‘Kiwis have always been the nicest’: The American who skateboarded down the North Island

‘Kiwis have always been the nicest’: The American who skateboarded down the North Island

Geoffrey Saunders/Delivered

Geoffrey Saunders loved the Desert Road.

For Geoffrey Saunders, one visit to New Zealand just wasn’t enough.

The American had spent a year as an au pair in Paraparaumu until March 2019, but his dreams of flying back here were soon dashed by Covid restrictions.

While waiting for the borders to fully reopen, the 30-year-old planned a personal goal he wanted to achieve: Skateboarding from Auckland to Wellington.

Now home in Norwalk, Connecticut, Saunders tells Stuff Travel he’s still reeling from the aftermath of an epic North Island trip.

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“I love skateboarding, traveling and New Zealand so the idea was just perfect. I chose the North Island because it’s more populated, I know it better… and the roads are generally better for skating. I also haven’t had time to visit both islands realistically,” said Saunders, who has been skateboarding since he was 8 or 9 years old.

Planning the logistics of the trip began up to four months before his arrival last November, but while all he needed was a skateboard and a ticket, “he had planned too much and was still unprepared at certain points.”

“I like to plan so that’s fine and I had help from a friend named Jayo who rode both islands last year and a professional long distance pusher named Paul Kent. They had knowledge I couldn’t pay for. Simply priceless.”

Geoffrey Saunders/Delivered

The trusty skateboard that brought Geoffrey Saunders across the North Island.

Although the trip was a personal challenge for him, he also decided to raise money for a wildlife charity in the US, Wildlife in Crisis.

“I had the idea of ​​raising money almost as an afterthought. I wanted to make this skate at first and then I thought how I could help someone or something by bringing them awareness. I chose Wildlife in Crisis as the company to raise money for because they are local and I can physically see the difference the money is making.

“I was also surrounded by wildlife throughout the trip so what better way to raise money than what I’m surrounded by.”

So at 9.37am on November 4, Saunders began his journey from Auckland to Wellington, a journey that would take 13 days, including some rainy days of travel.

He said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of the strangers.

“People were incredible. I’ve had people literally open their wallets to help my cause. One person gave me her number who worked for a towing company and said to call her anytime I needed anything.”

Geoffrey Saunders/Delivered

The journey took a little over 13 days.

Accommodation was free thanks to some nice Airbnb hosts.

“I had home cooked, hope fresh meals after a free night stay. Kiwis have always been the nicest. I was invited to have breakfast with a family after meeting them the night before and they all made sure I had everything I needed and more before I set off again.”

When asked where his favorite place on the trip is, the Desert Road stands out as a highlight.

“Everyone hesitated for me to go this route, but it was the most beautiful and calm time I had. The road was closed for two days before I took it mid-day but cleared for my journey past Mount Ruapehu.”

It wasn’t all just skating for him, however.

“There were definitely a few scary moments! It was consistently pretty scary to be within a meter of giant lumberjacks, truckers and more. You need to turn off that part of your brain and move on.

“I found skating around Lake Taupō when it was raining and making very tight turns was very scary.”

Going through four pairs of shoes and just the one board, he said his arrival in Wellington was “magical”.

Jumping into Wellington Harbor at the end of the trip, he was not only pleased to finish his trip, but also because “I ended up in one of my favorite cities in the world, just me, my board and exploring Cuba Street.” , Courtenay Place, and to see what has changed since I was there in 2019″.

Now back in the US, his travels have helped raise more than $3500 for his chosen charity and Saunders is already planning a possible return to New Zealand.

“I love New Zealand and want to share that with all my friends. And at some point I could also do a South Island trip. But I want to explore the rest of the world a bit more before I return.”

You can follow Geoffrey on Instagram or TikTok.

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