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In February 2018 I did my first ever bike packing trip around the Coromandel peninsula, over Auckland Anniversary weekend.  I really enjoyed my first experience, but when I found out the chap who organised it had cycled the length of New Zealand, I thought he was off his rocker.   Fast forward two years, and now it was me attempting to cycle from Cape Reinga to Bluff in less than 30 days, in a brevet called the Tour Aotearoa.  The preparation had taken months but my...

April 19, 2020

Day 28, Invercargill to Bluff

I awoke through the night to heavy rain and gusty winds, wondering if I’d made the right decision to delay finishing. Luckily by the time I got my bike packed (for the last time - gulp) the rain had cleared. The winds were still quite frisky tho and I knew this would be a fitting end to my trip. Cruising down in the sunshine with a wind at my heels wouldn’t have been representative of the tour so far.I called in to a local bike shop on the way back to the cycle Trail and asked if they had an...

March 16, 2020

Day 27, Mossburn to Invercargill

Nerena and Scott assured me I slept well, apparently I was snoring and snuffling two seconds after the light went out. Sorry team, must have been my turn.The sunrise this morning over misty fields was particularly spectacular, and I hoped the red sky didn’t portend to bad weather later in the day. When we checked the weather when we got up, the temperature was meant to be 9• so I didn’t bother with leg layers even tho it felt like there was a chill in the air. As the sun came up and the te...

March 15, 2020

Lower Shotover to Mossburn

 It was hard to say goodbye to the Watson clan and get back on my bike. They made me feel so welcome and it was nice to have a taste of normality, albeit briefly. They have a wonderful home with a lovely outlook. I continued around the cycle tracks from Lake Hayes to Frankton and around the Queenstown lake front.We booked to cross lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak station at 12 o’clock since the 10 am boat was full already. I made it to the Queenstown waterfront in time to grab some ice cream ...

March 14, 2020

Day 25, Wanaka to Lower Shotover

My time in Wanaka ended the way it began, being guided along the outlet trail by my bike sister Kathryn. The air was crisp and cool, and the clear skies made for a beautiful sunrise. The day also started how it would continue, with lots of photo stops.  I met up with Scott and Nerena at the waterfront of Lake Wanaka. We headed out of town towards Cardrona which is the longest climb in NZ.  The day remained calm & clear, getting warmer as the sun got higher. The gradient was very gradua...

March 13, 2020

Day 24, Wanaka Rest Day

The blame for me doing this brevet could be allocated quite a few ways. My family and friends who are supporting me despite their concerns for my safety and sanity, my Bike Bro Steve who organised the first bike packing trip I did, or  Scott and Nerena for being my Tour buddies. But Kathryn is the person who first got me into biking a lot more than a 4km commute to work. So let’s start with my sister from another mister.  Kathryn became my flatmate around 10 years ago, when she was w...

March 12, 2020

Day 23, Haast Village to Wanaka

The Haast region is so spectacular it has been awarded the status of being a "World Heritage" area.  I whole heartedly agree with this decision, it is truely breathtaking. Haast village lies near the mouth of the Haast river, and my morning  was spent tracing this river back to its source near Haast Pass.  As I rounded one corner the mountain tops beside me reared up, looking both strangely close and impossibly massive.  The Haast river valley starts quite wide, following a g...

March 11, 2020

Day 22, Franz Josef to Haast

My shoes have turned. Although I know they were never alive, they definitely now smell as if they have died.  It’s actually amazing it’s taken this long considering how many days I’ve been wearing them, but the turning point was when the shoes hadn’t dried out much for a couple of days on the trot.  I had good sleep in my cosy bed in the lotus tent and woke up early to the sound of rain. I was tempted to snuggle under the duvet and stay in bed for the day but decided to get bac...

March 10, 2020

Day 21 Hokitika to Franz Josef

Richard and Yvonne were consummate hosts right to the end, serving us up a lovely breakfast before we hit the road at 7 o’clock. Richard makes an excellent flat white, and they’re both great conversationalists, Yvonne shared a lot about her time with the Soroptimists. She was the international president for two years and traveled the world including attending UN assemblies The first part of the day was quite enjoyable, heading to the town of Ross through forestry on both trail and quiet road...

March 9, 2020

Day 20, Blackball to Hokitika

The weather forecast was for heavy rain by Hokitika so we got on the road in good time to beat the worst of it. The sunbeams coming through the clouds at sunrise were lovely over the misty fields but the red sunrise was true to the shepherd’s warning.  A section of quiet road led us to the highway just north of Greymouth. We had second breakfast at a café recommended by our quirky host at the Blackball Hilton - she’s the sort of person you wonder why got into hospitality in a tourism h...

March 8, 2020

Day 19, Reefton via Big River to Blackball

This part of the Tour Aotearoa is also quite notorious for involving a lot of mud, sweat and maybe tears.  It includes quite a bit of climbing, and technical single track. Single track is a MTB term essentially meaning it’s only wide enough for one bike.  The good news was we got to do a lot of the elevation gains while still on a gravel road and a fairly decent 4WD track. There were still a few parts I found not rideable but I decided this part wasn’t scary. Not easy, but just eno...

March 7, 2020

Day 18, Murchison to Reefton

Murchison dawned fine and crispy at 5•, and as we cycled down the valley the temperature dropped even more. The fog in the distance gradually receded as we got closer so we were never fully enveloped. Although the sun was coming up, the valley walls also got higher so we didn’t get into sunshine until around 9:30.  I didn’t actually feel the temperature change much, but it warmed the cockles of my heart.    The sign at bottom of the Maruia Saddle warning about the road ...

March 6, 2020

Day 17, Nelson to Murchison

It all happened quite quickly. I was having a great day, smashing along with a slight downhill and even a tailwind. Next thing I knew, I was wanting to lie down on the road and fall asleep.  First light I was bidding farewell to my gracious hosts Sandra and Garth and scooting down The Great Taste Trail to meet Nerena and Scott in Richmond.  They had spent their day off with the Harbers.  The great taste is lovely, winding  its way through some of the farms, orchards and viney...

March 5, 2020

Day 16 Nelson, rest day

Because my new best friend Dylan at Alton St Cycles was able to fix my bike yesterday, today was a proper rest day!  It started with an awesome sleep, and blueberries in my breakfast - it’s the little things, I tell you. Garth my host  was kind enough to take me for a walking tour of the neighbourhood. The views from their place are stunning.   Nicola  is a friend from Shore Community Church who moved back home to Richmond last year. She had booked us in for the Pics p...

March 4, 2020

Day 15, Pelorus Bridge via Maungatapu Saddle to Nelson

What a day! A lot of people who’d experienced the TA before had commented on Maungatapu Saddle, the sort of place to make grown men cry. I packed up my slightly damp gear, (good call under the trees tho) waved goodbye to Daniel  and headed off to face the music. The Maungatapu  road started well enough but once the track began I could see the gloves were off. It was steep, rough and curly. I managed to ride the first 50m then started walking.  I was trying to calculate how long ...

March 3, 2020

Day 14, Wellington to Pelorus Bridge

In hind sight I could have done the last couple of days slightly differently.  Having arrived in Wellington by 2:30 I possibly could have caught the 4pm ferry. But I was booked in a cabin and although the ferry website said we’ll board from 11:30pm, the guidebook said you can get on from 10pm. I obviously booked this before learning lesson 3 from Day 10 about not trusting the guidebook.  The blah feeling from Wellington persisted despite some solid (but short) sleep on the ferry, and...

March 2, 2020

Day 13 Martinborough to Wellington

I cycled an island. Cape Reinga to Wellington.  When I hurt my ribs I had set this as my revised goal in case the ribs didn’t play ball during the first few days on the trip. But I did it.  I was expecting to feel a bit more elated than I did but after finding people to cycle with most of the way I was suddenly deserted as I approached the capital.  I went to macs brew bar on the shore front for cider and chips to try and celebrate.  I mainly was relieved to be sitting stil...

March 1, 2020

Day 12, Palmerston North to Martinborough

My original plan for today was to get as far as Masterton but I realised if I pushed a bit more this day the run into Wellington would be much more manageable. I booked at the Martinborough Top 10 so I’d have an incentive to keep peddling when my legs wanted to quit.  Heading over Pahiatua hill I heard voices behind me, fortunately not a hallucination but the crew from Whangarei who had dragged me into Mangakino. They’d lost Rob due to injury but it was a treat to see Jane, Paula, Lizzi...

February 29, 2020

Day 11, Apiti to Palmerston North

Glossary  Trail angel - someone who performs random acts of kindness for people on the trail Having bid farewell to my very own Trail angels from Warkworth I headed on my way.  On the way out of Apiti I bumped into the Swart family again, who are cycling for Heart Kids. I met Sarah and Logan on the way to the Pouto point ferry.  The roads we’re sent on for this trip are on the whole  lovely and quiet, today was no exception, and the scenery was just stunning. Around every c...

February 28, 2020

Day 10 Whanganui to Apiti

I had made a couple of silly mistakes the previous day.  I got in at 8pm and decided I was too tired for dinner so did all my other prep and went to bed. When I woke up the next day I wasn’t hungry but ate breakfast as usual. About 10 mins after I started biking I was hungry. Lesson one, eat dinner.  I hadn’t booked accommodation so once I was back in cell cover I tried to get into the Top Ten. It said it was full so I looked for another option. I spoke to some guys the next day an...

February 27, 2020

Day nine, Whakahoro to Whanganui

It was a lot warmer at Blue Duck Station than Epic, and I got away by 6:45. The jet boat was booked for me from Murapara landing at 1:30pm and the lady from the café warned me it was taking most people six hours.  The single track from Whakahoro was rugged. I slipped, fell and walked my way to the end, breaking my previous record from Mangakino by taking two hours to do 12km.  After that the track improved but the hills just kept giving. I did spot Mt Taranaki in the distance so you g...

February 26, 2020

Day 8 Camp Epic to Whakahoro

  The last two days have been a bit of a blur of exhaustion, exhilaration, and pushing past what I thought was the limits of my endurance. Emotionally and physically. Camp Epic was cold in the morning, single digits, so cooked eggs for breakfast was a real treat. After that though my fingers wouldn’t work properly to pack my stuff. It was a strange feeling to look forward to the first uphill knowing it would warn me up!  The second half of the timber trail is a couple of climbs and s...

February 25, 2020

Day 7, Mangakino to Timber Trail, Camp Epic

I should have taken the hint that the day would be tough when it took me two hours to travel the first 20 km on a sealed road, due to a howling headwind. I had been slightly delayed getting away in the morning due to the friendly B&B owner locking my bike in the garage. This was good from a security perspective but bad from my prep angle. This meant I missed the bunch I was planning to ride with from the day before. I also stubbed my toe on the concrete step outside the garage and didn’t reali...

February 24, 2020

Day 6, Manawaru to Mangakino

We set off in good spirits after another good nights sleep. Scott had a plan to get a new tyre at Matamata but the shop didn’t open on Sunday.  I had just booked accommodation in Mangakino when Nerena came to tell me that they would possibly have to cycle to Cambridge. Scott  kept trying to fix it and I set off down the road, hoping they would catch me.  The roads out of Matamata were lovely and quiet.  But the  false flat  (looked flat but was really uphill) and ...

February 23, 2020

Day 5, Ararimu to Manawaru

It’s amazing the restorative powers of a good night sleep, and a breakfast of free range poached eggs didn’t hurt either. Tristin outdid herself with hospitality. It was a bit of up-and-down leaving Ararimu but once we left Miranda it was flat as far as the eye could see. We had a crosswind for the first part going along the bottom of the Firth of Thames. Being the good bloke he is Scott stopped to help some gravel riders who had a broken chain. Despite trying for quite awhile he didn’t ha...

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