You’d Better Start Swimming or You’ll Sink Like a Stone

We woke up on Sunday with a plan. I had grown enamored with Amazing Cycle, a used bike shop in a neighborhood west of Auckland called Point Chevalier. The internet told me all the right things about it, and I was convinced that it would be our one stop shop for all our biking needs. To get there we had to hitch over the Auckland Harbor Bridge and then set out walking. The walk took about an hour. Besides the fact that it was a beautiful day, it was mostly dull until we got to Western Springs Park, which was very nice.

When we got to Amazing Cycles, there was a small little wearhouse with a fenced-in courtyard. The courtyard was full of ready to sell bikes, piles of bike parts, and a man in an apron busying himself with bike repair. We told him we planned on bike touring and were starting from scratch. We asked to try out some bikes and it went uphill on a broken bike from there. The first I wanted to ride was missing a pedal. The second had a flat tire. The third had a broken gear shifter. They all were rusty and very worn. Claudia and I had a powwow down the street and decided that this was not the place. We thanked them and moved on.

Headed for a cafe to find some wifi, we cut through the park down a path that skirted along Western Springs Pond. The pond was very clear, and we could see dozens to eels lazily swimming along the shore. They, like all the well fed wildlife in the park, were not afraid of people and would get close enough touch, if we’d dare. We didn’t, but we were happy to see them and the big black geese with bright red beaks.

At the cafe, we order two flat whites and logged onto Gumtree, a New Zealand type of craigslist, and found a guy who was selling a man’s and a woman’s bike. We called and he told us to come over around four. His place turned out to be an hour and a half south. We were hoping and praying on the way there we would be biking away and this time we struck gold. The guy was really nice and his bikes were perfect for us. Time to bike away, right? Not quite. It’s illegal to bike without a helmet over here, and we had only one helmet between us. So we walked quite a ways to a big box store where we bought a bike lock, a helmet and a rear light for Claudia (you reading this, Mom?).

Finally, it was time to bike. Claudia isn’t confident biking in cities with traffic, and our only way home was the ferry which departs from the middle of downtown. Adding to the stress, everyone drives on the left side of the road. The buses won’t carry bikes and it was starting to get late, so we had no choice but to go. It was time to push Claudia into the deep end and hope for the best. I’m not writing this from a hospital, as it turns out. Claudia flashed some grit and we made it to the ferry with no problems (besides briefly getting lost).

We spent most of today getting rear bike racks and a pair of panniers then setting up our bikes. Without a place to spend the night, Kung Fu teacher John, who has been an amazing host, let us stay another night.

Late this afternoon, we got an offer to WWOOF on a farm over on Waiheke Island. We’ll depart on our bikes and will be there tomorrow afternoon. Step one is over. Now we move into the meat of our trip and start exploring the country!

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