Christchurch to Pioneers Park

This is the first post I’ve compiled while being out on the road in New Zealand.
I seemed to have got to use to the comfort of fast broadband in the UK, and this process was a lot simpler. But the reality out on the road is very different! 600 MB data on a phone linked to a netbook soon runs dry if one is not careful!
Tweeting and Facebook at times is not so straightforward when you spend a great deal of time with no signal. But worse of all is trying to keep modern gadgets topped up with juice. Smartphone, stills camera, video camera all need a go-go socket at some point, this takes up precious time. Plus with me being a dam perfectionist, making my blog look and read respectably takes time and patience. But then, it’s not a race, so as they would say in Swahili ‘Pole Pole’, translated ‘Slowly Slowly’! We like that.


Those Pesky Magpies
  • Christchurch 23rd October 2011
Leaving Christchurch quite late in the morning as I  still seem to  be faffing around with being un-organised. But, as each day passes more fluidity comes into my camp admin. I also need to make a visit to the New Zealand Post Office to forward on 5 kg of gear to my brother in Queenstown. Just too much kit!
219 on Johns campsiteLeaving 219 on Johns campsite.
At last out on the open road. Refreshing to be free of the bonds of Christchurch. Thought I’d never get away! As they say, “the hardest part of any journey is getting to the end of your drive”!
As mentioned before, I’m following a Lonely Planet guide-book to cycling New Zealand.
I head north until I hit Tram road. 23 km’s of straight tar. The wind is light and the sun is out, can’t ask for more.
Stopping at a store in Cust for a well deserved coffee.
Finally arriving at what one would call a very picturesque campsite at Ashley Gorge via meeting a goat en route….as you do!

Cup of tea Ashley Gorge

Ashley Gorge is certainly special even with sand flies (which I can assure you bite!), but then no one else around.
Sheffield pie shop
Sheffield Pie shop certainly deserves its name. The best pies I’ve ever tried, even better than the Aussie ones!
Inland scenic route
The Lonely Planet Cycle New Zealand guide-book has its uses, but I’m findind it too basic. I wish to get off the main scenic highways. I’ll plan on ditching it in Cromwell, saving the 1 kg and just go with the flow.
No dog droppingsLooking out over the cricket ground at Glentunnel. Keep it clean pooches!
After briefly stopping in Glentunnel, I set out for Rakaia Gorge with a voice in my head from the local store owner of strong winds brewing later in the afternoon. I pass a farmer and farm hands tending to lambs in a paddock (field to you & me!), we exchange a wave. Ten minutes later I’m passing the same farmer with another wave as I’ve turned round after contemplating the store owner’s words.

1st night wild camping

I stop and chat with Woody the Kiwi sheep farmer. After a bit of a yarn, he says I can camp at the bottom of one of his paddocks.
Eventually after camp set, belly full and an invite, I join Woody and his girlfriend Steph for beers at the farm-house (bungalow to you and me!).
Good day I’d say.
Field crossing
Departing Woody’s paddock for the open road.
By 1400 I’d reached Rakaia Gorge and slowly made the climb up the opposing hill. Once at the top, I turned round to admire the climb and the view. Then on seeing a beautiful camp site below I’m  freewheeling back down!
Rakaia Gorge bridge
Rakaia Gorge bridge.
It’s quiet, with a stunning view over the river.
Enough of a reason for me to set camp up early, laze in the sun, with a walk along the river.
CuppaRakaia Gorge sunrise
Morning sunrise over the Rakaia river.
True kiwi camping
This is how true Kiwi’s set up camp. Old caravans as the cook house and pallets turned into furniture. Class.
En route to Methven I pick up a tailwind. 51 kph on the flat, that’s shifting on any laden bicycle! At least cycling laden, once up to speed it’s easy to keep the momentum up.
Pudding Hill drop zonePudding hill drop zone school.
Spent time talking to the Matt the pilot. Next, I’m up in the air for a flight, and we’re dropping parachutists over the drop zone.
Baby caravan
A baby Cessna Caravan. Yes, that is its true name! I flew the larger variant in Namibia: a Grand Cessna Caravan.
Southern Alps
Ready to drop
10,000 ft and waiting for the green light.
Final approach.
Drop zoneAfter leaving the drop zone I sneak into a woods nearby on the advice from one of the students at the school. Well, it’s not fenced off, so fair game in my books.
Forest camping
This really is a great setting for wilderness camping.
Unless you have to listen to wild boar being hunted by dogs and men. Lots of squealing, barking and shouting. Not a very pleasant sound at all in the pitch of night. I was just hoping they didn’t venture my way. Eventually it all calms down and I get a night’s sleep.
A hedgehog greets me on my way out of the woods.
CalmStaveley Stores
Staveley Stores. Famous for its sausage rolls.
Staveley Stores famous sausage rolls. Supperb
Never really been a fan of sausage rolls, but this chilli one is quite something.
Not a football net to be seenNot a football net insight!
Bike repairs
A bit of field maintenance on the bike.
Arundel riverWild camping one the Arundel River.
Wash time
Also got in for a wash. Bit on the nippy side. I was quick and in the buff!
Breakfast, porridge and a banana to start the day.
The day then consists of a bag of nuts ’n ’raisins, peanut butter straight from the jar, perhaps two more bananas, a Mars bar, an orange, biscuits (custard creams!).
CookingOnce a spot is found to camp, a cuppa tea is on the go. Along with some tasty noodles to fill a hole before dinner.
Dinner will be pasta, flavoured tuna and mayonnaise. Getting in the carbs and protein. No so sure about carrying the cheese around, it’s heavy and does not last too long in a hot pannier.
Pearse memorial
The Pearse Memorial.
Richard Pearse 1877-1953 is said to have flown a heavier than air aircraft from this site nine months before the Wright brothers. He did later concede though that the Wright brother’s flight was a controlled and sustained flight.
But no one doubts he got airborne. He did later kill himself with his flying endeavours.
Back country
So, you may ask why ‘Those Pesky Magpies’? Well, it seems the flying critters have an aversion to either me or perhaps my shiny bike helmet! Usually when cycling past tall pine trees lining the road, that’s when the attacks take place. First, you hear a whoosh and then quick successive flapping.
Most Magpies just stay as an annoyance for a few minutes and give up. One did though hammer into my helmet trying at times to lift it off my head. I have the talon marks on the back of it to prove it.
I reckon they must be the most dangerous thing here!
Opihi bridge Opihi bridge.
Pinot Noir
Opihi winery. A pleasant Pinot Noir.
Pioneers Park is a DOC (Department Of Conservation) campsite.
This one is classed as ‘standard’, as it only has a toilet facility. But at NZ$6 I felt it was still a bit steep for just lonely me.
Lane to Pioneers park
Also when a camper van arrives you are greeted at sunset and sunrise to sliding doors. What about a bit of thought to noise pollution? But then some people just have NO thought for others!
The only other people around was a Kiwi couple. They kindly gave me their water bag left over from their camper van hot tank. The only other tent around was one tucked in the corner near me.
Pioneers Park
As sunset beckons, I set about hanging the bag from a tree (the large tree in centre of the above photo) and strip off to the buff for a quick shower. Enough water to wet myself and lather up. Yes, you guessed it, I heard a vehicle arriving. I look through my soapy eyes. A car turning towards me….eeeccck!
Cuppa Pioneers Park
There I am, half brown arms and legs, wet and soapy, scurrying around trying to find my very thin travel towel. I just cover up as three girls drive by with wry smiles. Europeans, at least point and laugh!
Chilling at Burkes cottage
The late afternoon sun over Burkes cottage.
  • Pioneers Park 29th October 2013 – 338 km’s


Wild/stealth camping spots can be viewed when zooming in on each location. Also, click on the icon for a photo and another click on the photo will open it up in Flickr.


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You can click on each photo for an enhanced Flickr view or the above Flickr slideshow for further photos for this post.


My first attempt at videoing! See what you think.



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