My name is Yasmin Wessels and I’m a lover of anything adventurous and outdoorsy. I’ve decided to embark on a 3125km journey from Cape Reinga all the way to Stewart Island on my push bike. In early March I will cross New Zealand's three biggest islands, biking the North and the South Islands and tramping around Stewart Island to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Society.
I have always loved being outside and during high school, Outdoor Education was the only subject I really enjoyed. I loved all the tramping, scuba diving and camps we did but what I loved even more was the two weeks we spent at Hillary Outdoors. We did a week each at their Great Barrier Island and Tongariro centres and these two weeks changed everything for me. Somehow being outside for five days challenging myself in a team environment and ‘suffering’ as a group unlocked something for me. It was the first time that I felt truly like myself. I was hooked.
Over the past two years I studied Adventure and Outdoor Education and that time continued to build on the experiences I had at Hillary when I was a school student. I found a deep love and respect for mother nature. I was in an environment where I could push myself not only physically, but also mentally. Over the past two years I’ve felt the most terrified I have ever felt, which was a great thing believe it or not. It gave me an opportunity to show courage and overcome my fears. I’ve also felt the most amazing I have ever felt. The highs mother nature can give you after you push yourself physically and mentally in the outdoors is like nothing else out there.
When I’m in nature I feel a sense of peace and belonging that I don’t get anywhere else. There’s nothing like the simplicity of being outside, eating breakfast while watching the rising sun, or eating a warm meal as you watch the sun dip below the horizon. The worries of life simply fall away. I feel so lucky to have experienced so many of these special moments with amazing people who are like the cherry on top of an already sweet adventure. Being out there reminds me to truly appreciate the beauty of life, even if that means pushing myself well outside my comfort zone. I can tell you the pain is worth it. These are the feelings I will continue to chase no matter where I am or who I’m with.
I guess you could say this bike trip is just another attempt at getting ‘that’ feeling. It’s an opportunity to suffer a little and learn a lot. I’ve never taken on an adventure on this scale before. The longest time I’ve gone without a shower is seven days… so this trip will blow that record out of the water! I have spent many nights in my tent out in the bush, sea kayaking, rock climbing and more, but this biking adventure is adding a whole new dimension to the adventure box.
It makes me nervous to be making such a big commitment not only to myself but to my brother and also to everyone who has chosen to put their belief in me and support the cause. In all honesty, I am scared to be doing this. In committing myself to this adventure, I know I’m going into a tough mental and physical challenge. It’s going to push me to question why I am doing it, to the point where I won’t even want to continue. However, these will be the moments that I will have to dig deep and back myself. It’s an opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone, but also an opportunity to show people that life is not all about the physical things but rather what you have on the inside. Grit, determination, strength and understanding. My brother has been a great teacher of this and has been a consistent role model throughout my life.
I’ve chosen to do this trip in honor of my older brother, Matthew who was born with Cerebral Palsy.
My brother's physical abilities are affected by his disability which makes sports challenging for him. However, he never let that get to him. He always participated in sports, and although he knew he wasn’t as ‘good’ as the other students he always tried. I think to be so resilient and have that sort of grit at such a young age is a testament to his character. He has taught me that although his road may be different and might take longer than most, anything is possible when you put your mind to it. He has inspired me to challenge my body to see what it can do, just like he has been doing since the day he was born.
Matthew and I both share the love of biking and I still remember when we got our first bikes when we were kids. Biking is something that we loved as kids and now has grown into a hobby we both share and enjoy doing together. Although we may have different physical capabilities, we both have the same opportunity to show resilience and courage. I think that’s why we enjoy biking so much together and that is the link between this adventure and him.
I get on my bike right at the top of the North Island, Cape Reinga and will come down the west coast of Northland before crossing into the Mighty Waikato making my way down to Palmerston North and then into Wellington. I will jump onto the ferry to cross Cook Strait and ride to Nelson. I will then ride through the rugged West Coast. Next I head to Queenstown and will make my way to Invercargill and finally arrive in Bluff. But Bluff is not the end of this epic adventure, I will be crossing Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island. In Stewart Island I will be walking the Rakiura North West circuit over 9 days and my adventure will finish in Oban.
I will be living off my bike and back for these eight weeks so my tent and sleeping bag will be my best friend. I will carry my camping stove and will enjoy Back Country Cuisine meals while working my way down the country watching the sun set. Because it’s New Zealand I will be carrying wet weather gear and warm layers! I will be prepared for all the seasons but am hoping for lots of beautiful clear days. I will have the necessary safety gear with me like a PLB, first aid kit and head torch for those just in case situations. Everything I will need for the next eight weeks will have to fit into my pannier bags and will see the sights of the country with me.
I will also be sending down resupply parcels of food and goodies to friends and family around the country so I can pick them up along the way and have my favourite dinners and snacks.
This will be an eight week adventure full of highs and I’m sure many hard moments too. I will need a large supply of resilience and grit if I am to finish this adventure, two things that many young kiwis with Cerebral Palsy have to show everyday.
All the money raised will be donated to The Cerebral Palsy Society. If you would like to show your support you can donate to my Give a Little page here: https://givealittle.co.nz/fund...
I will be posting updates on my Facebook and Instagram pages if you would like to follow along with my journey.
Instagram - @inspired_by_my_brother
Facebook - Inspired by my Brother
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