Town's perfect balance of sun, sea and unicyclists

By John Cousins


An outbreak of unicycling has hit Waihi Beach, causing lots of amused looks and potential converts to this singular pursuit.

"It is a really addictive thing ... everyone is pretty chilled," said Steffan Safey, one of the big group of unicyclists that has descended on the beach for the holidays.

But don't mention that it is clownish. "Most of us hate to be associated with clowns - not that we don't like clowns," he added quickly.

Hamilton is hometown for most of the group, where unicycling has grown organically by word-of-mouth and friends encouraging friends to mount up.

If they are not bobbing around the streets of the beachfront town, they can be found at the skatebowl performing an impressive repertoire of tricks for admiring onlookers.

"Everyone that does it really enjoys it. It is a social thing - a way to get to know people," Mr Safey said.

It takes an average of 10 hours of solid practice for most people to get to grips with a unicycle, although BMX riders can pick it up in half an hour.

The sporting side of unicycling can be a real motivation for devotees to travel overseas, with the world championships recently held in Italy.

Mr Safey said the unicycles had been a real magnet in the holiday atmosphere of Waihi Beach, with plenty of people coming over to chat.

The next stop on Mr Safey's itinerary was Kaikohe in the Far North and staying with unicycling's world champion.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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