New Zealand 🇳🇿 my first real big bicycle adventure/journey. How will my wild 🏕️ camping skills tone up?
I started out slowly with an official campsite near Christchurch Airport. Then once on the road another official campsite at Ashley Gorge. From Ashley Gorge, I received my first taste (bite) of the much talked about and feared Sand Fly 🦟 (namu in Māori). I could never fathom out what all the fuss was about. Surely, it’s just a small fly!!
A little piece about sand flies as they’re about to become part of my life while out wild camping … Sandflies cannot see at night, so they seldom bite in the dark, and generally remain outdoors. Peaks in biting often occur when light intensity increases in the morning and decreases at dusk. The morning peak comes from young sandflies that have recently emerged from pupae, and the higher evening peak is often the result of sandflies taking blood after laying eggs earlier in the day.
Sandflies are most active in dull, overcast and humid conditions ie. New Zealand 🤣
My first proper wild camping 🏕️ spot (or called freedom camping in NZ) was relatively benign as I was invited by a sheep farmer to use his field after I stopped to say hello. He, however, had worked in the UK on a sheep/dairy farm as a young lad, so was thoroughly accustomed to travel and welcomed others alike! I like this country!
My subsequent night was spent listening to the eerie sounds of wild boar 🐗 been hunted by dogs. Unpleasant to say the least. Lovely pitch but was happy to leave in the morning.
There are few places wild camping is not allowed and that is on a farming station.
A station, in the context of New Zealand agriculture, is an extensive farm dedicated to the grazing of sheep and cattle. The use of the word for the farm or farm buildings date back to the mid-nineteenth century. The owner of a station is called a runholder.
The only station I went through was the Molesworth Station (the biggest in New Zealand). One can cycle through it 🚵🏻♂️ but you aren’t allowed to overnight camp. I took a lift from the ranger as I arrived early afternoon and wouldn’t been able to traverse it in a day. I did enjoy the pickup ride, though!
New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) also offer camping sites. I used a couple, but most are very basic (long drop 💩 toilet mainly) so I’d consider this was still wild camping! I did generally stay clear of them as you’d get the camper van and the dread sliding door noise all the way through the night with people going for a pee! 💦 So never peaceful! Plus, always sand fly territory as they must know the abundance of bipedal mammals!
All in all New Zealand is fairly easy to find a wild camping pitch for a night or two. But, then, I’m on a bicycle and not in a motorhome/camper which nowadays is becoming increasingly hard for tourists in rental vehicles. Therefore, just take the bicycle 🚴 But be warned, the sand fly 🦟 will occupy most of your time and skin!
They say there’s no predators in New Zealand … I beg to differ 🦟