• Tommy Hyland

East to West

Over 4 days I have cycled for 24 hours, travelling 261 km across the width of the south Island. Up hills, down rivers, into lakes following the road West.

Here it is. This moment is here. Biking out of the garage of my family home with 10kg of gear, some food, a camera, a lot of enthusiasm, a rough plan, thousands of kilometres of road ahead and the biggest smile that I could not stop.

Day 1:

With some final rushed packing, a good warm up and some emotional good byes, I was ready to leave. With a big smile slapped across my face I biked the 40 km to my first stop in the Wairau Valley. Apart from a bag falling off and some headphones breaking the first day was perfect. Ending with some incredible company, food and warmth in the valley.

Day 2: Some more great food in the valley and the end of an amazing catch up with an old friend led me to start the predicted 4hr bike to St Arnaud a little late. However when leaving I noticed the house was creaking from a wind that little did I know would be in my face the entire day. Fast forward 8 hours and my crawl into St Arnaud is over. One of the toughest physical days of my life but mentally I felt incredible because of all the beauty around me, my daily preparation and all the support I have been receiving since starting to promote this journey. Day 2 ended watching the sunset over lake Rotoiti from a beautiful Bach I was very lucky to stay in.

Day 3: Hot baked beans, a warm drink, a view and a beautiful sunrise in solitude followed by some much needed stretching. Then an amazing connection and conversation with a German couple making a trip through NZ which brightened my day and made me realise even more the value of connecting with people along my journey. After staying late I left for a Hut in Owen valley where I would spend the 3rd night after a 40km ride. Arriving just before I dark having enough time to make myself at home I walked back out the door and couldn't move. It was as if I'd never seen the night sky before. Which felt strange to me because star gazing is one of my favourite pass times but this was like nothing I had ever seen the way the sky was lit up so deeply and I will never forget it.

Day 4: Started at 5:30am in the frost with my bags frozen solid and only one glove to my name (luckily found the other one 10 minutes down the road where it had fallen off) it was a cold but beautiful start. With 120km ahead of me I headed out and biked through the most peaceful towns, over thundering rivers, alongside countless goats and passed some of the most beautiful natural scenery I've ever seen. Arriving in Westport with 6km to go for the day, the wind changed and I had my first tailwind of the trip which was an indescribable feeling after battling for 15 hrs into head winds over the previous days. Now in Westport having some more beautiful food and hospitality from and old family friend before tomorrow's adventures.

Overall after 4 days on the road I am blown away by the amount of wind... but mostly the beauty of my home country, from the wild places to people's smiles and hospitality. I was already a passionate kiwi but my appreciation and pride for New Zealand has grown so much from what I've seen. So far the trip has been everything I hoped and more so fingers crossed it continues along the same positive path for the next 96 days.

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