When I first hatched this plan to ride the inaugural Tour Aotearoa, Dad immediately volunteered to drive me to the start at the very top of the country. Not only that, he also offered to pick me up at the end – should I get there. This was a tremendous help as it took a lot of the planning out from the get-go.
It just so happened that I went and moved far away from my parents – all the way to Napier in the North Island. Nonplussed, Mum & Dad flew north and turned up at my house a few days before we set off on a good Pheasant roadtrip to far-flung parts of the country – wasn’t quite like childhood, as I had a bike next to me in the car not a sister.
We took it pretty easy heading north – as I was in Wave Two of the starters, I didn’t have to line up until Tuesday. So we spent three days making our way the seven-hundred-odd kilometres north visiting family and friends along the way. The highlight was definitely the visit to Matakohe – a place we’ve been many times before. Where the Pheasants settled way back when, there is a little bit of family stuff in the comprehensive and very well-done Kauri Museum. But this time I’d arranged a visit to a much smaller historic building.
Fortunately, David & Sherry were going to be in their small house the weekend we were traveling north. It just so happens that they had rescued their house forty years ago from its fate as a hay barn and faithfully restored it. This house was the house of my great-grandfather at the turn of the previous century and was where my grandfather and his siblings grew up, until the family moved south to Auckland for better educational opportunities. I was thrilled to be able to arrange the visit as Dad had never been inside the house, only looked in the windows.
It was a special visit discussing family history, how my great-aunt helped with the restoration details thanks to an extremely detailed memory, talking of the restoration in general, looking around the house in detail and roaming the grounds trying to imagine what it was like growing up on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour over a hundred years ago. Thanks to David & Sherry for having us – & doing such a thorough and incredible job of saving a bit, probably the biggest bit, of Pheasant family history around. Dad & I managed a walk down to where the wharf used to be – boats from here would have been the main connection with Auckland (boat to Helensville, then train to Auckland).
Leaving Matakohe, thoughts begin to turn more to just what I was about to embark on. This was probably brought on by driving north through, & stopping to buy riding food in, Dargaville – I could see some of the terrain I’d be riding through, up & over in but a few days’ time. At our accommodation in Kaitaia, the bike was pulled from the car and the final pack for 3000 km of adventure was completed with no drama. Ride time!