Off the beaten path: a new partnership with Huckberry

The wonderful guys Huckberry have invited me to become ambassador! They have just published the story of my bike trip on their site and let me even curate my own shop with BEAUTIFUL and awesome goodies from their website, some of which I used on my trip. If you have not come across these guys before, be warned your wallet may suffer. They stock redicoulously cool bits and pieces for anyone who loves the outdoors but still admires class and cool things. Who said outdoor gear had to be geeky!? They ship world wide and all the pieces in my shop are on SALE! Get in quick as this stuff sells out super fast.

I realise its been a painfully long time since I posted a story here, and Im super sorry. But I guess that is a result of an extremely busy summer! So have to be pleased with that one. After I got back from Japan it was all systems go putting the final touches to the planning for my 2nd mountain bike road trip in NZ. Same formula as my last trip; 4 mountain bikers, 2 1970’s VW Kombi Campers, 5 bikes, a tent, and copious amounts of gear for two weeks on the road, scouting out the best trails and wilderness spots to camp on, this time in the North Island. I was so proud to have Tourism New ZealandClassic Campers, Goal Zero Australia and Torpedo7 sponsor our trip, as well as help from Ride NZ, Motu Trails, and Visit Ruapehu. They all believed in my vision and helped me realise my dream to keep this adventurer off the beaten path.

Wielding my lens on this adventure with professional Canadian mountain bikers Mike Hopkins, Garett Buehler, and Casey Brown we searched for wilderness and isolation, we ventured farther than most would — exploring deeper down that dirt road, biking further along that trail, and sleeping as far from civilization as possible.

Casey Brown mountain bike adventure
Casey Brown on the Pakahi Trail, East Cape

 

We took the campers and left Auckland, bound for the white sandy beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula. We spent a day at the famous Hot Water Beach, where there is a hot spring on the beach. Here, when the tide is right, you can dig yourself a bath of balmy hot water and cool saltwater. We loved the experience, but it was a bit too busy for the remote emptiness we’d just had in the South Island. It was definitely time to get farther off the beaten track.

We headed a few hours up a dirt road, traveling north up the peninsula through some of the thick native New Zealand bush, to a tiny beach called Stoney Bay, my ultimate favorite camp spot on the trip. From here, we had a five-hour ride to a neighboring beach, where the views were spectacular and there was no-one around — exactly what we were after. To get away from people in the North Island, we learned, you just had to dig a little deeper.

camping in VW Kombi camper vans
Camping in our VW Kombi vans at Stoney Bay, Coromandel Peninsula

 

Biking in Rotorua New Zealand
Casey Brown rips up a trail in the Whakawerawera Forest in Rotorua

After the remote loveliness of North Coromandel we headed to Rotorua, famous for its amazing biking. Two days shooting and biking the well-known trails was enough for me and we headed off into the wilderness again, this time east to a trail I had never heard of.

After driving miles along a skinny dirt road, we eventually arrived at the Bushaven, a small cluster of houses and a campground run by a lovely couple. They drove us two and a half hours to the top of the trail and dropped us off the peak, which looked down onto the amazing Pakahi Trail which consisted of  40 kilometres of downhill and 25 bridge crossings! It took us all the way back to camp. This trail wound its way through beautiful bush, over swing bridges, and past rivers, all without seeing another soul.

nature photography of adventuring in NZ bush
Deep into the jungle to get to Bushaven
mountain biking north island
Crossing one of the many rivers on the Pakahi Trail

In search of more wilderness riding, we headed to Taupo in the middle of the North Island. Here we finished off a huge two-day trail called the Te Iringa, that led us through the middle of nowhere to a back-country hut. This was the highlight of the trip for me: two massive days on a bike, spent riding along a trail encased in trees so big I was half expecting them to come to life and start talking to me. (Ents, anyone?)

adventure photography of the Te Iringa
Casey and Garett Buehler tackle the Te Iringa trail

This trail was challenging, to say the least — there were huge uphills and many instances forcing us to hike our bikes up the steep grades, along with massive fallen trees to climb over, slips to navigate around, and rivers to cross. But the fast and technical downhill made it all worth it. After crossing over one last rickety swing bridge over a mossy river, we were at the backcountry hut where we would spend the night. And we did it all again the next day, all the way back to our campers.

staying on the Te Iringa Mountain bike trail
Our overnight stay at the Oamaru hut

The last stop was for some non-biking activities: walking the infamous Tongariro Crossing, a seven-hour hike over the North Island’s sacred volcanoes; the mind-blowing scenery had us feeling like we were on Mars. Followed the next morning with a sunrise stand-up paddleboard session, it was time to drive back to Auckland to drop the campers back off.

Adventure on New Zealand volcano
Traharn Chidley admiring the Emerald Pools on the breathtaking Tongariro Crossing.
Paddle boarding with My Kiwi Adventure
Paddle boarding on Lake Otamangakau with My Kiwi Adventure

Traveling in a VW Kombi Campervan is the most fun you will ever have on the road. Smiles, waves, and respect is all we got from fellow motorists as we cruised along the winding New Zealand roads in search of adventure. Our little homes were a pleasure to drive, cook in, sleep in and look at; there is simply no better way to travel. We were able to hire these immaculate vehicles from Classic Campers in Auckland.

Camping in nature
Camping on a beach in the East Cape under the stars… Life doesnt get any better!

When you are in search of wilderness and non-motor home style campsites, “normal” life becomes obsolete. A shower becomes something that is rare and cherished; even washing your hands becomes a luxury when you stop in to use a gas stations toilet. Washing your dishes in crashing waves on the beach is a whole new experience. Charging batteries and phones using Goal Zero solar panels becomes second nature, and being outside all day every day is glorious. It is so wonderful being back to basics, taking nothing for granted and living simply. No TV, no Internet, purchasing food from un-manned fruit stalls at the side, popping some gold coins in the honesty box, being given fish for our supper by a friendly local and foraging for fruit by the side of the road.

Life on the open road is as rewarding as it is satisfying. Go on — get outside. Get lost.

This trip was a dream come true for me, a dream that I had to work extremely hard to realise. But with thanks to my sponsors in believing in me we were able to go: Fstop Gear camera bags, Smith Optics NZ and Peak Design and Goal Zero Australia & NZ. There is a host of media coming out on the trip, so can only show you these few photos for now. Thank you all for reading.

Winter