A man and his duck

I drove from the first camping to the second one, and this day was the first I used my kitchen! Cooking actual food, taking a half-hour walk around the camping ground and just chilling.

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I also managed to get in contact with Jessica, whom I met in Nelson last year. She had moved up to Wellington, so the day after I went and caught up with her. We walked around the city, and the botanical gardens, and had lunch before I booked tickets for the evening ferry over to Picton.  We also went by The Warehouse so I could buy pillows and a real duvet to sleep more comfortable in the car.

I would arrive late in Picton, but with nothing else planned it would work out really well. I met a few Americans on the ferry, and we played Settlers of Catan. I also traded one of my head torches for kiwi fruit, as I got one extra when I bought some other equipment from The Warehouse.

As I arrived in Picton, it was late, and already dark. I drove the half hour to the camping spot, but it was already full, and from the reviews I would probably get a fine if I stayed here. Along the road I saw a car turn into a courtyard, so I took my chances, parked in the beginning of the driveway and walked the 100-odd metres to the house. I asked for permission to sleep in my car at their courtyard, and it was no problem. Sweet!

Jessica put me in contact with her mum, so I had a bed to sleep in in Nelson for the evening. I only had two planned things before that, first, i wanted to by the same mosquito spray I bought last year at Pelorus Bridge, as it was a good-smelling toxic free one. The second was to climb the Maungatapu track, but this time with car. I thought it would be much easier than with bicycle, but I soon learnt that was not true.

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This was the better part of road. Didn’t want to stop at the worse ones…

The car made it over the water, through mud, and across all the rocks, and everyone I talked with living in the area thought it was really impressive for a car like that!

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t probably wasn’t too good for the car, but everything held together. I also met two touring bikers on the way, and when I met them at the top again, one of the bikes free wheel had broke, so he had to push it a long way.

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The other side is even steeper, and you need a key to pass the gate, so I didn’t even have any choice but to drive back the way I drove up, and drive around the mountain. The drive around was really boring with a lot of slow vehicles and no passing lanes.

Finally in Nelson, the car’s thermometer started to climb the last 100 metres. Nothing I could really care about that evening. I got served a really nice vegan dinner at Jessica’s mum’s place, while planning for the next day and having a good nights sleep.

The next day I wanted to go by Motueka to do a couple of jumps in Able Tasman. While getting the DZ briefing I got a surprise, as I saw Ben walking in with a tandem parachute! Apparently he was working here, and Isabelle, his girlfriend from the same hometown as me, did as well! The next awesome surprise was that Ben had a brake, and joined me for a skydive, so I didn’t even have to jump alone!

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While Ben continued working, I went to surprise Isabelle at her work. She was soon finished, and we went to look at an old rusty ship laying around on the beach, at low tide reachable without swimming.

I spent the afternoon with Ben and Isabelle, and we tried to see if we could see what was wrong the car. It was low on coolant, so that could be a clue to the problem. After spending a night at their place I went to a mechanic and did a pressure test of the engine, and it wasn’t totally sealed. To fix it would cost more than the car was worth, and it was more than possible do to drive a Subaru Legacy with a blown headgasket for thousands of kilometres. I bought more coolant and decided to see how far I would make it. After another skydive, I went south to a camping an hour away for another nice night.

I picked up two hitchhikers at the camping, and drove them to Westport (where my bicycle passed 10000 kilometres last year) before I continued south. If you remember Michael with his red Surly from last year, who I met the same day as the earthquake, my plan was to visit him and his parents again.

While driving I saw tho bicyclists, and they had a Swedish flag! Decided to stop and chat with them for like 20 minutes), and gave them a tip about the place I camped at last year.

As I didn’t have any way of contacting Michael, and I didn’t even have an adress, I decided to wing it. As lucky as I am, after I turned around because I thought I drove too far, I saw him 50 metres away! He was on his way to the beach, as he had adopted an abandoned duckling. His parents were happy to see me as well, and I stayed a night at their place.

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The duckling was really cute!

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I wanted to get to Skydiving Kiwis before the weekend was over, and now being Saturday the 18th, I crossed Arthur’s pass.

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At the top I saw a Kea! People shouldn’t feed wild animals.

I took a small detour to say hi to the camping spot I pitched my tent at last year as the rain, hail and cold got me, and then continued my easy driving. Apparently the car did only overheat at lower RPMs, so climbing mountains was all good.

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To get a good start for the next day I camped in between Christchurch and Ashburton, and the next day I drove down to Skydiving Kiwis to jump with them. Brent was still there, so I did some nice belly jumps!

After the last load I decided to continue south to another camping. This one was really hard to find, but after asking at the pub, they showed me a printed map. The app was showing the wrong place, so they got the question a lot…

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This is what my home looks like inside nowadays!

As I wanted to skydive in Wanaka, I drove past some other beautiful places from last year, Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, While exploring around Tekapo I found a place with 15 dead rabbits… don’t understand why.

I stopped in Twizel, again, to buy food and use the internet. There was a camping along the canal coming from Lake Pukaki, and that would be my place for the night. When I arrived there, I felt really down, not really knowing why. I ended up bringing my camera out, taking loads of photos as there were really beautiful surroundings, and by the evening everything felt a bit better!

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After staying another night in Auckland (Thank you so much, guys!!!) I went up at five-something and picked Axel up. I had even bought gluten free bread for him. 🙂

We drove down to Taupo, where we would spend some time. As the warrant of fitness for the car was coming up, we stopped on the way to make the check, and… it didn’t pass. Shit.

Well, shit happens. Continued down to Taupo, where we met up with a friend of Lily. I stayed at her place during this first time in Taupo, while trying to plan my life, fixing the car and going out dancing. Thanks to a friend of Summer I managed to fix  everything needed really cheap!

After a good night out, I bought myself a modern polaroid camera at the fifth. Everyone who will visit me at home in the Swedish summer can come and take a look at the book I’m making, by taping a photography from each event and writing a small text. Best hangover shopping so far!IMG_0300.jpg

I also bought a lot of toothbrush holders, as I needed the suction cups for the curtains in the car.

We went horse riding, did some trekking, went up mount Tauhara and got my car fixed.

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Taupo by night! Mount Tauhara in the background.

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View from Mount Tauhara

Me and Axel also got the skydiving started for us, awesome feeling to get out there again!

At the 10th, my car passed the warrant of fitness! The day after, I packed all my stuff, went horse riding, made some really miserable pancakes, and went on my way! It was time to go south.

Getting into New Zealand

I’m going to continue writing… sometime. Here is two weeks of travels, the next one is hopefully coming up soon! 🙂

 

Amber drove me to the airport, where a hard journey would begin. Getting on the flight to Los Angeles was the easy part, and when I arrived there late in the night I just put my air mattress up.

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I had a few hours of sleep, but should have brought my sleeping bag as they always make it really cold inside in the US, while it being 30°C outside. I went to check in, with seven hours left, but at first they didn’t want to let me. According to their papers I needed a visa before arriving in New Zealand. I showed them the NZ immigration site, which clearly stated I would be able to enter the country and get the visa after I arrived, and after two and a half hours they finally let me check in.

I asked at the boarding desk if there would be any more problems, and they said no. While I was boarding, 25 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave, they stopped me and told me something else had to be fixed, but I managed to convince them to let me fix it at Hawaii instead.

At Hawaii I asked them twice to see if everything was in order, and they said yes, and let me on without making a fuzz. In New Zealand I got my visa when I arrived, and everything worked out as I thought it would. This picture reminds me so much of last year!

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Hawaiian Airlines gets 2/5 from me. Nice and kind people working there, but outdated/wrong info, and no food for any special diets or allergies, even if you through to book it long before the flight.

I arrived in the night again, so I slept at the airport until four in the morning. My plan was to hitchhike south if nothing else came up, but with a lot of help from Lily I ended up staying a couple of nights at her aunt and uncle’s place. It was really nice to be able to settle down a little bit, plan my journey, and also to learn the basics in blacksmithing!

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I made a bottle opener, to have some practical use for it. It went really cool!

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Now, the 25th of October (to give you a sense of time), I started hitchhiking north. I wanted to visit a friend from last year who lives in Whangarei and also check out the dropzone in Bay of Islands. It was a bit hard getting out of Auckland, but after that I got to Skydive Auckland (50 kilometres) fairly easy. The weather sucked, and the forecast looked bad, so I converted my skydiving license and hitchhiked to Whangarei, another 150 kilometres. My friend wouldn’t arrive at home before the next day, so the lovely lady who had picked up me up drove me to a camping.

I met up with the crazy Scot again, which was awesome, once again. This was the same Scot who drove us up to Cape Reinga to start the bicycle journey last year. Sadly, though, the dropzone in Whangarei had ceased to exist. To get some jumps I hitchhiked up to Bay of Islands the next day, left an application for work, did two jumps and hitchhiked back.

Jim (the crazy Scot) had a friend working at the newly started dropzone in Mercer (south of Auckland), so I decided to go by there and see what it was like. Before leaving Whangarei, I visited another friend, Ana, who I stayed at a bit south of Whangarei last year, but she had moved up here now!

The friend, named Sam, picked me up close to the airport. I stayed there for two great nights, had a few jumps, and managed to fall out of the airplane. I should learn to exit from the smaller ones.

As my bags were really heavy, and the bigger one was felling apart, I had two choices; I would either buy a new bag, or just buy a car.

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Buying a car would help with other stuff as well, as I could keep it locked with all the stuff in it instead of carrying it around, and get to places a lot faster. There are a lot of free campings as well, which sometimes are pretty hard to reach. In the end, I decided to buy a shitty car which would be big enough for me to sleep in. I found a Subaru Legacy 1997 for 1200 NZD (about 7000 SEK), so I hitchhiked there and bought it. As I arrived late I also got to stay a night at their place, which was a really cool way of living. They were living in an old, big bus, still working properly, and they had built a garage and a big roof with movable walls as working room and living room. They even made curtains for me, so I could have some privacy in the car.

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The next day I drove (Wooo!) to Rotorua to visit another friend from last year. It was now the 31th and Axel was arriving the morning of the 2nd. I was going to pick him up, so I spent the day fixing a few things in the car. The 12V charger didn’t work, and apparently it was just a cable that had popped out. I put it back, and also saw that the radio needed converter cables if I would ever get it to work. I spent the night at a camping on the way to Auckland, where I would stay another night before picking Axel up early.

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I did not really remember that it was Halloween, but a cool girl on a horse came by the camp!

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Three weeks in the US

My family weekend is now official done, and my stay at Amber’s place as well.

There has been shopping, Universal Studios, Island of Adventures, beach, pool, sunbathing and a lot of heat! Some longboarding, driving and “catastrophe sightseeing” as well.

Going to Universal was nostalgic, even though you could understand why they are rebuilding old attractions into new one. Terminator 2: 3D is still awesome, but the 3d is… sucky. Both “Jaws” and “Back to the Future” were gone, and so was “Earthquake”.

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The Harry Potter parts were pure awesome! So well built, and I was too close to spend all my money on merchandise.

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Taking care of the little has been really fun. He is such a cutie, and almost never screams compared to other children, which the other people on the flight probably was really happy for.

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They are still cleaning up after Irma, much needed. There are a lot of boats which are destroyed, a lot of trees piled up and a few buildings where the roof has gone.

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On my fathers birthday Tim had prepared and bought some Key lime pie. I wanted to get a donut for him, but everything I could find was a bagel. Round with a hole in the middle at least, and a couple of candles!

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I also managed four skydives at Deland, and some work. It really can be too hot when skydiving… I ended up jumping in shorts, as the overall just made you sweaty all through. My sit is getting better!

 

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As my parents flew home from Miami, Amber came and picked me up! It was really cool, as we actually met at my home DZ in Sweden.

The stay at Ambers place was my lazy stay. I started rewatching Once Upon a Time, and borrowed Ambers longboard whenever I wanted to go shopping. We had some awesome nights, and tested the vegan restaurant Ethos. Walmarts guacamole sucks, though!

Arriving in the US

Another year, another trip!

Yesterday evening local time I arrived in Orlando with my family. They will stay here for two weeks, while I will stay another five days before traveling to New Zealand! This time I will stay there for about six months, hopefully getting a job as a packer at a dropzone! This years trip may not be as adventurous as the last couple of ones, but I will try to keep the blog updated anyway (and get done with the last trip, sometime)!

The plan was to hitch-hike, but…

A small update about my life: I am not feeling too good. Bad stuff happens in life. This is not the blog where I’ll talk all about that, but that’s one of the reasons the last couple of posts go so slowly. For the dear readers still wanting to read “the ending”, it’s still on it’s way, though (and if you subscribe, you’ll know when there are a new post to read)! Bear with me!

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The breakfast view was astounding. Even though I have to bike over them, I am so in love with the mountains in this country. There are not too many countries I would like to move to, but this is one of them. I’m already thinking of returning some day.

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There are a few negative things, still, the sandflies being the main one. I walked around while eating my breakfast to not get all eaten, and that was with my repellent!

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Still had to stop and photo those beautiful lupines, which also grew a lot close to the river.

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As I already had decided yesterday, I was going to try and bike over the pass. This would be an awesome idea, something I felt as soon as I was going in the right direction. The winds were crazy, and just pushed me so much!

The grade was pretty gentle, and with the wind I hadn’t bike for too long before getting a really nice photo opportunity of the dwindling road.

Even though uphills are sometimes tough, they are really rewarding as well. Even on the shittiest of days, with four degrees, rain and 16 % steepness, it makes me so happy. It makes me feel alive!

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What I didn’t think was that I almost was at the top already. The end of the road you see in the picture above is at a lookout, just a couple of hundred metres from the top!

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From the lookout

Suddenly, i saw another cyclist making his way up. First, I though it was just a racer cyclist, but soon I saw a pair of bags as well. This intrigued me!

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He was on a small trip (I think from Christchurch to Wanaka) before he would guiding people as a bicycle tour guide. We decided to bike together as far as everything matched up (and I did not plan to bike in this wind whenever the road turned around, and would start going a bit north instead).

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We found a nice plateau with a good view, which would be perfect for lunch. During lunch we saw a poor bastard biking the other way, onto headwind and uphill… He didn’t seem like he had any interest in stopping; could be the challenge.

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Almost at Tarras with 30 kilometres left to Wanaka, the road started turning into the headwind. My water bottle was empty and I was really thirsty in this heat, so a pause at the Tarras gas station was much needed. I told Shay I wouldn’t bike into Wanaka with all that headwind, but hitch-hike the last part. He agreed upon that idea, and I had already told him how easy it was. We went to the next intersection and put ourselves at a good spot.

After just a couple of minutes, cars start to stop, but none can take our bikes. Because of that, I put my bicycle more visible. The fifth car passing (fourth car to stop) actually went by us, turned around, told us she would get her bike rack and come back in five minutes. Lucky as usual!

She dropped us off at a day care, where she would pick up her kids. Me and Shay had a fika together before parting ways, and I made my way to Johanna and Arvid!

We had an awesome dinner (according to my notes, but to be honest I don’t remember what it was we ate), and really good company. There would be some nice days coming!

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Dessert!

Selfie day!

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As the others were going to take a 100-something kilometres bicycle route, with a pretty high ascent, I slept a bit longer in my tent and woke up just to say goodbye. It’s always so much fun camping with random people!

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I continued, not aiming to do many kilometres. My plan was to arrive in Wanaka tomorrow, and I though that it would be too many kilometres, as there was a high pass on the way, and I was tired. An asian guy on what looked like a foldable bike passed  by, biking the other way, but he didn’t want to stay and chat.

Without stress, I filled my day with other stuff, instead. One of the things I wanted to do was to get a good bicycle selfie, as I don’t get too many pictures of myself. While biking, I looked for a decent spot, and started trying out. All this “setting the timer to 20 seconds, run to your bike and try to bike by really slow while the camera takes a series of pictures, oh, and remember to look nice still” can be hard sometimes. But, it’s something!

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There were a good spot to take a look over the lake and see, what I suppose at least, Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. I asked some other people who answered “that’s what we will tell people anyway, they won’t know the difference”. The clouds made it hard to be sure, but the location and everything tells me that should be it!

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I saw two girls wandering on the road, and hoped they would be people walking the Te Araroa. They weren’t, as they were hitchhiking, but still had a nice chat.

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More selfies, and also some pictures to admire the bicycle! This is also what my front stuff looks like nowadays, as I added my red light from the night tour to it. Hopefully it recharges itself enough from the sun hanging there, and you never know when you need a quick light!

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As the lake ended I decided to try a bike trail. I had biked parts of it during the morning, and they kind off sucked, but for some reason I always think a bike trail will get better. It didn’t.

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Bad roads with sharp turns, ascending and descending. Sometimes the gravel was of the type that just makes everything much harder. At least I gave it a try! (But I never learn…)

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Arriving in Twizel, I went and bought food, before finding a library with some free wifi to write my blog. They closed ten minutes before I was done, though, so I had to move ahead, and found a Spark box , when my computer died. I asked at a nearby cafe, and they let me use their power so that I could finish and upload the blog post. After this I had no real plan, but I found out about a free camping just 29 kilometres south of Twizel. That couldn’t be too much, I thought, even though it was already late afternoon. With some headwind it was kind of a push, but I arrived after another too hard trip.

Upon arriving, I choose a place kind off close to the bathroom, and away from other people, to keep it quiet. Just five minutes later two people biked into the camping, as Nils and Tom was done with their day trip! Nice coincidence.

I also started to plan for the next day, as I felt biking the last 110 kilometres shouldn’t be as tough as I thought earlier. The ascent was supposed to be within reasonable limits, and I could always give up and just hitchhike when I got tired or bored. As of Nils and Tom, they were going to visit the hot tubs in the morning, so we would split again!

Other cyclists!

Waking up, I was so damn tired… but I knew I had to get ready and check out, so pushed through the morning most of all wanting to check in for another day and just sleep. I didn’t feel like I had too much time according to schedule, and not too much to do in this city, so I decided to move on. I still managed to be a few minutes late checking out, but at least they didn’t mind!

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The night before was amazing!

My mind was set on walking up Mt John, to get a daylight look as well. The reception let me store my stuff there, and I brought a little bit of food and started my small journey. It was a nice walk up there, and I took an alternative route close to the top to get another cool view on the way to the observatories.

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After jumping a small fence I was back at the normal track, and the view was really nice! I could recognise where we had been during the night, and already missed the sky. I had a sandwich at the astro cafe, and took a lot of pictures. My lunch friend was a small bird who wanted pieces of my sandwich, but he didn’t get too much. Cute little fellow!

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My panoramas are still a bit shaky when stitching them together, but I’m still evolving my photography!

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I walked down again, got my stuff and went to do some shopping. I had found out about a bicycle trail, Alps 2 Ocean, which I would be able to follow. This would be a good choice!

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I wasn’t sure, but this was the canal I would follow!

After some downhill, I was biking along a canal, with the strongest tailwind! I wouldn’t have this exact direction the whole day, but right now I was going 30+ km/h without too much effort.

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I wished it could have been like this the whole day.

The road I was biking on soon ended, and a gravel trail started, with a “bicycle only” passage in the way. The passing sucked, as it would only almost let me pass with my bags still attached to the bicycle.

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The gravel went slower, of course, and it was the bad sort of gravel, making it harder to keep balance. Still some beautiful views, and picnic places, but I cursed myself a bit for taking the bicycle trail. No cars, at least. Actually, there were no one else around at all, which was some nice freedom. The direction I now was traveling in made it be headwind, and the strong winds were no more something I liked.

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There were one particular stretch, where there were warning signs for cars to take a side road in strong winds. I didn’t want to go down the valley, and then up again, but tried to put one bag in the front to see if it would help with the balancing issue. Didn’t make any difference at all, sadly.

Instead, I let som air out from the front tire, and it actually helped. It was still a pain in the ass to travel this road, but at least I didn’t have to walk.

When the asphalt road started, I got off to fill my front tire again. Suddenly, I saw two bicyclists approaching from the same road I had just biked. Their names were Nils and Tom, and they had also met along the way. We were all going the same direction, and continued together!

We came out near a salmon farm, still up high, with beautiful views. The clouds where playing with the sun, giving nice photo opportunities, and more than beautiful mountains.

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After rolling down the hill in high speeds, we started looking for a place to stay at, where we would not be found. First, we looked close to the beach, but there were no hills or anything, and we ended up going up into the forest. Looking around, we found a good spot for all three tents, not visible from the road, nor the camp fire site where people seemed like they had a good time, with cans and t-shirts left behind.

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Our camping area!

Not having too much water, I went down to the beach to wash my stuff. Of course I brought my camera to play around a bit…

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…which was exactly the same thing I went to do when the others went to bed!

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As we were still in a dark sky reserve, I tried to get some goods spots of the sky. Too many clouds, though, but still good enough to play around!

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Damn, that was beautiful

To arrive early, I woke up early. The sun was shining as well, making the tent hot and not too nice to sleep in.

After a naked breakfast I biked until I got to Fairlie, where I went to the library for internet and a pause. I also called and booked a tour with Sky&Earth in Tekapo, to go on a midnight stargazing tour around Mt John Observatory!

When I was leaving, I met another cyclist, who were biking from Bluff to Cape Reinga! She did it for charity, and seemed like she was tougher than I was, with less resting and longer days! She got glad over the fact that she had downhill, though.

Trying to leave the city again, soon a car stopped me. It was the first car with the Americans, and after talking a bit, I continued. The other car (Helen) soon arrived, goon and all.

To make me go faster, we loaded everything but some food and water into their car, as I would continue having an uphill for the rest of the day. I had started at 223 metres above sea level, and would end at 731 metres…

Somewhere during this day, I passed 70 km/h for the first time this trip. Damn, that’s fast.

As I was biking, a black and white bird start flying just past me, again and again. I guess I was too close to its territory or something, but it followed me for a good couple of hundred metres, almost pooping at me. It scared me for some seconds!

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After Burkes Pass, I soon passed a sign telling me I entered International Dark Sky Reserve! This would be so cool!

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I arrived at the beach in Tekapo by 15.30. Even without luggage, it had been hard to push, and as soon as I got all the important stuff, and shoes, off me, I just walked down into the lake and took a swim. It was so cold, and so rejuvenating, and probably made my clothes a lot cleaner. With the sun out, I would soon dry anyway.

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The Americans would continue to lake Pukaki, and I had a few hours to kill until midnight. There were some Canadians and a German chilling on a floating bridge, and so I hanged out with them until I got too tired and went to check in at a hostel.

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After shopping and preparing and trying to use the overloaded internet, I slept for an hour, being dead tired. When I woke up again, I didn’t feel like going on a tour at all, but I had already paid, and made myself put on warm clothes and go to the reception, where a bus was waiting.

The tour itself was awesome. I got to learn how to navigate quite easily on the southern hemisphere, and a lot of other stuff I probably don’t remember all too well. I also stepped up my game in astrophotography.

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I haven’t ever had the knowledge to be able to take this sort of photos, and that, together with an almost cloudless night, up at an observatory mountain, gave me some awesome pictures. I am totally in love with the results, and next time they are going to be even better!

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Two hours later, I had looked into ”clouds” full of stars, seen twin stars that looks like one for the eye, and many constellations and phenomena. We went back with the bus, and even though I was even more tired, I was too excited to go to sleep at once. I had to try and edit at least a couple of the pictures, and even though I saw things I could have done different, it was more than good enough for me. With those beautiful pictures in mind, I went to bed at 04.00 am, soon to wake up again, as I had to check out from the hostel… Totally worth it!

Starting late, ending normal, getting far?

From a late night, and much wine, comes a late morning. A call home and some other stuff delayed my life as well, and I needed to get a good shot of this cool aquarium which was in the room I was sleeping in!

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Started biking at 13.00, and wanted to get kind off far as I wanted to be in Tekapo the day after to meet the Americans again. It was a headwind in the start, and I wanted to hitchhike, but there were not too many cars on the road I was biking on, and I didn’t want to stop and hitchhike for real, in case of not getting picked up.

There was another back road I wanted to bike on, but i wasn’t sure if it was possible to bike it right now. It looked like there wouldn’t be a bridge over the river, and with the past days rain, I was unsure. After speaking with a local I decided to skip it, and get to the main road.

On the way there was a deer farm, and they mainly stood there and looked at me!

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It went fairly well anyway, and despite starting late, biking in headwind and having to get up from the coast again, I managed 82 kilometres, and it wasn’t even dark yet. I saw a really nice spot for camping, though, and decided it wasn’t worth 10 kilometres to miss out on a nice spot, not knowing what would come ahead.

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I also managed to get to bed kind off early to recover some sleep, still being really tired after last nights party!

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