Point England, Whitford, Tapu, Stony Bay, Kuaotunu, Otama and Tanners Point are just some of the lesser-known places I've visited these last two weeks. On a push bike. I know, sounds like a dream, right?
But, seriously, what places! Okay, not all are ever top of the holiday pops, but my, this is one incredible national address we reside at. I suppose, that's a big part of why I chose to do this bike ride thing: Dunc's Big Bike Ride. New Zealand is a country that must be seen and I got a bit greedy with all the things I wanted to see. So, I'm seeing them all.
I left early on 2nd January this year, kicking off my big adventure. And, two weeks in, one big adventure it has been! Day after day, beach by beach, I have pedalled my way around the coast, following it as closely as the geography and infrastructure allows. At times, I've been on the beach itself, riding closely by the water's edge, admiring its glimmer under this fantastic summer we've received. Other times, there's been cycleways adjacent to white sanded beaches, roads that follow the pohutukawa-strewn coast, boardwalks across mangrove colonies and then, unavoidably, State Highway 2. I'm currently in Tauranga; I cycled here from Auckland.
If you look at my Facebook page regularly, you'd be forgiven for thinking I've had a fortnight-long holiday along the east coast of the North Island, lounging on the country's best beaches and posing on cliff tops. But, it isn't all cafe lunches and bistro brunches. Honestly.
For a start, I keep losing air. The extra mass, approximating one grizzly bear, tied to the rear of my bicycle is making my tyres quite susceptible to punctures. Here's the stat: three days out of the current 13 spent riding have featured me on the side of some road, practising the things I learned for my Scouts Cyclist Level 1 badge. Throw in the sizzling heat this summer and you have a recipe for a whole heap of what I like to call 'non-fun'.
If you're a stickler for detail, you will have have noticed that I used the terms "bike", "bicycle" and "push bike" in the text here. Those with an inclination towards general knowledge will be aware that these terms mostly refer to a vehicle that is propelled by the rider. Yes, that's me; all the energy used to get me to this point has been donated by me, my body. It's quite tiring, and I need fuelling, often. I also need watering often, particularly in the sizzling heat this summer!
Nobody said it was easy, sang that man once. And he was right. I knew there would be pitfalls and possum traps along the way. It wouldn't be a charity bike ride if it were short of a challenge or two; it would be an episode of Neighbours. Albeit with brilliant people. And better scenery. And may that much continue!
Dunc Wilson is riding a bike around the coastline of New Zealand, hoping to raise funds for St John. You can donate to his give givealittle page here and follow Dunc's Big Bike Ride on Facebook here.