"Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui. Be strong, be brave, be steadfast."

After 7 weeks on Te Waipounamu, we arrive in Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island). First we enjoy Wellington. A bit of a change after all the beautiful nature we have cycled through in the past weeks. Still it is laid back. We visit the Te Papa Tongarewa museum, where the geological and the Maori sections are real highlights for me. It feels great to be in a city again. Vibrant, historic buildings, people, a nice Turkish meal (a welcome change to the simple meals we cook on our camp stove). After a few days we take the train to National Park and cycle to Whakapapa village.

"Tēnā koutou e ngā manuhiri o te ao whānui. Greetings to you, our visitors."

It is Januari 2001 and finally I am off to New Zealand. It was a plan which originated somewhere in the year 2000. I was going to cycle somewhere far away, preferably Australia. After reading the book 'Cold beer and crocodiles' I realised that the land of Oz was a bit too big for me. It's neighbour would do just fine. And to be honest, I never regretted my change of plans (apart from the moments I was cycling uphil).