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North Island, New Zealand

Soaked in grime, frazzled and with only an inch of sunlight left in the sky we arrived in Auckland on Thursday 22nd March…and I still can’t quite believe it. We haven’t had time yet to talk about how we feel now that we have finished, so it just seems rather surreal right now. For over two years our thoughts and actions have been almost entirely swallowed up by this goal we set ourselves, and suddenly we are here! WAHOO! I feel like I can finally let out the huge breath I’ve been holding for so long. We actually did it, phew.

I’ve been trying to remember when we decided to attempt such a big cycle ride. Looking back now I realise I didn’t actually have a bike at the time (but I could buy one) and hadn’t actually ridden one in about ten years (pah! no matter) and actually, thinking about it, had I ever ridden further than a 5km radius from school? I clearly went through some sort of thought process, and used some sort of intelligent rationale to decide that, yes, I could ride a bike to New Zealand.

It has been so much more than I could have imagined. I feel like I have fallen in love with the world, and everyone in it. It’s just so bloomin’ beautiful, and filled with extraordinarily generous people. Each country we’ve visited has surprised us with its hospitality towards two crazy cyclists and I feel lucky to have learnt about so many different cultures first hand.

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Our final days were spent cycling up the North Island to Auckland. The road out of Wellington was busy with no hard shoulder so we opted to cycle along the beach instead. The beach was deserted and we made good progress close to the waves where the sand was densely packed.

Approaching Wanganui we had a crazy headwind which made progress painfully slow, but we were staying with a friend’s parents that evening and soon after arriving at their home we were surrounded by food, drinking wine and enjoying a wonderful evening – it made me think of all the days we’ve spent slogging away with nothing but a tent for comfort…life is so much easier with friends around!

The following day we’d scheduled 120km to Ohakune which would normally be tolerable but there was huge amount of climbing to do so when we arrived 10 hours later we were barely able to speak…our hectic schedule in New Zealand was catching up with us hard and fast. We stayed with Bruce and Bev who nursed us back to health with lots of food and rest, but we desperately wanted to have a day off.  Time was running out before our flights though, so once more we hauled ourselves back on the bikes the next morning and kept on going. The roads in this part of the island were beautiful, and the New Zealand sunshine even popped out from time to time.

We had places to stay throughout the North Island which was wonderful, but it also meant that we couldn’t be flexible with our daily distances and when the weather took a turn for the worse we were left battling into strong headwinds and rain on more than one occassion. We were socialising every night and cycling every day so it was a bit difficult to recover and we have both been feeling pretty exhausted.  Fortunately in Cambridge we stayed with a few rowers who go to bed even earlier than us (!!!!) so that helped a little.

We had started to fantasise about the end by this point, with only a few days left to go. Much of the cycling over the last few days went past in a very wet and cold blur. Unable to look up from the hard shoulder and soaked to the core I probably missed out on some good views, but my memories are of the families we stayed with. We’ve been so well looked after over the last few weeks, it would take the world’s longest ever blog to detail every experience but we want to thank the following for their amazing hospitality: Justin & Emma, Allan & Liz, Bruce & Bev, Harriet, Richard & Rosie, Kristin, Emma, Rebecca & Michael, Nancy & Martin, Lorna & Kate. What a list! And that’s just for the North Island!

And so after a few days spent in Auckland, we left New Zealand last Monday. Ryan flew to a wedding in Arizona, while I had one last thing I wanted to do to make the trip complete. For those that have followed us from the start you might remember that I was gutted by a knee injury in Germany, and missed some cycling between Antwerp and Munich. I keep picturing my little tyre track trundling across the world map we carry with us… and there is a little break at the beginning and I HATE it.

I know it seems stupid, but there you go, I’m competitive and like to do things properly. So I made the choice to pedal back home from Munich. My Dad has heroically volunteered to cycle with me from Munich to Dusseldorf, so I’m beyond excited about that (thanks Dad!) – I get to spend some quality time with him AND fill in my missing tracks.

It feels fitting to pedal back home too, rather than flying and being collected from the airport in a car. I’m meeting Ryan in Holland so we can have a few days cycling back to England together. We arrive back at my mum’s house in Cambridge on the 21st April – IT’S PARTY TIME!

More New Zealand photos are here.

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30 Responses to North Island, New Zealand

  1. satinder says:

    Fantastic achievement well done wish I had the balls

  2. Awesome effort. Dream come true. Congratulations. I am very envious!

  3. Carol says:

    Absolutely cannot wait to see you.
    Champagne going on ice right now ready for the 21st.
    Love you to Auckland and back! Mum x

  4. Sue says:

    An achievement beyond words – something so special that will be with you for ever – my only sadness is the ending of the blogs – you both write so well, with heart and an ability to make us feel with you for a moment – but I’ll happily trade them for having you home!
    x

  5. Sarah F says:

    I have loved following your journey through reading your blog and seeing the amazing photos you have taken! I am gutted there will be no more!! It’s amazing what you have done and i’m sure it has inspired others!

  6. Drew says:

    Brilliant, it’s been a joy reading your blog. Well done and good luck!

  7. Jay and Jenny says:

    Congratulations on making it. We need all your maps so we can follow your tracks.

  8. What joy you must feel to have done it! Once again I was smiling as I read about your thoughts and feelings. And I’m totally with you on ‘filling in the gap’ on your way home – complete respect for yourself and a determination to achieve your goal….Fantastic!

    Maybe it was fitting that you had to tough it out in the last few days to Auckland. A tough end to a tough journey and a final chance to prove yourselves through to the end. We have all admired your endurance in the tough times, but more than that we have loved to hear about what you have gained throughout the planning and execution of such an epic journey.

    Words like amazing, fantastic and epic truly apply to you and your journey. Can’t wait to give you both a massive hug on the 21st.

    Mark x

  9. Yes, you are mad, Rebecca. But then most interesting people are. 🙂

    I am absolutely sure that cycling the “missing miles” is the right thing to do. If you hadn’t decided to do this I am certain that you would always wish you had – you would have had that sense that you hadn’t actually cycled all the way from England to New Zealand! And quite apart from that Ryan would have been able to say that he’d ridden further than you! 😛

    Like Sue, I shall miss the blogs (until your next adventure). You both have a real way with words. You write with such passion, such humour, that you draw us into your adventure and we feel some of the emotions you experience.

    I really do hope I get the opportunity to meet you both some time – you are an inspiration to someone who would have loved to have had the courage, and the opportunity, to do something similar, but never did.

    And I would like to add that if ever your journeyings take you through Bristol and you need a bed for the night you would be more than welcome. We have met some lovely people that way.

  10. Billy Mcloughlin says:

    Well done Rebecca. Followed most of your trip. Good luck to you and Ryan for the future.

  11. Travel Nerd says:

    I have to admit that I am quite jealous especially as I love NZ.
    Keep on living your dream.
    Travel Nerd / Cologne

  12. lucyjanesmith says:

    you guys really are amazing – well done
    xxx

  13. Ian says:

    Many congratulations and I look forward to catching up in person soon. Really enjoyed following you on the blog and this final instalment in particular. Whatever the shape, or scale, of any of our adventures, there surely can be no better legacy than to have ‘fallen in love with the world’, and its people. Cheers

  14. Angela and James says:

    Congratulations to both of you on such an epic journey. Thanks for the blog and the pics. It was always an exciting day when they popped up in my inbox. I am sure there will be even more adventures (but maybe not as strenuous). Warm regards from Angela and Jim (Eucla Caravan Park)

  15. Shaun and Jill says:

    A ginormous well done to you both–reading and looking at your blogs along your journey has been quite inspirational and we were with you vicariously all the way!! Phew what an achievement and still speaking to each other at the end of it all.
    We look forward to catching up with you in Henley.
    With great admiration to you both–Shaun and Jill Stewart

  16. Smoothy says:

    I’m so proud of you but I’ll miss reading these!! Can wait to see you both when you’re home. Big Love Smooch xxx

  17. Mark Heff says:

    Congratulations Ryan and Bex on your fantastic adventure!!! You must have learned more than you will ever be able to explain to anyone (except each other). Your trip is an inspiration to many many people. Really looking forward to meeting you both in person in England.

    Love,
    Mark, Soraya and Alex

  18. Graham Bower says:

    What a great achievment. Unfortunately I only met you very briefly when you stayed at my little campground at Akoonah Park in Berwick Victoria but we have followed your blog ever since.
    Congratulation for a marvellous effort.

    Graham.

  19. Lucy Walsh says:

    Congratulations – I can’t believe you have completed your epic journey, it seems like yesterday I started reading your blog and following you (I’m sure it doesn’t seem like that to you!) It was a pleasure to read all your posts and see your amazing pictures.
    I hope you have a wonderful party when you get home and I hope you don’t mind if I ask for some advice or tips at some point…
    Love Lucy xx

  20. Margaret says:

    Congratulations to you both & big hugs all round, we’re absolutely amazed at your achievement & thrilled for you both. Can’t wait to see you when you arrive back in Henley.
    Now what?????????
    Lots of love Margaret & Robert
    xxx

  21. Andy says:

    What an amazing adventure. You two are a wonderful inspiration to the rest of us. I am so going to miss your blog postings and texts that I’m going to have to find another couple to stalk. So what are you going to do now?

    Well done and thanks for all of the pleasure you have given us all in following your trip.

    Best wishes

    Andy H

  22. Colleen McLaughlin says:

    i am speechless in my admiration and share your view of the world. I do know that your family and especially your mum have cycled the way with you and I am sorry I can’t be there to welcome you back home. Very very well done on such a life time and amazing adventure. I can’t imagine what you do now
    Colleen.

  23. Jo Cook says:

    Becks, I completely understand why you need to cycle the missing miles, sounds exactly like the sort of thing I would do!! I love the fact that you both said you wanted to cycle to New Zealand and then, in a relatively short period of time, went out there and did it. A lot of people are all talk but life is about experiences and you two have more extraordinary ones now than most people accumulate in a lifetime, congratulations!! Can’t wait to catch up when you’re back xxx

  24. dazza says:

    bloody fantastic,loved reading your blogs and looking at your pictures,i only do small 3-4 day tours, all in the uk,as i have family commitments,but you and your boyfriend (husband soon to be i am sure),have and will inspire me to keep going for years to come.

    thank you

  25. Pingback: The Best of Southern England? « Cycling 4 Cancer

  26. Congratulations on reaching the end Ryan and Bex – what a great adventure use have had! Im glad you’ve made the decision to ride those last miles, and I’ve included it in my latest blog. Im crossing over to France on the bike on the 19th, so if our routes are close it would be awesome to meetup (I’ve probably got a million questions for you!)

    Well done,

    Chris

  27. tadd says:

    your videos and website have really inspired me.
    I got my first touring bike after years of backpacking around the world, & hope to live close to nature while exploring new places and helping people whereever i can. Very happy to see people that enjoy cycling & exploring, & props for doing such a fantastic job of showing everyone!

    Cheers!

  28. Richard says:

    What an absolutely amazing achievement and a beautifully written account of your travels…a bit of a late comment, but well done ( I’ve only just heard about you both)

  29. mauromulas says:

    Very good job guys. How I would like to ride on your tracks!!!!

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