Almost two years after she broke her neck and nearly died in a motorcycle accident, Katie-Jane Bowen is back on her bike and life's looking up.
"It's the first time in a year and a half that I've felt comfort," she says.
Miss Bowen, 28, crashed her 600cc motorbike through a fence and down a bank in Wairarapa in March 2011.
Completely lost, she used her cellphone to guide rescuers towards her.
After lying down a bank for five hours with a broken neck, shattered wrist and broken leg, she was found by the fire service and flown to Wellington Hospital in the Westpac rescue helicopter.
Miss Bowen spent months in a metal "halo" to knit her broken neck back together. She has found support online from other halo-wearers, and started a blog documenting her recovery.
About 80 motorcycling friends chipped in to pay for repairs to her dream machine, a Yamaha R6. Ms Bowen now wants to complete a solo trip around Europe, and before that a tour of the South Island. "I need to prove to myself that I can do it, to get out of my comfort zone and push myself."
Her neck is still not right - she puts it at about 80 per cent. "I say to people all the time, I really miss my old neck. I've forgotten what it's like to be able to hold my head up without thinking about it."
She's been to the accident site a few times, and calls it her "peaceful spot".
Ms Bowen lost confidence after the accident, but is clawing it back with support from family and friends. "I'm about 80 per cent now but I'm aiming for 110 per cent. Don't let anything stop you from getting back to your passion."
- The Dominion Post
What do you make of the proposed conference centre/hotel for Wellington?Related story: Convention centre to get OK