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Don’t follow this Bike

New Zealand – 1 Spanish Man – 1 Bike – 16.000 kms – 10 months

Don’t follow this Bike.

Chapter 1: Start
One video and a blogspost every single week, plus one picture per day on his instagram account. That is how Atila is publishing his trip around New Zealand.
Reaching the starting point in Dunedin was crazy. One night at the airport in London, several delayed flights, 32 hours of flight, a lost passport and all of the equipment delayed. But don’t worry, I was immersed in the adventure. First destination: The National Park „The Catlins“. In this area of the island climat and landscape are quite extreme. There are many mountains and the weather changes a lot, so with the bike and some extra kilogramms it isn’t easy.
In search of good waves, I was pedaling for several days and finally got to Curio Bay. The place was amazing. The bay is ideal for dolphins, so I went surfing with them and with Julian, a charming German. Then I met a guy with a crazy face, who asked me if I wanted to go surfing at a „secret spot“ that almost nobody knows. The guy drew a map and I followed his directions and looked for a farm with sheeps and the number 119. The secret spot was mindblowing, below the cliff broke an amazing wave.

Chapter 2: Invercargill > Te Anau
The nature has changed a lot. Fiordland is beautiful, with peaks up to 2.000m, but the weather is horrible. It rains almost every day, great for cycling…
I met Marc and Jo. Accounting to Marc to go finding the perfect wave is almost equal or even more exciting than surfing itself. And it’s actually true. When I go on my bike looking for waves, I feel incredible thrilled to think that I will find a special place and that is the adventure.

Chapter 3: Nowhere > Queensland
From Te Anau to Wanaka was the most beautiful route I’ve done so far. Now there are high mountains on all sides and endless slopes. The lakes are on the way. Mavora lake was a real surprise in the middle of a lengthy stage, I slept there and started touring the next day across the valley to Walter Peak. To cross the lake by steamboat and reach Queenstown has been an amazing experience. If it only were always so wild, but unfortunately in New Zealand it is banned to wild camp in the most places. Thankfully, rules are to be broken.

Chapter 4: Wanaka > Hokitika
Wanaka, a place surrounded by an incredible unknown nature.
I knew that the „wild“ west coast was going to be tough but I didn’t expect such torture. Crossing the mountain rage and reaching the sea I had the feeling of being in the last inhabited place on earth. Behind me: glaciers, giant waterfalls and very dark clouds. Before me: straight endless beaches, boulders, logs and giant trees. A dark stormy sea, the contrary to what you have in mind when you are going to catch some waves.

Chapter 5: Greymouth
I just integrated myself into a village life and people call me by my name when I step on my bike. Tessa, Tony and I met through Jo. They welcomed me like I knew them for a lifetime and they treated me like a son. I think that is part of the culture here. I don’t know why, maybe because they are Maori,  but in any case people in NZ are very hospitable.
When you are in the water on the other side of the world, catching big waves and people around you are dying to share a wave with you instead of stealing it (because they are locals) made me realize that the pace of life here, is what we desperately lack in Europe. Everything is simple. You can leave your keys and open windows, while you are surfing. The houses have open doors and you can go barefoot to the supermarket.

Chapter 6: Punakaiki > Karamea
The route from Greymouth to Karamea was full of perfect waves. The only thing you needed is a pair of guts to get in the water. Long beaches, strange rock formations, rivers and especially a very few people.
Jude, a contact a friend gave me a while ago, invited me to stay at her house. This home would be the dream of many people in Europe. I felt very fortunate to spend a few days with her and her daughter. Go biking, spending time by looking at the waves and enjoying this hideaway.

Chapter 7: Westport > Takaka
The idea was to reach the norhern tip of the south island; the „Farewell Split“, which is pretty close from Westport and Karamea. But there is a national park that must be crossed and it isn’t allowed to cross it by bike, so I needed to take an internal route (300kms more). The roadmap seemed impossible, it was an endless succession of curves.
The days with Marco and his mother were very funny, we ate, traveled together, saw amazing beaches and surfed alone in very cold and clear warer.
I really don’t know how my trip would go without surfing. Sure, if you surf it is hard to imagine a trip without surfing. But I mean, I don’t know if all these things would have happen, if I were not accompanied by my surfboard.

Chapter 8: Motueka & Marahau
I wasn’t able to cross the Abel Tasman by bike, because it isn’t allowed to. So I needed to take an internal route again, which means climbing the steepest mountain in New Zealand, Takaka Hill. The 800m high mountain separates the Golden Bay from the Tasman Bay, it took me 2 hours to enter the hill. I know snail style, but with all the weight I needed to go slowly and imagine all the tourists in their vans seeing a guy climbing the steepest mountain in NZ with a surfboard and a face red like tomato.
Marahau, a place with the most beautiful nature I’ve seen so far. I couldn’t believe it, behind me: The sea in the distance and the beginning of the park, some cows in the middle, black horses and birds of all kinds. Beside me: a loud sound of pure water and a few ducks. In the morning I visited the beaches of Abel Tasman. I was there, just me, radiant sunshine, clear water, an infinite horizon and behind the forest the brutal sea. I couldn’t share it with anyone.

Chapter 9: Marahau > Wellington
I did some illusion reaching Picton in extreme conditions: ain, thunder and wind gusts of 45km/h. I heard the sound of a big ship. It already arrived. The 1pm ferry. I really don’t know how, but magically I arrived on time.
There was I, a newcomer to the North Island, the capital city in front of me. Perhaps I’m signed by my childhood memories and the cover tape „Ibiza Mix 95“, but it seemed to me that the act of taking a ferry to get from one island to another one means changing to a different world.

Chapter 10: Wellington
I’m in Wellington, the „coolest smallest capital city in the world“ like the locals say here.
Ashleigh and her housemates welcomed me warmly and took me all the cool places. I went to bath and jumped from Patacha, I skated at the skate park, I went to Mount Victoria, I surfed in Lyall Bay and Houghton Bay, I left a party, went to the circus, cooked with Chileans, saw and interviewed a regatta, I sang and played guitar with people on the street.
I really low how the kiwis are the most kind and friendly guys in the world.

Chapter 11: Wellington > Whanganui
According to the map the west/ southwest coast of Wellington seemed beautiful. I missed being in a quieter place, sleeping in my tent, being near the water. The route was beautiful, for the first time I felt the autumn light. The weather had changed. It was a sunny with a very cold wind. Passing small crystal clear rivers, green meadows, where cows, ducks and goats spend their days. There as no one, anywhere.
I got to Makara Beach, a beautiful beach surrounded by rocks and high mountains. Autumn light, clear water, calm sea and I still haven’t seen anyone.

Chapter 12: Whanganui > Opunake
I was watching the sea like an angry child, because there were no waves. Beside me a man was sitting in his car, also looking at the sea. When the day is cloudy and you find someone looking at the sea, he is probably a surfer, a fisherman, a diver or someone who gets often to the water.
In Hawera I lived like a king, that’s why I wanted to stay as long as possible. Dean, his family and me spent the days together and they made the time really special. The icing on the cake was when Phil asked me if I would like flying. We flew about all famous waves in the reagion of Opunake. He even let me fly the plane. You can imagine how eager I wanted to do flips or any maneuver, but Phil told me „to keep it smooth“.
Opunake, the paradise of the waves. Winter has arrived. They go in short sleeves, but I’m wearing long pants with tight, a cotton shirt and a jacket.

Chapter 13: Opunake > Oakura
I can do what I wanted and deserved the most: surfing! It is very different from what I’m used to. In Europe, there are different spots where many people are in the water. Here you have to ask the farmer for permission to enter, then greet the cows, jump the fence and walk for half an hour to get into the water.
I didn’t imagine that the spots were so isolated, but that is what makes them even more special and exotic. Perfect waves and they are still untouched.

Chapter 14: Oakura > New Plymouth
Where I come from it doesn’t rain, so I’m not used to rain and I don’t like rain. Especially not, if it rains for a whole week without stopping for a second. I remembered that someone told me to go to a beautiful place where the people will welcome me greatly. A huge wooden house beside a river, surrounded by a forest. The owner built this house in search of good waves and they rent some room for a living. It was a fun house. There was a sauna, a river with a road full of surprises, boards everywhere (skate, surf, SUP), music instruments, kayaks, dogs and a dead rat on the roof.
At night I arrived in New Plymouth, well around 6pm, but it was already dark and cold. Toby, a german doctor I met earlier on my trip, took me to his friend’s house and a couple days later the people were already saying that I’m the spanish version of Toby. He is the kind of a guy you would like to be; always kind and nice to everyone, always willing to listen, a friend to everybody and a really good guy.

Chapter 15: New Plymouth > Raglan
I really want some new legs, because mine are already overstretched. I got the bright idea of going through the countryside instead of taking the main road. Well, I think it was the worst idea I had on the whole trip. The truth is the routes have been incredible beautiful. I went through very authentic villages far from all, people welcomed me with kindness from another world. But it was pretty hard to carry the surfboard by the dirt roads and those slopes were the hell. It was super cold, but the cold didn’t bother me, it is the rain that is worse than ever.
I don’t know why, but I started thinking about seeing me from the outside: sweating like a pig, a head red like a tomato, a bike with a surfboard and a spanish man on the other side of the world fucked on a very steep slope. I started laughing so hard that I needed to stop driving.