by Derek Holland August 20, 2016

Who would have known that traveling to Melbourne for the Cycle messenger championships in 2015 would evolve into something so magical. Meeting so many great people and getting invited on the trip of a life time, cycling from the top of the north island all the way down the east coast to Queenstown at the bottom of the south island. Chris, Paul and myself would cycle over 3000km in total and this would be one of the biggest learning curves for all of us. Ideas about making the trip to NZ were getting thrown around as a joke when I first met Chris in 2015, but having never done any serious long distance cycling before, the idea of cycling for a month straight was somewhat daunting. On top of preparing for the NZ trip I decided to also make the 3500km drive across the Nullabore with all my bikes and all my belongings to make Melbourne my new home.

After Packing down my house and packing my trailer I set off on the 4 day drive across Australia's most notorious and never ending road we call the Nullabore. With upto 100km distances between Fuel stations and any sign of civilization this was a beautiful and incredibly mind blowing experience. I even met a polish gym owner about 700km out of Perth cycling to Adelaide who claimed to only eat fatty foods, like Cheese, butter and eggs. Good luck to him I say!

With only 3 days in Melbourne before we flew out to Auckland we made the final preparations and acquired some of the vital equipment we would soon never take for granted again. Having never cycle toured before there where so many things we overlooked until the last minute, like what tent or clothes to bring. We needed to keep it as light weight as possible but the climate in the north is vastly different to that of the south island giving us a unique challenge. But no amount of planning would prepare us for what New Zealand's roads had install for us, it is called middle earth after all.

We were to spend a week in Silverdale north of Auckland with some of Paul's amazing family friends Ian and Vicky, they made our stay so welcoming while we prepared to cycle to the northern most point of the north island. We set out to cover roughly 150km's a day with 18kg of gear and bike and the first stretch to the top was probably the going to be hardest. 

It was soon clear to us that we were cycling on one of the most untouched and ancient volcanic islands in the world with insane amounts of incline and mind blowing valleys and hillsides. Traveling the country by bike had to be one of the hardest but yet rewarding ways to do it. Each day we cycled north civilization began to dwindle and decent food became increasingly more difficult to find, with all of us making the pledge to do the entire trip on a strict vegan diet, this was going to be hard. The Dairy and Meat industries in NZ are fundamental in most peoples diets and make up a huge portion of NZ export, so it was very difficult to find nutrition between the small shops and road houses along the way.

In the far north before hitting the brutal stretch to camp site at Tapotupotu we decided to hit up a local burger gem, it seemed like it came out of heaven with an actual Vegie burger. Cycling the winding Far north rd to the tip was unsuspectingly baron and with only 2 bottles of water, hydration was scarce and at one point I was cycling with my bottle empty upside down, shaking it at passing campervans drove past but to no avail.

So we'd made it to the far north in a total of 4 days but with still a huge 2700km to go to our goal in the south island. My bike was dying, the small stones from the unsealed roads were constantly becoming a problem and i soon realised that the best thing to do would be to change the Road bike out for my cross bike. I contacted my good friend Nathaniel back in Melbourne who I left all my bikes with after the Nullabore, It must have been a sign because he was already planning to fly to Auckland to see family and would be there just in time for on the way back down. I couldn't thank him enough for packing my Cinelli and bringing it with him, it would have been an even more difficult trip without it.

We hit Silverdale again for some fresh home cooked meals and a decent shower before getting a lift past Auckland to continue our journey to Wellington. The infrastructure for cyclists to cross the North Western motorway and Auckland Harbor bridge have not yet been finished yet and it was not wise to cross these bridges via bike. The south of Auckland was by far my favourite part of the north island, with amazing little city's like Rotorua and Taupo, it was a refreshing change to the rural lands of the north. 



Derek Holland
Derek Holland


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