The first days on New Zealand roads were a bit difficult for us, to be honest. In Australia we got used to a very relaxed lifestyle – we could cycle as long as we liked to and simply put up our tent wherever we wanted. Contrary to what many people might think of Aotearoa, as it is called in Maori, it is a country of never ending fences and endless farmlands.
It was extremely hard for us to find a spot for wild camping on the north of New Zealand. Many times we had to sneak onto the private land, risking fines for trespassing.
Free campsites in Australia were abundant – in New Zealand most of the time we were shocked by the prices for camping. The most expensive were the caravan parks, where people are asked up to 24 dollars PER PERSON for an unpowered tent site.
We had to adjust our life to the new conditions – camping often meant waiting until it was dark to avoid being spotted and fined. But unlike in Australia, there were no dangerous animals waiting for us hidden in the grass so that putting up our tent after sunset was safe.
We were stunned by the prices and quality of internet in New Zealand. After years spent in Asia, we got simply spoiled by the low prices of the access and its availability.
Luckily it was possible to find nice surprises on the side of the road: edible mushrooms were introduced to New Zealand together with pines and birches but picking them is not as common as it is in Europe; blackberries had left people’s gardens long time ago and are now considered an aggressive weed.
The locals on the North were extremely friendly, both Pākehā and Māori!
The North is famous for its endless, white-sand beaches, Aotearoa’s native people and unspoiled, dense forests, dominated by giant Kauri trees.
We were amazed by the size of the gigantic trees, as well as the variety of species and complexity of the forests. We could see dozens of different kinds of trees growing one next to the other – after the eucalyptus-dominated bush of Australia it was a true feast for nature lovers.
We found it extremely pleasing to cycle on beaches. The pure power of nature, manifested in an ever-changing, wild coastline, was a perfect site for adventurous cyclists like us.
Somewhere between riding worlds widest natural bicycle paths and visiting forests, that remained unchanged for millions of years, we have made it to the end / beginning of the country.
From there on we were following the coast, moving further and further south.
We allowed ourselves to roam free on the dunes along some of New Zealand’s longest beaches (including the famous 90 Mile Beach), just as local feral horses do.
The North was a great playground for us, a bit of an aperitif before the rest of the country.
From sandy beaches and lush-green paddocks, we entered an up-and-down landscape that lead us back to the outskirts of Auckland – the country’s largest city.
After days of gravel grinding and adding wear to our chains by applying generous amounts of salt water mixed with sand, we came back to our family’s headquarter, to restock, relax and let glycogen fill up our tired muscles once again.