I was faced with a difficult decision on Friday evening 17th February. Either push on to arrive at Cape Reinga as I had stated I would to listeners on National Radio and in Media Releases that day, or let logic prevail, and postpone the arrival one more day. I opted for the latta. With just twenty kilometers short of the top, torrential tropical downpours had started just after the National Radio interview round 2.30pm. Coupled with this, the road was greasy, the terrain exceptionally hilly, and light was due to start fading.

Pioneer Spirit is alright on wet roads, but not a lover of them, so I parked up for the night at Waitiki, the last fuel and beds before the Cape. I was frustrated, but upon further advice, from local iwi, my mind was eased somewhat knowing I would not have completed the hill climbs before dark.

It had been a good day. I had arrived in on dark the night before at Lake Waiparera, and camped the night, hitting the road at 7.15am the following day. Good time was made to Hou Hora, where I had reached by mid morning. This is also where cell phone coverage ends in Northland, so I decided not to wait for the 2.00 interview, but to move on. I decided I would find a local resident closer to the top who would let me use their phone. The wheel reached Te Kao  round 1.30, in time to cool down, and prepare to speak on air. The Te Kao general store staff were most obliging in letting me use their phone and office. Jim Mora as always is a top interviewer and gave me good air time and sound questions to work on. He really is doing a fantastic job for NZ with his afternoon show – truly a great community builder.

But the wet really was wet. Heavy, and I was soon saturated. So after a sound nights sleep at Waitiki Village, I headed out for the Cape. The weather had cleared, and it was fine, sunny and humid. But hilly. Hill after steep hill for twenty kilometers – and then – I was there. Looking down at the Cape and lighthouse. I was elated, almost relieved. I had had the dream to do the ride in 1998, and tryed to get the time to do it in 2005, and 2007, and now here I was. And the centre of a photographic frenzy for some time. Finally I did the last mount up for the final few meters down the path to the light house. I had left Stewart Island on 14th November 2011, and now, 52 days of peddling, and just over three months later, at 2.32 pm, it was done.

Once all the photos had been taken, the records book signed, and hands shaken, it was off back to Kaitaia for a rest before beginning the journey home to Oamaru in the morning.

Photo – Elation at Cape Reinga. Arrived 2.32pm Saturday 18th Feb 2012.


Keeping a hand written daily journal in my specially made Oamaru Book Bindery log, sending regular press releases with photos across NZ and Australia, preparing articles for the Oamaru Mail, handling a daily volume of emails and phone messages, while continuing to ride and maintain the bike has been a mission in itself. But the trip is well documented and well worth this time. Carrying a lap top computer on board has been invaluable.What it has meant though is from time to time  I have been behind in my updates. This is one such a time. So recapping…..

Last week was truly one of my most memorable and hectic.. After Waitangi, the media and radio in the north were all carrying stories and pictures about the ride, so interest from passing motorists and well-wishers has been considerably more intense than usual. People stop me on the side of the road frequently to chat and offer food and refreshments, and most vehicles are sounding their horns which I always respond to with a wave.School visits have remained a priority, and seeing the childrens faces light up in excitement and awe upon seeing a wheelman ride into their playgroung is always a highlight. I have now been living on the road as a ‘modern day swagger’ for three months now.

So this update is being written from Awanui, on Thursday morning 16th February 2012. Tomorrow I will be at Cape Reinga. Recapping the journey since leaving Waitangi, and my time in Kerikeri visiting the Kerikeri Mission House and Stone Store was simply fantastic. The Mission was founded by the Church Missionary Society in 1819. The Store is the oldest standing stone building in NZ built in 1836, and the adjacent Mission House was built in 1822. It is the oldest surviving wooden house in the country. The Historic Places Trust (HPT) should be well commended for it’s fine work in maintaining these buildings and keeping them open to the public. Staff are in period dress are most knowledgeable about the history of the area. I had the good fortune to meet   HPT representative at the Store, Elizabeth Bigwood, who duly presented me with a most fine medal she had made for ‘Cycling Bravery’. Worn with pride. Leaving Kerikeri, and I was met on the road by HPT rep Mita Harris. He was the organiser for the Waitangi Treaty Commemorations being held in and around Horeke last weekend, so after reaching the historic town of Kaeo, I left the ride there and dismantled Pioneer Spirit and loaded her on a trailer and was taken to the most magnificent Te Waimate Mission Station, NZ’s second oldest wooden house built in 1839. This was to become my base for three nights. The Commemorations were an outstanding event, celebrating the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi at the Wesleyan Mission House (built 1839) at Mangungu in Horeke. This occured on the 12th February 1840 following the Treaty signings at Waitangi and Waimate North.   This signing was one of the largest meetings at the time of Maori and Pakeha and attracted between 2000 and 3000 people. During this gathering there were many debates about the Treaty. At the end of discussions, around 70 chiefs signed the Treaty at Mangungu. The following day, at nearby Horeke, a large feast was held to consolidate the signings. The 2012 Commemorations included welcomes, a church service, swimming and boating regatta, and waka events. A very large crowd were in attendance during two humid and fine Northland summer days.

Back to Kaeo, a visit to their wonderfull little museum, and back on the road, staying in the historic towns of Monganui and Taipa. My right shoe sole fell off completely in Monganui, and I have reattached it with Gorilla Glue. One half day lost through heavy rain, but the temperatures remain in the mid 20’s each day. Bike and rider in top form.

Now round 100 kilometers to go. ENDS

1598 Waka crews at Horeke township in the Hokianga, at the Waitangi TreatyCommemorations closing.
1593 Waka at Horeke
1580 Mungungu Mission House (1839)
007 Kerikeri Mission Station Stone Store (1836)



After leaving Waitangi, I caught the ferry across to historic Russell. What a fanastic old settlement. Each of the historic buildings have been carefully restored and maintained. It is a peaceful town, relaxed. Although only there a short time, I made sure of a visit to Pompallier Mission which was built in 1842. I have been fascinated by the rich heritage in these parts of Aotearoa.The Mission was built under the direction of architect Louis Perret, in the traditional Lyon rammed earth style, and is the only building of it’s kind in Australasia. This was the printery, tannery and storehouse for the French Marist Mission of Bishop Pompallier and has been restored to it’s original function as New Zealand’s oldest factory. Bishop Pompallier and the Marist Brothers printed almost 40,000 religious texts in Maori here in eight years – a staggering achievement. The Mission is now a working museum, where tanning, printing and bookbinding are demonstrated.

A visit to the Russell School was a highlight. The pupils were enthralled to hear about the Victorian Precinct in our fine town of Oamaru, and to learn about penny farthings. During my riding demonstration, I carrered off the end of the ashpalt play ground and down a grass bank, much to the amusement of the pupils. I got one very big fright as I went down the hill, smiling and making it look part of the act. It was’nt, but ended well. As I left the school, the OOCC (Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club) chant I had taught them , devised by Oamaru Bookbinder Micheal OBrien,  could be heard ringing out through the town. I was deeply moved to have all the boys perform a most serious and professional haka upon my departure.

Since leaving Stewrat Island, I had been curious to know what the all up weight of Pioneer Spirit is with her full saddle bags, so I arranged with the Russell Big Game Fish Club to utilise their crane and scales to find out what I was grappling with each day. The bike was duly hoisted in front of a large crowd of curious tourists on the wharf, and she weighed in at just over 57 kilos.

The next leg is onto Kerikeri.


Photo; Russell School,
Photo  Pioneer Spirit weigh in Russell Wharf.


On the eve of Waitangi Day, and after descending another  extremely steep hill following riding the steam train in Kawa Kawa, I found myself on my steel rim on the front wheel after the rubber separated once again. An anxious few moments, with rubber flapping around inside the forks, then a rapid dismount with no crash,and makeshift repairs to reattach the rubber using tape and wire which i was carrying for such an event. I was some eight kilometers from Waitangi,and keen to make it there by nightfall. Light was failing as I rode through Pahia towards the Waitangi Marae.   I was most excited, as this was the 172nd anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the first I had attended. After reaching my destination, I made contact with Ngapuhi (the northern most tribe in Aotearoa) leaders,  who were overseeing the secure compound on Te Tii Marae adjacent to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. I was warmly welcomed and invited to camp with all the other tents, and once I had identified my site, I did a familiarisation ride around the total area before returning to the compound round 10.30. Not knowing anyone, and as part of my personal security strategy, I parked Pioneer Spirirt under a large pine tree, and sat beside the wheel throughout the night in full uniform, not sleeping. I did not set up camp, and was ready to leave at no notice, should there be unrest, a technique I learned while working in South Africa and Somalia. There was no issues at all. During those hours, I gained further understanding of what it would have been like to have been a soldier on night guard duty in an encampment during wars. There were many walking around throughout the night, and I was pleased to establish greater understanding of the issues around the Treaty from a Maori perspective. At 5.00am there was the Dawn Karakia. Just after 8.00am, TV1 News interviewed me and had me to ride along the waterfront. The day truly was remarkable with the Prime Minister and Governor General in attendance amidst tight security. A large community market and gala appeared from the small hours and a festive mood was apparent on the Waitangi National Trust Estate, Hobson and Te Tii Beaches.I have been heartened often during these travels to see the Maori youth taking such a keen and personal interest in their heritage, and on this day, many cultural performances were held along with the paddling of waka. A church service was held, and at midday, there was a 21 gun salute, followed by the NZ Navy band providing top class entertainment.TV1 did a live cross from the site at this time, and asked me to walk past as they were filming the gun salute, a duty I performed amidst thick smoke reminisicent of a battle field. Other events included an aerobatic display by the RNZAF “Red Checkers”.  I left Waitangi mid afternoon and headed back to Pahia where a local engineer rewelded the wire holding my front wheel, made some excellent adjustments to my seat, and hosted me for the evening in his straw bale house. ENDS

Photo. Waitangi Marae



An incredible few days of immersion in the rich heritage of Northland, and the most generous hospitality of many. I had been looking forward to Te Hana, near Wellsford, a small rual community as I had heard of a new Maori living history initiative telling the love story of the beautiful Maori princess ‘Te Hana’. And I was not disappointed. After ten years of hard work, thousands of voluntary hours and tireless amounts of fundraising, the astounding Te Hana Te Ao Marama is an authentic Marae and Maori cultural experience, living proof that dreams do come true. Against all odds this rurally deprived community has rebuilt and reinvented itself. Using treasured knowledge from the past, Ngati Whatua ki Kaipara visual and performing arts have been revitalised. The recreated 17th Century fortified pa and maori village replica gives a most culturally enriched glimpse at pre-European Maori life in a 17th Century traditional maori village. The focus of the enterprise is to generate community economic development with emphasis on jobs for youth.

I was deeply moved emotionally as I sat in the meeting house and listened to songs of old, then had the great honour of being hosted on the marae for the evening. The following day it was a great pleasure to speak with Jim Mora live on National Radio. This was the third live interview with Jim, and he has been most supportive. It is incredible how many have spoken to me as a result of listening to his program.

And the highlights just keep coming. I left Pioneer Spirit at the turnoff on State Highway One at the ‘Swinging Cow’ tearooms and hitched to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe. Waitaki Councilor Hugh Perkins had alerted the Museum management I was going to viist, and what a world class museum it is. I arrived to a most warm welcome by the CEO Betty Nelley who gave me a detailed and insightful tour of the facility over a three hour period. The museum receives no government or local council funding support and has been operating since 1962. It truly is one of the nations great museums, telling the fascinating story of the Kauri tree and it’s gum, and how the settlers harvested the timber. The kauri is the largest tree in the forest and grows to a huge size. The timber was very important as a building material, here and abroad; for houses, furniture and ships. the trees also bled a gum that was dug from the land and exported to make varnish, linoleum and other products. Settlers came to Matakohe and nearby Paparoa in 1862, around the time Oamaru was being settled. The museum enjoys strong community support, and has over 80 volunteers who help in a variety of ways. http://www.kaurimuseum.com

Waipu was an unexpected treasure. Peddaling in on dusk, and I was soon settled into an iconic old house truck, kindly hosted by the local publican. There was a tangi on for a reverred local, so there were many visitors in the small community. The temperatures are very humid, till late and I thoroughly enjoyed learning of the Scottish heritage of the town. Under visionary leader Norman McLeod, 940 Scottish Highlanders made it to Waipu in 1853 after one of the most extraordinary global migrations in world history. Many of the early settlers had followed the Reverend McLeod from the North Western regions of Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1817, more than 30 years before they finally founded their home in Waipu. They arrived in six ships. Many of them were teachers and seamen, and they quickly became established in farming, agriculture, gumdigging and bush felling. A few turned their hand to ship building, a trade in which many Nova Scotians were skilled.

The week prior to my arrival, a community planning meeting of 90 residents was held to look at revitalising the town, and it was my pleasure to spend several hours advising on strategies to proceed with this initiative using the MAINSTREET PROGRAM as a framework for development. Oamaru has sucessfully used this program on two ocassions. Waipu is 40 kilometers south of Whangarei. http://www.waipumuseum.com

New marketing partnerships with the 17th Century traditional Maori Village in Te Hana, The Kauri Museum and Waipu with it’s stunning museum offer exciting new potential with Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct and Victorian Town At Work initiative.

With approximately 250 kilometers to Cape Reinga, I am excited. It truly has been a most remarkable journey.

Living Maori History in Te Hana.


There are only two ethnic historic villages in New Zealand, one being Akaroa on Banks Peninsula which was settled by the French in the 1840’s, and Puhoe, settled by Bohemians in 1863. And over this past few days I had the great priviledge of riding into Puhoe. It is a lovely historic town which has obviously received some very special and tender loving care and restoration over recent years. On the day of my arrival there were about thirty motorcyclists enjoying a repreive from the heat at the local hotel. As I rounded the corner I received a standing ovation much to my embarassment. Not entirely sure what that was about, but I duly dismounted with Harley Davidsons on either side and was warmly hosted.


I was impressed with the town but even more so by the Bohemian settlers. The local museum was a mine of information, and I soon learned that the settlers came from Bohemia in 1863, from an area known as the Czech Republic approx 60 kilometers from Prague.


In the snow, at midnight on 26th Feb, 1863, 82 Bohemians left Staab ( pronounced Stod) by train for Praque. Three days later and they were in Hamburg, their port of departure. Then 90 days followed of sailing ship to Auckland, then several hours aboard the cutter Wenderholm, then finally two hours by maori canoe and punt to Puhoi for the last four miles. They arrived at two whares on the river bank. This was on June 29 1863 after a journey of 124 days. In despair, in the cold and dark, the women sank to the ground and wept.


Life was a real struggle. They had to forage for what little they could find nearby and were close to starvation. From time to time local Maori brought them vegetables and fruit and despite real language difficulties the settlers gradually gained skills and learnt what could be derived, i.e tools and animals,  from sending firewood and charcoal down to Auckland.






Puhoe Hotel

Catholic Church



Headed north from Auckland and I had the great priviledge of meeting with Erika Currie, great friend and editor of HERITAGE MATTERS MAGAZINE. Erika started the magazine seven years ago, and has done a superb job bringing history alive to the nation. It is a fantastic magazine and has made an significant contribution to the collecting and sharing of the stories of Aotearoa New Zealand while building community.
There have been so many highlights to this journey – but none more outstanding than the fine kiwi spirit of hospitality so prevalent across our nation. Riding a bike, especially a big wheel, solo, through all the small towns enroute, and I never cease to be completely humbled by the kindness and generosity of complete strangers. In too many many ways to describe, the forms of hospitality vary from an elderly couple sitting in their car at the top of a hill clapping my progress, or a car laod of young folk slowing down with cameras hanging out windows, waving and shouting terms of encouragement, small children on scooters and bikes racing to keep up with me and wanting to know “how do you get up on that thing Mr!’, the continual tooting of horns from mount up in the morning till the finish of day, and then coming into communities and being hosted by strangers who soon become friends. One such example was in Waiwera. A delighful native bush clad seaside township. I arrived in on dusk, hot, sweatie and tired. Within half an hour I was being hosted by a lovely Maori couple Rex and Mary King and their friends, and served a banquet meal including fresh kinna, steak, chicken, salads and ale. The following morning I was served a sumptuos breakfast cooked by Rex of bacon eggs, onions and tomotoes
Even stopping for a cup of tea and folk soon congregate. Yesterday, at the summitt of one of my many hills, and on this occassion there was a bus shelter, I stopped for a rest.
I leant the wheel outside and within five minutes two cars had pulled up and I was conducting interviews in my ‘temporary roadside office’, then another car and another. From that time in the office I had two nights accommodation further north and afternoon tea five kilometers away.
This leg has not been without it’s breakdowns. The rubber left the front wheel coming down a hill out of Deavonport. Always a most adrenalin filled time – no time other than to dismount rapidly before the rubber becomes so entangled in the forks the front wheel stops turning while the rest of the machine is still travelling. In the worst case scenario, the rider generally goes over the handlebars. The dismount was achieved with no mishap. Repairs required the wire within the rubber to be welded, and as it was late afternoon, I secured the bike in the Firestone Shop and found lodgings not far off from folk I had met in Taupo who had offeref a bed if I was in their area. Incredible how things work out.
The rubber was mended the next day, and has now done a few kilometers and is holding. I have put additional wire ties around the rubber and rim for greater strength.
Whangarei is in my sights, and although losing two days, one with rain and one with the wheel repair, should be there mid week.

PHOTOS Erika Currie – Editor NZ heritage Matters magazine
Road side sustenance purchases
Front wheel rubber repairs devonport
Rex & mary King & friends, Waiwera.