“Where did you sleep?” seems to be another question people love to ask about my Tour Aotearoa adventure. As a self-supported event, riders could sleep anywhere that was openly available to other riders – whether that was a ditch beside the road, public shelters, campgrounds, motels or so on. There was even a network of open homes around the country – basically supporters of the Tour who were willing to take in riders for the night and provide a place to sleep and whatever other home comforts they wanted to.
I carried my little tent the length of the country and only ended up camping in it on the first night! In some ways what a waste of packing space and energy in carrying in the extra weight – but it was worth having as an option because there were a few nights where I didn’t know where I was going to sleep and was lucky to find a convenient shelter at the right time.
It is a very little tent, so wasn’t too much of a worry carrying it for little use. (Not a photo from the tour – this is somewhere in a forest in Belgium.)
So mostly, I stayed in cabins in campgrounds as it wasn’t much more expensive and it saved a lot of time in not having to make and break camp. I find having bathroom facilities preferable to having worry about such things while wild-camping. There were plenty of campgrounds along the route and with a bit of planning one could do most of the route staying in these.
A few nights I slept out in whatever shelter I could find. The most memorable being sleeping next to this historic bulldozer at the start of the Timber Trail. The DOC shelter on the Kaiwhakauka Trail was a welcome sight the following night as that trail was unrideable for me in the dark. Perhaps my best night’s sleep, to my surprise, was on the verandah of some rugby (I think) clubrooms when I turned up in Mossburn late at night as a big storm was blowing in – I didn’t think my tent would survive the night.
My favourite bulldozer shelter.
Other accommodation highlights were The Old Bank in Murchison – which wasn’t a very interesting old bank, but it sure slept plenty of cyclists and was close to town. The next night was the best of the lot – Big River Hut. There in the wilderness of the Victoria Forest Park there were seven cyclists enjoying the atmosphere of the place, and a few beers that some of us had bothered to carry in.
So there you have it – that’s where I slept on my Tour Aotearoa.