• Tommy Hyland

To the Bottom

3 weeks of riding to traverse my way to the lowest point of my trip on the map but one of the highs mentally.

Day 18: Invercargill Repacking my bags and saying goodbye on the side of the road where I would start my ride as the sun rose setting me up for a cruisy day knowing I would arrive before dark. I rode for 7 hours with only farmland to see on either side of the road which was a weird change from all the dense jungle and forest I had been immersed for most of my ride thus far. A little sleepy and feeling the effects of exhaustion for the first time on the trip I made rather slow progress but after arriving in Invercargill I was given a boost of energy from an awesome conversation with and support from two guys fundraising for the Wheel Blacks (The NZ Wheelchair Rugby Team). After arriving so early into Invercargill at 2pm I decided to treat myself to a fresh jar of peanut butter and headed to a park to feed some ducks and relax. After indulging my inner child by playing on some swings I headed to my home for the night to enjoy some incredible food, conversations and some much needed rest.

Day 19: Bottom of the World (NZ) Had a nice sleep in and a repacking of all my food before heading to bluff, the southernmost town in the South Island to mark a ¼ of my trip complete. Leaving at 10am being blessed with some tailwinds I made my way south in a couple of hours found myself at stirling point, after travelling 1,200km over 19 days I had reached the bottom. With 100km still ahead of me there was little time for celebration if I wanted to make it to my campsite in Curio Bay before dark. So battling back into the wind that had carried me so kindly to Bluff I started venturing into the wild Catlins Coast and on dusk I arrived at my home for the night. Closed out this amazing day watching the sunset from the top of a lookout overlooking the 180 million year old petrified forest and the nesting grounds of the rarest penguin species in the world while enjoying a can of baked beans & Pita bread.

Day 20: Catlins Coast 4:30 am with flashlight in hand I quickly packed my bike and spent the morning exploring the surrounding beach and bush hoping to see some of the amazing wildlife in the area. Unfortunately there were no penguins home but watching the sunrise surrounded by petrified forest that had been there since the Jurassic time was well worth the walk. The magic of the Catlins continued as I rode for hours through old native rainforest rolling up and down hills with only birds as company. I fell in love with the peacefulness and random spots of beauty from rolling daisy fields to massive eucalyptus plantings that this section of the Catlins had to offer. Then to top it off my accomodation for the night was in a beautiful secluded bay with soft sand to enjoy while taking a walk at sunset.

Day 21: Dunedin The ride itself flew by as I was heading to see one of my best friends in the world and knew I had a few days rest ahead of me once I arrived. There was still some incredible moments dotted along the ride from discovering an old abandoned railway tunnel in the forest to the seemingly never ending farm fields full of jumping lambs and stumbling calves. After a very hilly 120km I arrived in Dunedin to some beautiful food, old faces, new connections and a lot of gratitude for the days of rest ahead of me.