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.