Up early to pack this morning. The tricky part of today's trip is that the buses are not supposed to allow more than one oversize bag onto the bus. I am traveling with a bike in a box, a bike trailer, and two panniers.
My poor bike, crammed into the best modified bike box that can be found in a Kerikeri dumpster.
So it is with some trepidation that we all pack into the SUV and head for the bus. If all else fails, Nick and Sara will send the bike via courier to the bike shop.
However, with the usual New Zealand aplomb, the busdriver makes it happen (for an additional NZ$15 tacked on to the NZ$54 bus fare). No problems.
I say my final farewell to everyone and jump on.
Nick, Sally, and Jon as seen from the bus seat.
The ride is actually very placid. We follow the route I was GOING to bicycle, and overlap on some areas I had already bicycled. It feels so much easier on the bus. A couple of the hills I remember struggling to get up, and the bus barely wheezes as it downshifts. I spend my time reading, mostly. A stop around noon for lunch, then on to the Albany bus stop, which we arrive at at 1:30PM.
This is the bus station. It fits the old adage about being so clean you can eat off the floors.
I end up having to call a cab given all my stuff - the city buses will not take it all. No big. We (the cab driver and I) manage to shoehorn all of this stuff in the car and we make it to the Avanti Plus North Shore bike shop.
I meet personally the guy whom I have been e-mailing about this, a young man named Sam. Extremely nice, he has been bike touring recently in the same area I just came from (in the Kauri forests). Very helpful.
It looks like the guy I need to talk to, Richard, is not in today, but we get the basics down. They may be able to get a "warranty frame" brought in, otherwise they will have to order a whole new bike just for the frame and derailleur. The frame definitely needs to be replaced, unfortunately, as where the carbon fiber is broken is just under a Zertz insert (gel insert to help with vibration) and a repair won't be strong enough, especially with touring.
The good news is that I have USAA renter's insurance, which should cover this after my $250 deductible.
As I start heading to my motel (had to go motel as there is not a campground anywhere close to the bike shop), Sam stops me. "Hey, my mom is coming by, she should be able to give you a ride."
Yet again, New Zealand hospitality paves the way. Sure enough, after about 15 minutes, I am introduced to a very pleasant lady who doesn't know me from Adam. She very kindly drives me to the Poenamo Village Hotel a few miles away.
I managed (through Nick's internet hotel wizardry) to get a particularly low rate, NZ$99 per night (much better than the average NZ$150 per night). That's only about US$60. The hotel is clean, has a pool and hot tub, TV, and wireless internet. I am living the dream.
Tonight just feels like a pizza night, so I spend a couple of hours figuring out how to get the right pizza place to deliver to the right address. I tried Domino's Pizza online, but it managed to connect it up to a pizza delivery place in the South Island, which led to a very confused call on how to get to the hotel.
I get my e-mails updated and take a little walk. Watch a movie and then to bed. I have to call USAA and Richard (the guy at the bike shop) tomorrow. Hopefully I can get things arranged in just a few days, but if it is going to be longer, will have to consider renting a car to go to Taupo for awhile. They have blackwater rafting between here and there - sounds like fun.
Oh, one last thing - As a last act of kindness (as if they hadn't already done enough!), Sara and Nick sent me away with a cell phone they don't use anymore. They let people borrow it and then just send it back when they are done with it. It's pay-as-you-go, so I can just add minutes to it when needed.
Thanks again, Hampsons!