Seven! Even I'm impressed. Seven times on a Segway, now - in Sausalito, DC, Durban, Perth, Queenstown, Kaikoura and today Waiheke, with the cleverly-named SegWai. Andrew's been in operation here for two years, but I only noticed him last month, parked with his punters at the gelato stand in Oneroa. So this morning I tagged along, joining two others (who, by what is by now for me a ho-hum sort of coincidence, have also done the DC thing) on a 2-hour, 20km ride around the western tip of Waiheke.
Since we were all veterans, after signing the single-sentence waiver (two PAGES in the US, plus a video) and helmeting up, Andrew checked that we were able to handle the machines, and we set off - off-road. I'd already noted the knobbly tyres, fitted because we would spend over half the time on tracks and the beach. The first bit was up through the bush and along the edge of some of Cable Bay's vineyards, to stop outside their restaurant with its views over the water to the city; and then we popped along to Mudbrick.
It was a bit unnerving, to be bumping along past hazards like potholes and logs, around trees and signs; but it was fun too, much better than gliding meekly along the road. Where it got really good, though, was after Andrew released our inner tortoises by disabling the speed limiter (not everyone gets this: but we weren't beginners, remember) which allowed us to reach the heady speed of 20 km/h. That was pretty exciting, when we were trundling along a stony beach and over rocks, as far as we could go.
It was a bit testing, ducking down to fit underneath a leaning pohutukawa tree, but we all managed it, and even got confident enough afterwards to go no-handed - not just along smooth road, but even over a speed bump. That deserved a reward, so we popped up into the town for a treat from Island Gelato, no doubt (I'm sure!) arousing envy in the breasts of all the boring pedestrians who saw us arrive and then leave again, whining away in single file down the road to return back through the bush to our start at the beach. Good fun!
PS: Just thought I'd mention - these photos, those horizons? No straightening necessary, despite being taken with one hand while in motion on an electronically balanced machine fitted with 5 gyroscopes. On uneven ground. At 20km/h.