An amateurs guide to planning a bike trip

It was an idea born in a coffee shop in Mission Bay on a warm winters day as Alice and I were discussing her brother Tom’s upcoming bicycle trip around Europe. While we both agreed bike would be a great way to explore New Zealand, I’m not sure if either of us knew if the other one was serious, or if we were serious about it for that matter.
After a few days of bombarding each other with links, the challenge was firmly implanted and we started a to do list which looked something like this: 
1. Buy bike

2. Plan route
We bought ourselves Apollo mountain bikes. Not really sure how to test drive bikes we peddled around the car park of a few different stores. Lots of feature talk went on and we learnt a little more the questions to ask, but ultimately the bikes we got were a cool colour, and that obviously was an influencing factor. 

  
Shortly after we got light, helmet and a bike lock. All set for inner city peddling. This was an awesome part of the planning. We took our bikes along the (pancake flat) route around the coast to St Heliers several times, a jaunt to Waiheke Island which had several thigh challenging hills and on every excursion, coffee and cake stops were carefully supplanted. 
Things that we quickly realised we needed;
A rack- sits over the back wheels
Back Panniers – 30litres each side for the majority of our luggage
Other panniers- under seat, on the frame, on the handlebar. There appears to be unlimited sneaky places to stash things
Repair kit- pump, puncture repair kit, also stocked with hand sanitiser for post mechanic work.
First aid kit- we manage to stash hospital supplies in the repair kit for ultimate efficiency
Bike computer- to measure our speed and distance
Tent- getting nice and cosy and sharing a two man. Our hunt focused around being as waterproof and lightweight as possible, whilst still being cheap.
Rain coats – it’s New Zealand
Bike gloves, a buff, sunglasses, suncream – various protection
Bike clothes – 2 pairs shorts, 1 pair 3/4, 1 long pants, several bike tops and sports bras, 2 long sleeve thermals, hoody.
Water- I opted for a 2litre bladder to carry on my bike, Alice opted for a bottle and bottle holder.
Wrench, cable ties, duct tape, spare inner tubes, tissues, batteries, bungy cords, glue – bike and tent repairs
Stove, compact set of pots and pans, lighters, pen knives, cutlery, tin opener -cooking
Guidebook and maps – some paid for and some free, both which the AA proved useful
Gadget 101 – an amazing freebie from work, a wind up torch which doubles up as an alarm, a radio and a wind up charger! 
Laundry powder, a tarp, a supply of bin bags
Sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, sleeping mat

  
So with a kit list prepared we began to think about what was possible in seven weeks. Surprisingly, not a lot. Or maybe not surprisingly. 

  
The first few planning sessions really were more about scaling back expectations. Every time we sat down with the map and guidebook it would be surprising how long it would take to get from a to b. Build in puncture time and sightseeing and it the time just goes. This was a bit disheartening but it really made us focus on the parts we wanted to see. 

The coromandel we decided could be visited on a weekend trip whilst still in Auckland, we readjusted a lot of of North activity ideas in favour of more time in the South Island. And finally, a lot of the distance would be covered by bus so we bought a bus pass and spent several hours arguing with the customer care team over whether “bikes probably allowed” was a good enough statement to pin our dreams to…
And so with a rough itinerary in mind, our first week will look like this; 
24th October: depart Auckland for Kaitaia by bus

25th October: Kaitaia to Auckland by bus

26th & 27th: Begin biking south to Awanui

28th: bike to Paihaia and the Bay of Islands

29th: explore bay of Islands, head to Whangarei

30th: Continue south along the east coast

31st: Arrive in Leigh to meet friends for the night. 

1st: After the RWC final, head back to Auckland.  
Savings went up and the days counted down and now we are ready to leave. Any last things you think we should squeeze into our luggage? Any tips before he we head out into the vast beyond? 

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