Some comments and emails I've had have reminded me that as a Kiwi, I am a little bit unique (well, 1 in 4 million type unique....) So, I've decided to start posting some information about New Zealand. Let me know if you have any questions!
One big training ground
I live in Wellington, the capital city. It's on the bottom of the North Island, which is the smaller but more populated of the two major islands. Fewer than one million people live in Wellington, but it is a "city", regardless.
From a running/tri training perspective, Wellington is awesome (apart from the wind, which is horrible). The city is basically big giant hills, completely surrounded by the ocean. From pretty much anywhere, you can ride down to the waterfront and then just ride on flat, scenic roads until you're done (well, sorta…) My 70k ride last week involved riding down to the waterfront from my place, riding round the bays and then heading inland up the aforementioned long slow climb. Then I turned back. Probably about 20% hills all up, and quite a variety. But I could have done that 70k, and more, with no hills other than home-sea and back. Or, I could have gone crazy on hills all freakin day! I don't know much about training in other places, but I love the flexibility we have here.
Because the sea's never far away (at least not where I am.. I guess it's up to *gasp* a half hour drive for some people), open water swimming is generally doable (in summer, at least). There aren't that many safe options, the weather and the water are both unpredictable, and we do miss out on lake swimming in this part of the country. I love going to places like Taupo and Rotorua and enjoying the lakes out there.
Running wise, there are some great road climbs around town, and some wonderful trails that I haven't explored enough, and look forward to exploring with Scottish (Harriers) next season. P and I are planning to do more walking/tramping ("hiking") this summer, so we'll do some exploring and I'll find some runs to tackle as I get stronger again. A lot of the bush near me is mostly pine, but in other parts of town there's a lot more native bush.
I mentioned wind before, and I can't describe my training environment without talking about the weather. Wellington doesn't do temperature extremes. It doesn't snow (though the wind chill can make it freeeakin cold), and our HOT is about 30 degrees celsius. It rains a lot and it's very windy. On the whole, it's good for training- I'd rather have the wind than the sun, or humidity.
Lastly, the tri community. We have one, which I think is saying something for NZ. I'm not part of it, so I can't really comment. The sport is growing (and fast!), but we certainly don't have any multisport specialty stores around! I do some of my training with a triathlete friend (who I know from high school), and there are quite a few multisporters in my running club. Generally though, I run with my running friends, swim with my swimming friends and bike with my cyclist friends (well, I intend to!) I was thinking about doing a training programme that's run by a local gym (which would probably help me meet like minded individuals), but I can't justify the $250 at this stage- not with swimming lessons, and all the bike stuff I'll need (not to mention tri stuff!) Hmm. Though now I put it in writing...
That's all for now. I'll take suggestions on future topics, or else I'll be back with another random installment sooner or later!