Christchurch to Auckland By Bike: Sequoia Schmidt’s Solo Cycle Tour of New Zealand

Christchurch to Auckland By Bike: Sequoia Schmidt's Solo Cycle Tour of NZBack in April, Sequoia Schmidt embarked on a multi-day cycle tour across New Zealand to promote her recently-released book Journey of the Heart: A Sojourn to K2.

Sequoia is the daughter of renowned mountain climber Marty Schmidt and sister of 25-year-old Denali Schmidt, who both died in an avalanche on K2 in 2013, and the book tells the story of her trip to K2 Base Camp in 2015 to retrace her late father and brother’s footsteps.

Sequoia is now back in the US after having successfully completed her solo cycle tour, and we thought we’d check in with her to see how her journey went.

Where did you cycle tour take you?
My cycle began in Christchurch, I picked up my bike (actually it was delivered to me; amazing service) and began my cycle up to Auckland, zigzagging around New Zealand on the way up.

What was your favourite place?
The Rainbow Valley was one of my favorite sections from this trip. Three days alone in nature as I crossed the hills from Hanmer Springs to St. Arnaud. It was also one of the most challenging sections of the journey but magical. New Zealand wilderness at its finest.

What did you love most about travelling by bike?
Heightened awareness. There is something magical about having all your possessions in two pannier bags, strapped to your mode of transportation. It’s a feeling of freedom from the norm of society, it makes you look at things in a different light. After cycling the country, I feel like I know intimate details about the land, that I might have otherwise overlooked. On a bike, you are forced to pay close attention to your surroundings. I stopped in small towns and had personable interactions and conversations with locals. I made new friends and enjoyed every moment of my journey. It has allowed me to see my homeland with a whole new perspective.

What was your cycling experience prior to this trip?
I had virtually no cycling experience for this trip. It was a huge undertaking for a novice cyclist like myself. When I first decided to cycle across New Zealand (eight months prior to my trip) I picked up a bike in Los Angeles (where I live) and began my training. It was important to learn about clipping in and also make sure that I had my pedals and seat with me in New Zealand. I trained on the hills and flats of Los Angeles, until I arrived in New Zealand. When I got my bike in Christchurch, I simply had the pedals and seat put on the bike there and I was good to go. Because I had been training with that equipment, I felt more comfortable. Your seat is one of the most important things when cycling.

Did you have any worries/fears before setting off?
The main cause of my anxious nerves were the New Zealand roads. I grew up in Napier and just remember how terrifying the roads would be when I would cycle to intermediate (school). Apart from one small bump, most of the drivers were pretty respectful and my journey was smooth.

Do you have any new adventures in the pipeline?
There is always a new adventure to be had….. for me, my next trip will be to Ama Dablam in Nepal this coming October.

Sequoia’s second book Changing Gears will chronicle her solo cycle across New Zealand and is set for release in early/mid 2018. A short film about her journey will also premiere at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in June 2018.

Inspired to follow in Sequoia’s tyre treads? Here are two articles from our blog archives to help you plan or pick a cycle tour around New Zealand:

Five Beginner-Friendly Cycle Tours
Cycle Touring NZ: When To Go

Have a great week,

P.S. Be sure to check out our full range of tours on our website. We offer self-guided and guided options to suit all ability levels.