In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

Blown off Course

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From:       Kirstie, Stuart, Matthew and Cameron
Subject:   Blown Off Course
  Date:         24th November 2004                             Km: 280
     Manapouri, Fjordland, New Zealand


Kirstie spent her 37th birthday in New Zealand's newest National Park, Rakiura on Stewart Island. Cameron seemed very pleased that Daddy had an island but was less than impressed by the climate which delivered on its' promise of four seasons in one day. Stewart Island is a small, isolated island community with nothing beyond but Antarctica and little to do but enjoy the view and keep your eyes open for rare legless wingless birds.

Despite the weather some of us dipped our toes in the South Pacific.

Back on the mainland, the prevailing winds in Southland are North Westerlies or South Westerlies, seemingly dependent upon our direction of travel. While the wind may be new to us, long standing inhabitants have been sculpted by its relentless force and learnt to bend in the direction of least resistance. We are still learning and have struggled to carve a route through the coastal settlements that lead towards Fjordland. This area has bred many sheep shearing world record breakers and there's plenty for them to practice on. New Zealand gave birth to some 6.3 million lambs this season. Matthew is practising his counting.

Shaped by the wind

There have been moments each day when we've discussed whether to stop or push on.........

'Bugger this, let's turn around and head for that tea shop..'

... but our pace is being dictated not just by the wind but by a doctor's appointment in Te Anau, where the children need a top-up of Hepatitus B on the 26th November. So, we've not been able to follow the recommended treatment for wind - rest and wait for a change of direction. We've had to push on. The relentless wind saps our spirit, speed and mileage. And with the weight of the children our speed is not much to start with. But our celebrity status is a blessing as locals rush out to check if we are 'the mad English family in the paper' and nourish us with tea and cake.

But being blown off course leads you to unexpected people and places; this is the essence of adventure travel. One stormy night at the foot of the Takitimu mountains, we found shelter at the Te Waiau Mahika Kai Trust, a Maori ecological and cultural restoration project. As well as a warm bed we began to learn a little about Maori principles while the children finally found a use for the wind - flying kites.

A tibetan hat meeting is convened to chant nursery rhymes that ward off the wind



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