will move back to Canada one day, but for now New Zealand is home and I feel lucky to be able to call it that.
So what is in the forecast for me? Of course lots and lots of riding! Taking a month of the bike has let my shoulder fully recover – sweet! I keep thinking to myself I should have a more balanced life, not just riding in all of my sparetime. This is easy for me to say and hard for me to do. All I want to do is ride on the weekends/evenings, but I am going to try and make a effort to mix it up. Meh.. we will see, but odds are Ill be riding just as much or more a year from now. Who am I kidding I live to ride and ride to live.
It’s been pretty wet in NZ lately! All this rain has kept me inside, meaning I can work a some new videos. I recently took the video camera out to Woodhill Bike Park to shoot one of my favorite trails, Afterglow. It’s a 2 min downish single track ride packed with lots of berms… sweet!
The New Zealand government has finally stepped to the plate to curb freedom camping. If you are unfamiliar with freedom camping it pretty much allows you to pitch a tent, park van or camper and stay for free at non-designated camping locations( think pretty much anywhere – underbridges, parks, school yards, fields). The problem is that some irresponsible travellers have being dumping human waste and garbage, ruining New Zealand’s clean and green country side. With the Rugby World Cup just months away, it is a major worry that tourist will be taking advantage of freedom camping to save money on accommodation.
The new Freedom Camping Bill will enable councils to determine where camping is allowed, where it is restricted to campervans with self-containment, and where it is prohibited. I personally think this is great. It will set a national standard and provide some consistency across the board. The new law will allow a $200 instant fine to be imposed for illegal camping. Fines up to $10,000 may be imposed by courts on a successful prosecution for illegally discharging a campervan’s sewage.
So if you plan to come to New Zealand and freedom camp your way around the country, beware that time’s they are a changing!
Shrek, the sheep celebrity.
Have you heard of Shrek the awol sheep? Back in 2004 he was found in a mountain cave after six years on the run. He sported a fleece of that was 27 kilo’s, that is six times the average from a merino and enough to make 20 men’s large suits. He evaded capture for six years, disappearing into the mountains hiding during the annual sheep round-ups.
Once found he became an instant celebrity. He was shorn on national television on an iceberg off the coast of Otago, traveled the world promoting New Zealand merino and raising money for charity. He commanded $16,000 as an appearance fee. Overall he raised $150,000 for charity and they estimated $100 million in publicity for wool exports.
Shrek passed away recently at the age of 16 years. His ashes will be spread over Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak. He was a national celebrity here in New Zealand and will be missed. RIP Shrek.
Road to Paradise.
For the third day of the trip we planned to visit Glenorchy. Early morning we packed our bags as we stayed another night in Mossburn and headed back towards Queenstown to check into our hotel room. We were back in Queenstown by mid day so we visited the most famous burger joint in New Zealand. Ferg Burger! I know Ive written about about how awesome the burgers are, so I wont go there again. Ill just say.. visit Fergberger and don’t bother with the chips as the burger is big enough to fill your belly! After a mean feed of prime NZ beef, we headed to our hotel to drop our bags.
Once we unloaded all of our stuff it was back on the to road towards Glenorchy. The drive is stunning. There is this one corner you come around and all you see is blue skies, a lake and the all of the surrounding mountain ranges. It was pretty amazing.
Glenorchy is a small town on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu and is a pretty popular tourist stop. A lot of tramping tracks start here as it lies on the boarder of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiorland National Park. You will find cafes, pub, fur trading post, hotel/motel, petrol station, jet boat and kayaking companies, and horse trekking too. There isnt a lot happening in Glenorchy, it is a very small quiet community, but it is still worth the trip out. If you visit Glenorchy make sure to take a drive out to Paradise. Many people will recongize the scenery from the Lord of the Rings.. so if you are a Lord of the Rings geek… this is a place you would want to go. We chilled out here for a while just taking in being surrounded by the mountains!
After a while it was time to head back to Queenstown where we would spend the night drinking beers and watching the finals of the ABL (australian Basketball League) where New Zealand’s only team would loose a hard fought game 2 in a double overtime thriller. Then it was off to bed, as we would be up early to get out and see Wanaka and Cromwell.
The stunning surrounds you in Glenorchy, New Zealand.