After my trip along the coast of California I was jazzed. I wanted to ride across the world if I could. I knew the next trip was going to be bigger. Longer, more miles; just bigger. Needing to save up some leave and money I set my sights on a winter trip to New Zealand. Far from home, a different country, and hopefully one grand adventure.
I had to make a few compromises on this trip. In order to make it as long as possible I scheduled it over the winter holidays. This meant I was giving up Christmas, when my family would usually all get together, and New Years. I also did not have a ton of money to spend. I was planning on being out there for 18 days. With plane tickets usually upwards of $2,000, my $3,500 budget was going to be stretched thin. I found what may have been the most absurd plane ticket I will ever buy. My flights included no less than three, eight hour layovers. I flew on Christmas Eve and landed on Christmas day. For this, I was able to travel, bike included, for only $1,300 dollars.
My first flight left out of Reagan National Airport just as the sun began to rise . A few hours later I landed in Houston. The sun had recently risen and it was a temperate day for a Marylander in December. I spent my 8 hour layover walking around the city and enjoying the sites. It was a fun city and I ate my body weight in tacos. The 2nd flight was a 15-hour red eye into Auckland. The New Zealand Air flight attendants walked around the entire flight handing out limitless Champagne to celebrate Christmas Eve – a perk that I did not expect when I booked my super cheap flight! I ate my dinner, had my fill of bubbly, and got a solid 10 hours of much needed sleep!
I landed in Auckland to my 3rd! sunrise of the trip so far. This time I only had a one hour layover and short hop to the South Island town of Queenstown. Upon landing in Queenstown, i grabbed my baggage and my bike and wheeled it outside. The sun was shining. The air was clear and a lovely 75 degrees. I was standing outside an airport putting a touring bike together after nearly 24 hours of travel and wondering what I had gotten myself into.
I cycled a few miles around the lake into town and to my Airbnb. After getting settled, I met up with a couple Americans I had met on Facebook. Gloria and Mike were on a trip together and driving across New Zealand. Luckily enough they landed in Queenstown when I was there. It was nice to land in a foreign country and meet some people I had talked to before. The three of us hung out, did some acro yoga, and got dinner. Before bed I got all my gear ready and then hit the sack. Tomorrow the real adventure would start.