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We came to New Zealand for the first time in 2003 with our friend Xavi. That time we wanted to cover so much ground that we ended up carrying the bike on the bus too much. This time since we only have a couple of weeks, we have reduced our area around Queenstown. These are the stories of these second mini-tour.

Riding towards Sylvan campground

Flying to New Zealand on a ticket bought with miles only a couple of weeks in advance may be cheap but not fast. From San Diego to LA, then 14-hour flight to Sidney. After 9 hours of layover, another plane to Christchurch, the only destination in the South Island we could buy with miles. The plan is to land in Christchurch at 11:55 PM, rent a car and drive to Queenstown on the wrong side of the road. Then re-assemble the bikes, buy food, get the permits for the Routeburn track and leave the town on that same day for a 75 Km ride. Seems the most efficient way to use our few days in Kiwiland but it also looks like a stretch. We’ll see how that goes…

The general route consists of one day riding till the beginning of the Routeburn track where a local outfitter will take our bikes and transport them to the end of the track a couple of days later. Then ride again along the Te Anau and Manapouri Lakes. In Manapouri, we will rent a kayak and paddle to the West Arm of the lake. If we survive that challenge (I mean, they only have double kayaks for rent), we may consider coming back to Manapouri riding the infamous Percy Pass and Borland Road. The final stretch follows the Marova Lakes road till the ferry that will cross us back to Queenstown.

As a warning for the formalities, according to the Qantas agents in LAX, if you have a layover longer than 8 hours in Australia, you need a transit VISA. If you don’t have the VISA you are not embarking the plane. They charge you $50 at the gate but probably you can get it for free from the Australian government a few days in advance. After complaining at the gate for a while they let us go in. We will never know if we got the VISA electronically in our passports or they just let us go in. Once in Sidney we didn’t try to go out of the transit zone and nobody asked for the VISA.

Routes in chronological order:

Glenorchy Road

Routeburn Track

Percy Saddle and Borland Road

Kayaking in Lake Manapouri

Mavora Lakes Road

Gibbston Valley bike path