Did you know that the summer solstice and the winter solstice simultaneously occur on either side of the planet? Day is night, up is down, and well, summer is winter. We happen to be on the rather chillier side of things…
“You girls must be pretty brave/hearty/keen/adventurous/crazy to be touring around these parts this time of year!”. But wait… It’s June, July, August! These are the warm, summer playground months; the longest days when the sun greets you, swaddles you and invites you outside for 12+ hour days, right? Right?! Ahhh, we’ve got a bit of Northern Hemisphere dreaming as my partner and I are currently touring around New Zealand in…WINTER. New Zealand does sound like a tropical paradise, but I assure you, it’s not. It’s incredibly gorgeous and wild and an adventurer’s playground yes, but warm year round? Not a chance.
While many are enjoying summer up on the northern side of the planet, in the southern wedge, we’re steadily pushing onward into winter. Lying a bit uncomfortably close to Antarctica makes for some bitter cold seasons, but we’re still cycling because, why not? Long, slumbering nights of hibernation are good for a cycle tourist and though the sun is late to rise, so are we (who doesn’t love a good, non-guilty, 10-hour siesta?!).
We also make the most of our days because we know there is no time to waste any daylight. And wearing all your winter gear means you have more room to carry food, precious foooood. Hot drinks and hot meals nourish the soul, as does climbing into your tent and a warm sleeping bag at night with the cool air swirling outside. Cozy fleece-lined warmth and any splash of sunlight have never felt so delicious. The days do feel long in the quite literal longing for spring and more sunlight.
Though the sun rises and sets in quick succession, we’re still able to squeeze out a great deal of adventure before our bones are frozen solid (ok, slight exaggeration). We did a bit of bikepacking with panniers taking on the Waikato and Timber Trails. Definitely highlights of our days in NZ so far and we managed them both without a drop of rain (or should I say snow. Heave frost though, indeed). To cycle in winter you must have the correct gear and we become heavily reliant on it for survival.
It is crazy how you could travel the endless summer or endless winter on this planet. For now, we’ll keep cycling, grabbing hold of the fleeting light and warmth but also seeing the beauty of winter and the cyclical reset of the planet from a somewhat polar opposite perspective from what we’re used to.
I think winter is a time for reflection and reset and grateful longing for what’s to come.