I guess my first big adventure really started quite a few months before I actually left for New Zealand. I was going through a tough patch in life and realised I had reached my limit of what life was going to throw at me. So I decided I was going to do the mature thing and quit my job and run away from it all! I just hadn’t decided where I was going to run to yet….
I had been receiving a monthly email from a group called the Adventure Queens, that I had unknowingly signed myself up to, which included little stories and updates from adventurous women and outdoorsy related things. Being from a very ‘un’outdoorsy background and lacking greatly in the practical skills department, these emails seemed a world away from my current life, but I was really intrigued and excited by this little slice of monthly adventure. I decided to join their Facebook group – which I discovered is full of women sharing pictures and posts of all their amazing adventures, offering advice and words of encouragement for those starting out on their first adventures. For a long time I sat on the side lines watching all of these amazing adventures happening on my screen and wishing I had the courage and the skills to do something like this.
When I received an email with details of some of the next Adventure Queens events I finally decided to bite the bullet to go on my first mini adventure and signed up to my first Adventure Queens ‘Wild Camp’, which meant sleeping without a tent in the open air! It involved lying in a bivvy bag (a waterproof sack that your sleeping bag fits into), in a wood just outside of London, on a bed of twigs and tree roots with 8 other nervous women, a subsequent terrible night of sleep, and finding a tic gorging on my blood, hidden in my belly button 3 days post the trip. – Not quite the romantic Wild Camping Adventure I had in my mind but an adventure all the same!
Feeling fuelled by my first mini adventure I began reading my first adventure book – The Pants of Perspective by Anna McNuff which is a book about Anna running the length of New Zealand. Whilst reading how Anna wasn’t a particularly fast runner or didn’t have much experience of running in the wilderness on her own but how she was still giving herself this mammoth adventure task, I started to get this little feeling in my stomach that maybe, just maybe if Anna could do it, then maybe I could too. I had always been pretty adventurous when I was younger in terms of pushing myself out of my comfort zone – going on a 2 month German exchange at the age of 15, going to Peru for a month at the age of 17 and living in Hong Kong for a year at the age of 21. But now I found myself at the age of 28 living off of the memories of the previous adventurous me and asking myself what had changed? Why was I no longer that person anymore?
I realised I needed to take that leap and push myself out of my comfort zone and become that adventurous person again, which is when I found myself with burger in hand proudly announcing to my friends that I was ‘going to cycle around New Zealand!’ This announcement was received with a sea of shocked faces followed by some feigned enthusiasm and subsequently a barrage of questions about how I was actually going to do it. Now in my grand plans I hadn’t quite got down to the details (a problem I frequently suffer from), other than that I was going to camp and carry all my stuff with me on my bike. I had no idea what that ‘stuff’ was going to be, where I was going to go in New Zealand, what type of bike I needed, or even what type of bags I needed to carry all of this ‘stuff’ in but now that I had announced it there was no going back and I was just going to have to find my way!