Last updated 13:29 18/05/2012
Dutch cyclist Mirjam Wouters left the Netherlands in March 2001 for a holiday and has been travelling ever since.
Pedalling the world, she stopped off in Blenheim a few weeks back.
She stayed at the home of Marg and Shaun Barsdell, whose daughter Kylie owns a backpackers hostel in Derry, Northern Ireland, where she worked.
The three-month stay allowed by her New Zealand visa was only enough to tour the South Island, Mirjam says.
She flew out on April 30 but will be back, to cycle the North Island and routes she hasn’t been able to fit in, including the Marlborough Sounds.
Cycle guides to New Zealand like the one published by Lonely Planet provide only main road routes but, whenever possible, Mirjam bikes back roads.
Her Dutch-built Multicycle handles the gravel well and its gears are enclosed in a hub, which keeps out dust.
Her trip included St Arnaud to Molesworth Station crossing Island Saddle, which is described as New Zealand’s highest pass on a public road at 1347 metres.
A highlight of Mirjam’s New Zealand travels was being offered a place on a helicopter on a Conservation Department trip to Anchor Island in Dusky Sound, where she helped locate endangered kakapo.
Mirjam has mostly cycled alone and says she always feels safe.
All around the world, people have gone out of their way to help.
In Iran, for example – where for modesty reasons she had to bike with her head, arms and legs covered – a truck driver stopped and cooked her a meal of potatoes eaten under a pop-out canopy.
Mirjam’s travels have included cycling about 5000 kilometres across inland Australia, from Sydney to Perth via Ayers Rock.
She did it from July to October, when temperatures were not too high.
As a precaution, she contacted big cattle and sheep stations or the police a few days of pedalling away and asked them to send out an alarm if she did not arrive in three or four days. This never happened.
In the desert, Mirjam carried up to 25 litres of water on her bike and always checked the location of water sources, including windmill- driven pumps along the way.
“My hottest day was 47 degrees Celsius in Western Australia.
“I headed to the coast, where it was cooler, but there the wind was strong.”
Mirjam now carries a satellite messenger so every day she can log her precise location with key contacts. The messenger doubles as a locator beacon, with buttons to push if she needs help.
Mirjam says she is not aiming to break records but to absorb the culture of places she travels through and earn some money by picking up short-term jobs along the way. In 2007, she left Europe to bike to Australia, which ended up taking two years.
Follow Mirjam’s travels at cyclingdutchgirl.com.
- The Marlborough Express
Cunnamulla Watchman 4-8-2011
Kalgoorlie Miner 16-8-2010
Great Southern Herald 2010
Katanning March 2010
de Weekendkrant 16-03-2009
Columbus Magazine 2009
Apeldoornse Courant 3-2009
De Apeldoornse Courant 2007
Estonia Newspaper 2005