New Zealand 2014/15

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Wednesday, December 24

Resolved. We are sending back the camping gear. For three reasons. One: weight. The extra kilos are dragging us backwards on each and every hill. Two: we don't want to camp. If we wouldn't camp at Opoutere we won't camp anywhere. Three: stability. We are top heavy. Lady CoMo can flex and fishtail when one of us shifts unexpectedly.

New Zealand 619

Going, going …

Done and dusted. Packed, posted and paid for. We are now 8.5 kg lighter. (Coincidentally, this is about the amount of weight used to handicap race horses.)

New Zealand 621

Gone!

We spend Christmas Eve body surfing on Whangamata Beach. Well, at least I do.

New Zealand 638

Whangamata beach

Supper is lamb medallions with sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus, accompanied by a Main Divide pinot noir. A Christmas decoration hangs on the palm tree outside our patio door.

New Zealand 628

Christmas Eve salad


Thursday, December 25

This is the most relaxed Christmas Day we have ever had. The day starts with a coffee on the beach. Eggs benedict for breakfast. Swimming in the pool. Back to the beach.

New Zealand 687

New Zealand 688

Christmas morning

New Zealand 706

Deck the halls!

There is a present for Mary from Claire ad Jacob under our Christmas tree.

New Zealand 720

Oh Christmas tree

New Zealand 732

A bicycle built for two


Friday, December 26

Whangamata to Tirau

Boxing Day and an early start. We put 7 km of climbing behind us before 9:00 am, with rolling hills between the long climbs. Traffic is light, the roads are good. We are feeling good. We are back in form for climbing. Shedding twenty pounds has re-established our momentum.

New Zealand 786

Early start

New Zealand 799

The long climbs are behind us

New Zealand 802

Downhill from here

At Waihi our decision is made. We turn inland onto highway 2. It is heavy with traffic fleeing Auckland. Lunch is at a railway station in Waikino, from which we can access a bike trail that runs parallel to the highway but on the other side of the river.

New Zealand 810

Waikino Station

New Zealand 826

Bridge to silence

The Lonely Planet describes Karangahake gorge as "spectacular". We cannot agree. It is certainly dramatic, but it holds nothing in comparison with the Bicaz Gorge in Romania.

New Zealand 840

Karangahake Gorge

The trail leads to a tunnel, but we choose a walking trail around the mountain rather than the tunnel. That may not have been so clever. There is a hairpin, 180 degree turn that does not accommodate a fully loaded tandem. It took a few minutes of lifting and inching to maneuver around (with the assistance of some fellow walkers).

New Zealand 850

No room to manoeuvre

At Paeroa there is a traffic jam. The roads are now clogged with families heading to the beach. A policeman holds court at the only intersection in town. We park Lady CoMo outside a restaurant window and order a Lemon & Paeroa soft drink.

New Zealand 887

Expedition planning

By the time we hit Te Aroha the wind and heat of the afternoon have done us in. We could not carry on to Matamata, our intended destination. A quick map check showed it was probably another 40 km, and we did not know what would be open on Boxing Day.

Te Aroha is a sleepy town at the end of a sleepy road. Our motel owner points out the thermal baths, whose water is alkaline and leaves you feeling like slip-sliding away after a hard day's ride. Very nice.

New Zealand 894

Te Aroha thermal baths

The crossbar will need another touch up.

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11 comments on “New Zealand 2014/15”

  1. MJ Ray wrote:

    The images aren't showing for me :(

  2. Kern wrote:

    Hi MJ. Thanks for the feedback. I've broken up the report into multiple pages. It should load now. Let me know.

  3. thank you so much for this lovely write up. we were in NZ but not cycling in 2001. We spent 4 wonderful days kayaking Queen Charlotte sound from Havelock. you have brought back some lovely memories.

  4. Kern wrote:

    Hi Brenda – I'm glad you enjoyed it. We have never kayaked, but I can see how Queen Charlotte sound would be spectacular to do so. It is wonderful territory.

  5. Hi There Mary and Kern
    Really enjoyed reading your trip report. We will never forget the tandem spread all over the floor in room 3. Hope we meet again in the not too distant future. 27 degrees here today.
    Love. John & Christine

  6. Patrick wrote:

    That is a great read Kern. The conclusion, unwritten, appears to be (as the man said): "You must always go a bit outside your comfort zone. If you don't, your comfort zone gets smaller." That is very true but mine has reached a point where I always need a plan. I think there's something to be said for it but perhaps it doesn't matter later when you look back. One of our sons spent six months in New Zealand and the thing he enjoyed most was the wilderness (on the South Island).

    Regarding camping on a cycle tour, I think it has to be one thing, or the other. I have sat in some pleasant accommodation and thought drat... we're camping again tomorrow night.

  7. Claire wrote:

    I read it all in one sitting! I did not expect a trip report to have so much dramatic tension, it was like reading a short story. I think you had your A-HA moment after all!! (It just didn't involve scenery... pfff over-rated).
    Also I really like the style of text interspersed with relevant photos and the "punny" photo captions.

  8. Kern wrote:

    "Dramatic tension" – holy cow, Claire, no wonder you're my favourite daughter-in-law :) .

    Patrick, I'm tickled that you came to such a philosophical conclusion. Our main conclusion was a bit more prosaic: Don't plan a cycling trip between Christmas and New Years. (The North Island poses extra touring challenges, in that it is impossible to avoid heavy traffic.)

    We're with you on camping. Next time we leave the gear behind, unless we're in the Rockies.

    27 degrees. Hmmm .... well, it's almost 27 today as well (depending on which scale you use).

  9. Andrew wrote:

    Loved every moment reading of the trip, thanks Mary and Kern, especially Mary sweeping in The Shire... And Kern shaving half the lonely planet :)
    My favorite photo of the year is Mary sweeping we are going to frame that here!
    Impressive adventure and a lot of tough cycling undertaking. Although I'm sure that wine bottle holder for the bike came in handy though! never seen one before!?
    Congrats on another great adventure on the bike! Look forward to the next one

  10. Kern wrote:

    Andrew wrote

    ... that wine bottle holder for the bike ...

    Wine bottle holder??? Mary told me it was water!

    (Mary couldn't help herself with that broom. She just picked it up and started sweeping like it was the most natural thing in the world :) .)

  11. Gerard wrote:

    Thank you. As a Kiwi, I enjoyed this. I will ride the Tour Aotearoa next February: look it up, as it's a slightly more off-road version of your trip, from top to bottom.

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