Our departure from Los Angeles and our flight to New Zealand went well, aside from a last minute scramble to purchase a return ticket for Felix at the check in counter of LAX. We were hoping to purchase Felix’s ticket (our tickets are fully adjustable reward miles’ tickets) later, but the airlines would not let us board without a return ticket. Our bikes and two checked bags came to a total cost of only $39. Air New Zealand is a great airline to fly and furthermore to fly with bikes or sporting equipment. Felix slept well in his bassinet attached to the back of the class divider wall and Maggie and I got a decent 6 hour sleep on the 12 hour flight as well.
Arriving in New Zealand, we were greeted by Ross and Ginny waving a Canadian flag. Ginny is a Canadian who moved to New Zealand 6 years ago. Ginny and Maggie’s mother grew up together in Ontario Canada. The weather was sunny and warm and we were escorted into vehicles with the odd right side driver configuration. Ross and Ginny are unbelievably wonderful and generous in having us at their beautiful place located on the steep ridge line overlooking the Langsdown Valley and Christchurch. Ross and Ginny’s property spans down one side of a drainage to a small creek and up the other side. They have created a network of trails they call “tracks” on both sides of the creek. They have a beautiful house with stunning views of the valley surrounded by a half dozen gardens and landscaping with amazingly diverse trees, flowers, bushes and fruit trees. Ross and Ginny also have 3 cows and chickens on their property. We have truly had an awesome 4 days exploring and being at their place. The really cool thing about Ross and Ginny’s place is how efficiently they live off their land. Most of Ross and Ginny’s fruit and vegetables come from their land, along with their meat, eggs and firewood.
Just up the ridge from Ross and Ginny’s land is the crater rim of an old volcano now filled from one side by the ocean. The 300 degree rim has an extensive network of “tracks” to include the Crater Rim Walkway. Friday and Saturday I ran 20 miles of the rim’s tracks, to include seeing two historic shelters, a hut and climbing the peninsula’s (Banks Peninsula) highest peak, Mt. Herbert.
Even more than the abundance of track in the area, experiencing the new vegetation and seeing and hearing the tons of birds that live in this part of New Zealand has hands down been the most exciting par of my running and exploration. I have stopped more times on my run to watch birds, marvel at the unique vegetation and views atop the mountains looking down to valleys and the ocean than I have in a long, long time. New Zealand is truly a whole new world and a stunningly beautiful one at that. The crazy part is that we have yet to even leave the Christchurch area and explore the “real” mountains and wilderness of the island.
We have rested and had a wonderful time with Ross and Ginny, enjoying wonderful meals, conversation and friendship. Ross and Ginny have been a huge help in aiding our last bit of preparation for the trip, letting us use their tools and garage and driving us around to buy some last equipment needs. Felix got to ride a miniature train, play with chickens and cows and all of us have had a great first taste of New Zealand, thanks to our wonderful hosts. Tomorrow we bike south away from Christchurch and begin our journey to Fiordland National Park for my race at the Keppler Challenge December 1st. We couldn’t be more excited.