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19.04.2020 From lockdown to quarantine. We are back home, and it has been almost a week since we arrived. What felt rather surreal in the beginning is now the new normal: We can follow the development of the global pandemic from the shelter of our own home – and, by the way, from there only. Due to a policy introduced only recently in our federal state, we have to stay home 24/7 for two weeks after our arrival. It is very similar to what we did in New Zealand before leaving, minus the occasional trips to the supermarket or around the block that we could go on once in a while, because now we are supposed to isolate ourselves at home at all times. Thank God there are friends and family members nearby to leave groceries and puzzles on the stairs outside our flat. Or the occasional bunch of flowers and cake, for it was Addy's birthday only two days after our  return. We would have loved to celebrate it in New Zealand, somewhere on the road – but we made it an okay day anyway. We really miss Paul's garden, as the weather is upsettingly perfect right now but we can only enjoy the warm spring sun from our tiny balcony. There are many not-terribly-exciting things to do in the study, like paperwork and general decluttering, and we also fill our days with phone and video calls, some indoor yoga and, of course, cooking. We turned our bathroom into a hairdresser's for an afternoon, and there is of course our bike workshop in the basement. Elfi and Alter Falter have been reassembled, and are now dreaming of better times, or an exciting future trip to the supermarket maybe. #scoutbound #schrozberg #quarantine #cycling #covid_19 #corona #stayhome

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12.04.2020 Leaving on a jetplane. Even without the Covid-19 pandemic, we would have had to say goodbye to New Zealand at the end of April. However, leaving from Christchurch today, on a Lufthansa repatriation flight, feels totally odd. There are places we would have loved to visit towards the end of our stay, and invitations we could not take people up on. We are leaving all of this prematurely. A week ago, right after signing up for the German repatriation programme, we got our gear ready for the trip home. Through social media we found a local tour guide, Brian, who provided us with two cardboard bike boxes. We dismantled and packed up our bicycles, and then waited. We still had not heard back from our government when five days later the embassy announced online that the final flights would leave within the next three days. We waited for one more long day before we were eventually informed that we were on a waiting list, and about 24h later, this morning, we learned that we were stand-by passengers for a flight in the evening. Paul used his neighbour's two-seater ute to get Eva and the boxes and bags to the airport, while Addy went on his final NZ bike ride on one of Paul's three bikes to reach the airport. 17 days in lockdown, many shared meals and evening film sessions, heaps of walnuts as well as a short but clearly noticeable 4.3 earthquake later, our amazing host bid us farewell. After queueing for a couple of hours, we finally got admission to board the plane – being literally two of the final 20 stand-by passengers to be given a ticket. And the long wait is really paying off, as we are now comfortably seated in business class, ready for a 26h trip to Frankfurt via Bangkok. The presence of Lufthansa aircraft in New Zealand is a very rare thing, so both airport staff and flight crew radiate excitement, and we are to leave Christchurch with a lap of honour. Before takeoff, the German ambassador came aboard and via loudspeaker wished us Happy Easter and told us that we are part of a truly historic event. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #christchurch #repatriation #lufthansa #auswaertigesamt #CHC #BKK #FRA #covid_19 #corona #boeing747 #airbridge #boeing

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07.04.2020 Big decisions. We are in week two of New Zealand's national lockdown. It is not much different from the first one, except that Paul has started to take us for short walks through the neighbourhood. We can go outside as long as we stay away from other people, do not stray too far from home and do not put our safety at risk. The walks are really interesting because as an architect, a true native of Christchurch and a witness of the earthquakes 10 years ago, Paul knows a thing or two about the city. We are trying to keep up with the news, the numbers, the situation at home in Germany. It is interesting to see how the NZ government has swiftly and consistently put the entire country, i.e. four million citizens and thousands of visitors, under complete lockdown, while in Germany all federal states want to have a say in this and there is no uniform stay-at-home order or travel ban in effect. However, how Germany deals with the crisis may soon become really relevant to us. Meanwhile we have come to realise that this global state of emergency and its aftereffects will probably last longer than just a few weeks, both in Europe and here. Our original plan, travelling on to North America at the end of April, is going out the window. Even if it was allowed, it would feel wrong to start cycle-touring New Zealand again right after lockdown, and it will definitely be cold out there. We are okay here, but could make even more of our free time if we spent it at our own place. And we might not get home easily if we do not go now. So four days ago, we signed up for the newly resumed German repatriation programme. It is not easy to leave New Zealand and abandon our travel plans just like that, but these are exceptional times, we are really not in a position to complain, and we truly stay positive. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #christchurch #lockdown #stayhome #covid_19 #uniteagainstcovid19 #corona #repatriation

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01.04.2020 Home bubble diary. We have been at Paul's house in Christchurch for a week now, and it seems like we manage to successfully ward off cabin fever. Something that really helps make confinement bearable is the garden, where we can enjoy the autumn sun on the wooden deck or in our hammock, stretch and do yoga, clean and service our bicycles, or air our brains and lungs while gathering nuts and fallen leaves. We all try to leave the property as rarely as possible, and only for short walks in the neighbourhood or unavoidable trips to the supermarket. The two of us cook and bake on a daily basis, as it is fun and we have plenty of walnuts to use up and also because we want to give back to Paul, our host. Paul is in his sixties and every inch a scout. We suspect he did not even think twice about offering us to stay at his place, also because he lived through the severe Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, when half his house came tumbling down and Christchurch residents closed ranks and overcame the crisis together. Paul has definitely seen worse than this nationwide curfew, and to him solidarity and finding makeshift solutions are a matter of course. During the day, he is busy with his work as an architect, private paperwork and some correspondence for the National Scout Museum. For evening entertainment, he always has us choose between watching a film or going through a section of his vast and super interesting collection of national and international scout stamps and bagdes together.  There have been some rainy days and overcast mornings, but we always find something to do: We keep in touch with friends and family at home and abroad, check the news, read and write, listen to audio books and podcasts, take online classes and, in Addy's case, practise the guitar. Just hours before the onset of national lockdown, he managed to find and buy a used one via social media. So even if our journey has taken an unexpected turn, we make the most of it and still enjoy our free time. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #christchurch #stayhome #uniteagainstcovid19 #covid_19 #lockdown #corona #garden #guitar

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25.03.2020 Refuge in Christchurch. With New Zealand moving into national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we essentially had to choose between cutting our journey short and trying to make a hasty departure for Germany, or finding a place here where we could stay put for at least four weeks. While essential businesses like supermarkets are staying open, from midnight today and for four weeks or more most places are going to be closed and everyone is supposed to stay at home and avoid physical contact with anyone outside that social bubble.  For several reasons, trying to catch a flight (or rather, several connecting flights) back to Germany was never really an option. Instead, we decided not to leave and find shelter here. Luckily, we got plenty of helpful response to our urgent request for a place to stay – several scout groups offered us their campground facilities, and Paul, our scout friend from Christchurch, invited us to stay with him. We gladly accepted, and only needed to figure out how to travel 600 kilometres north (and, as a nice side-effect, into warmer climate – it is autumn now and it was getting quite chilly around Invercargill) and ideally take our bikes with us. Only one solution seemed truly feasible: We decided against flying or taking a bus, but managed to find one of the last operating car rental companies and hired a car. Before loading it with our bikes and bags, we quickly drove down to Bluff yesterday. We had actually been looking forward to cycling down the last 22 km to the southernmost town of the island, but unfortunately our priorities have changed now. Today we are driving up to what will be our home for the next few weeks. Shouts to our fellow cyclists Clarisse and Adrien, who have just done exactly the same – rented a car and driven up to Christchurch, and Marie from our hometown, who wanted to fly back to Germany yesterday but will also have to stay in Christchurch for a bit longer. It is a pity we cannot meet in person right now, but as for everyone, it is good to know that we are all in this together. #scoutbound #newzealand #nz #corona #covid_19 #bluff #invercargill #cycling #stirlingpoint #stayhome

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24.03.2020 National lockdown. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, we quickly developed an evening habit of lying in our tent, checking the news and trying to make sense of all that new information before falling asleep. It was crazy to see more and more overseas nations affected and forced to take action, while at the same time we were still freely cycling New Zealand. Our plan was to ride from Invercargill down to Bluff an then continue up to Queensland. It all felt like a ticking timebomb, however – sooner or later matters would become serious here, too. When we arrived in Invercargill, we had spoken to a couple of other worried travellers. Local case numbers were on a slow but constant rise, from eight to 11 to 20 to 28 within one day respectively. Supermarket shelves had never been that empty. We read online that experts were urging the government for a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. We could only check in at the hostel because we had booked some days before, with the owner not accepting any new bookings. The hostel was about to close, and word got about that most campsites and all DOC facilities were, too. In some way we were still hoping to be able to reach Queenstown, and went grocery shopping to fill our panniers with supplies for another five days. But we also realised we needed a plan B. We decided to contact all the people we know in the country and ask if they knew a place to stay for us somewhere down here in case travel and transport would soon be severely restricted. So we were sitting in the cozy hostel living room together with other cyclists and hikers and crafting a text, when someone entered the room and announced that New Zealand was indeed going to move into national lockdown, and that we had 48 hours. That was when our plan B, which we were still trying to develop at that point, became plan A. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #invercargill #corona #covid_19 #bluff #queenstown #letterbox #minions #southerncomfort #cycling

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22.03.2020 Rainbow country. Shortly after our arrival in New Zealand, several local cyclists recommended cycling the Catlins, a coastal region on the southeastern tip of New Zealand's South Island. And four months later, we eventually got the chance to do so, and went off on what would be a ride of about 300 kilometres in five days, from Dunedin to Invercargill. Towards the beginning, we stopped in Balclutha for a lovely quick coffee break with Marie, another traveller from our German hometown. In the Catlins, it is not possible to actually cycle along the coast all the time, but the road to take is nice and calm enough and connects green farmland with ancient woods and some sections that are indeed close to the shore, so we did get a glimpse of the ocean once in a while. If we had to describe the area in a few words, we would probably boil it down to something like "green, rolling hills that the road uncompromisingly follows up- and downhill, with a high chance of rainbows." The weather is really capricious down here: On more than one occasion, we were cycling in the sunshine, under a mostly blue sky, and still got drenched by rain blown about by the gusty wind. We found some great campsites on the coast, where we repeatedly marvelled at the beauty of nature, for example when visiting Nugget Point or strolling through the living native forests of Papatowai and Curio Bay. The latter contrasts nicely with a unique and stunning petrified forest only a short walk away, right on the shore, and seeing and hearing massive waves crash on the black cliffs there was also really good fun. Besides, Curio Bay was where we met our fellow cyclists Clarisse and Adrien again, a French couple we had briefly talked to in Baldwin Street, Dunedin. Together, we fought our way through a very windy final leg to Invercargill today, and then shared some pizzas and stories in celebration of our Catlins experience. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #catlins #thecatlins #southland #otago #curiobay #nuggetpoint #papatowai #rainbow #waves #forest #pacificocean #scouts #dpsg #lighthouse #niagarafalls #cycling #worldbycycling #touring

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18.03.2020 Otago coast. Our cycling guide does not suggest a route between the end of the Alps2Ocean track and the closest bigger city, Dunedin. To connect these two places we had to cycle for a bit along State Highway 1, which was busy but provided a wide shoulder in most parts. When we could get away from the highway, the Otago coastal region showed us its beautiful wildlife and natural curiosities like the Moeraki Boulders, perfectly spherical rock formations at a beach. Seals, Yellow Eyed Penguins and a lot of birds were the animals we could spot. We could observe the most majestical one of them, the albatross, with a wingspan of three metres, during a spontaneous evening excursion to the Otago Peninsula with our Dunedin hosts. Kel and Sharon received us last minute and shared a lot of cycling stories with us, having cycled the US from west to east in 2017. They also provided us with plenty of useful information for our next chapter, cycling the Catlins, and coincidentally both of them used to be scouts when they were younger. Kel showed us his badge box and scarves and told us the stories connected to them. Dunedin is very much influenced by Scottish culture and architecture, as the first settlers came over from Scotland. One tourist attraction of the city is Baldwin Street, which was the world's steepest street until 2019. Addy managed to cycle up the 350 metres but felt very bad for half an hour afterwards. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #dunedin #baldwinstreet #otago #kiaora #otagopeninsula #oamaru #steampunk #seals #boulders #moerakiboulders #moeraki #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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14.03.2020 Alps to Ocean. Mount Cook Village is the starting point of one of New Zealand's 'Great Rides', the Alps to Ocean cycle trail. As we are generally heading down towards the southern coast of the island, this was the perfect route to take. However, on the first day we took an alternative way to Twizel, going down the road along Lake Pukaki. The reason was that doing the very first part of the official A2O requires a short helicopter flight across a river, and that does just not comply with our idea of simple travelling. In Twizel we replaced both of Addy's awfully worn-out tyres, which, thank God (and duct tape), had stuck with us until that point. We also got a second, gas-powered stove, and could barely stop each other from buying even more of the useful and quirky things the local hardware shop has to offer. We will also keep carrying our petulant little petrol stove with us and try to clean and fix it. With our new equipment, we were ready to take on the remaining 224 kilometres to Oamaru. And our verdict is that the A2O can indeed be called a great ride, as it keeps cyclists off the roads almost totally and its comfortable gravel tracks, most of them inaccessible to cars, wind though many different types of scenery. It was fascinating to see the big catchment lakes, dams and plants that help generate New Zealand's large quantities of hydropower. We also loved camping outside the historic Woolshed, which gave us an idea of how extensive sheep farming and shearing must have worked here in the past, and are still done in other places. With its peaceful remoteness, great view and natural water supply from a stream, the Woolshed might actually be our favorite NZ camping spot. Other highlights on the way were some Maori art on the shores of Lake Ohau and near Duntroon as well as the Elephant Rocks, which we had seen on TV only a couple of days before, as they make an appearance in the 'Chronicles of Narnia'. Yesterday, on our third day, we covered over 100 kilometres and reached Oamaru in the late evening, stopping in the harbour area for a quick 'finisher' photoshoot this morning. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #alps2ocean #oamaru #worldbycycling #dpsg

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10.03.2020 Alpine adventure. After many beautiful beaches and bays, green hills and forests, lakes and rivers, we finally arrived in the right place to see some of the mountains and glaciers which are also part of the picturesque landscape of New Zealand. Mount Cook measures 3724 metres and is the country's highest and most iconic summit. To get a close view it is a good idea to go to Mount Cook Village, a very remote place at the end of a valley, and hike up the Hooker Track. We made sure to pack enough food because in the Village there is no place that sells groceries, and set out on a three-day adventure. However, the night before we entered the valley, we arrived at a remote campsite and noticed that one of Addy's tyres was worn out. We discovered the problem on a Saturday evening, so even if we had cycled 10 kilometres in the opposite direction to reach Twizel, the next town, we would have had to wait until Monday for the shops to open. So we decided to glue in a double layer of rubber from old tubes plus some duct tape and go to Mount Cook anyway, hoping the tyre would last another 150 k. When we reached the campsite at Mount Cook we were soaking wet and Eva doubted our things would ever dry again. To make matters worse our stove stopped working, but luckily people in the shelter helped us out with their equipment so we could cook food and make tea. But after a stormy night we had an awesome sunny day and actually managed to dry our stuff. And what is more, we got a perfect view of Mount Cook and the remains of the Hooker Glacier. Today we are heading back along the famous Alps2Ocean Trail, which will lead us back to the coast in the next few days. The generator of the stove is still blocked and we continue to pray for the tyre to make it back to Twizel. #scoutbound #newzealand #nz #mountcook #mtcook #hookertrack #cycling #bike #touring #worldbycycling #laketekapo #lakepoaka #swingbridge #tyre

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