Family doing the leg work to promote town

Sometimes  even the very best holiday can include the worst day ever.

The Braaksma family, of Te Anau, will be cycling the length of New Zealand during the next 12 months, in part to draw attention to the plight of tourism in their home town.

Given the youngest member of their party is only 6, it is perhaps not surprising their collective emotions rise and fall almost as much as the back-country terrain they are crossing.

As the family of five reached Balclutha yesterday, mother Stef said they had already experienced the best and worst of bike-packing, Kiwi-style.

"We did an earlier test leg during the last school holidays, from Bluff to Kaka Point through the Catlins, and were in the middle of nowhere near Slope Point when a farmer came running out to us and gave the kids a giant bag of lollies. They had biscuits for the grown-ups too, so we were touched by their kindness.

"Then, just a couple of days later, we were cycling through torrential hail.

"I could hear it bouncing off [youngest son] Charlie’s helmet, it was that bad. We were trying to gee him along, but he just turned round and said, ‘This is the worst day of my life’.

The Braaksma family, of Te Anau, (from left) Mahe (9), Adrian, Jazz (11), Stef, and Charlie (6),...
The Braaksma family, of Te Anau, (from left) Mahe (9), Adrian, Jazz (11), Stef, and Charlie (6), are cycling the length of New Zealand to spread the good word about the ‘‘amazing’’ place they live. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
"Some mornings you wake up wondering why, but we’ve kept going so far."

Mrs Braaksma, a Te Anau massage therapist, and husband Adrian, a Department of Conservation avalanche ranger, said the drop-off in tourism since Covid-19 had affected the town significantly.

Although the trip retained its original intention of bringing the family closer together during a shared year’s adventure, the couple now also hoped to promote Te Anau across New Zealand.

"Te Anau sometimes gets a bit missed out as a destination in itself, and relies heavily on foreign visitors.

"A lot of friends are struggling right now, so we want to fly the flag for what is an amazing place to holiday for Kiwis everywhere."

Both keen multisporters, the couple said they had brought their children up to be active and outdoors as much as possible.

This meant what might be considered an unusual excursion for most families had been taken in their stride by Charlie, Mahe, and big sister Jazz, Mrs Braaksma said.

"We go pretty slow, and we have the tow-rope in reserve if it gets really hilly.

"Just don’t tell the kids that last bit."

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

 

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