with Rod Oram


B to B 2024

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Tour Aotearoa

Kōpiko – the wandering way

Feb 22, 2021

Auckland, Thursday, Feb 25th

Well, our bikes are packed and we’re ready to go! Kopiko here we come!

Tomorrow morning, Kennedy and I drive down to Cape Egmont in Taranaki for the start at dawn on Saturday of our 1,100km, 10-day Kopiko ride across the North Island to East Cape. It will be a fabulous, though very hilly, backcountry ride through glorious terrain.

We’re driving down with Celeste and Keir, and Lynn – once she’s taught her Friday yoga class here in Auckland – will fly down to New Plymouth to join us later tomorrow for her birthday weekend in Taranaki. Celeste and Keir will then spend the week noodling around the NI by car doing some lovely tramping, including the four-day Lake Waikaremoana somewhat circumnavigation.

The Kopiko, Te Reo for ‘wandering around’, is the latest adventure devised by the three Kennett brothers, those inspired cycle route finders who also brought us Tour Aotearoa, the 3,000km route down the length of the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff. My blog from that ride this time last year is at the top of this page, in the tab next to this one. Kennedy was my delightful companion on the four days of that ride from the Cape to Auckland. One of our very best writers on this land and people, and a founder of NZ Geographic magazine in 1989, he is a constant source of stories and insights along the way. He also scans for wild food as he rides. I expect many times over the coming days he’ll skid to a halt, leap into the bushes and re-emerge with something delicious…as he did on our Tour last year.

As you’ll see from the map below, Kopiko really does wander around. We expect to cover about 100km a day, climb on average about 1,600m a day, and camp most nights. While Kennedy and his partner Bronwyn will holiday near East Cape, the end point of the Kopiko, I’ll probably tack on another couple of days and 200km down to Gisborne to fly home from there.

If you’d like to track our progress in real time, you can on this web page which picks up our Personal Locator Beacon, which is mandatory for the trip because of the long remote stretches.

I haven’t trained quite as intensively for this ride as I did for last year’s. This one is shorter (12 vs 28 days) and thanks to last year’s great adventure, I now feel at home on my loaded gravel bike on rough roads and tracks. I’m carrying 12 kg of gear. The heaviest single item is 2.5l of water weighing 2.5kg. It’s all laid out in the photo below: first third is tent, sleeping bag, thermal liner, pillow, computer, map and pump which go on my handle bars; the middle third is kitchen, water and some food in my frame bag; and the last third is clothes, more food, Crocs, lock and tools for the back of the bike.

Just the other day, I came across some beautiful words from John Muir, which will guide me on the Kopiko. He was the Scottish-born environmentalist (my niece Jo runs the Muir birthplace museum in Dunbar, east of Edinburgh) who sowed the idea of national parks in the mind of President Teddy Roosevelt on a camping trip at Overhang Rock at Yosemite.

“When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.” John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911