All posts by Libby

I can’t stop the feeling

I woke up this morning with this feeling like I just didn’t want to leave Gisborne

As I stretched and gave my eyes a morning rub, I saw the orange glow of a wonderful sunrise unfolding outside. Oh the joys of staying with my dear friend Wieteke right on the beach: I slipped straight out of the bach and down to the beach, just in my little dress that has become my nighty. I have always loved being part of that early morning group of beachgoers. We exchange silent nods of happiness and wonder at what we’re being treated to. A shared love of the ever-evolving masterpiece of fiery colours. What a sky.

And then the crowning glory… the sun appears above the horizon line, lighting up the surface of the sea, filling our spirits with rich, fiery energy for the day ahead. 

I don’t want to look away. I don’t want to pull my feet out of the sand and stop feeling the waves rushing past my legs.  I certainly don’t want to pack up my stuff and leave. Not because the next chapter is terrible. On the contrary, I am hugely privileged to be joining the Pure Tour team doing ocean conservstion workshops at The National Aquarium in Napier tomorrow. What a very huge honour. I am just not ready to leave this place.  I don’t want to leave yet. 

Thankfully we have a fun meeting to distract from the leaving thing. One I have been looking forward to for quite some time. I have lost track of how many people have told me I must find and meet a man named Freddy at Bikeys in Gisborne. ‘He’s New Zealand’s bamboo bicycle legend’ they told me. So I was delighted when Freddy agreed to share his time, passion and ideas with us at his shop before getting stuck into his work for the day. Freddy has teamed up with local Maori artists to create stunning bicycle frames, which have been featured around the world in biking magazines. 

And here he was, bamboo and carbon fibre bicycle in hand, telling me how he’d rescued a broken frame to become the back half of his bike’s frame, adding bamboo top and bottom tubes to get it up and running again. A work in progress, he said. It’s one thing to create a bamboo bike with new parts, like I did, but Freddy’s taken it to the next level of sustainability and upcycling, using parts from disused / crashed bicycle frames. We talked about the awesomeness of his ideas for future frame building with upcycled, disused frames mixed with bamboo for youth groups. I really hope that I come back here one day. And I really hope I find Freddy running these workshops. And I really hope he might find use for a teacher volunteer with a smidgen of bamboo experience. 

And so, there was no more hiding from it. The time to leave was upon me. Wieteke, my wonderful friend with whom I’ve been staying and an old housemate of mine from years ago, jumped on Sunny for a spin and helped me load her onto the bus.

It feels like cheating, getting the bus, but for a few tight deadlines it’s had to be done. 

On rainy days, it gives me some luxuriously dry admin and blog writing time… so it’s not so bad at all. It also gives me more time to explore Napier and its surrounds on my bike later. So I’m ok with the ways things are working out today, after all. ūüėä

PS I just arrived in Napier… sneak preview… I think I’m gonna like it here…

Oh the places you’ll go (and the people you’ll meet)

The places you’ll go are certainly all rather magical.  But for me, it’s also about the people you meet along the way. 

I have been supremely lucky and have met some fascinating people, who have enriched my experiences beyond the breathtaking views that fill me with wonder and energy. 

At the 2017 Cycling Touring Festival in the UK (a MUST for any potential cycle tourists, in my opinion), I learned about Warm Showers.  It’s kind of like couch surfing for cyclists.  Warm Showers hosts, who have often themselves received kindness whilst cycle touring, open their doors to help cyclists and pay forward the generosity.  They offer anything from a place to pitch your tent for the night with use of amenities, to staying the night in their home, sharing dinner and stories and making new friends.  More often than not you are welcomed into families’ lives and are allowed the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the psyche of a country, compared to the average tourist travelling in vehicular and accommodation bubbles.

Kathryn and her family were my first Warm Showers experience and I got to share it with another cycle tourist, from Taiwan.  

Kathryn explained that her family wasn’t in a position to travel all over the world, so this was their chosen alternative – if they hosted people from all over the world, it’s like travelling without leaving home. I hadn’t thought of it like that.  Isn’t that an incredibly generous outlook and idea?

The day after leaving Kathryn and her family, I was faced with 40km of no pleasant country lanes; I’d have to cycle along State Highway 1 (known in cycle touring circles as Death Highway 1).  I’ll admit it, it was not the most pleasant 40km I have ever cycled.  Before arriving in New Zealand, I’d read long-term cycling guru Josie Dew‘s book The Long Cloud Ride.  Had I been fainthearted, I would have cancelled my flight ticket after reading it.  I arrived expecting every driver to be on a death-to-all-cyclists mission.  I expected to be sucked under logging trucks and have bottles thrown at me by drunken bogans (boy racers).  I think years of cycling in London had prepared me well for Death Highway 1; I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was not only survivable (that’s totally a word, right?!), but was also where I met this amazing young fellow, Justin.  

Justin was hiking along the hard shoulder, carrying easily the hugest backpack I’d seen in years.  He wanted to walk the Te Araroa trail, but decided that he wasn’t fit enough to walk the whole length of New Zealand, so he’d decided to ‘just’ walk the 430km (270 miles) from Auckland to Cape Reinga, the top of the North Island. And there was me worrying about cycling a few hours on this road.  He would probably spend several days on this highway on his quest North.  What an amazing thing for a 19 year old German guy to venture off and do by himself. I certainly didn’t have that amount of get-up-and-go when I was 19. 

I have blogged before about one time when I stopped at a beach for a very late picnic lunch.  I heard a small boy exclaim to his parents that I was the bamboo bike lady.  They asked me to stay the night, I was invited to listen to both their children’s piano and singing recitals, we went to a Christmas parade and they even put me in touch with Vodafone Kerikeri who gave me a free phone.  That doesn’t happen everyday. 


I met Ingrid Visser, the orca researcher, rescuer and guru, who kindly shared a few hours of her time with me to connect me with conservation people around New Zealand.  It was very special to spend some time with her and I really hope that one day I will be able to come back and volunteer with her team. 

In Paihia, I was heckled from the roadside by a family whose children had endured a school visit of mine.  The Mum was delighted to meet Sunny and told me that her daughters were now on an anti-plastic roll and were becoming something of a force in their local community.  Music to my ears! 

Whilst presenting at a tiny rural school in the middle of nowhere, near Raglan, I magically and unexpectedly met up with this handsome wee fella, whose Mum I’d lost contact with years before after being friends with her in Queenstown.  I’d met him as a newborn years before and now here he was, all grown up and ready to take his conservation message to the next level of awesomeness.  

Up North, my friend volunteered her parents to have me to stay, which was great fun. 

And then last night, I got to meet up with them again when I arrived my friend’s house.  Here we are, me with 3 generations of their family, sewing tiny bears from my pillow case excess scraps!

I recently stayed with this kind gentleman in Coromandel, who turns out to have been an Olympic hurdler in earlier years.  

And then, just a couple of days ago, I met this incredible lady at the top of a great big hill.  Several years ago, part way through saving up for another worldwide cycle tour, she had a stroke which left her a bit less than perfect on her left side.  But instead of ditching her plan, she changed her idea to touring on a recumbent bicycle and made that her physiotherapy goal.  And here she was, 22 months into her tour, having cycled from Germany to Singapore, across Australia and now New Zealand.  That’s what I call one determined achiever.

And so, my adventure continues, meeting phenomenal people, who keep me inspired, excited and energised.  Lucky, lucky me. 

I see superheroes, everywhere!

I am making¬†a weird and wonderful journey.¬†¬†An anti-single-use-plastic bamboo bike mission.¬† It’s not your everyday sort of bike ride.

Although I spend time with lots of kids, I spend most of the time alone, huffing and puffing my way up huge hills with a bright red face!

But all of the time, whether I am feeling tired or hungry or excited or wet or hot, ALWAYS, I am looking forward to meeting mini superheroes and hearing their ideas Continue reading I see superheroes, everywhere!

It’s time, let’s do it!

It really is an exciting and pertinent time to be delving into the world of plastics.¬† With the incredible Blue Planet 2 series, Sir David Attenborough has once again excelled himself.¬† In addition to capturing our imagination and interest by bringing the magic of marine animal behaviour into our home, he’s also brought the problem of plastics to our attention.

Continue reading It’s time, let’s do it!

It’s always better when we’re together…

There is no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard that would sum up the past week.

I’ve just smashed through the 2,000 mark with the number of children I have presented to since starting out on my bike just under 4 weeks ago, which has been an awesome rollercoaster. ¬†But that is not the focus of this little snippet. Continue reading It’s always better when we’re together…

Come join me underwater

When you get under the surface of the sea and share time with amazing creatures, large and small, you come back to land feeling fully recharged.

I was lucky enough to visit the Poor Knights Islands last week with Dive! Tutukaka. Not only did they take us to some of Jacques Cousteau’s favourite dive sites (the stuff of dreams), but they also told us about the history and cultural significance of the islands.¬† ūüĎŹ‚̧

Enjoy a couple of minutes of saltwatery  goodness!

Poor Knights Underwater Magic¬†–¬†click¬†here