Three ahwatukee natives ‘bike-packing’ through new zealand community focus ahwatukee.com traditional peruvian recipes

Pawlik is a 2013 desert vista high school graduate, while meester and richardson graduated from mountain pointe high in 2011. Their companion, ellen palczynski, is from michigan.

“as a group, we’ve been planning this trip for over a year,” wrote pawlik in an email from nelson, new zealand, the country’s second oldest city, located on the eastern shore of tasman bay. There, the quartet wound up their approximately 1,250-mile ride over incredibly scenic routes, and on some of new zealand’s 10 great walks trails.

Meester, who graduated three years ago with a parks and recreation degree, works as a hiking guide; pawlik, who graduated from ASU last year with a tourist development management degree, is employed at yosemite’s historic ahwahnee hotel.Long riding

“we all worked for months to pay for our plane tickets, bike setups and travel costs,” said pawlik, who began the trip dec. 3 when she, her companions and their dissembled bicycles boarded an air new zealand flight.


“we’re all extremely passionate about the outdoors – rock climbing, trail running, hiking, mountain biking and road cycling. We’re quite the adventurous group,” she said.

Their adventure focused on bike-packing – traveling with all belongings stowed on the bike through an assortment of specialized racks and bags.

“it’s similar to bike touring, but what made our trip more unique is that we were on full-suspension mountain bikes and we pursued dirt roads and rough single track trails. There isn’t one trail that goes through new zealand, so we had to ride on the roads in between our off-road adventures,” said pawlik.Long riding

To stay on the move, their trips required that they carry tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves, cooking utensils and flatware, food to last five days, headlamps, some treasured books and all their clothing and personal items.

Meester’s olympus mark II camera was a treasured piece of equipment, but his quest to capture the perfect photos proved troublesome at times.

“I pretty much had to pack and unpack my bike every time I wanted to take a picture because my camera would only fit in special places. Most of the time, the scenery and landscape views were gorgeous, making the decision so hard.”

The travelers’ first stop was auckland, on north island. Following a cycling route called “tour aoteaora,” they started at the top of north island and rode it clockwise to the south, where they ferried to south island.North island

“we definitely took our time enjoying many detours to national parks, friends’ houses and places locals recommended,” pawlik said. “most of our rest days included us not resting at all, but going on hikes or trail running to beautiful locations because we just had to see as much as we could.”

“I think we’ve all had our struggles on this trip, both physically and mentally. There were many days we dreaded getting on our saddles for another day of long riding,” pawlik said.

“about two weeks into the trip, I was having serious knee problems, so tyler and I ended up cutting a big chunk out of our ride to rent a car and see a physical therapist in wellington,” she said.

“because tourism is such a large part of the new zealand economy, you can only camp in designated camp spots, which cost anywhere from $7 to $30.Long riding any so-called ‘freedom camping’ is strictly forbidden,” she said.

“many times after a long day of riding, we’d find ourselves having to ride another hour or so to find a campground. We’d thought camping wouldn’t be much of an expense for us, but a lot of our funds went toward staying in the DOC sites and holiday parks,” she said.

“A storm hit in the middle of the night, and we dozed in and out of sleep to the sound of our tent snapping in the wind,” she recalled, adding their trip mates’ tent acquired a “few inches” of water.

Though tempted to stop and photograph the numerous waterfalls and 500-year-old beech trees, they pedaled on. Nearing the coast, the wind and rain picked up and they were showered with debris while avoiding fallen tree branches.Long riding

“the rain and wind made biking up the hills too difficult, so we pushed our bikes up the road. It was perfect landslide conditions, and in fear of that, we were running while pushing our bikes to be in these danger zones as little as possible,” said pawlik. “it’s kind of hard to articulate how terrifying it was.”

“we were stuck in haast for two days while road construction crews removed landslide debris, fallen rocks and trees. We managed to book the last room available at a holiday park,” said pawlik.

All four travelers obtained work permits before heading to new zealand. Meester is working at a nursery, and pawlik at a cafe. Though the work permits continue through october, at least meester and pawlik may head back sooner.

“tyler has work lining up in the states within the next two months, and I think I’ll probably go back to yosemite for the coming summer,” she said.North island

“I think we are all pretty psyched on bike-packing. No one in our group had any prior experience bike-packing and we kind of threw ourselves into a big trip, so we learned a lot throughout the journey,” said pawlik. “we are already starting to plan our next bike-packing trip.”

“this trip was the adventure of a lifetime, but it was also just the beginning. The thought of being done with adventures like this, or my climbing adventures, saddens me.

“how could this be the one and only? Getting outside and pushing my mental and physical limits makes me happy, and brings clarity to my life. I think outdoor adventures of any size could make a lot of other people happy, too.”