The Winterless North wasn't especially kind to David Brandenburger as he prepared to resume his great New Zealand ride aboard his solar-assisted bike on Tuesday morning.

The rain was setting in, and the forecast for the rest of the week promised more, but the optician by trade from Switzerland was well protected against the elements, and happy to take what came his way as he headed south on State Highway 10.

This wasn't his first visit to New Zealand. He had been here 20 years ago, travelling by rental car, and now he was back, to see what he had missed two decades earlier.

He had arrived a month ago and was not due to leave until March, by which time he expected to have added considerably to the 35,000km he had already clocked up over four years in central Asia, China, South Korea, Australia and now New Zealand.


David had helped build the bike in the Czech Republic, and had twice rebuilt the trailer, although he had no background in engineering, electronics or solar power. But while the power delivered by the solar panels made the ride a little easier, especially on hills, he still had plenty of pedaling to do as he cruised along at about 25km/h.

He had done a lot of camping while he was on the road, he said, but in wet weather he preferred to find somewhere indoors. He had found a bed at Hike & Bike while he was in Kaitaia, and on Monday he had joined a bus tour to Cape Reinga.

And unlike some travellers he was not experiencing any problems in sharing the roads with other traffic.

"There are idiots everywhere," he said, "but most drivers are nice and give me space."