My Mum and I have that kind of relationship where a single glance can result in an uncontrollable fit of giggles. Now picture, if you can, this coupled with the two of us riding a tandem. Using your vivid imagination, add to this the fact that we were cycling on a path dotted with wineries. Cycling is thirsty work, however riding around the New Zealand countryside on a tandem requires a slightly stronger form of refreshment. Needless to say, our efforts improved after each and every stop.
It all started last year in Australia; we were determined to find a tandem and give it a go. Despite our many phone calls, internet searches, and inquiries, our efforts were fruitless. This year, on Mum and Dad’s visit to New Zealand, we were not to be thwarted. Just when we thought we would never find that mythical two seated bicycle, we happened to stumble upon one when walking through the cute little village of Arrowtown. It was an opportunity we were not about to pass up.
The following morning when we pulled up at 9am to begin our rental, the whole thing still seemed like a wonderful idea. That is until we actually mounted said bicycle, and the fact that I am mortally terrified of cycling downhill came back to me. We were then faced with the issue of our height. As anyone who knows us could tell you, Mum and I are both somewhat vertically challenged. When asked who of the two of us is taller, we could only reply that we are the exact same height. The same went for our weight. From the toss of a coin, it was decided that I would be the driver.
Not actually being able to touch the ground proved to be only a minor issue, and it only took a short while of stopping and starting, riding into banks, hysterical laughter, a few tears, and plenty of screaming (on my behalf) until we were cycling along past the breathtaking scenery like pros. We were rather proud of our stopping and starting abilities by the time we hit the first winery! It could only get better from here.
We kicked off with a quick coffee break at the A.J.Hackett bungy bridge, and reminisced about Dad doing a bungy jump there 22 years ago. Watched a few jumps, then continued on, following the Kawarau River, to our first winery.
Gibbston Valley Wines. Here you can taste three wines for $5, or opt to choose from a different tasting menu. With plenty of stops still ahead of us, we opted to stick with three only (although the sommelier sneaked in a cheeky fourth for us). There is also a cheese shop to pop into for a few tasters there before hitting the road again.
Next we were off to Gibbston Tavern (delicious wood-fired pizza and cold beer), and finally to Kinross Cottages for a final tasting (oh, and a very special gin and tonic, and a scrummy coffee stout!) where the pain in my backside became too great for me to even consider getting back on that bike.
Luckily, the bike rental operation offered a pick-up service – which we gladly trumped up the cash for.
All I can say is, it was a bike ride I certainly won’t forget anytime soon (my bum remembered it vividly for at least a week!) The combination of great company, the occasional hairy moment, lots of laughter, wine, and the incredible landscapes that are so unique to New Zealand made for an exceptional day out. If you wish to challenge your relationship, and team-building skills – may I recommend a ride on a tandem. As it goes, I think Mum and I passed with flying colours!