My long-planned Backroads birthday bike tour of New Zealand almost didn’t happen, thanks first to my first-ever episode of vertigo and then to the blizzardy havoc that NYC and JFK turned into on the day I was supposed to leave … but through a few miracles I did manage to make it and am SO SO very happy I did.
It was, indeed, an amazing experience. Indescribably gorgeous riding, even in the rain – and it did rain, a lot. But “heartstopping” and “breathtaking” are no exaggeration. Parts of it were so beautiful it almost brought me to tears … good tears.
The Tasman Sea behind where we stayed on Night One, behind Punakaiki Resort
At the Pancake Rocks, near Punakaiki
In addition to a lot of great riding, we did an amazing plane journey to Milford Sound, and then a boat cruise in the sound. Funny thing is, it supposedly almost always rains there. On our day (granted, the second try) it was crystal clear.
Of course, the people were as crucial as the pretty scenery, and this group was fantastic. The leaders, Eoin and Brad, were brilliant – extremely knowledgeable, attentive to every detail large and small, and tons of fun as well. And all of the co-conspirators were a lot of fun. It was “only” nine days, but it seems like I’ve known some of them forever.
It was my first trip with Backroads, and something of an extreme one (I could have done something more normal, like Italy or France.) But given the occasion, and the time of year (um, January, SUMMER in NZ ...) this seemed appropriate. And it was perfect. I'd heard so many good things about the company, and they came through in every way and much more.
I did a video, but can’t upload to YouTube due to admittedly egregious copyright issues when it comes to the music. And so far I haven’t been able to upload on Typepad. Will keep trying. It’s quick and dirty and I should have spent more time in the edit. But I wanted to get it done, and ran out of time.
Meanwhile I want to live in NZ ...
Behind the Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki, part of the Te Wahi Pounamu World Heritage Area
Brad and Eoin with the wine and cheese gathering they did behind the Edgewater Resort Hotel, Wanaka. And the exquisite flowers they gave me for my birthday.
Behind the Westwood Lodge, Franz Josef