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.
What an incredible city Auckland is. Such a major contrast from the quite and laid back lifestyle we enjoy in Oamaru and rural New Zealand. Fast paced, dense housing, heavy traffic. But also such an exciting place to be in – diversity of cultures, variety of activities. It certainly has something for everyone.
When I arrived in Queen Street on Saturday, I definetly felt I had arrived in Auckland Central. Enroute on the final leg into town, a TV3 News Crew caught up with me in Newmarket and did an interview which featured on the 6.00pm news that evening. Good coverage of riding in the city and some of the things that have happened during the ride. Much of what I outlined about Oamaru didn’t quite make it to the story, but still good exposure all the same.
On Monday, I took the bike up to the third floor of the NEWSTALK ZB Building on the corner of Cook and Nelson Streets, and was interviewed by Danny Watson between 2.05 and 2.30. The interview was beamed live over the internet at the same time. As it was talkback, it was great to have callers from Oamaru phone in. Local Anne Dodds of Waitaha had put this interview in place.
After that, back down to ground floor then around to Auckland Council Offices to store Pioneer Spirit overnight in readyness for the Mayor of Aucklands Official Farewell the following morning. The bike and rider receiving considerable interest from passers by.
Tuesday morning, and 10.30 sharp, and Auckland Mayor Len Brown met with me and officially sent me on my last leg of the journey to Cape Reinga. His worship was most entertaining and most interested in the ride and very familiar with Oamaru. Entering into the spirit of the farewell, he wore an Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club cap as he shock my hand and wished me well. Our mayor Alex Familton put this event in place and it did go extremely well.
A film crew from BROADCAST AND FILM NEW ZEALAND, Auckland, filmed the farewell, and continued filming as I rode down Queen Street, around the Auckland waterfront and under the Auckland Harbour Bridge. We are exploring opportunities to use this ride in future marketing of Oamaru opportunities.
Tuesday sees the wheel and I leaving Devonport for the far north. Approximately 450 kilometers remain of the journey on the planned route to Cape Reinga.
053 – Corner Green Lane & Great South Road
065 – TV3 News Interview / Broadway, Newmarket
078 – NewsTalk ZB Danny Watson Interview
093 – Hhis Worship The Mayor of Auckland Len Brown
104 – Completing the Queen Street publicity morning
107 – Broadcast & Film New Zealand Director Peter Cathro & Cameraman Bob Lau
One of the great aspects of this expedition has been meeting such a varied range of kind and talented people along the way. Everyday, folk come up to me and start talking about their lives and why they enjoy living where they do. I am pleased to report a strong community spirit exists wherever I go. Many have either visited Oamaru, or know of it’s where-abouts. Pushing the wheel out of Hamilton, and I must confess my opinion on the fine city had changed. Not only had I the opportunity to visit some historic buildings, view some fantastic vintage vehicles, and eat some great food, but I met such a diverse range of individuals, each offering hospitality in so many ways. Meals, accommodation, help with repairs, whatever it was, it was given with no questions asked, no charge, and in the most genuine of ways.
Day 1 out of the city had me travelling through Ngaruawahia with it’s long history of Maori settlement. The towns name, which means “open the food pits”, derives from a feast held hundreds of years ago to celebrate the coming together of two tribes through marriage. Increasing European settlement in the 1800s resulted in pressure on Maori to sell land to the settlers. Maori responded by establishing the Kingitanga ( the Maori King Movement ) to unite the tribes and to protect their lands. The King was based at Ngaruawahia.In 1863 British Troops advanced from the north. King Tawhiao knew he could not defend Ngaruawahia against the gunboats and fell back to the south into what became known as the King Country.The British military occupied the site and a new European town was quickly established. Kingitanga returned to Ngaruawahia when Turangawaewae Marae was established in 1921. The town has a most informative Heritage Trail for visitors.
Staying on the back roads, and it was on to Huntly for the evening. The power station is massive, and the main street has had a very tasteful make-over promoting a pedestrian friendly environment. Pokeno became a most unexpected stop over the following night. On dusk, and readying to find a campsite, and a kind local couple hosted me for the evening.
Refreshed, I was on the road sharp and ready to tackle the Bombay Hills. Very steep, but a relatively smooth surface and cool light head breeze had me at the summit in good time. Following the Great South Road into Manakau City and the Auckland traffic is now very heavy, at some stages four lanes. I am using all my knowledge of the bike to maneouver between lanes, judge traffic lights and skirt round abouts.
After a day of complete rest, I set to contacting television, radio and papers. the first interview is in the morning with a TV 3 crew.
An area rich in cultural and historic heritage greeted the wheelman on his journey between Tokoroa and Hamilton this week. Between heavy almost tropical downpours, good mileage was made, albeit with a combination of sweat and rain combined. First into view was the New Zealand Timber Museum in Putaruru. The museum was established in 1972, and is currently being expanded and upgraded. It was established to celebrate and preserve the timber industry particularly in the South Waikato District. Many fine displays tell the stories of the primeval native rain forest prior to colonisation; the harvesting and milling of much of that forest; and the rise of the plantation forest industry in New Zealand as supplies of native wood ran out. Further heavy rain had me scuttling for shelter under a shop verandah in the main street of Putaruru, where local shop owners bought a table out onto the footpath and treated me to a fine cup of tea amidst stories of Oamaru’s fine work with the restoration of the Victorian Precinct. A break in the weather and the wheel was underway to Cambridge, arriving just on nightfall. Cambridge is a pretty tree lined town, with many historic buildings standing handsomely restored.With much anticipation, I met Steam Vehicle specialist Nigel Weber with his 19th century Roper steam bicycle, a copy of the only other one in existance. The bicycle has a coal fired boiler and takes about half an hour to go from cold to a full 200 lb head of steam.Also in Nigels collection is his 1897 Stanley steam car. The 3 1/2 horsepower car was manufactured in Washington USA, and was the fourth ever produced. Capable of 50 MPH, the restoration work is immaculate. Remounting, and it was onto Hamilton, and a most warm and welcome reception by members of the Karamu Cycle Club, meeting me on the highway into the city. After media work, I had the great pleasure of staying in an old house truck belonging to Graeme Cairns. Pioneer Spirit required further maintenance work on the saddle and front carrier, and this was carried out at no charge by retired engineer Richard Butler, who just happened to have a Model ‘T’ under restoration in his workshop. The next leg of the ride is up to Auckland.ENDS
Photos. 116 Under the verandah cup of tea break during torrential downpour in Putaruru
114 Cambridge Steam vehicle specialist Nigel Webber with his 19th century Roper Steam Bicycle under repair
116 1897 Stanley steam car 104 New Zealand Timber Museum entrance
139 Arrival into Hamilton with Karamu Cycle Club welcoming group
178 House truck accommodation Hamilton
184 Pioneer Spirit seat repairs in Model A workshop Hamilton
Pushing Pioneer Spirit up hills has certainly been an important component of this ride. The Catlins, in and out of Dunedin, into Blenheim, up out of Wellington, through the Desert Road, but without doubt the steepest and most arduous has been this last section between Taupo and Tokoroa. Steep and long. Of the 90 kilometre ride, just on four hours has been spent pushing. Most impressive has been the continued warm hospitality received roadside. Three offers of accommodation in just one morning.
Of special mention was arriving into Whakamaru, round half way between Taupo and Tokoroa. It was just on dusk, late to be finding a camp site. With a cold sweet soaked shirt, and an OOCC uniform now badly in need of a wash, I walked into the only establishment open in this tiny forestry, dairying community, a small café and pizza shop. Within the hour, I was hosted food and beverage, and within two hours I was settled into a room in a remote farmhouse – all at no cost.
Mentally I am preparing for Auckland. Not so much the ride to get there, more the schedule that awaits with media and meetings. All good promotion for our fantastic town of Oamaru.
Pictures Spoke tuning in Taupo
Decling a truckies kind offer to carry bike and wheelman to the top of the steepest hill
A view from behind – seen by many