For the Love of Cycling
Why would a person come all the way to New Zealand from Jersey to ride from the top of the country to the bottom covering 3000km on a bicycle? Because she can!
Our Victoria Lee, who joined us from the client side team of Revenue Jersey in February 2019, has always been a very keen cyclist. On 4 March she and her partner James embarked on Tour Aotearoa which is billed as one of the world’s great bikepacking trips: stretching 3,000 km from the northern tip of New Zealand Cape Reinga to Bluff. It follows a combination of cycle trails, tracks, paths and lanes connected by the most enjoyable country roads available. Wow!
For Victoria and James it all started with a flight from Wellington up north to Kaitaia, and hitting the trail for the first time to cycle the 111km to the tip of the North Island. Never having been north of Auckland before it was a trail of discovery. Cape Reinga, also known as Te Rerenga Wairua, was an extra special place to start as it is an area that is highly significant to Maori, marking the point from which Maori wairua (spirit) return to their traditional homeland.
“Northland was so beautiful. It was incredible and the people were so friendly,” said Victoria. But it wasn’t all free-wheeling, there were a lot of hills and it was hard yacka! There was “whooping with the excitement and the thrill of being on the trail and flying down hills”, but there was also a fall from the bike, and some tears at the sheer physicality of riding for hours every day.
The Tour Aotearoa event is organised once every two years and this year’s 2020 event was the third. It started in waves of 100 people per day spread from 17 February to 8 March. Riders are supposed to take no more than 30 days to finish. With a screen up in the office tracking Victoria and James’s progress each day the team back in DataTorque marvelled at the distances being covered. We all have huge admiration for the effort and commitment it took to cycle down the country. “Early on Natasha and Jono were sending updates and encouragement every morning. That was very cool to see,” said Victoria.
Our intrepid riders nailed the North Island and ferried across Cook Strait to embark on the South Island. Having continued for 1800km they made the tough decision to halt their mission at the picturesque Pelorus Bridge due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing’s ever quite as straightforward when you’re on a bike, and quitting at that point still meant backtracking with an 80km ride to return to Picton to catch the ferry home to Wellington.
And there's more...
From all that action Victoria and James safely returned home to work in their bubble for the lockdown. But the desire to complete the Tour Aotearoa has not dimmed. “It was an awesome thing to try. I totally recommend it! We’re going back in December 2020 to complete the South Island leg. It’s definitely unfinished business for us!” said Victoria.