One Island, two mates, two bikes & three days…
Sebastian Solberg and Johnny Prigg have been mates for a long time now.
In fact they grew up living just around the corner from each other in Auckland.
“I think I can say that we were privileged in regard to where we grew up, and with the group of friends our parents had. All the parents from about 8 families would organise a trip to Motutapu Island each year where we would do an abundance of activities like kayaking, high ropes and rock climbing” says Johnny.
These days Seb is a 25 year old film-maker and commercials director. “I’ve been living in London for the last 5 years” he says. “My latest short film ‘Modern Man’ has screened in almost 100 cities around the world which is pretty cool. It’s also won a number of awards including Best Comedy Short”.
“I also recently got back from Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where I was shooting part of a feature documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival at the start of this year!”
Over the last 5 years 24 year old Johnny has been living in Australia and Canada and although his last occupation was in construction, you’d typically find him involved with the hospitality industry.
So what made these globe trotting adventurers decide to conquer the Barrier in 3 days – on 2 wheels?
“I first discovered the Barrier at the start of the year when I was visiting friends who have an island just off the coast. It’s called Motuhaku Island and they’re doing some incredible work there re-vegetating and repopulating the island with bird life. I instantly fell in love with Great Barrier and was determined to do a biking trip around the island as I’d heard there were some great biking trails!” says Seb.
“Seb and myself were already big fans of the Barrier” adds Johnny. “He got in contact with me about cycling the island and I couldn’t think of a better way to see and cover it. Research wise, we found the road and trail doc map, booked our campsite and ferry tickets and that was pretty much all we needed to get started. I did look up the distance from Tryphena to Fitzroy and may have been under the impression that if it came down to it we could cycle the whole island in a day. I was soon to find out that the terrain of the Barrier could be an obstacle to our plan at times”.
Most enduring memory?
“I would have to say it’s the beauty of the island and how untouched it all is!” says Seb. “Great Barrier is one very special place! It has so much to offer. It’s an adventurers dream!”
“For me” says Johnny “It was the first day after cycling to the top of Rosalie Bay road and getting on the first trail… riding down hill felt so rewarding after the hard cycle up the gravel road. The track was super decent! I was almost tempted on the last day to go back up Rosalie Bay road for another ride down the track. It was also a real eye opener and gave us an idea on what to expect over the next couple of days”.
The main feature?
For Seb it was achieving the goal. “We gave ourselves a tough target of biking around the island in less than 3 days. It’s usually a 4 or 5 day bike ride so we really pushed ourselves to our limit! On one of the days we biked for about 12 hours. At times we weren’t sure if we were going to make it back to the ferry on time. But we got up early and pushed through the steep climbs and thankfully made it to the ferry with time to spare!”
Johnny though, was most impressed with the scenery. “We just had to stop multiple times a day to take in the scenery. The photos and video almost do full credit to the island. Every time I look at them I want to be there for another weekend… even if it only consisted of lying on one those breathtaking beaches”.
Highlights, Camera, Action!
Take a look at some of the beautiful scenery and amazing terrain that Sebastian and Johnny encountered during their incredible journey.
Warning: The footage shown in this video could lead to uncontrollable desires to get on your bike!
Meeting the locals…
Both boys thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Barrier community. “Yes we met lots of lovely locals” Seb recalls. “They were all so friendly and had a lot of time to chat. They’re extremely passionate about their home and I can see why!”
Johnny was equally impressed. “Oh yeah, still can’t get over how nice and friendly everyone was to talk to. Great Barrier and the locals that live there give off a real kiwi vibe. If I was to tell someone visiting NZ for the first time where to go first… Great Barrier Island would be my advice. They’d be in for a very special treat!”
Hearing the call…
A lot of visitors to Great Barrier Island find it hard to find the words to describe what’s so great about it… It’s almost like there’s a subliminal personal interaction that occurs.
“Definitely!” says Sebastian. “You have to be there to feel it, there’s a magic about the place that I can’t describe. But it’s definitely captured my heart and it’s a place I’ll be visiting again soon!”
Actually – that was my next question!
“Do we get to see you again… maybe to circumnavigate the island by kayak?
Johnny is up for it. “For sure! I’ll be back. Are you keen for a kayak Seb?” he asks.
“You know what! I love that idea. When we come back from our travels overseas we must do it!”