Attempt 2, don’t you just hate technology?!
True to previous experience, things don’t always go to plan…
The original plan had been to start the cycle from Cape Reinga to Bluff on 5th January 2018, my 33rd birthday. I had dreamed of waking up in my tent at the most northerly campsite in New Zealand, unzipping the door to see the Pacific Ocean, taking a dip and then setting off on my biggest cycle challenge ever. Instead you can’t predict the unpredictable from the other side of the world. I arrived in Kaitaia on 3rd January to find out there was a sub-tropical storm on its merry way. I booked into a hostel for 2 nights to wait it out, struggling with the thought of sitting on my arse doing nothing having travelled 30 hours around the globe and then a further 7 on a bus up to the north leaving friends and fun times back in Auckland. As very good luck would have it though, I stumbled upon some of the loveliest travellers ever who took it upon themselves to celebrate my birthday in style. The stone pizza oven was heated, we all teamed together a conveyer belt of pizza makers, Canadian Ben played happy birthday on his guitar, surprises of presents and cake followed. Certainly a day and ring of fire fuelled birthday I won’t forget! This and a morning of phone calls with family and friends back home 🙂
At 5am on the 6th, my alarm went off rousing a rather hungover gal. At 6am myself and 2 fellow intrepid explorers set off by van to Cape Reinga. Their plan to hike the Te Araoa trail to Wellington and mine to ride back to Kaitaia to collect my gear and head over to Ahipara on 90 mile beach. I had decided to travel light on the first day firstly as it was my first time back on the bike in a month since being hit by a van back in London. My confidence had taken a knock and I just needed some settling in time. Secondly the 120kph gusts had certainly calmed from the day before, but 50kph ones were still hurling themselves from the South West…yes a bastard headwind. At least there was no sideways rain!
Back home I’d been told that New Zealand was similar to Scotland. I could certainly see it in the rolling hills and farmland, but the trees and fauna were so incredibly different. I passed the Maori lands with vast Manuka Forests, Palms, and vibrant tropical flowers. There are pines and cedars, but also tropical rainforest and it’s so lush! The cows, sheep and horses are clearly not used to a girl on her bike, they run at the sight of you. I won’t take it personally. I set up camp for the first time by 90 mile beach and passed out by 9pm with sheer exhaustion.
Yesterday the challenge really began. With the bike fully loaded it weighs in at 30+kg and I can’t even lift it. I’ve taken to parking it more like a car and no doubt there’s been many odd looks at my occasional “Austin Powers” moments. I rode 116km from the Tasman Sea South East to the Pacific Ocean at Pihia on the Bay of Islands. I struggled up tough climbs usually into a headwind grunting, panting, sweating and swearing as the heat pulsed up from the Tarmac. I passed the Haruru falls and as evening came it dawned on me how tough this journey will be. The Pacfic Ocean awaited though and I took my very first dip in it on arrival, my sore muscles loved every second in the calm waters compared to the wild and rugged Tasman where it’s more a survival mission.
I’ve taken today off to explore the Bay, taking my bike on the ferry across to Russell, the original capital of NZ donning my shameless tourist cap. Another swim, some beach time and a ride up to the flagstaff viewing point has been a chance to relax and start enjoying this beautiful country. Now for a little evening kayak 🙂 Hoping to see a dolphin!
Tomorrow my aim is Waipu, another 110km down the East coast. Looking forward, I need to shorten the days on the bike simply to survive this trip. The sun burn has already set in despite wearing factor 50, you just can’t escape the heat on these open roads. I may well return to the UK in 3 months a shade of black/red, skin and bone, riddled with skin cancer. Hey ho, you win some, you lose some, but it’s all part of the game of life and adventure.