Oamaru wheelman David Wilson has passed the halfway point of his journey from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga atop his penny-farthing.

The ride represents the first attempt to ride a penny farthing the length of the country, and is intended to promote Oamaru's efforts in restoring its Victorian Precinct.

It took Mr Wilson 19 days to reach Wellington early last week, but it had not been all clear pedalling.

Several additional days had been required for rest and repairs, with the first stage proving to be demanding on both the bike and rider.


"There have been three ungentlemanly dismounts since leaving, with the hardest being coming down the hills into Blenheim, when the machine started to gather speed and the only option was to rapidly dismount," Mr Wilson said.

"The bike crashed into the safety barrier with minor damage."

The wheelman's comfort levels have largely depended on the terrain and generosity of people.

"There have been all sorts of acts of kindness," he said from the road north of Wellington heading for Porirua on Monday.

"Accommodation has varied from sleeping under bridges in a tent, to cabins in camping grounds to being hosted by kind families in country homes."

Mr Wilson, who began riding high wheelers in 1992, is attempting to complete the trip unaccompanied and, as far as possible, as it would have been done in 1882.

His bike, made in Oamaru, has a front wheel 54 inches in circumference, and is a replica of a bike from the late-1800s.

Heavy items had been moved from the rear wheel to sit on the handle bars, making the bike significantly more balanced.


Mr Wilson was looking forward to the road flattening out on the North Island's volcanic plateau, and said overlooking sea lions and seals in the sunshine while cycling up the coast road through Kaikoura had so far made for the trip's most enjoyable riding.

It is expected he will reach Cape Reinga early in the new year.

- Otago Daily Times