January 7, 2006

1/7/06 Christchurch, NZ

I watched a beautiful sunrise from the plane as we neared Auckland. Slept a bit overnight but they served us breakfast about 4:30AM, a few hours before landing.

My biggest concern was that I only have a two hour layover in Auckland, but still needed to clear customs and the long immigration lines. They say that New Zealand has some of the strictest customs regulations in the world, especially where it concerns food and other biohazards. I made sure my bike was clean, especially the tires. And lucky me, the tent was new, so I whizzed through the lines. Made it to the domestic flights terminal with thirty minutes to spare.

It was a short one hour flight to Christchurch. A shuttle was waiting outside the terminal building, so I got a pretty inexpensive ride to the Holiday Inn in the City Center.

Christchurch Cathedral

Time for a little chess on your lunch hour

Huge sculpture in the square

Mike booked us a suite so it would fit all three of us and give us enough room to build the bikes. In a town where there are few tall buildings, we had quite a view from the tenth floor.

Mike and I went out exploring, looking for some lunch (sandwiches at the 'Daily Grind') and walking around the church square. A couple of guys were entertaining the crowd for change and they were pretty good.

We sat by the tram stop, waiting to meet Roy Sinclair, author of 'Route 6: A Classic South Island Bike Ride'. We had been sending emails back and forth and I promised him a beer. And right on time, he showed up on this bike.

With author Roy Sinclair

The three of us walked to a place where we could sit outside and enjoy a beer or two. A kind of overcast day but the temperature was great. We ended up talking for hours about New Zealand, biking, travel, Japan and bikes. Roy was an interesting guy and was a wealth of information.