Monday, 14 March 2016

Getting to the start line

They like to say that these sorts of events are not a race and officially they are not but they definitely are a race for some and I guess I fall into that category. Before even getting to Cape Reinga I had quite a journey planned. I was Flying form Brisbane to Auckland and then onto Kerikeri, the next day I was taking a bus to Kaitaia and then straight onto the bike for about 90km up to Waitiki Landing where I will spend the night with a couple of friends also doing the TA. Well this pat of the trip didn't quite go to plan but in a positive way. First of all I had a shuttle pick up from home booked to get up to Brisbane but this changed last minute when a friend was heading to the airport and was actually on the same plane as me. I was going to buy him breakfast but I couldn't even do that as he was a Virgin airlines member and got me into the Air  NZ lounge, thanks John Sloan for a free ride and Breakfast. Once in Auckland we parted and I boarded my plane to KeriKeri, well I just about missed it actually, I sat down and introduced myself to the neighbor for the next hour. We pretty much talked for the entire flight about many different things but it turned out that she owned a holiday in Pukenui which was about 60km south of Cape Reinga and she was actually driving to the same backpacker that I was meant to be staying at and she new Dave, the owner very well. Jo offered me a ride there and also offered that I could stay at her place, this all sounded very appealing as it got me closer to where I wanted to be and with less hassle. We arrived at Hone Heke Backpackers and Dave the owner, was incredibly relaxed about me not staying and I didn't have to pay any cancellation fee, I also cancelled my bus ride the next day with a full refund. So far I couldn't believe my luck and the generosity and hospitality of the far north. We drove on from there and picked up a burger (the first of many) for dinner at Waipapa's Highway 10 Seafood Takeaways, it was a great burger but they were sort of famous for something else, Ice-cream! The store's largest cone is called the Highway 10 to Hell, an accurate name for the 15 scoop and 2.85kg monster ice cream. The next biggest cone is the 10-scoop, 1.9kg Death By Ice-cream, as pictured below

Death by Ice-cream
We carried on to Pukenui and once there Jo said I could stay in her sons room for free. I started to get settled in and put the bike together mainly to check that there was nothing I would have to deal with the next day. Settling into my room I saw some things in the room with his name on them and maybe this is why Jo was so generous as his name was Jacob. It seemed that I was seriously falling on my feet with all the positive things that had happened so far and I hoped it continued that way for the next two weeks. The next day I didn't have too much to do and it was only a 40km ride up to my next stop Waikiki Landing, but I did help Jo replace one of their water pumps for the holiday park, this was pretty easy but it felt great to give something back to Jo.

View from the Pukenui Holiday park, http://pukenuiholidaypark.co.nz/
It was pretty strange hanging around Pukenui knowing that the first wave had already stated and two days into it. I went and had a chat with someone else staying in the park that was doing the Tour Aotearoa. When I eventually left Pukenui I bumped into two more TAer's at the Pukenui four square, it was great to meet other people doing the TA and it added to the excitement that I was feeling.  It was great to get on the bike and it was a very nice 40km ride from up to Waitiki land where I was meeting a couple of my fiends also doing the TA. The rest of the day was spent talking about what lay ahead of us all, meeting a few others that were in the last wave start and obsessing over gear and packing of the bike. That night was spent with 4 humans in a bunk room and about 100 Mosquitoes buzzing around, we killed as many as we could before attempting to sleep in the unbearable heat in the small bunk room. Tomorrow the 24th of February would be the start of an incredible journey spanning the length of New Zealand using as many of the New Zealand Cycle Trails as practical. I was seriously excited but also rather apprehensive as I had never done anything quite like this before.

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