The Long Bike Journey

Cycling opens doors

Photo Left Ella ( aged 17 months) climbs from her buggy after a 3 month cycle journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff, greeting her parents Vanessa Mudarra Caraballo and Wouter Van Wezenael.

“Cycling is the best way to travel because we go slowly, we can see, hear and smell everything and we are in touch with nature, especially when we are not on busy highways,’’ Wouter Van Wezenael says.’’My partner Vanessa and I gave up our jobs in Spain and brought our daughter Ella here, taking three months to cycle around New Zealand, with it bringing us down to earth as every day is different.”

One of the nice lessons in life they have learned here, is that when they got in to trouble something good happens which usually means other people offer to help them. They were struck by the hospitality of Kiwis who opened their homes to them, not expecting anything in return.

“Many people encouraged us as we biked with Ella in her buggy and a trailer for our gear, with roadworkers saying ‘good on you’,’’Wouter says. ‘’It was a great way to meet the locals from all walks of life who took the time to converse over a huge range of topics. We met people with extreme views but we found Kiwis are salt of the earth who just be who they are, which we enjoyed.”

“I enjoyed the people and nature here, especially the kauri forests, biking around the bays and seeing the glaciers on the West Coast,’’ Vanessa Mudarra Caraballo says.
“It has made me more determined to start a kind of backpackers as an education centre for nature conservation back home in Spain, with guided cycle tours to get young people in touch with nature.”

“We worked in with conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, raising awareness and fundraising but it is disappointing to see New Zealand struggling to live up to its clean, green image,’’Wouter says.’’It has taken us three months to grasp why it is so hard to preserve the wildlife here, which is such a contrast to Europe, as your birdlife is so vulnerable because of introduced predators.”

They agreed cycling gave them an appreciation of silence, feeling more integrated with nature and after the effort of cycling all day the end of the day was more beautiful with the journey being more important than arriving.