I left Wellington with a feeling of unbelievable excitement building inside me. The North Island is a wonderful place, but it really struggles to match the South. The scale of the mountains, the remoteness and the possibilities for adventure are just endless. I disembarked from the ferry in Picton with Christian and Marlena but after a good lunch, it was time to head our separate ways. It had been great to have company – I had actually learnt a lot from travelling with them – but it was great to strike out on my own again. It was the first time I had felt this real joy of being on my own and the contentedness this brought has been another factor in my enjoyment of the South Island. I had planned a route that would take me to a lot of places that I had not previously visited. I would also take in some of the iconic sights and journeys of New Zealand.

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I found leaving Gisborne very difficult. The help and hospitality of neighbours Leigh and David combined with the comfort of having had my own house for three days courtesy of Lorraine and Brian Wilks had lulled me into a very secure position. The feeling was similar to leaving Auckland, but for some reason even worse. As before, I knew that I could do it. I had just 97 km planned for that day to Wairoa but I dragged the process of tidying and packing out for ages. I finally managed to calm myself from this totally irrational position.
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Landing in New Zealand was an incredible feeling. Australia had been conquered and I was returning to one of my favourite places in the world. I am very lucky to have been here twice before and it very much felt like I was coming home. Nowhere else in the world have I ever felt quite so alive. I spent a few days doing jobs in Auckland staying with an old friend of my mum’s. I then stored my bike with them and they kindly gave me a lift to the airport as I was off to join my parents for a few weeks over the Christmas and New Year period. It was absolutely unreal to see them. I had struggled so much, especially at first, with not being able to talk to them. We travelled around both islands and it was so good to have a break from the bike. Australia had taken a lot out of me and I felt the time off did me a lot of good both physically and mentally. Some major highlights of my time with them included paragliding and mountain biking in Queenstown, whitewater rafting in Turangi and hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is the setting for Mordor and Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films. Christmas Day was spent in the Te Papa Museum in Wellington with hundreds of other travellers and for New Year we had a great dinner in Auckland and sat out to watch the fireworks. In what has got to be the best New Years’ Day ever, we went out sailing on an America’s Cup boat. This was probably the highlight of my time with them. I just loved the speed and physicality of it. If anybody has a spare £10 million then feel free to buy me one! Sailing has now been added to the list of activities that I want to take part in during my life.

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Welcome to my first ever gear review. To kick things off I’m going to give an assessment of my tent; the MSR Hubba Hubba. Just to make things clear, I bought this tent myself and all opinions are my own. I will mainly be reviewing the tent for the purpose I have been using it, bike touring, but a lot of the points will be relevant to other likely uses, primarily hiking. Read More

The Last Leg

Sydney is a stunning city. It is a huge, sprawling mess across hundreds of different bays and hills. Having spent a relaxed night on Bondi Beach I made my way into to heart: Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These iconic monuments always cause me to look on in wonder. Having arrived by bike and travelled so far to get there was a great feeling. Rather than battle the traffic I took the ferry across the harbour to Manly, where I was lucky to be put up for a couple of nights by Ann, a friend-of-a-friend of my mum’s! Sydney’s Northern Beaches are beautiful and with their access to the city, a very popular and affluent area. It was certainly nice to put on a pair of trousers and feel civilised for once. Ann continued to the trend of staggering generosity shown to me right across Australia, but the final stretch awaited. It was time to head north for Brisbane. I had 1000 km to cover and two weeks until my flight to New Zealand. There was no rush, but I wanted to enjoy the east coast. Read More

I was very lucky that for my entire time in Melbourne I had people to stay with in and around the city. It’s a place that I have greatly enjoyed in the past so I was looking forward to a few days off to recharge and get some jobs done. First up I spent a night with an old school friend very close to the centre and it was great to have a base to stock up on supplies and also to get my bike into yet another shop to remedy the issues talked about in my last post. Luckily I immediately trusted the judgement of the guys at the very well established Cecil Walkers; it helped that they recommended the components that my research had suggested would be best for the job. I booked everything in and then took the train out to the city of Ballarat. Here I stayed with the Duthie family who had first met when they cooked me dinner out on the Nullarbor. It was fantastic to catch up and I spent another great evening in their company, playing Lego with grandson Patch. The next day I was able to see the main tourist attraction in Ballarat, the excellent Sovereign Hill gold mine before heading back to Melbourne. I then stayed two night in the suburb of Ringwood with Bill and Marilyn while everything was delivered and assembled on my bike, before steeling myself to hit the road again. The hospitality had been incredible and as usual I was slightly loathed to leave. But Brisbane was calling. I had four weeks and over 2000 km to cover needed to keep moving forward. Read More

There is an awful lot of inspiration out there if you want to find it; adventure sports videos; outdoor magazines; social media. These can, however, appear so extreme and unreal as to be unachievable, so I thought I would share some stories from people I have actually met. They have inspired me as much as the stunning scenery or amazing experiences. It is very easy to get lost amongst the pressures of modern society to conform and follow the expected and comfortable path. These people haven’t done that. They want no particular praise and their reward is the lifestyle that they have crafted for themselves or the memory of their achievements. They also make me realise how lucky I have been and that I must earn the right to succeed in life and fulfil my ambitions. Read More

Australia is done.. Last week I made it through high humidity and huge lightning storms to reach Brisbane. Following a cancelled flight and 14 hour delay due to the storms I’ve now made it to Auckland. I’ll be publishing some new articles about my trip over the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Adelaide to Melbourne

Cycling into Adelaide was an incredible experience. Having set off from the world’s most remote city, here I was, battling serious traffic for the first time in weeks. I was heading into the city from Gawler 50km to the north of the CBD, through urban sprawl and seemingly endless shopping malls. I eventually hit the north Adelaide district and with it the Adelaide Oval and Cathedral. It was a remarkable feeling to have come so far and been through so much to get there. Not for the first time, or the last, I felt a little overwhelmed and wished I had someone to share the moment with. A few photos later and I was navigating through the city to get settled in with the people I was staying with. I was very lucky to have an offer of a bed from some relatives of a good friend and immediately felt very welcome. A few beers later, it was as if I had known them for years and my first evening in the city had been great!

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It’s now been a month since I finished crossing the Nullarbor so I’ll try to bring you up to date with a series of posts. Rather than write a day by day update, I thought I’d pick the stand-out moments, both good and bad, from the past few weeks. I’ll work in a chronological order but hopefully just include the interesting bits! Read More