It was beginning of June when we heard about a Swift Solstice Campout. The plan is simple – load camping gear and something good for a dinner on bikes and celebrate the summer solstice (June 21) and the longest day out with other likeminded bikepackers around the planet! Yes we are in! But there was one little problem. Here in New Zealand, as well as everywhere in Southern hemisphere is winter. Cold weather, the Sun is lowest in the sky and days are short.

Luckily, Matt from Good Rotations was not afraid of those facts and organized a 50km long weekend trip to Lake Hawea and camp at the Turihuka Conservation area.

I hesitated to the last day. We haven’t got our bags and I wasn’t sure how to pack all the stuff and don’t freeze at night and still be able to bike with it. But curiosity and opportunity to sit at night by a bonfire won. We borrowed bags from Matt, checked out a forecast and because it was not supposed to freeze, we packed only necessary clothes.

The main group started from Good Rotation at 11am on Saturday. I had to work that morning so we skipped the first 20kms. We put bikes on car and drove to Hawea around midday. We met Megan there and in couple minute later the rest of the people too. A little refreshment and then we were ready to go.

I didn’t know how to bike with (full) loaded bike. But after a couple strides I realized it was pretty easy. And when I looked at Jakub and his big smile I knew he was happy too. First few kilometers were a single track and then we carried on 4WD track along the lake for next 25kms or so.  The further from the town we were, the better the weather was. The road was fun to ride and time flew fast. Only the last 5kms were a bit harder. A final push uphill, one downhill and we were done. We pitched a camp on a grassy flat and made a bonfire.

Every bonfire is magical. Especially when you have a great company and you are surrounded by beautiful scenery…

It was raining when we woke up in the morning next day. But we were in a good mood. It wasn’t too cold at night because of the clouds and by the time we packed all our stuff it was nice and sunny again. We drove the same route back to Hawea each with their own pace with many stops to take pictures.

It was around 2pm when we met again at Sailz in Hawea. We ordered beers or coffees and something warm to eat, we sat down, talked, laughed and enjoyed last Sun rays until was time to go home.

We are home, unpacking our bags and feeling tired. We don’t need to talk. We both know after this weekend we have fallen in love with bikepacking for good…

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