Yesterday marked an important milestone for us when we arrived in Wellington. The North Island is finally completed! Reflecting on the trip so far, 1000 kilometers of gorgeous valleys and breath-taking scenery has taught us a lot.
Teamwork, motivation, mental and physical toughness were some of the tools we needed to make it this far. How did we do it? We like to think of it as a video game.
We each have a player (ourselves) that we need to get from Cape Reinga to Bluff in 47 days within a certain budget. These players need to be healthy, fed and full of vitality. In between these two checkpoints are obstacles that we must overcome like hills, cities and rain. It's that simple. By looking at this way, each leg of the trip becomes a new level and we are proud to have made it half-way!
Of course, here, we only get one life. Reason to make the best of it (and be safe)!
We're looking forward to catching the ferry tomorrow morning and start the second half of this expedition. Until then, time to explore what Wellington has to offer. Once again, photos are available on Facebook.
Adventure isn't about "conquering" nature, breaking records, doing things faster or younger - these bring a competitive element to the outdoors, which detracts from the purity of it all. Goals like these are more fitting for a competition or race. I see adventure as a philosophy for living. It's an attitude towards challenging yourself in all facets of life where risks need to be managed and committing to a just-out-of-reach objective. This often sees you living outside your comfort zone, a place where you learn who you truly are and what makes you tick. The simplicity and purity of waking up each day and working towards a clear objective in an unfamiliar and hostile environment, cuts through parts of your personality that may keep you alive in the city, like ego, deception and manipulation.
- Cas and Jonesy (Crossing the Ice).
We found this quote in a book, while resting at the library after a hard day riding in the hills. It resonated with us so strongly that we wanted to share it. It is a precise description of what we are going through during this trip. The North2South expedition is a school of life, just like any adventure is.
All our lives, we have had people guiding us, wiping us, nurturing us and helping us when things got tough. Out here, in New Zealand, we have to do it on our own. There is no Mother to tell us to eat healthy, no Dad to help us when the tent breaks. We have to find our own answers and solutions. We quickly learned that with every action, comes a consequence. In the early days of the trip we quickly saw that eating a whole packet of dates will make you sick for the rest of the day and that sunburns need to be treated quickly to avoid looking and feeling like a lobster.
Slowly, our understanding of ourselves, people and our surrounding environment is deepening. We are forced to answer our own question while taking responsibility for our actions. It is great to have this opportunity to explore this new freedom. This adventure is helping us shape ourselves into the young adults we would like to be.
The planet is our playground! As we ride through the valleys, our vision of the world is gradually changing. It seems like the world is one of great opportunities, and it is our chance to make the most of it.
While our ordinary lives are replaced by an outdoors lifestyle, we are enjoying the alternation. Swimming in waterfalls, cycling between mountains, meeting new people and sleeping under stars remind us everyday how lucky we are to be here. This trip also calls our attention to the importance to protect this fragile environment.
Yestderday we rode 100km in one afternoon to make the next town, Taumarunui. We met some local teenagers with whom we hung out with for the evening. They seemed very intrigued by our idea of "holidays" and had a giggle when we explained we are having fun just living day by day. Once again, we went to sleep with a smile on our faces. We are lovin' it!
Day 15 already! Boy, time goes fast! We are gently heading south, doing about 50km a day. It doesn't sound like much, but by carrying 30kg each, it becomes a whole-day challenge to get to each destination. At the moment we're in Otorohanga and we hope to make Wellington by the 20th of December to catch the ferry.
There are a lot less hills south of Auckland and horses seem to replace the usual cows. We've mostly had sunny days, which has allowed us to dry out the tent after the tornado which hit the area.
We often get asked if we get bored and the answer is no. Each day and town brings a new surprise. Most importantly we've got each other which pushes us forward. Even though we don't meet too many people while riding all day, it is nice to have a friend to whom we can talk to. So far, so good! Check out the Facebook page for regular photo updates.
Believe it or not, navigating through a city is a lot harder than doing 100km on a country road. We figured that out quickly trying to make it throught the end of Auckland's maze on our way to the Sir Peter Blake Trust office.
Four hours later, after the 32nd person asked for direction and six water bottles .. we made it! We were greeted by the ladies at the office who invited us out for a drink. We got talking about environmental project and the Trust's mission. Did you know that Thursday marked the 11th anniversary of Sir Peter Blake's death, when he was shot by pirates in the Amazon? Shelley and Dave Thomas explained it all when we were kindly invited to stay the night with them.
For the last couple of days we have been cycling flat out, trying to reach Hamilton before Monday morning. Because guess what! Monday morning we will be on New Zealand's Breakfast show which is watched nationally! So, keep tuned!
By the way, check out the video Johannes Strassner made of the expedition! Hope you like it as much as we do.
"You don't take a photo of me. You remember me." That's what our host Kelvin told us when we tried to capture his image. We sure won't forget these last two days! We have been spending some time on Kelvin's property to rest our legs before hitting the roads again today.
Kelvin showed us around Helensville, where we were able to swim at the hotpool, eat some good food at the local pub and visit the coast. His hospitality amazed us!
He also surprised us with a visit to the local Maori school - Tau Te Arohanoa Akoranga. The school has 47 students and keeps alive the Maori traditions. They welcomed us with a traditional ceremony and we were invited to talk about our expedition. It was great to see the smiles on the kids' faces as we explained little details such as what we eat and where we sleep. They also kindly offered us some lunch (hunted deer!) and we happily learnt new games as we played with the younger ones! It was a great culture exchange and an experience we are not close to forgetting.
Today, we are back on the roads heading towards Auckland. As the locals say "You can get 4 seasons in a day"... looking at the present weather, we understand, and we hope the weather stays clear.
Last night were quietly sitting behind the fire brigade in Wellsworth cooking pasta after a hard 100km ride. Suddenly, about 30 firemen arrived for their weekly training session. It was with amazing hospitality that they greeted us! With open arms they invited us to spend the evening in their company. We don't meet too many people while riding so it was with great pleasure that we listened to their stories and watched as they undertook rescue exercises.
We got a good night's sleep (and especially a warm one!) in the brigade's shed. It's amazing how people are interested to know where we are heading and where we come from. It's great to have unique moments where we can share stories with locals. Tonight we will be sleeping in a farm where Kelvin has kindly agreed to let us stay for a day. Once again, we are looking forward to the exchange!
Although we do not see many people on the road, the fields that surround us are unlike what we have seen before. Cows and sheep surround us, as we cycle up and down the endless valeys.
Yesterday we woke up in a tent drenched by a rainy night. Sleeping bags and clothes were still dripping as we headed off riding under the rain. We cycled the whole day through a magnificent forest, stopping only to eat.
Today we are in Dargaville, we got the chance to meet up with the local newspaper for a short interview and photo. We have two long days of cycling ahead as we hope to reach Helensville (180km away) before Wednesday night where we will spend 2 days resting in a farm. So far we have been flat-out cycling so it will be nice to meet new people and enjoy other things New Zealand has to offer.
Everyday we have a fairly similar routine after cycling. Around 6pm (the sun sets at about 9pm) we start to look for a safe place to sleep. Once settled, we start to cook dinnner (usually pasta or rice) on the cooker. We wait until it's dark to set up the tent. We then lay out our sleeping bags and mats. After logging our day in our journals, we listen to music for a few minutes before rapidly falling asleep.
We are taking it easy, enjoying the road! The weather and sceneries are breath-taking, lots of cows and sheeps!
Our bums are still sore but we're managing! Today is mission "shower time" because we are starting to scare people away with our smell (grosse!) and dreds. Hopefully we will find some water soon.
We are in Omapere
Yesterday was our first riding day! We started off from Cape Reinga which is an important place for Maoris. According to mythology, the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their journey to the afterlife to leap off the headland and climb the roots of the 800 year old tree and descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki, using the Te Ara Wairua, the 'Spirits' pathway'. At Cape Reinga they depart the mainland. They turn briefly at the Three Kings Islands for one last look back towards the land, then continue on their journey.
We got our first taste of hills and wind! Far out! After 111km and 9 hours later we finally arrived in Kaitaia where we were able to get a good 9 hour sleep and a good meal.
Today we will resupply in food and water at the local supermarket before heading for Omapere.
Our bums and legs are sore, but a big smile on our faces shows we are glad to finally be on the road, on the way to Bluff! The journey has started!