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Mike Havill Tour Aotearoa

Cycling Tour Aotearoa with Parkinson's: In Mike Havill's Words

"I set off nervously from Cape Reinga at 9:00 am, the 19th of February, with around 100 other "Wave 3" riders, fully self-supported on a bike weighed down with camping gear, clothes, tools, medication for approximately 45 days, food and about four litres of water. 

I was diagnosed with Parkinson's eight years ago as a 51-year-old. I don't have a background in cycling. There were a lot of uncertainties, and I had no idea how I would cope, but I am patient and determined.

It's hard to say how much my abilities were impacted by the Parkinson's, as these days life dealing with Parkinson's is now really the norm.  I was advised to under-train slightly and pick up fitness as I progressed on the ride. I was a bit slow putting up my tent, getting on the road in the mornings, packing up and loading the bike etc.  I probably had a few shorter days than most other riders. 

Late in some afternoons, I would sometimes get a bit wobbly.  Those are times I hopped off and walked.  I was in no hurry, and I was patient.  I was expecting to get cramps but had no problems. Some of my tablets turned to dust as they rattled around in my bags."

What Made Me Enter

Mike Havill Tour Aotearoa

"Planning for the ride probably commenced in the middle of 2018 and the training from early 2019. 

I wanted to see the country from a different perspective.  I was keen for a challenge and an adventure and an outdoor experience. There was the fundraising aspect, plus I did it for self-respect and self-confidence.  Later, I was told that I might inspire others, and that sounded great. It was great to have a goal to aim for over the last couple of years. Also, I have met people all over the country along the way which has extended my social circle." 

Mike has set up a Givealittle page to raise money for both Parkinson’s NZ and the Neuro Research Charitable Trust -

Cycling Tour Aotearoa

Mike on Bike

"Most of day one was spent riding down 90-mile beach.

The next 32 days took me on and off-road tracks and trails the length of the country with stopovers at, Ahipara, Omapere, Dargaville, Helensville, Onehunga, Miranda, Matamata, Mangakino, Pirpopiro, Owhango, Whakahoro, Matahiwi, Hunterville, Apiti, Pahiatua, Martinborough, Wellington, Pelorus Bridge, Richmond, Lake Rotoroa, Springs Junction, Big River DOC hut, Greymouth, Hokitika, Whataroa, Jacob's River, Haast, Makarora, Wanaka, Queenstown, Mavora Lakes, Winton before finally arriving in Bluff on Sunday, the 22nd of March. 3015 kilometres.

The challenges along the way are not limited to just hills, weather and traffic. The nature of the tracks, and just sitting on a bike for hours every day were also hard. I also had to deal with a fracture in my right hand, after I slipped on the stairs at home, about ten days before I commenced. 

I didn't mind the heat, dust and dirt. Navigation was an issue at times, and I took a few wrong turns. I was fortunate with the weather and only rode for less than two hours in the rain on each island.

There were some long, demanding days; some tracks were unrideable, and there was a lot of bike-pushing along the way.  I look back now, and those difficult days were probably the most rewarding. It's a great feeling to overcome the hurdles.  The bigger the challenge was, the greater my sense of satisfaction and smile were at the top of some hills.

Things could have ended a number of times badly, in roadside ditches, on roads with heavy traffic, lanes with no shoulder, and with a steep camber.  It takes quite a lot of concentration. I did have a couple of falls, but that wasn't uncommon. A few injured riders had to be picked by rescue helicopters, and a few were even hit by cars.

Would I do this again? If you had asked me on the 21st of March, as I rode through Dipton in the pouring rain, I would have said, "Probably not", but as time passes I am having a rethink. I would like to have another event and a goal to aim to achieve.

If anyone thinks they might want to enter Tour Aotearoa in the future, either the whole or part route or just one island, please get in touch!"

Follow Mike Havill on Instagram to get in touch or see updates - @mikeonbike2020.

Mike has set up a Givealittle page to raise money for both Parkinson’s NZ and the Neuro Research Charitable Trust -

How can Parkinson’s New Zealand help?

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We offer professional support to people living with Parkinson’s

Our team of Parkinson’s Nurses develop high-quality medical plans, while also providing in-depth information.

They connect people with Parkinson’s to speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

Parkinson’s NZ also runs networking support groups and exercise classes, while also offering physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, as well as art/music therapy sessions to members.

Get in Touch

Parkinson's Symptoms

If you’d like to contact our charity and avail of our free services, then give us a call on 04 801 8850 today!

If you’d like to show your support to the service we provide to people with Parkinson’s, then please make a donation!

To find out whom to contact and what services are available in your area, simply head over to Regional Support.