Sue's Tour Aotearoa cycle challenge

By Sue Johnson

The first five days.....

So it all kicked off (as planned) on 2nd January from Cape Reinga. This photo is me in the Cape Reinga car park having walked out to the lighthouse and watched the Tasman sea and the Pacific ocean crashing together. There were significant nerves and a pack laden with emergency "one square meal" bars!


The initial section was a pretty speedy "on road" zoom down to "Te Paki" stream. This is a popular spot for sandboarding - we had climbed the dunes and had a little sand boarding session on New Years day. I cycled out along the stream to reach ninety mile beach. Carefully timed with the tides to ensure maximum "hard sand" biking time. It initially seemed to be reasonably easy going. 

There were two seagull attacks (less than ideal but a great incentive to pick up the pace!), a bit of battle with a pesky head wind and a huge relief to finally role into Ahipara over 100km later!!

It felt good to set up my tent for the night and wash the sand, salt and sweat off my bike and my body! I must have chosen the most popular fish and chip shop in NZ as it had an hour wait after ordering. Tasted all the better for it after such a big day!



It took longer than I'd expected to pack up all my gear and get back on the road the next morning. Riding first thing in the morning was certainly much easier than the heat of midday kiwi summer. The Hokianga harbour is an absolutely stunning region and having to get the short ferry ride across to Rawene added to the sense of adventure. 

My cycling technique was proving to be less than ideal. I was sticking to high gears for "powering" up hills, never stopping to stretch and probably not eating enough through the day.

I finished the day in Omapere - a beautiful seaside town with amazing views and delicious local eateries. I was struggling with some right anterior knee pain and attempted some seat adjustments and promised myself I'd do more stretching on day three.


I met two awesome ladies on this day and we had a coffee in "Morrells" cafe in Waimamaku. This is housed in an old wooden cheese factory and was the best breakfast of 2019 so far! Rose just so happened to be a physio and gave me further tips and tricks to help me combat the knee pain and keep going in a more knee friendly manner!!

I met the mighty Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua forrest (the largest known living kauri tree). 

Eventually I rested my head in Dargaville - the kumara capital of NZ! (No gueeses as to what was on the dinner menu that night).


Sadly, I wasn't able to arrange a charter to cross the Kaipara harbour by boat and so I had a casual 130km detour around the water to contend  with. 

Never one to want to miss out on an experience, I decided to climb the TokaToka lookout which offered views of both oceans from its lofty heights. It meant I ended up doing some cycling in very hot midday sun later but was well worth it!

I stayed in Kaiwaka that night and Greg came to join for an evening. We drove over to Mangawhai heads and swum in the sea, ate ice creams and planned out how to tackle to long ride back to Auckland the following day...


The big one! This was my longest cycling day to date - 133km. I managed to go the wrong way twice - oops! Perhaps my technique of relying on guide books and "instincts" isn't as foolproof as I'd imagined...

There was a couple of scary sections on fairly busy roads, but by the time I reached the northwestern cycle path and knew I'd be in my own bed for a while I felt as fresh as at the beginning of the day.


And so now I'm back in Auckland and spending a bit of time getting my bike serviced, planning the next stage of the trip and attempting to spread to word of the ways that the Mental Health Foundation will be using your kind donations to help people who are needing some additional support. I've found it so refreshing to see how open people have been in their discussions with me about mental health issues as soon as the charity I'm cycling for is mentioned. Let's keep the conversations going!

Thanks for reading! 

Sue x

Map my progress

I am just about to leave the home comforts of a very sunny Auckland and venture up into the "Far North" of New Zealand. Cape Reinga sticks out on a thin limb 108km above the rest of the country. 

Maori consider Cape Reinga (Te Reranga Wairua) as the jumping off point for souls as they depart on their journey for thier spiritual homeland. It could be likened to a giant diving board. 

The first day oy cycling will be one the west coast of Cape Reinga. The continuous stretch of "90 mile beach" is lined with high sand dunes and flanked by the Aupori Forest. I've been forewarned that a head wind is likely to make for a very long first day!

I have made an instagram account @suecyclesnz for easier on the go updates.

There is also a very accurate GPS system tracking my progress which can be followed on this link:


Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! Next post will be from "on the trail!"

The final countdown

This is going to be a rather mammoth journey, but I would really like to share my experience (with those of you who are interested) and so have made an instagram account for when I'm "on the road."

Tour Aoteroa was launched by Jonathon Kennett, who has worked extensively on the New Zealand Cycle Trail project. There is a huge amount of information at if you want to learn more about it.


Thank you so so much to those people who've already been kind enough to donate and/or offer words of encouragement. All funds raised will go to the Mental Health Foundation. Even if you feel as though you are in tip top "mental health" there is a good chance that someone close to you either has gone through difficulties of their own or may do in the future. 

More than half of all New Zealanders feel added financial and social stresses during the festive season. Some may feel under pressue to create a magical day for their children or other family members. Feelings of sadness, distance or loneliness can be heightened at this time of year.

Don't forget to be kind to yourself and those around you.

Seeking some support!

In early January, whilst many of us will be considering the various overindulgences made over the festive period, there will be a rather apprehensive cyclist setting off on a 3000km journey from Cape Reinga at the very top of New Zealand with the aim of safely arriving in Bluff - at the very bottom. 

As a definite "newby" to the world of bike touring I am under no false illusions that this is going to be easy. A rather important person imbedded this outlook in me many moons ago: 

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

And so the padded shorts are purchased, the route is (mostly) planned and training is underway.


But this isn't simply an excuse to explore more of this beautiful country which I've called home for the last two and a half years. My primary motivation is to raise awareness (and FUNDS!) for the Mental Health Foundation. The MHF is a charity that works towards reducing stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. They provide free support, training and resources for anyone who is going through a difficult time, or for people who are supporting loved ones through a difficult time.

Depression is set to overtake heart diseases as the biggest global health burden by 2020. As an emergency medicine doctor, I am exposed to the extreme impact of depression and anxiety on a day to day basis. I am determined to see our attitudes and management of it improve.

Nearly half of us will experience a mental illness in our lifetime, so chances are there’s someone around you right now who isn’t coping or is feeling alone.
When we go through a tough time, many of us keep it to ourselves. But no one should ever feel ashamed of who they are or feel afraid to be themselves or to ask for help.

And so I am asking YOU for help. Even if you can't afford to give a donation, just be a little more aware of the people around you. Even a small act of kindness and compassion can be the world of difference to a person going through difficult circumstance. 



Thank you to my Supporters


Felicity S

Nice one, Sue! Blown your target out of the park. See you back at work after your break :)


Liz & Brent Besley

An awesome journey for a worthy cause. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Megan And Catriona

Congratulations on such an amazing achievement !! Get those legs rested. Hope to see you soon!


Smith Familu

You are so clever well done . An achievement you will always be proud of. Luv Lynley Jeremy Jed Nicole Meg x


Fraser Birse

Congratulations Sue! What an adventure, what an achievement. Where next......?!xx


Emma Miller

So proud of you pal, massive well done from us both! Emma and Hamish x




Angela Kennedy

Awesome Sue. Well done πŸ‘πŸš΄‍♂️


J And H, Wanaka

What an amazing achievement, Sue! Well done!




Emma Karsten

So impressive!!!


Jennifer Dowson

Fantastic achievement you’re so brave, well done Sue xx


Jenny Ross

Well done Bo. You absolute legend!! So proud of you X


Cheis Williams

Amazing achievement! The pictures looked stunning x


Craig Mccrossan

Well done mate!



Bloody amazing!!


Meera Patel

You champ, what an impressive human! Huge Congrats! I've loved following your journey, and for a super cause. So proud, Johnson Mahonson. Please repost this link on facebook though! It was only for my (equally impressive) willpower and drive that I scrolled down far enough your facebook page to find this... X


Duncan Birse


Oliver H

Such an awesome achievement for such a good cause!


Matthew, Beth And George Brown

Well done sue, great achievement, now enjoy afew White Russians!


Lucy Karsten

There once was a girl named Sue And I promise this story is true She rode 2000 miles, showering NZ with smiles, And now everyone’s feeling less blue.


Lucy Levett

Amazing job, so proud of you! X


Rosie And Tom Bloomfield

Sue you are a superstar! What an incredible adventure xxx


Rebecca & John

So incredibly proud of you. Such an incredible feat! Well done xx


Charlotte Jones

Gooo Suebo! What an amazing challenge - you're a wonder woman! Lots of love, Charlotte and Emile xxx


Greg Levett

Great effort, proud xx


John And Carron

We are so proud of you Sue, you are such an inspiration, loved following your travels and for such a special cause .Love from C & J


Ally Mackintosh

Hi Sue, long time no see, meaning to donate for ages, hope you are keeping well, good luck and stay safe the rest of your journey : )


Meadhbh Halpenny

g'wan sue! what an amazing challenge!"wheely"proud of you...hehe. love meadhbh x


Laura Henderson

Loving reading all your posts Sue. Well done! xx


Lisa Sami

You amazing and inspirational human!


Emily Morrow

Well done Sue you're a superstar! Wish I could join you on your adventure!


Tomas L Martin

What a hero, i'm so impressed!!! If you're rolling into Christchurch, do pop in!


Rachel And Pearce Kelly

Sue here’s a small donation to get you over your target. Well done. You’re an inspiration and we’re following and supporting you from afar. What a great cause. Love you Jono xx


Jackie Jean

You are so blimin amazing!!


Jo Thomson

You are an amazing inspirational lady! Love reading your posts


Tanya Buckingham

You are doing an amazing job Sue! Love seeing all the updates on FB! Lots of love Tig and Huw xx


Andrew Blunsum

Keep it up Sue, amazing effort so far! Just the one island to go now! X


Raina Elley

I really admire what you are doing Sue. It is very inspiring! Keep up the great work.




Nicola And Ken

Good luck Sue - you’ve got this! You are an inspiration to us all!



Go Johnson! We're super proud of you and you're doing a great job! :D Looking forward to a few wineos when you're back in Auckland!


Tom Keast And Oli Knight

Good job Sue! Looks like an amazing trip so far. Keep on trucking... Lots of love Oli and Tom


Kylie Salt

10 cents for every kilometre - seems a bit cheap when you look at it like that! Sue, you are an inspiration and all around good person. Thank you for your support of Mental Health - something that effects us all at some stage of our lives in one way or another. Keep up the hard earned kms and memories. Wish I was there xo


Kevin Henderson

You were always a wonderful person to be around Sue Johnson, bringing sunshine into the lives of those around you - looks like you've kept it up! What an inspiration, and a cause very close to my heart, I hope you enjoy the adventure!


Jane Loughnan

So lovely to meet you and I just love what you're doing and maybe a tiny bit jealous!


Anneka Wicks

Amazing work, loving all your updates. Keep it up, good luck xx


Ann Bain

Exceptional lady, well done Sue 😎πŸ’ͺ


Jess Rudnay

Well done Sue! Such a great cause, you’re an inspiration xxx



Good luck you ledge! Xxx


Emma And James Byers

Go for it Sue!!


Karen And Stevie Sedgwick

A great challenge! Best of luck! From Karen and Stevie


Will Duthie (your Lodgers Lodger)

Still amazed by this challenge, following with interest back in Scotland! Bravo!


Ariana And Mike

So proud of you, Sue! You are amazing! Lots of love xxx


Camilla Bell

Awesome challenge - Good luck!


Jen & Guy

Go Sue! Amazing effort, you hero. Big love and safe travels xxx


Jo Matthews

Go Sue!! You are doing awesome! Keep it up and good luck for the rest!!


Ellie And Emma Brosnacross

Go Sue, you lil legend!!! We love you xx


Matt Clarke

Well done Sue, you are awesome. Have a great time and safe travels. See you back at Muddles soon


Rosanna Innes

You are going to smash this Suebo! So proud (and jealous) of your adventure - have the best time. Remember: "life begins at the edge of your comfort zone" (Probably when you can no longer feel your bum, legs or feet.....!) Ride safe. Big love Rosanna xxx


Amisha Cameron

Living the dream Sue! And for a fabulous cause! Love the updates


Maria Amos

You’re a legend Sue! Hope to see you on this adventure x


Callum Oboyle


Rona Stewart

Amazing SueJ! Great effort.


Jane And Cambo

You are amazing, super proud of your efforts! Can't wait to watch your progress and you never know, you might get an impromptu visit...


Dan Healy

Hi Sue, We went on the boat with you in Russell with Cam and Jane. We are following you on IG, think it’s an awesome effort and a very worthy cause. Good luck on your trip. Take care, Dan and Sally


Jo Graham

What an amazing thing to do sue! Sorry I’m a bit late - best of luck! Lots of love xxx


Monique & Andy Wright

Go Sue!


Heather P

Good luck mate, you've got this xx


Robert Campbell

Well done Sue!


Susie Campbell

You’re amazing xxx


Dan Marley

Good luck


Max And Katie

Looking forward to the Instagram updates- remember sex sells!


Amelia And Dan

What an amazing achievement, can't wait to see all the pics as you go round. Wish we could be there to cheer you on!! XXXXXXXXX


David Canner

Keep going!!! Xx


Kat And Alex

Enjoy the journey. :)


Mandy Crawford

Good Luck Sue!!! Xxx


Kalem Banks

May a northerly wind be with you Sue. See you when you get back xx


Jack & Vicky

All the best for what will be an incredible journey Johno. Enjoy the open road and much love from us both x


Alex Viner

Good luck Suebo! Wish we could come and cheer you on (we all know I would struggle to cycle 1k without injury) but sending you lots of love and support xxx


Hamish Read

Shot Sue! Hope it’s an epic journey all round πŸ€™


Becky And Rich Mill

Legend!!! Wishing you and those wide sit bones so much luck!!! A brilliant challenge for a brilliant cause. Lots of love xxx


The Gues

Go for it Sue and tell us which is the easiest part for when we visit next year


Sarah Ramshaw

Good Luck Sue, you're doing an amazing thing x


Sarit And Sumeshni

Excellent Sue!


Felicity Dawson

See you at the timber trail (: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Charles Merchant

Hey Sue, What a challenge! We will be thinking of you on your amazing ride for such an important cause Lots of love The MERCHANTS X


Katie C

Hey! Could not be more proud of you taking on this challenge. Those quads were born to pedal! Will be watching your progress with admiration and jealousy! Katie



Awesome amazing. So Jealous. Keep safe on your incredible journey.


Phil Murnane

I wheelie hope it goes well Sue!


Abbey Arrowsmith

Good luck Sue!


Pete Farnworth

Good luck babe xx


Inia Tomas

Nice work Sue. Good luck!


Lottie Wood

Sue, you are a hero! What a phenomenal challenge...good luck! Lots of love from your biggest fans - Lottie, James & Flo xxx


Fen Moy

Awesome venture and all the very best for it!





Lou Finnel

Go SUE!!!


Rachel Risk


Emily W

Go SuJo, you massive legend xx



Kia kaha. Hope you dont have “motivation” to cycle faster!!



Sue! such an amazing thing and so proud of you! Best of luck!!! xxx


Margaret Colligan

That's a fantastic cause and an epic journey. Good on you.



No better woman susie q !!! What an adventure , looking forward to the updates and pics of the padded arseπŸ˜‰ good luck and well done xxxx



This is amazing Sue - the ride and the cause!


Jess Merchant

Good luck Sue! Absolute legend/ Rock. Much love xx


Gina De Cleene

Good luck - let me know how it goes


Stephanie Mackie

What an amazing huge awesome challenge! Massive respect to you for taking it on. Best of luck and ride strong xx


Gabby King

Good luck and enjoy!


Thomas Nightingale

Go the Bo!


Ella Tea

I personally feel that there is no need (or indeed room for) further arse padding or thigh hypertrophy. However you never listen to me. What an adventure Bo, wish i could join but my mundane life in England awaits me. The very best of luck to he bravest egg I know. Love you so very much xx


Joe Gray

Awesome effort Sue! Hope it’s an amazing trip - will undoubtedly be hard work but a fun adventure! Invest in good tyres!x



Good luck!