Sandra & Hendrike’s 5000km NZ Odyssey

Sandra & Hendrike's 5000km NZ OdysseyGerman travellers Sandra Wehl and Hendrike Neh recently spent eight months cycling around New Zealand, clocking up over 5000km and getting the kind of up-close perspective of New Zealand that most people can only dream about. The gutsy pair took advantage of Natural High’s buy-back scheme, purchasing two Surly Disc Truckers and then selling them back to us at the end of their trip. Here, Sandra and Hendrike share their cycle touring adventures.

Where did your cycle tour of NZ take you?
We started in Auckland at the beginning of November 2015 and made our way all the way down to Bluff and all the way up to Cape Reinga. At first we did the centre and the East Coast of the North Island: Coromandel, Rotorua, Taupo, Hastings. A bus took us from Napier to Wellington and after catching the ferry to the South Island we cycled through Picton, Kaikoura, Christchurch, went inland to Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, spent some time in Queenstown and visited the Catlins.

With the Tranz Alpine train and the bus we reached the West Coast where we cycled from Franz Joseph to Nelson. Back on the North Island we headed north from Whanganui until we arrived in Hamilton. The last part of our tour was Northland. Starting in Whangarei we did a big loop via Russell, Kerikeri, Kaitaia, Dargaville, so we finally ended up in Whangarei again, having cycled more than 5000 kilometers during our trip.


What was your favorite place/places?
It’s always hard to pick one favourite place, because New Zealand’s scenery is so amazing and we liked all of it. But the ones we enjoyed the most were Lake Pukaki (right), Abel Tasman National Park and the Catlins.

Did you encounter any problems/mishaps along the way?
No. We had some flat tyres, but that was it. Our bikes were amazing! Beside that everyone we met was really nice and helping and luckily we never got involved in an accident, either. Neither on the roads nor anywhere else. The average New Zealander drives rather carefully. (But mind the trucks and tourists!)

bikes at bluffCan you tell us about your choice of bike and why you decided to use the buy back scheme?
We really wanted a bike that could survive eight months of cycling and carry all our gear. So we decided to buy two Surly Disc Truckers and were really happy with them. We didn’t have any issues at all. But taking them home with us on the airplane would have been difficult and very expensive. Furthermore both of us have bikes at home, no touring bikes, but bikes that are good enough to cover small distances – we probably won’t do another bike trip as big as our tour through New Zealand any time soon. So buying bikes at the Natural High bike shop and selling them back there was just perfect for us.

What do you love most about cycle touring?
That you are so close to the nature. You don’t have any glass between you and the scenery, you can feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and hear all the birds singing. Whenever you want to stop to take photos or take in the view you are able to do so, and by the end of the day you have the feeling that you have accomplished something. That is really satisfying, especially when you think of all the hard parts of the trip that you have managed to get through.

What was your cycling experience prior to this trip? Did you have any worries/fears before setting off?
We didn’t really have much experience before this trip. We’ve done two very small tours in Germany, one was for a week and the other one for three days – nothing comparable to our tour in New Zealand. So we basically started our training in Auckland. We feared that we couldn’t make it on the bikes – but we did it! 🙂 We were also scared that something would happen to our bikes, because we didn’t have any idea how to repair them. We knew how to change a tube, but that was it. Luckily we didn’t need to fix anything else.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Sandra and Hendrike! If you’re planning an extended tour of New Zealand and don’t want to bring your own gear, our buy-back scheme could be a great option for you. Find more details here.