• Tommy Hyland

From South to North 

Day 34-37: Travelling from Christchurch up to Blenheim was a trip down memory lane, having driven these roads for most of my life on sport trips and holidays heading south. However meeting new people and staying in beautiful spots along the way, such as a back country farm in Cheviot and a coastal campground south of Kaikoura, really opened my eyes to the beauty I have been surrounded by my whole life. I had my first company of the ride with my Dad joining for a short cameo through the Kaikoura township and my little sister putting in some hard yards for a 66km journey with me on my 2nd to last day of the South Island. Riding home was not quite the homecoming I had envisioned with a big struggle against gale head winds the entire day and a flat tyre 5km from my home left me finishing the South Island on my feet wheeling my bike the last hour but as has been so the case everyday on this trip I wouldn't want it any other way as it led to an amazing conversation along a path I would otherwise have raced through if still on my bike.

Day 38 - 44:

Home. It was a very strange feeling to be resting at home, catching up with new and old friends as in the back of my mind I knew that over half the journey still lay ahead of me. I tried to find the right balance between recovery and preparation but judging from the slight psychological struggle in getting back on the bike I think I may have lent slightly on the side of rest and relaxation. However I absolutely loved being at home surrounded by the people I love and left with a full heart and belly to the North Island. Biking a small section on the way to the ferry with my Mum and little brother was a very special moment on the trip and made it even harder to say goodbye.

Day 46 - Day 48: Staying with my big sister in Wellington was an awesome way to start the North island and I am very grateful for the legends at Giant bike store for setting up Jolene for the Kms ahead. Caught up with some close friends and had an awesome connection with a potential riding partner in the later stages of the journey. Then it began. The headwind battle that would continental for the first week of my journey into the North Island. First up the Kapiti coast to Levin with a good cycle lane by the sea, some beautiful beaches and historic sites to mark good spots for meals. 106km later I was in the Levin catching up with an old friend from America, receiving some amazing hospitality and invaluable bike advice/equipment. Started the day with a flat tyre but thanks to my new pump (very grateful) I could now fix these problems on the road solo and made slow grinding progress the 70km to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base in Bulls for a really cool nights accomodation. Returning my security clearance and riding out from the Base was an epic way to start the day heading to my first ever warmshowers host (an awesome app that links touring cyclists with like minded people opening up their homes for accomodation). Hearing the history of Whanganui from an old fisherman as I ate lunch by the river and constantly stopping to inflate a slow leak tyre are the standout points for this day but just on dark I arrived in the bustling centre of Kakaramea. Greeted with a big smile, a hug and an amazing cooked meal, I had a feeling my stay with Lib was going to be a highlight. Leaving the next day after having my first every kneeling shower (don't knock it to you try it), learning to play backgammon, trying coffee for the first time, devouring my first breakfast taco and so many amazing conversations I wished I could have stayed longer! But my Dad was on his way up the North Island to drive alongside me for the weekend and I was super excited to share a small portion of the journey with him.

After being waved down on the side of the road by a crazy driver (my Dad) we enjoyed a good catch up and lunch under the sun in the cool little town of Hawera. After unloading most of my bags weight into the car I took off along the surf highway with Dad going on ahead to get dinner and accomodation sorted. A 3 hour expected ride turned into a 5hr grind into a headwind even with being 20kg lighter! But the awesome sea views and old towns with even older, abandoned buildings showing remnants of a past heyday were more than enough to soak in and keep me smiling. Going to sleep around midnight very content having had an incredible sunset swim to soothe my sore legs, some of the best company of the trip for dinner and the Rugby World Cup final live!!