New Zealand & Islands (Stewart - Chathams) 1997
"4000km. By bike & tramping in New Zealand"

Rewrites samples of my diary - an 8 months trip in New Zealand
N i c o l a s M e n u


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The Story : 4000 km. by bike & tramping in New Zealand
When I was young, I used to read adventure books which make life a dream...
So, last year I was thinking to change my life for a while and decided that I would travel by bike in South America or in New Zealand. This last destination kept all my attention and more I informed myself about New Zealand more I was interested by this wild exotic country.
Leaving my Surveying Total Stations, car, flat, bills,...and all this fucked up stuff , I flew out of Europe... the 7th November 1996. The dream was ON...
After looking up to the sky towers in Singapore, I finnaly reached Aukcland, NZ.
Because I wasnt speaking much the language, I decided to stay a month in AKL to study english. I went to a school for a while but there are enough nice chicks everywhere to teach you the language much better than teachers... everybody is very kind and it s really easy to meet the locals. When it s done, you re ready to jump on your bike and ride...
Begining of December, I know how things work over there and I m ready to Begin that looooong ride around NZ.
Well I must admit that I wasn t so sure about the succes chance s.... It did look such a long way...
Heading North from Dargaville to Cape Reinga, after 3 days and 2 nights close to the paradise, I was surprised that i did ride only 200km. And it was a HARD work! Someting is wrong , isnt it? Yes! Guess what! my bloody #%$ computer was setting in miles! Ouf , that means i did a good job!
Kilometers go on and go on and go on.
But scenery is breathtaking all the way, huges rainforests, kauris(big trees), birds singing, and gravel roads which make singing your tyres...
That s life, when ya feel free, can breath deaply and scream if you want to...NZ is not overcrowded...
The bad things with this country is sometime its weather...poor weather, but the main good things is the hospitality of its people. Just Great!
5 continuous rainy days really pissed me off going down from Cape Reinga to the bay of Islands, usually the sunshine paradise... I wasnt waterproof yet.
Some days later I went back to Auckland and after some big partys with schoolmates and friends, took the ferry to Coromandel. Rode the 309rd. over the coromandel peninsula and followed all the way down to Tauranga (sunchine ONLY!!! Oh Yes!) before stopping for a while in Whakapappa Village (Tongariro Nat. Park) to do some tramping over the volcanos. Volcanics area, hot pools, geysers, hot bubled mud, and all these stuff i had never seen before...Reallity is much better than TV for sure!
Then went down to Wellington throught the Wanganui River & Nat. Park where Steeve (an US biker) and me were invited to sleep in one of the most beautifull farm of NZ (Thanks Lin+Gill).
After what, a huge party at Bulls (thanks Combi+Mohana) and then 200 boring kilometers under the rain to Paekakari and Wellington....and again party! Happy New Year 1997. Hey Dianne do you remember it!
3 Days later, I left NZ North Island by the 22 pm ferry boat, under a dark blue sky full of stars.
The Wild South Island, New Zealand s mainland.
When I just arrived in picton, and after a cool whiskey party at the backpacker, I jumped on a boat to be drop off far away in the Marlborough sound. Riding back the Queen Charlotte track was a must. 70 km on a small track folowing the top of a range just above the sound. Pretty hard work, but beautifull. After what, a fucked up story to get to Nelson via a 4 wheel drive only road, crazy steep, full of rounded rolling stones. Hopefully, the scenery was as usual... beautifull.
After a short trip to Farwell Spit and Abel Tasman Nat. Park, I headed back and strait to Westport on the West Coast. I put up the tent after 190km this day.
Then followed the coastal road to the glaciers (Fox & Franz-Joseph) with a short visit to Shantytown, an old gold mining village.
Heaps of fun all along the way,...and the way down to Wanaka, Queenstone (via the Cardronna road...which is really a must for every biker), and then strait to TeAnau, Milford Sound, (where the mountains make love to the sea and dolphins plays with seals and... sandflies pissed me off!).
I stayed there for a while tramping around the Hommer pass before heading back to TeAnau to buy enough food for 12 days. Some 150 km south, I stopped in Tuatapere to prepare the Dusky Track. Because I decided to do it by myself, locals really convicted me to rent a SAR-SAT locator beacon....
2 days later, I leave the civilisation for 10 days.
A few minutes after having been droped off ashore by a stavi-craft, millions of murderouses sandflies welcome me... Ahhhrg!
The 1st and 2nd days are pretty dry, just a few showers at dusk. Plenty of good food in my backpack, and some other hikers in the huts. The track is pretty cool, mostly flat and well dry (mostly) and just 5-6 hours walk a day.
Some 3 days later, I get to the dusky sound itself, there are 3 days that track conditions are pretty bad and it s with pleasure that I stop one day at Supper Cove Hut...anyway, it s pooring down, ouside.
The nexts 6 days, on the way out to Lake Manapouri, I have to stay 2 days in the Kintail hut, the track is just mud, waiste deep mud sometime, and some wires bridges are gone... Heaps fun...but...
I didnt see any trampers thoses lasts 6 days, and have plenty of time to think about whatever specially the last 3 days when running out of coffe & tabacco. Have to cut the cigarettes in two parts to smoke 1 at noon and the other at dusk...
To any trampers: Take enought Netsle Milk Coffe and Tabbaco...
It is tired but happy that I take a boat back across the lake Manapouri smelling fish and letting traces of my way... This long & adventurous track is really to recommend to any fit trampers and , mud lovers...
Then, back on my bike i just had to peddal the lasts 200km to Bluff.
17th Feb. 1997 BLUFF SOUTH OF NEW ZEALAND MAINLAND. Already 3300km... trip continue!
I decide to head to Stewart Island, highlight of my trip, and to stay for a while if life is good down there... it does... I m gonna live in Oban 6-7 weeks.
Stewart island is a small land , 400 people, just 14km of road, bush all over where the foul wind of the southern seas is allright to let grow some plants. Again, my desire to feel in harmony with myself pushed me to the Wild south area of Stewart. Gogs&Magogs, the Fraser peaks are in the ligne of fire. I stayed about10 days at Anns Place, preparing the trip before renting a floatplane to be droped off at Port Pegasus, Red Beach. You need a permit to enter this wild area, a locatore beacon and others... maps, compass, food, tent, and all this bloody stuff wich make the backpack fucking heavy ... but a good house!
After nearly 2 tramping days, straits across the rainforest and later across that fucked up scrub, I reach the top of Magog. Contemplating the sub-antarctica sea, remote them. It s probablly one of the most beautifull day of my life. Scenery was breathtaking and wilderness s total.
Nobody 80km around, just bush and scrub... The wind scream in between the huge granit domes of the Fraser peaks, proudly dressed as 2 huge breasts of a magical austral godess. Athmosphere was great. Those instants carved my mind for ever.
Beauty is an unestimable gift.
That night it took me up more than 1 hour to put up the tent under a 130km/h wind... Night was awfull...
Wind blasts, rain and thunders contrained me to check each hours the tent ancrages. The wall I builded as wind stopper has falled down during the night...but the North face tent I used is still alive....North face...good tent, ho yeah.
The xxth february, I take the way back, The Fraser Peaks have shown me the most beautifull landscape and unspoiled wilderness ever and the clearly told me to get out of here. Just a blast and I understood quickly...
Walking back near Port Pegasus, I met 8 hunters. We talked, they gave me beers and offer to camp, dive, hunt with them before going back to civilisation by ferry boat with them. 4 Days later (after having see heaps wildlife, ev. a kiwi & chicks in the nest and others) we jumped on the rented ferry boat and some 3-4 hours later I was back in Oban, enjoying a huge "Save the Wahles" under an immaculate blue sky at the JustCoffe.
I stayed at Anns place one week as manager, before going for some sea cayaking and others tramping to Masons bays with really cool friends (hi Kate, Tim, Angelique, ...)
But, unfortunately time is going so fast, I have to leave Stewart the 21th march., if I wanna see the Chatham s.
Jumped again on my bike, riding throught the beautifull Catlin Coast under the rain, to Dunedin where friends convicted me to take a bus to Christchurch to ride the Banks Peninsula. I meet up Kate again in ChCh, and we decided to hitch hike a few days to go tramping to the Mont Cook Nat. Park, before heading to Kaikoura, diving those cold waters with the seals and dolphins.
A month later, I flew out of the mainland in a 18 seat plane to Chatham Island...last land before the end of the world...800km East from ChCh, and just 680 people.
Laying in middle of nowhere, in the Southern Pacific Ocean, I m gonna spend 2 weeks of peacefull life. Just eating seafood, fishes and mutton, speaking to fishermanns and farmers, working with them, going to the Only pub and shop of the whole island . Life is so good!
After what, I board the "Acoriano", an espagnol cargo boat which go strait to Napier (NZ). Working on it 2 days (crossing time) to pay my fare.
My trip touch at the end, and as usuall, plans change ... Her name is Carrie. (coucou Carrie! @}---/--).
We spent 5 wonderfull weeks together , between Auckland and Napier before spending a week on Wahiki Island...
A Taste of Paradise...
We promised to meet up again,... Leaving this lovely girl to go back home, surveying again,...what a hell!
Flight SQ 383 Aukland-Singapore-Zurich. /// whiskey bar...!


Informations :
If you ve plan a trip like that, I m sur you re gonna have a look at this page. That s all the most bimportant things I carried with me all around New Zealand, of course, the gears you ll need Taking more = NO WAY

Bike and accesories
trade : Cannondale M700
fork : Marzochhi XC700
equipment : Deore DX
tyres : Michelin WildGripper Rock/LI>
bags : Ortlieb 100% étanche
usefull reparing tools 2.5 kg
computer KM/high AVOCET
Weight : 20 kg.
Camping gears
Tent North Face VE 25 4.4kg
Term-a-Rest 0.4 kg
sleeping bag Ferrino 2.3 kg
water filter MSR 0.5 kg
stove Coleman Peak 1 1 kg
hanging pans , 1 poêle
usefull camping accessories
swiss knife
survival knife Jungle King II Aitor
other stuff 1 kg
food (always nearly 5 kg)
Weight : 17 kg
Wearings :
3 slips, 3 socks
3 T-shirts
2 Sweats
2 pants
2 trekking boots, sandals
1 polar fleece Patagonia
1 overjacket Patagonia Triolet Jacket
1 short
1 biking short
Weight : 6.8 kg
first aide kit 2 kg
Maps (DOSLI maps scale 1:50 000, 1:250 000, et 1:500 000)
+ Recta compass
Guide Lonely-Planet
Books (John Fante,...)
other 0.5 kg
Weight : 4.7 kg
First Aid kit
elastic band

Total weight : 28.5 kg + Vélo 20 kg