Howdy Ho Good People!
Time for a rest and another update. For those of you that don't know yet, Ville and I are riding from Cape Reinga to Bluff (top to bottom with a lot of zig-zagging in between) of New Zealand. For those of you that are caught up, we left off in Opononi a couple weeks ago. A lot has happened...
After we dodged a lighting storm, we ventured out heading south, climbing, climbing and climbing through the Waipoua Kauri Forest (home to Tane Mahuta, the largest living Kauri tree and Te Matua Ngahere, the oldest living Kauri tree). It was an incredible experience to see these trees and the ride through the forest was amazing!
The next large town we passed through was Dargaville, where we decided to take a three-day-long alternate route east around the Wairoa River Inlet to get some extra riding in (as opposed to taking the ferry across it). Our route took us mostly on farm roads with a few long stretches of death-defying highways in between. There have been no flat spots, we are either steeply climbing or on gravely, steep descents. We passed lots of cows and sheep, grazing on green hillsides. What was the favorite stop? A field of Shetland ponies and their foals. SO cute! Each day it rains, everything from showers to downpours. Kiwis, the nicest, friendliest people! When behind the wheel, some of the most dangerous drivers we have yet encountered in the world. They give new meaning to Too Fast, Too Furious, that's for sure!
On our first night out of Dargaville, we camped on Rob's farm, a handyman and auto mechanic who has a collection of 60 old Chevy cars. We passed Kaipara Butchery and bought the best snack ever at a roadside stand: homemade sourdough bread with mixed berry jam. Thank you Trish and your sister for the goodies! Our second night we passed Gillian in a field brushing her horse and camped next to her barn. John, her husband, and Gillian were nice enough to let us use their shower! Thank you Rob, John and Gillian for your hospitality. On our third night, we limped into Auckland in a complete soaking downpour, rode straight through the Santa Parade right before it started (waving at fans lined the road) and checked into a hotel to shower, wash clothes and catch up on my last round of Book edits!
After five days in Auckland, we were itching to get back in the saddles. It took almost an entire day to get out of Auckland suburbs, we passed some rugby matches, parks and a small mountain bike park along the way. We passed Ardmore Airport where small planes were doing acrobatics (we found out later the next day was a big air show), were turned away at the RV campground, and began a serious climb along a militarized zone when we were in need of camping. Disheartened and exhausted, we pulled over at the top of the climb to ask a man doing yard work if he knew where we might camp. Shane went to ask his sister, Paula, who invited us to camp down in her field. Then she offered us a shed in her backyard, then her boat to sleep in, and finally her spare bedroom. Paula and her husband, Harry, lived on the top of the hill, in a beautiful house, with views of the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland and the Firth of Thames Bay in the distance. It was spectacular and we couldn't believe our luck. An act of kindness that came when we least expected it. Thank you Harry,Paula and Shane for your kindness.
Harry suggested we get a ride up to Tapapakanga Regional Park, up to the north point of the Hunua Ranges Regional Park where he promised the road and views would be far better than the route we would have taken. Of course we agreed, loaded the bikes on his bike rack the next morning and got dropped off at Tapapakanga Regional Park at the campground (near Orere) on the beach. Harry and Paula were right, the route south along the eastern coastline was our favorite stretch so far! The traffic was light, the views amazing and we spent most of the day on the Hauraki Rail Trail (a fantastic REAL bike route along the coast and through farmland). We stopped for ice cream at The Country Store where we met Jack and Grace, two of the sweetest kids working at the shop. Thank you both! Jack, save your money for a touring bike, it will take you further than a quad. :)
Unfortunately, ten miles of the Hauraki Rail Trail were closed without notice, pushing us onto a busy highway without a shoulder, but we made it to Kopu (Thank you Red Door for dinner). From there we continued south along the rail trail, stopping in Te Aroha (where we enjoyed a soak in the mineral pool) a lunch at The Merchant in Matamata (thank you Simon for the t-shirts) and camped at the Little Waipa Reserve. We had the best three miles of riverfront bike trail before we learned at breakfast at the Rhubarb Cafe that the next twenty miles would be another detour through farmland. Of course it would be. It was beginning to be a pattern in New Zealand, bike routes/paths closed without a detour. Thank you staff at Rhubarb Cafe for the directions and tasty pick-me-up that made the detour better!
We jumped back on the bike route at Waipapa Dam and had an epic twelve-mile ride along the Waikato River in thick rainforest, unreal steep switchback climbs and descents into Mangakino. Which is where we now sit, resting our sore legs and butts for a day. Next, we plan to head through the Pureora Forest Park, a fantastic fifty-three-mile timber trail through a rainforest. Fingers crossed it is open!! Until next time, keep on keepin' on ya'll...
P.S. BOOK UPDATE COMING SOON...(Leave your email to be sure not to miss it!)
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