Hello again loyal followers and friends,
The last stretch Ville and I rode in New Zealand can be summed up best by Hunter S. Thompson, "Wow! What a Ride!" We'd been looking forward to the last stretch, knowing it would be more remote than the last, and it did not disappoint. Once leaving Mangakino (where manager, Emma, gave us a ride to get food because we looked too haggard to make it in the rain) we continued southwest on the Link road on our way to the trailhead of the Pureora-Ongarue Timber Trail. Just outside town we came to a sketchy, chain-link walking bridge that we had to remove panniers and drag the bikes over (should have been our first sign of what was to come) and as we climbed deep into the rainforest on a narrow, steep goat trail, the rain fell steadily, soaking us through. By the time we reached the trailhead, we sprung for a cabin that reeked of mildew, housed a swarm of mosquitos, but offered a hot shower. I'd have paid a million bucks for that hot shower. We pitched our tent inside, sheltered from the downpour and began the Timber Trail the next morning.
The Pureora-Ongarue Timber Trail is a fifty-mile stretch of hiking/biking trail that climbs and descends through the Pureora Rainforest Park. The well-maintained trail crosses multiple suspension bridges (not for the faint of heart) and has a camping/hotel option mid-way through. The wilds and birdsong that accompanied us through the forest was amazing! The rain showers that turned most of the trial to mud with deep, brown puddles was character-building. We stayed at the campground, where we met Ross and Don, a father-son duo braving the rain for the weekend and had a great time sharing bad jokes and great stories. Thanks for sharing your whisky boys. :)
We popped out of the forest at Ongarue in the pouring rain and had 14 miles to Taumarunui. We were so wet we had to sit outside a restaurant to eat dinner, checked into a motel, hosed mud off the bikes, showered and washed clothes. From there we had a great stretch on backroads (there have been far less traffic south of Auckland) to the Blue Duck Trailhead. Not wanting to pay for camping, we charged ahead that evening, through the Whanganui National Park, trying to reach the Mosley Camp. The trail turned to a mud slick and as we climbed into a steep gorge, the trail narrowed to the width of a hiking trail, with a cliff to our left and rock face covered in greenery to our right. Then it began pouring rain. I had already been dismounting, pushing my bike over boulders, across slippery, mossy bridges, through deep mud puddles for nearly 10 miles when the trail turned into a river. Luckily, Mosley Camp had a three-walled shelter, where we pulled bikes inside, stripped off wet clothes, ate dehydrated dinner and slept fitfully, dreading the "ride" the next day.
Four more miles of pushing bikes with intermittent riding brought us to the intersection where we were suppose to ride towards Mangapurua Landing and the Bridge to Nowhere, but due to excessive rain and landslides (they call them slips here) the road was closed. Again we detoured down out of the forest, past farmland, farmers moving livestock and into Raetihi. When we arrived, soaking wet at the campground at Raetihi, they had a major water leak and told us we might want to head 10 miles up the road to another campground. I practically begged, pleaded with them and they were super nice and let us stay.
From Raetihi, we had a long, steep descent into Pipiriki, where we met a group of school kids who just got off the river after a five-day canoe trip. We chatted with them a while and Ville let one of the guys ride his bike. Meeting people, especially kids, along the way has been such a blast. The route south along the Whanganui River was beautiful! Paved, easy road, intermittent showers and our campground was on the opposite side of the river accessed by gondola. We stopped at a roadside shop, manned by Moana and her brother Te Rangihaeata, where we bought ice cream and enjoyed chatting with them about their town, lives and what they planned to do for summer. Thank you both for hanging out!
The next morning, we rode 27 miles into Whanganui. We didn't even mind the rain and lightning storm because we checked into a motel with a hot shower. It took a lot of legwork, but we even found a motel that aired the World Cup Final this morning at 4am (for all you soccer fans) and holy smokes what a game!! If you missed it, I recommend watching the highlights. Tomorrow, we will continue east and then turn south on back roads and make our way to Wellington. We hope to make it there by my birthday, Dec. 30th.
Until next time, I hope you all have the happiest of holidays! That you enjoy some time with friends and family, eat too much, sleep late, drink some egg nog and party like it's 1999. Thank you for all your continued love and support, until we meet again, keep on keeping' on...
K.G. & Ville
In New Zealand on bikes.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson