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Edwins Bicycle Tour Downunder
Saturday, 5 February 2005
DISASTER. Dunedin to Beaumont (2), Wednesday 2nd February





Mercian Bicycle on its Sickbed undergoing Surgery



DISASTER. Dunedin to Beaumont (2), Wednesday 2nd February



We continued on the descent of the gravel road to Waihola on the main road. As we neared the bottom the road finally turned back to smooth tarmac. A mile further on and we came to a section of newly re-laid sticky tarmac with loose stone on top not yet bedded down.

As I cycled along everything suddenly seized up with a sickening crunch.It would appear that a stone sticky with tar had stuck to the chain as it went round and jammed in the gears and in the second before I stopped pedalling the force of the pedal revolution tore the gears off the gear hanger tearing out one of the jockey wheels.

Close examination revealed that the really serious damage was to the gear hanger which is part of the frame. This was badly bent and the circle of the gear hanger torn apart leaving options of either welding repairs or a new frame.

We were just into town and a few hundred yards from a cafe so we repaired there for lunch and to assess the position. Where we were now and for the next few days of the route was very much the back of beyond
so far as bike repair facilities were concerned so clearly I had to return to Dunedin for repairs.

We decided to split up. I passed the map and the paperwork for the accommodation to Martin. The plan was to meet up in a couple of days.

We checked into buses for getting me back to Dunedin but there was nothing until the evening so I decided to ring for a taxi which cost about 30 pounds. The bike was stuffed in the taxi boot. I dropped
luggage off at Hulmes Court B & B and then the taxi took me and bike round to the Cycle Surgery Bike Shop. They sent me round to a local steel fabricator, Nealsteel. The bike was put on its sick bed for a spot of welding while I waited and a charge made of 10NZ$ (4 pounds)

Back to Cycle Surgery and although full up with jobs they agreed to complete the repair for 4pm the next day. This will involve fitting a dropout support to replace the threads lost by the damage and the welding. They will also fit new gears by borrowing some from a bike as they do not hold the right type in stock.

There are no buses Thursday evening so I next booked a bus for first thing Friday morning from Dunedin to Cromwell arriving 11.30. On Friday Martin and Peter will be riding from Alexandra to Queenstown and should be in Cromwell for about 11s so I rang Peter at the Beaumont Hotel and arranged
to meet up at Cromwell.

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:43 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 5 February 2005 5:52 PM EADT
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Dunedin to Beaumont (1), Wednesday 2nd February








1)Brighton Beach

2)Sign for entering Brighton

3)Peter on the coast road









Following a route recommended by Pedallers Paradise we first rode along Stuart Street with a steep climb to 600 ft and then a long gentle descent down the Kaikorai Valley. After cycling under the motorway we took quiet roads on the coast to the south of Dunedin to the small seaside town of Brighton complete with Downland landscape inland. The town centre for this Brighton consisted of one shop.

We then continued on a beautiful coast road for another 10 miles with little traffic and mile after mile of empty white sand beaches pounded by the Pacific surf.

We turned inland at Taieri Mouth and as the road climbed to a vertical 17% it also turned to gravel and climbed on and on to eventually reach 1100ft. Peter must have looked to have needed it because a local offered him a lift to the top. Peter had doubts about the wisdom of this when it turned out that the affable driver was totally drunk and Peter had to hold the wheel for part of the way up.

From the top and on the descent there were great views of rolling downland which reminded Martin of Dorset.

Further on the descent we met the local who gave Peter a lift. He was driving back clutching the bottle of whiskey he had purchased in town. He stopped to chat and advised that our destination for the day wasn't worth going to with a lot of Billy Connelly phraseology thrown in.

See the next post for the rest of the day and some dramatic events.

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:10 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 5 February 2005 5:59 PM EADT
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Tuesday, 1 February 2005
Vertical Climbs. Tuesday 1 February.










1) Martin falling off

2) Edwin pretending to ride up

3) Houses on the climb

4) Martin on the early part of the climb







Today was a rest day in Dunedin. In the morning we had some retail therapy including some more film and camera batteries and the obligatory browsing of the local bike shops. Elevenses was at the railway cafe and outside we spotted a signpost for various places in the world including Portsmouth 14,502 kilometres away.

In the afternoon rode a short distance into the northern suburbs riding via the University and a walk in the Botanical Gardens to visit Baldwin Street the steepest street in the world.

A rest day in Dunedin was planned in any event to allow for any problems with the bus transfer from Christchurch. It was a bonus to be in Dunedin with bikes and time to spare and chance to visit a street with a gradient of 38%.

We turned into the street and I had no plans to go up any higher than the early slopes having no intention of falling off after recent incidents. Martin however went straight for it,
I took pictures while riding for a short time and then got off and ran behind. Martin rode about 80% of the way up and over most of the steepest part before stopping. When he tried to start again he fell off being unable to get out of his cleats in time.

We visited the tourist shop at the bottom and had a tea stop at the Botanical Gardens Tea Rooms.

Ride distance for the day was only 3 miles but for the first time ever my bike computer registered a gradient of 40%

remote Posted by Edwin at 8:17 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 February 2005 5:48 AM EADT
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Christchurch to Dunedin, Monday 31 January







1) Hulmes Court B & B

2) Taking the bikes off the bus at Dunedin




Today was the first of 2 rest days. To achieve our itinerary in the time and to avoid a long flat straight and busy road we took our bikes by bus
to Dunedin. The bus firm, Atomic Shuttles took bikes on a rack on the back and were able to take 2 per bus. We had booked 2 of us on the 8.00 am bus and the third on the afternoon bus. When we all 3 arrived the bus driver agreed to fit all three with some handlebar turning.

We arrived in Dunedin at 2.00 and had some time to spare to look around and update the blog website. We stayed at Hulmes Court B & B. Although at the top of a very steep hill this was a very good cyclists stop. Free guest laundry, free email access, good size rooms in an old house and very importantly free fruit and biscuits available any time and a large buffet breakfast

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:37 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 2 February 2005 5:50 AM EADT
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Hamner Springs to Christchurch. Sunday 30 January







1) Looking back up the pass towards Hanmer Springs

2) Amberley Tearooms




We got away at 8.30 with the help of a continental breakfast delivered to the room the previous evening.

Hamner Springs is on a 10K deadend side turn from the main road so we headed down this road first. The main road had some ups and downs but more downs as we gradually descended from 1300ft to sea level.

We made good time and stopped for elevenses at 11.00 for a change at some tearooms at Culverden. We then headed on along a road quite flat and straight through Balmoral Forest to stop for lunch at more tearooms in Waikari. We then had a climb of about 100ft to the Wepa Pass followed by a 600ft descent. On the descent we spotted the Wepa Pass Steam train
labouring up the hill.

We stopped for tea at Amberley Tearooms passing up the chance to visit Amberley beach due to lack of time.We arrived at our B & B near Christchurch City Centre at about 6.00 pm.

Distance for the day was 81.4 miles with 1049ft of climb 2106ft of descent. Our average speed was 11.2 mph and time riding was 7hrs 7mins.

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:28 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 February 2005 8:59 PM EADT
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Monday, 31 January 2005
Maruia Springs to Hamner Springs, Saturday 29 January.









1) Mossy woodland

2) View at our lunchbreak

3) Near the summit of Lewis Pass



For today's ride Peter was worried about the heat and the 900 metres Lewis Pass so he arranged to get a bus.

For Martin and I with a shorter than usual mileage we started the day with a soak in the hot pools and then elevenses at the hotel cafe. We bought supplies at the hotel as there was again nothing available on the route.

The climb to Lewis Pass at 902 metres wasn't too bad as we were already at 600 meters for our overnight stay. The scene was of remote mountains and forests and light traffic even on a main road.

The descent was one of the hardest I have experienced with a constant headwind and the road often climbed up and down the side of the valley.This was more than compensated for by the amazing scenery. See the pictures which are worth more than a thousand words.

The days mileage was 47.9 with 2870ft of climb of which 1870ft was on the descent from the pass. Average speed was 9.9 with riding time of hrs 43mins.

In the evening Martin and I tried a local remedy for our itches of a mixture of white vinegar and baby oil which had some limited effectiveness.

remote Posted by Edwin at 4:03 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 4:56 PM EADT
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Murchison to Maruia Springs, Friday 28 January.





Maruia Falls








We had a cooked breakfast delivered to our motel room at 7.30. Pedallers Paradise advised no facilities before our planned tea stop at Springs Juction so we stocked up at the Murchison Supermarket.

We headed south on route SH65 and stopped for an elevenses break at a scenic bridge where a side road crossed over the river. A few miles down the road we had another scenic stop at the Maruia Falls. This was formed only in 1929 when an earthquake diverted the river from its former course.

There was then a long gradual climb to Shenandoah Saddle where we stopped for lunch and waited for Peter.

Unfortunately we had now reached the realm of the Sandfly the serpent of the eden of the West Coast of South Island. These are like mosquitoes with teeth twice the size. They come out any time of day and laugh off most types of insect repellant.

Peter was feeling the heat which was again about 30C. By the time he arrived we were anxious to get away from the bites. Martin also needed to get to our nights accommodation early as he was meeting some friends who had moved to New Zealand. We agreed to meet up with Peter either at the Tea stop or at our destination.

The ride down from the pass was hard with many ups and downs and with the effects of the heat multiple cool drinks were needed at the Springs Junction Cafe.

With no sign of Peter we left a message with the cafe that we had gone on. Our destination was Maruia Springs Thermal Resort. This is about 10k up Lewis Pass but before the serious climbing starts.

Peter had an interesting story to tell when he arrived. On the ride from the pass to Springs Junction he found the heat was getting too much for him. He started talking to an elderly lady who was looking after some cows asking her if she knew of anybody who could give him a lift. She said she would do it herself except she couldn't be sure he was safe. Eventually she rang her daughter who told her that Peter sounded ok and to give him a lift. The bike just fitted in her car boot.

In the evening we relaxed away the aches of the day at the hotels geothermal hot pools.

The days ride was 60 miles with 2624ft of climb.Average speed was10.9 with 5hrs 24mins riding time.

remote Posted by Edwin at 3:30 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 5:00 PM EADT
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Nelson to Murchison,Thursday 27 January.










1) Martin on the road to Murchison

2) Spooners Saddle



For the Cycletourist needing an early start many New Zealand motels have the very useful facility that you can order a cooked or continental breakfast delivered to your room often as early as 7.15. We made use of this in Nelson.

Another useful facility is the guidebook Pedallers Paradise in 2 parts for North and South Island. This gives guides to routes including graphs of the climbs involved which Peter found useful to know and details of facilities on the route including shops and cafes.

The guide for todays route told us that after an elevenses break we were unlikley to find any food or water before our destination. We stocked up at a nearby Supermarket which was a Woolworths food store.

We headed south on route 6 with a stop for elevenses at a nice cafe in the small town of Wakefield. Soon after we started on the first serious climb of the day to 464 metres Spooners Saddle (pass) where we had our picnic lunch. There were fine views looking back along the valley
bounded by mountains to Nelson.

Temperatures were warming up by now. We were later to learn that in the inland area we were headed temperature during the day reached 34C.

After a short descent from Spooners Saddle we started a long gradual climb with a steep section over the last mile to the 635 metres Hope Saddle.

The last 20 miles seemed to drag. Eventually we got to our motel at about 8.30 pm.

Ride distance was 79 miles with 3464ft of climb. Our average speed was 9.8 and riding time was 7 hrs 52 mins.

remote Posted by Edwin at 3:16 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 4:38 PM EADT
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Picton to Nelson, Wednesday 26 January





Queen Charlotte Sound








Today's ride was very scenic riding on Queen Charlotte Drive alongside Queen Charlotte Sound with views like that of a Norwegian Fjord.

We stopped for elevenses at a cafe at Ngakuta Bay and then lunch at a Marina Cafe in the small town of Havelock. We stopped for a tea break at a cafe in the small town of Rai Valley before tackling the climb to 247 metres Rai Saddle. This was followed by a short descent and then the climb to the 357 metres Whangamoa saddle.

By the time we rolled down to the coast of the Tasman Bay we were running quite late and arrived at our motel in Nelson at 8.30pm.

During the day we completed 69 miles with 3421ft of climb at an average speed of 10.6 and time riding of 6hrs 22mins.

remote Posted by Edwin at 3:04 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 4:27 PM EADT
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Wellington to Picton, Tuesday 25 January






1) Leaving Wellington

2) Queen Charlotte Sound






Today we were due to catch the Interislandline ferry from Wellington to Picton on the north coast of South Island at 3.30 so we had some time to spend looking round Wellington.

A little crisis developed first thing as I realised I had left my small Pentax Digital Camera on the train possibly in the seat pocket. After a few phone calls to the lost property department and some checks were made it was established that the Camera had not been found during cleaning and the train had left a few hours before as the morning train to Auckland. The guard checked the train but there was no trace of the camera. We went to the Station and picked up confirmation that the loss had been reported for Insurance purposes.

Some retail therapy followed to find me a new camera and Martin some new cycling sunglasses from a bike shop as he had left his old ones in a taxi back in Hamilton.

The bike shop recommended a good local camera shop and I picked up a 5 megapixel Samsung Digimax V50 for 700 nz$ or 280 pounds.

In the afternoon we caught the Interislander catamaran ferry to Picton. There were great views as the ferry made its way into Queen Charlotte Sound

In the evening Martin asked me to help him organise the booking over the Internet of a bungi jump in Queenstown. This is the first time a Tour member has asked me to organise his suicide. The fateful day is fixed for the 5 February from the original Bungi Jump bridge at Queenstown. Watch this space!!

remote Posted by Edwin at 1:29 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 1:42 PM EADT
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Saturday, 29 January 2005
Hamilton to Wellington, Monday 24 January




For today we were taking our bikes by train from Hamilton in the north of North Island to Wellington in the south ready to start our exploration of South Island. We took the Tranz Scenic Overlander train which is one of only 2 a day.

The object of these trains is to view the scenery as much as transport with frequent stops and long hauls up the many hills with scenic commentary. The 400 mile trip took 10 hours.

Bike arrangements were quite good with the bikes pre-booked and we put them in the luggage van.

The train journey included a famous spiral where the line curves round on itself to gain altitude.

We got into Wellington about 9.15pm as the train was running an hour late due to speed restrictions on the line

remote Posted by Edwin at 6:29 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 29 January 2005 8:19 PM EADT
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Tuesday, 25 January 2005
Rotorua to Hamilton,Sunday 23 January








Today we were due to get the bus back to Hamilton at 5.15 p.m. so we had the day to explore the thermal sights of the Rotorua area. Many of the best sites are some distance out so we took a prebooked half day minibus trip with Elite Adventures.

This was very good with Ben our Mauri driver and guide giving us all the local information and only us and an American couple in the group.

We started with the Wai-o- Tapu Thermal reserve with bubbling hot mud pools and multicoloured thermal pools. We then headed on to the Waimangu Vocanic valley to view more multi coloured hot pools among lush tropical vegetation.

We returned to Hamilton by bus and enjoyed an all you can eat 3 course buffet at a restaurant in the evening for 19NZ$ (about 9 pounds) With a lack of cycling miles we couldn't do this justice but managed 2 deserts

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:35 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:07 PM EADT
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Hamilton to Rotorua , Saturday 22 January






After some hard days of riding we now had some days off the bike to recuperate and get a trip to the thermal area of Rotorua into the itinerary. We left the bikes and half the luggage at the hotel in Hamilton. They had agreed to keep them until our return to them on Sunday.

We caught an intercity bus to Rotorua arriving at 12.00. In the afternoon we took a taxi to the outskirts of town and explored the Mauri Arts and crafts centre and Whangamata thermal area.

The day was rounded off by a soak in the motels swimming pool heated to 32C by thermal water.

remote Posted by Edwin at 5:21 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:23 PM EADT
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Whangamata to Hamilton, Friday 21 January






This was again a long days ride so we started early at 8.00. The main climb of the day was to 774 ft and then down to the town of Waihi for elevenses. We continued down the scenic Karangahake George to stop for lunch at the town of Paeroa.

The afternoon was notable for some pan flat dead straight roads which I personally found more tiring than the hills. One road left Peroa and continued flat and without a bend for about 7 miles.

We arrived in Hamilton for 7.30pm to complete 80.1 miles with 2227 ft of climbing at an average speed of 9.8mph






remote Posted by Edwin at 4:39 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:11 PM EADT
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Coromandel to Wangamata,Thursday 20 January




Lush Forest of a Kwi Reserve north of Tairua





Today was to be our hardest of the trip to date save for the ride into the high Andes. The days route was 79 miles with numerous climbs. We started early leaving the Motel at 8.00am. As we left Coromandel we started straight up the highest and steepest climb on the Peninsula up Wangapoura Hill.

As we climbed the hill my Cyclo Bike computer with altitude and gradient functions showed gradients of between 10 and 12% for the 2 mile climb. For those living in West Sussex this was like climbing about 6 Duncton hills in succession.

At the top of the climb at 1200ft we met 2 local cyclists on superlight bikes who were amazed at the weight carried on our bikes. They gave us the encouraging news that the route we planned was "a pig of a ride" and one of the toughest in New Zealand.

After many small ups and downs and a big one to 700ft we stopped for lunch at a cafe in Whitianga.

After lunch we rode alongside Mercury Bay Harbour and then many more small ups and downs and a big climb before stopping for a break at Tairua. One last big climb followed to get us to our Motel at 8.30pm over 12 hours after departing.

When we got to the Motel room Peter fell onto a bed and went immediately to sleep. The Motel owner was very helpful and offered to pick up Pizzas for us.

79 miles for the day with 4700ft of climbing and an average speed of 9.1mph and riding time of 8 hours 20 minutes.

remote Posted by Edwin at 4:33 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:29 PM EADT
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Sunday, 23 January 2005
Coromandel to Colville, Wednesday 19 January




Breakfast in Coromandel





We were staying 2 nights in Coromandel so today was an out and back ride without panniers north up the peninsula to Colville.

We stocked up with a Cafe breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup and cream. The ride was only 30 miles total but involved 3 climbs each way of between 4 and 600ft. We headed north along the coast with more great scenic coast views.

The tarmac dead-ends at Colville so the landscape became more remote as we went further north. The last of the climbs was the best with views from the top looking like the lost world of Jurassic Park.

One notable thing about the landscape of the northern part of North Island is the mixture of temperate and tropical vegetation and this was very notable in the remote parts of the Coromandel with many types of fern growing.

Martin had problems with his gears on the return ride. On return to base a visit was made to the local lawnmower seller who also knew a little about bikes. The problem was found to be a stone picked up from new gravel on the road and lodged in the derailler

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:15 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 January 2005 8:31 PM EADT
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Saturday, 22 January 2005
Thames to Coromandel









1) Martin and Peter on the coast road

2) Martin's Bike and ferns

3) New Zealand sheep on pass


Tuesday 18th January



The first few hours of Tuesday there was drizzle and showery rain and as we had a very short mileage day we repaired to an internet cafe for some surfing followed by a short walk to a cafe for elevenses.

The skies soon cleared to bring another sunny day with temperature about 23C. The route from Thames to Coromandel was very scenic with the road running next to a turquoise blue sea to our left and the rolling
green hills of the Coromandel range to our right.

We stopped for lunch at some tea rooms in Tapu on the coast. In the afternoon there were two moderate climbs, one to 741ft and the other up to 550ft. Although Peter walked up these hills Martin and I didn't find it a problem only having to wait 15 to 20 minutes and with more time to admire the views. On arrival at the motel in Coromandel we made use of the Spa Bath to relax.

33.5 miles for the day and 1538 feet of climbing. Average speed 10.5.

remote Posted by Edwin at 8:50 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 23 January 2005 1:46 PM EADT
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Auckland to Thames



Martin on the road to Thames


Monday 17 January





We looked forward to today with a little trepidation as our first day riding with loaded panniers.

I had heard that we could get out of the urban area by using the Auckland suburban rail network. We headed to the Britomart Transport Centre near the ferries and took a lift with the bikes underground to a gleaming trains terminal. There were a few last minute platform changes but we did notice that the the train operator had just changed to Internationally renowned company Connex!!

The bike arrangements were good with a bike sign on a carriage and 2 rows of tip up seats. We took a train about 40 miles south to Pukekohe and then south on a minor road to stop for elevenses at a cafe in the small town of Tuakau. We went on to join the busy route 2 but this had a good hard shoulder. We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Mangatawhiri and
then joined a quiet minor road towards Miranda on the coast.

Martin and I stopped at the top to take pictures of the view down to the coast while Peter continued on down. A local pulled up in a pickup and we got into conversation about our trip. We told him we would be cycling up the Coromandel Peninsula. He asked if we had anything between our ears and Martin answered no. We debated whether to tell Peter that the next few days might be hard but in the end did so.

We stopped at a cafe in Waitakararuru and then a flat ride to Thames a small town at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. 53 miles for the day and 1276ft of climbing at an average speed of 10 mph

remote Posted by Edwin at 8:36 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 22 January 2005 6:03 PM EADT
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Thursday, 20 January 2005
Blog Fault
Now Sorted

Edwin

Posted by Edwin at 8:40 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 22 January 2005 6:05 PM EADT
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Wednesday, 19 January 2005
Auckland - Sunday 16 January




1) Palm Beach, Waiheke Island

2) Dinner at the Sky Tower







Today we took our bikes by fast Catamaran ferry to the scenic Island of Waiheke about 20 miles off the eastern side of Auckland bay.

We had arrived in New Zealand just after the end of a long wet spell and the day again dawned bright and sunny with temperatures up to 23C.

The ferry ride was very similar to the ride to the Isle of Wight with the harbour full of boats and yachts.

Waiheke island is a similar size to the Isle of Wight with many hills and scenic coves and beaches. We rode just 8 miles via Blackpool and Ostend to stop for a few hours sunbathing on Onetangi beach and lunch at a cafe. We returned on a scenic hilly route via Palm Beach.

In the evening we headed to the Skytower for our prebooked evening meal at 196 meters. Considering the location the cost of this was very reasonable working out at about 20 pounds for an all you can eat buffet of which we took full advantage.

Although we only spent a few days in Auckland we were all very impressed by how clean and pleasant the City Centre is.





remote Posted by Edwin at 4:49 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 January 2005 8:16 AM EADT
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