Airdrie resident Danielle McNair has been enjoying the trip of a lifetime throughout the past five months – riding a bike across New Zealand with her boyfriend, Tabias Croteau. The idea for the trip was inspired by McNair’s parents, she said, who took a similar bike tour through New Zealand early on in their marriage.
“I grew up with biking in my blood. I’ve been riding bikes as long as I can remember, and my boyfriend has been riding basically since he could walk,” McNair said. “It seemed like a good fit for us, something that we both enjoy doing so much – why not go do it for six months?”
McNair said she and Croteau spent about a year saving money and mapping out their itinerary before biting the bullet and flying to Wellington Oct. 15, 2017. They spent about 10 days in the capital city – “in the heart of it all,” McNair said – before venturing out into the New Zealand landscape.
“There are so many cool, small places and holes-in-the-wall to see,” she said. “You see everything a lot slower from a bike, and you can really appreciate the beauty in everything.”
It was also a conversation-starter with the locals, McNair added. While New Zealand sees plenty of tourists, most are traveling by car. Since McNair and Croteau are journeying a bit differently, she said, they’ve had more opportunities to connect with people in the towns they’ve visited.
“Still, there’s been typical things that have been tough – missing home, missing the familiarity of stuff you know,” she said. “And this last bit has been hard, since we’ve had some bad weather and we’re just stuck in the tent and can’t really go anywhere.”
A cyclone, which McNair said started in Samoa, made its way to the area where the couple were staying – leading to weather alerts and even a local declared state of emergency. But she said they’ve managed to keep themselves busy reading, playing cards, and sitting in the tent to stay out of the rain.
“We have been really lucky, though – we’ve had a bit of rough weather, but overall, it’s been great,” McNair said.
With flights home coming up in just a few more weeks, McNair said she’s still not sure what they’ll do when they return to Airdrie. However, she knows they’ll hold on to many of the lessons they’ve learned during their trip.
“It’s humbling, living out of a small bike trailer – you really learn what you need and what’s important,” she said.
“I think by minimizing what you have, it just makes you so much happier. We’ve both really fallen in love with not having much. It allows you to experience so much more and see more things, when you’re not tied to all your stuff.”