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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend In New Zealand

I’ve been down in Auckland, New Zealand for a few days now for what is about 10 days of a work trip here.  But this past weekend I was able to enjoy what has been some rather nice weather during what is early spring down here.  Here’s what I was up to!

1) Friday Night Sunset Ride

After wrapping up a day of work, I returned to the hotel to find my bike had finally decided to join me in New Zealand.  It went off on its own adventure at some point during the four flights I took to get to Auckland.  Thankfully, it arrived unharmed and ready to roll.

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Well, almost ready to roll.  I had to unpack it and build it up – which is a pretty quick affair.  With that completed I figured a 45-60 minute test ride would be good to ensure the bike worked reasonably well.

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And, for the most part, that was the case.  A few minor tweaks along the way but pretty much good to go.  At my turnaround point I stopped to snap a pic with the city off in the background.

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Beautiful evening for it, especially leading into what was a long holiday weekend in New Zealand (though, not for me unfortunately).

2) A black sand & rain forest dune trail run

I got up reasonably early on Saturday and headed out to the west coast to get in a run.  I figured a trail run would be most appropriate here, given it’s way easier to do so in New Zealand than it is in Paris.  Further, the options and scenery are just more awesome.

A DCR reader had suggested looking into some of the routes that form a trail race that comes up here shortly, which has distances from 6K to marathon lengths.  So I used those routes as my starting point.  Or, at least, that was my plan.  Ultimately I ended up on totally different trails.  My trail was cooler though, it had black sand dunes.  Really big sand dunes!

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It also had lakes, rivers, and rainforest mountains in it.

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And a nasty steep climb that I (very slowly) went up and back down again.  Below, the elevation profile:

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After descending I headed out to the ocean to do a loop on flatter ground before wrapping up the run.

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It’s been a while since I got in a good ‘legit’ trail run – so my legs are feeling it in all sorts of unusual places today.  Working a wide assortment of little muscles you don’t quite hit on regular road running.

3) More messing around with the GoPro Hero4’s

I continue to chug along towards my review of the slew of 2014 GoPro’s, including the Hero4 Black, Hero4 Silver, and Hero Base.

I’ve been mostly riding with the Hero4 Silver, running with the Hero Base, and then swimming and flying with the Hero4 Black.  Yes, flying.  Or at least, the camera was flying.

I took my DJI Phantom 2 down to New Zealand with me.  It easily fits in a nifty little backpack I got for it, which in turn fits into my checked luggage bag.

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All safe and sound.  Well, at least until it tipped over sitting on a log into the black sand of one of New Zealand’s beaches (seriously, it wasn’t even powered on yet!).  Turns out black sand is increda-magnetic, which then led me on a multi-hour cluster to figure out how to get it out of the insides of the motors (since it doesn’t just wipe/blow away).

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It took a trip to the hardware store where I went all MacGyver on it with some putty (aka play dough), cleansing wipes, and a bunch of other random stuff to get it all out.  A lot of cleaning later, both motors that had hit the sand were all cleaned up – ready to go again.

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Over the course of the weekend I got a number of sweet shots in locales with nobody around.  Thankfully, there’s many such locales in this country.

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Well, except me, I suppose I’m around:

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I’ll likely pull all the footage together and upload it as part of my Hero4 review.  Most of this is much cooler looking in video being on a gimbal and super smooth action just over ridge tops, waves, and beaches.

Update: Here’s one of the videos I shot at the black sands beach.  Enjoy!

4) A drive around the Coromandel Peninsula

I’ll just mention that in addition to everything else, on Sunday I did a drive around the Coromandel peninsula.

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One big ole loop, ultimately culminating in my next activity where I went for a bike ride (below).

5) A bike ride finishing with a ferry boat ride

After many hours of driving I found the perfect spot to start my ride.  I’d been trying to find a route that was a bit of a loop, but not on roads that were too busy or too twisty (blind turns for drivers).  Turns out that Whitianga was perfect though.  I would be able to park my rental car near a small passenger ferry dock and then do a 26 mile loop that would end up finishing about 100 meters away from my starting point.  Albeit, separated by a watery channel requiring a ferry boat.  But that was fine!

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My ride was nice and scenic, though incredibly windy.  The majority of the wind I found in the form of a head wind, but I did get a few sections as a tail wind – which brought me up to a nice 30MPH cruise on flat ground at some points.

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That said, by time I reached the ferry I was more than happy to stop riding into the wind:

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This would also be the second test ride of the Verve Infocrank system, which I installed before I left for the trip.

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While I haven’t yet dug into the data (which is what matters), a cursory look at the 10s and 30s numbers during the ride against other power meters on the bike seems to correlate well, so that’s a good start.

I was also trying out SmartBeam’s new dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart helmet with an optical HR sensor in it.  You’ll remember I reviewed their ANT+ variant this past spring (and thought it performed very well).  This new version simply concurrently transmits ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart.

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Like its predecessor, I didn’t see any obvious issues with the unit at this point in using it, though, I was only recording the ANT+ channel during this ride.  Next time I’ll add in the BLE channel to the WASP App to record.

Post ride I merely had a 2-3 hour drive to get back to Auckland.  Of course, I had to stop for cows along the way.  It seems to be a recurring theme for me.

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Unfortunately, darkness eventually took over  – blacking out the incredible landscape.  Another day I suppose…

With that, thanks for reading!

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51 Comments

  1. LEO

    bravo and very lucky boy to be there!!!
    can you please share the data of your trail run (garmin connect) i’ve seen you wear the 920 ? any comparison with other watch?
    thank you and happy trail,ride,swim in NZ

    • Yup, FR920XT run data here:

      Garmin Connect: link to connect.garmin.com
      Strava: link to strava.com

      I was also wearing a Suunto Ambit3 and Bia watch as well. The Ambit3 ended within .03-miles for the run I believe (don’t have the pic handy at the moment).

    • Jono

      You make your own luck, I reckon. I was in NZ for 3 months and only got out adventuring on the first weekend.

    • LEO

      thankyou and gohead testing!!
      i’m very very waiting the in in in depth rewiew of fr920xt

    • Bob Croucher

      Hey Ray,

      Another awesome post, and trip. You lead a pretty lucky life, which I’m sure you already realize.

      I have recently been taking multiple devices with me during some bike workouts. Currently a Fenix2 and an Edge 800. One problem, that you likely have in spades, is how do you keep your workout totals right in Training Peaks, so that the workout doesn’t get counted multiple times? For now, I’ve just been deleting one, but for triathlons, I’d prefer to keep both files around. Do you have a crafty solution? It seems like they could add a field to not include the workout in the totals, but I haven’t seen that.

      -Bob

    • I just do the same actually – I simply delete out one of them, or, rather in my case – about four of them. :)

  2. Keith

    Hi Ray, great that you got to see so much of Auckland and the countryside over the weekend. If you’re still in NZ on Saturday 1st November and want a hard workout to really test your body before you have to get back onto a plane for your long-haul flight home, there is a bike ride around the Coromandel Peninsula called the K2 which is the toughest one day cycle challenge in the Southern Hemisphere. link to arcevents.co.nz.
    Cheers Keith

    • Funny, I saw a gazillion signs yesterday for that on the route I was driving (I actually drove the entire course). Well, not signs, but rather cool bike structures – just like those seen on the roads during the TdF.

      Unfortunately*, I’m leaving Friday. :(

      (*By unfortunately, I mean, thank god – as I’m pretty sure I’d die doing that route)

  3. Daniel

    Hi Ray,

    nice Trip Report. New Zealand must be fantastic. Seen any Hobbits?
    By the way: new bike?

    • Sad Fact: I’ve never seen Lord of the Rings.

      Yup, new bike. I got it at Interbike this past year, got a pretty good deal on it from a local bike shop there. I needed to expand the number of bikes I had due to power meter testing and not wanting to constantly swap power meters mid-test.

  4. Hey Ray

    Welcome to NZ! If you’re staying in the city and fancy a run to blow the cobwebs out there’s a decent 5k’er in the viaduct harbour tomorrow night.

    link to runningcalendar.co.nz

    Cheers!

  5. Daniel

    ‘I needed to expand the number of bikes I had due to power meter testing and not wanting to constantly swap power meters mid-test.”

    That is a good a reason to get a new bike(s).

    • Scott

      Always nice to get a new bike:

      I’m sure we all appreciate Velomonati Rule #12// The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

      While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

  6. Carl

    Fantastic to see my home town featured, Tamaki Drive, Bethells Beach & lakes.
    I’m one of the crazy ones doing the K2 next week.

  7. Jamie

    Just another day in the office :o) nice.

  8. David Manley

    Loved the month I spent in NZ. Fantastic country.

  9. Navnit Ranjan

    Interesting one, wish you great time in NZ!

  10. Stunning scenery!

    1. I am shocked that with all the travelling you do, you’ve not seen Lord of the Rings! Get it on an iPad and watch it on a plane!!!

    2. When did you get the Giant bike? I assume it’s less scary to travel round the world with you than your Cervelo?

    • I picked it up back at Interbike from a LBS nearby. It’s a bit easier to pack up than the Cervelo simply due to lack of aerobars poking around. Plus, it blends in a little bit better.

  11. Simon

    Hi Ray, I’m really looking forward to your go-pro review. I am currently weighing up whether to pick up a (cheapish) end of line hero 3+ black or spend the extra for a hero 4 black

    • If choosing between those two versions, it honestly comes down to one single item: Do you care about 4K footage?

      If not, I’d go with the Hero3+ Black and keep the battery life that you lose on the Hero4.

      It’s somewhat quirky in that I’m shooting all this great aerial 4K footage for what (if the weather the next few days cooperates) should be a cool little video…but, I can’t actually view it in its full quality on my laptop, or even any monitor/TV I own.

    • When you do end up in the market, the Dell 24″ 4K UP2414Q is exceptional, and I believe ~US$800. I have one.

  12. alainquimarche

    Thank you for those marvelous pictures of a place where i will hardly go. You should write tourist guides :)

  13. Dan

    With the Virb Eite down to $255-ish on Amazon, l’d like to know how it compares to the new GoPro’s.

    I don’t care about the 4k capability because I have no playback method.

    Primarily, I will be using the camera for cycling and a bit of running and hiking.

    Should I jump on the reduced price Elite, wait for an updated Virb, get one of the new GoPro models, or consider something else?

    Thanks, Ray!

    • At $255 it’s a very solid deal. In general my guidance is that the VIRB cameras are far more functional and capable than the GoPro’s, whereas the GoPro’s win at the very high end on resolution (i.e. 2.7K/4K) and on size/weight. If those features don’t matter to you, the VIRB tends to be better.

  14. Matt Clausen

    What’s the reason for the dropouts on your run data (pace)? Were those stops that you made along the way?

  15. Kyle

    With the purchase of a new bike sounds like it’s time for a 2014 “Gear I Use” column…

  16. Wilson

    Hey, I saw one of your pictures seems like a bike bag. Are you going to write a post about bike bag review and how you transport your bike with airlines?

    • Scott E

      I was just thinking a couple days ago about digging around DCR to find out how in the heck you travel with so much gear – specifically the bike as my cardboard box approach s*cks pretty bad – hint, cardboard is good for about three cycles of airport handling.

      Then gasped when you dropped in the added drone to the travel kit – most awesome pictures – but then was conflicted with either laughing about “breaking it in” with a sand dunk, or feeling kind of bad having the cluster to clean it up and putting the activity schedule off track.

      Question, any hints here at DCR as to how to get the kinks out after long airplane flights? At 6′ feet tall the seats makes it difficult at best to transition to biking. Looks like you are taller than that, and can only image the challenge of a 10 hour plus flight.

    • Yeah, the sand dunk put a solid dent in my schedule that day (as well as potential footage captured at high tide). But, I suppose at least I got it back in the air versus being a write-off for the whole trip, since I have other cool places to go after NZ.

      I often try and aim for a 40 minute workout post flight. Usually a run since I don’t often travel with a bike unless I’m in a single locale 7+ days (or in a locale that’s just awesome for riding).

  17. Hi!
    Are you staying for Auckland Marathon or leaving NZ soon?

  18. Trish

    Glad you got to experience a bit of our beautiful country….there is so much more here so plan a trip with your wife and visit the south as well.

  19. Mark Kline

    I think NZ is the most fabulous country!

  20. Scitt Paul Roberts

    Enter that 5k race in New Zealand. What a cool bib to keep!
    Your followers will virtually cheer for you.
    What time should I ring my cow bell ( East Coast, USA) for the 6pm start in Auckland?

  21. MAGNUS

    Great trip report… I can’t imagine what it would be like to be able to travel so much to the places you travel to… So awesome.

    Looking forward to the GoPro review. And the pics/vids.

  22. Francis C

    That’s a beautiful country. Wow! You’ve solidified NZ as one of my bucketlist countries to visit. The sand dunes look like an awesome training ground. Can’t wait for your 920XT review. There’s a 5-8 week processing wait for it now. Looks like I won’t have it in my hands until January 2015. Hope they get that wait time lowered somehow.

  23. Adam H

    Hey man, great post.
    Moving to NZ at the end of next year, my mum lives in Cambridge near the new Avanti Drome, so I’m looking forward to some serious cycling and building up some roadie contacts over there in the years ahead.
    What did you feel the roads were like over there for cycling, being from the uk I struggle dealing with too many idiots in cars, poor quality roads, wet, slippery surfaces etc. I toured NZ for two months Dec / Jan just gone but by camper van, not always the best way to judge what its gonna be like, far quieter than uk tho!

    • The road vary. For in the city it was great, but the loop ride had the funky pavement that was non-stop vibration. But, driver was I haven’t had any issues (and certainly better than UK drivers vs bikes from my experience).

  24. Jeff

    “New Zealand”?! Never heared! Do you mean “New Zooland”?!

  25. Lori

    wow, like I really love reading about what a perfect life you have not doing anything but traveling and making money promoting overly priced gizmos that are totally unnecessary. btw, how much CO2 are you emitting from all that jet fuel you use?

    • Umm, you know that I have a full time job right (that has nothing to do with cycling)? I travel for my job, I just do what they tell me.

    • Scott

      I am impressed with how much you do get done with the site while also having a full time job.

      Thanks for all the reviews of “overly priced gizmos” that you do create. Definitely appreciated.

  26. Roo

    Sounds Great fun – I’m off for a month in December