Let me introduce to you: some lovely people I’ve met on the road. And let me tell you; some nice stories about how we’ve met.
26-12-2015, Murchison, Bob & Phillipa
So after this first Christmas Day with nice people, some good food, a lot of fun and last but not least some good rest for my cyclinglegs I was ready to take off and so I started this second Christmas Day the only right way: on my bicycle! After cycling 85 km I arrived in Murchison and it was there where Bob & Phillipa took me in afer a long day cycling. They are part of the warmshowers-network (the one I mentioned before), a network with people all over the world that share their love for cycling and host other bicycle-lovers while they are on the road. And they offered me a perfect campingspot in their lovely garden and invited me for diner. With lots of good stories about politics and education (Phillipa was a teacher as well), and traveling in Australia (Bob had lots of experience) I ended up with my belly full of food and some nice stories in my mind.
27-12-2015, Woodstock, John & Susan
The next day I took off with lots of good energy and cycled all the way to Woodstock, 115 km away from Murchison and only 45 km to Motueka; the place where I would catch up with my friend Katie from Canada, the girl I’ve met earlier in Queenstown. I arrived on this free camping place late in the evening around 21.00 o’clock and I had to hurry up to set my tent and cook my dinner before dark. But then, all out of nothing, my friendly neighbors opened the door of there camper van and invited me in for a cup of tea. They told me I was more than welcome to cook my diner inside their tiny house while they were the proud owners of a real kitchen (something we can only dream of cycling with a tent). And so I did. I enjoyed my rice and lentils under the company of this lovely couple and their two dogs. Before I got back to ‘my home’ Susan gave me a kettle full of warm water to give myself a quick wash. She had a friend that cycled the world’ so she told me with a smile ‘we know what it’s like’.
28-12-2015, Motueka, Katie
It was the 5th of december when I first met Katie. Remember the story when I wrote about this nice couple that I’ve stayed with in Gibbston for two weeks ending up taking care of their house and cat? Well, this girl Katie was cycling as well and I hosted her at the place where this nice couple hosted me. You get it? Nice story right? We stayed in contact while we were both on the road and shared our experiences what was really nice because we both cycled the same direction, only she was one week ahead of me. So far, so good. Well sadly this story got a twist. This young women enjoying life on a bicycle with lots of good energy and the right spirit for cycling, got robbed! While she was asleep on this campingplace someone took her panniers (bags on a bicycle) and that’s without a doubt the worst thing that can happen to a cyclist (or maybe the worst thing after getting hit by a big truck, especially here in NZ). Our whole life is in these bags! It’s all collected with care, based on practical and personal value. And just the idea of someone taking this away from you just because of its little financial value, it makes me feel really angry and really sorry for my friend. Well, a long story short; after receiving this sad news I felt more than convinced to make it all the way to Motueka before she would leave this town, just to give her a big hug and share some stories.
And so I did! Reunited again! And if you think we look a little bit sleepy in this picture, you are right! This picture was taken in the early morning (6 o’clock) after a more than perfect night sleeping under the stars. Under the stars? Yes under the stars! Just like this:
All you need is your sleeping bag and some threes. And of course it’s even better when you have some nice company. Well what an excellent idea! Yes it was, but to be honest… it wasn’t ours… And that’s where this 3rd person comes in the story; his name is Keith, he is from England and is already on the road for 5 years.
He just happend to be around when he found out about the stolen panniers so he popped-in this little story to make sure Katie was alright. And she was. We were. Being the experienced cyclist he is, he has the most incredible ideas and stories about traveling and life to make your evening into a very interesting one. So in his company we had an excellent time. It was an night to remember!
28-12-2015, Motueka, Katie & Keith
The next day we took off early in the morning. It was time for another day cycling and this day would be full on, for the three of us. Ready for take off. Me and Keith up north to climb this big hill to Takaka together (while we discoverd that we were accidentally heading to the same destination – Golden Bay!), and Katie on her way south to cycle the most incredible (and probably hard) little cycling roads that Keith told her about.
29-12-2015, Keith on top of the Takaka-Hill
So what’s the story about this hill? Well, I can tell you there are many stories about this hill on the road. And most of the time (as I experienced so far), thats not exactly a good sign. It’a sign that there will be a hard time cycling ahead, garanteed. So the story goes that there are people cycling New Zealand for weeks and then suddenly they decide to take a bus (or even a boat) to avoid cycling this big hill. They say it’s the longest climb going up in NZ, like 25 km. So they say; ‘it’s a very hard one to cycle’. And in addition of this, I have to confess that (being this Dutchie) I am still not used to this hilly environment: I always get a bit afraid the day before I will actually cycle one. So… you can imagine that I felt a little bit more frightenend when this energetic guy Keith, that looked like he had killed many mountains before (with pleasure), asked me to cycle this road together. He told me I would be totally fine and that we would be able to even enjoy this ride, ‘without a doubt’, he said. ‘What an optimist’, I thought! And yes, that’s what I (normally) really like about people. Still I started cycling this day with a bit of a sceptical mind (it was the fear speaking), but I can tell you (of course) that he was totally right. We found a very good pase and we even had enough air to share some nice conversations on our way up. I ‘faced my fears’ and came to the conclusion that it actually wasn’t so bad at all. Of course partly because I felt really relieved – we’ve made it to the top! But without a joke; I did enjoy the ride, fully. So that had to be celebrated; with a little bit of wine (our leftover from diner) that Keith decided to carry all the way up just for this moment. So we made a toast on top of the hill, on this big achievement and on what we both probably didn’t realise yet; a new friendship that had just started.
29-12-2015, Takaka – Motupipi, Owen, Dave & Keith.
After climing this hill the reward was there: we’ve made it all the way to Golden Bay! Entering this amazing little part of NZ by bicycle was magical. As soon as you reach this other side of the hill you can feel the difference. Life here is lived in another pace. People take their time and take care of what’s important for them. No big consumerist-shopping-walls, just one supermarket and a tiny center in the city, with lost of people that try to make a living using their creativity. Sounds good right? I can tell you, it is. It even gets better; cycling in this invironment makes you aware of the fact that this place is surrounded by the most incredable parts of nature. So I felt like entering this little ferrytale and I fel in love with this place, in just the very first five minutes. Keith looked at me with the expression in his eyes that told me ‘it looks like someone is going to stay here!…’ Can you imagine? I could!.. But it would be the end of my adventure as I jus got started, so keep your focus Janneke (that’s what I told myself).
We continued cyling some 8 km more and arrived in Motupipi, where Keith introduced me to his friend Owen and his wife Peggy. And by the time we arrived they even had a friend over for a holliday, Dave (the man that’s standing next to me). The very good thing about getting to know Owen is that in one day it felt like having a home in the Golden Bay. He and Peggy became like family in a very short amount of time. I felt more than welcome, surrounded by good people and good energy. Lucky me!
31-12-2015 – 02-12-2016, Twisted Frequency Festival, Golden Bay
Speaking about good energy, there was a festival coming in Golden Bay and normally a festival is the best guarantee for good energy. So what’s the story about this festival? Well, let me tell you. By the time that I was cycling the westcoast, like long days cycling, going up and down all day, I met this very nice couple from Wanaka that told me about this festival in Golden Bay with NY. So since this day I was cycling the westcoast with this idea in my mind of going to a festival and I felt more than commited to make it there just right on time. It would be the perfect occasion to celebrate all the km that I cycled so far. And of course, I already realised that although I might be there right on time, there was a chance that I would never make it to the festival, just because that’s what happens if you travel with an open mind, without a fixed plan. But just the idea of this festival kept me going cycling this hilly westcoast. So you can imaginge that I was more than happy when I find out that my new friend Keith was actually in for a festival and decided to join me! What a pleassant surprice! We transformed our bicylebags into one festivalbag, and off we go!
31-12-2015, Golden Bay, Maya & Heidi
After arriving a bit confused in this overcrowded area, surrounded by cars and tents set up in a very random way, we eventually found our little spot to camp and had a warm welcome by our neighbours. Let me introduce to you: Little Heidi and her sister Maya. Do I need to say more? We just had an excellent time at this festival where we celebrated for me the beginning of this big bicyletrip and for Keith the end of his big journey an his time in NZ.
Two funny facts about this festival: We didn’t drink any alcohol (well I guess that’s what happens if you sent two cyclists to a festival, we just forgot to take any with us!) and we’ve spent only 10 dollars in this 3 days of time, on a pizza (that we’ve even shared). So we can say, we had a more than perfect time in Golden Bay!
05-01-2016, Cape Farewell
And the good thing is; it wasn’t over yet! It turned out to be that my prayers had been heard: I found the perfect excuse to endure my stay at Golden Bay. And that’s when the local bike mechanic comes in the story. What happend? Well, just the day after we cycled this big hill to Takaka, we were sitting next to our bicycles to check them very closely (yes, that’s what you do if you cycle) and suddenly my friend Keith discovers this whole in the rim of my backwheel (like 2 cm big). So, we visited Martin in his local bikeshop and he orderd all the parts to make me a new backwheel. The hero! Only, that took him two weeks while he had to wait for the delivery of some special spokes before he could start building my wheel. So I had the perfect reason to go on and explore some more beautiful parts in Golden Bay. Peggy borrowed me her mountainbike and together with my new bicycle buddy Keith, we took of to Collingwood and Cape Farewell to explore this very nice area in Golden Bay.
11-01-2016, Takaka, Martin
This is the picture of Martin in his bikeshop, the man that made me a new backweel! And this day, the 11th of januari he made me a very happy girl by telling me that my bicycle was ready. And so was I. Ready for take off, after fully enjoying this magical place, the Northern Island was waiting for me. If you read this Martin, thanks a lot, my appreciation is big! Now I have two favourite bike-mechanics, one in Takaka, and one in Lisbon (yes Bruno, if you read this message, I’m talking about you).
11-01-2016, Takaka-Motupipu, Owen
It was time to say goodbye to the man that made our stay in Golden Bay into a very nice one. A stay that felt very warm and familial. Thanks a lot Owen for having us around all the time. We appreciated our stay more than we can say!
11-01-2016, Takaka-hill, Peggy & me
Ready for take off to cycle all the way back to the other site of the hill. But even this time I wasn’t cycling alone. Peggy, Owen’s wife, felt like joining me and so we cycled this big hill all the way up together. Me on my bicycle with this brand new backweel, and Peggy on her mountainbike. And I can tell you, we were an excellent team. Peggy, we did well! I am so proud that we managed to do this together. It just felt like the perfect ending of a ferfect time with you guys in Golden Bay. And.. what made it even more fun: we already knew that our friend Keith was waiting for us on the other side of the hill, preparing us a massive lunch, while he took off some days earlier to visit his friend John.
11-01-2016, Motueka, Peggy, me & John
We enjoyed our lunch all together more than I can say. In the evening John even invited (or challenged) us to play a game of frisbee in the park. And even after this long day on a bike, we all had tons of energy, enjoying eachothers company. And I think, both Keith and I, fully enjoyed this day in a very special way, because the both of us already realised that tomorrow morning we would start to cyle up north, what meant that we had to leave the beauty of the south behind.
11-01-2016, Motueka, Peggy, me & Keith
So the moral of this story? You are never alone. Even if you decide to take off all by yourself, and explore the world by your bicycle, you will meet people on the way that share the same crazy ideas about life (Keith & Katie) or people that make you feel like having this temporary family (Owen & Peggy). The only question for you will be; are you open to recieve all this? Or are you on this mission; we can call it work, we can call it career or ambition. Or even when you’re traveling on a bike, it could be your personal target of getting the kilometers done day after day, that will make you blind for all the beauty that’s there on the way. And I am glad to be able to say: look what I found on my way. Isn’t life beautifull?