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Not everyone would choose lecturer Daniel Pfyl’s 60th birthday present to himself. He is about to spend 30 days cycling the length of New Zealand.

“Some people have asked why I don’t spend two weeks in Fiji on the beach instead. But that wouldn’t be me,” Daniel says.

A knee injury from running two decades ago prompted Daniel’s physiotherapist to suggest a new hobby. Now he has a bike in every port.

“My wife always asks, ‘Do you really need another bike?’ I’ve got one in Rotorua and one in Switzerland just in case.”

Tour Aotearoa is a ride, not a race. Over 1000 riders will follow an exact route from the top of the North to the bottom of the South, with the entry fees going to a charity of each rider’s choice. Daniel has nominated the Red Cross.

“Cycling on gravel roads and beaches is one challenge – but being self-supporting is the other. You have to take the tent, sleeping bag, clothes, the whole lot. If there’s a mechanical failure you have to fix it. It’s all on you on your bike.”

Daniel has some sage advice for anyone brave enough to consider a similar escapade.

“You have to look after your backside!”

It took Daniel about two years to plan this adventure because he had to ensure the programme he leads continues while he’s away.

“I’m really grateful that the polytechnic has allowed me to do it.”

As Senior Lecturer at the Food Design Institute (FDI), Daniel thrives on helping others overcome challenges.

“I like seeing the students progress. They’re quite often very shy at the beginning, then you can see them getting confidence. The other thing I really enjoy is tracking where students go. I can see the programme is successful in putting students into the workplace.”

Recently a student himself, Daniel finished his Master of Professional Practice through Otago Polytechnic last year.

“It took about five years. The panel said I’m a very resilient learner!”

While Daniel can boast a myriad of local and international experience before starting his role at Otago Polytechnic 21 years ago, his biggest claim to fame is undoubtedly being the chef to the Sultan of Brunei.

“The budget didn’t matter. The biggest event was his majesty’s birthday – a 6500 person sit down dinner. I also catered for his private jets. It was an amazing five years.”

Follow Daniel’s progress here.

Published on 18 Feb 2020

Orderdate: 18 Feb 2020
Expiry: 27 Feb 2022