Hikurangi to Whau Valley Damn
We were incredibly sad to say goodbye to Nico and the beautiful surroundings we had called home for the last 3 weeks. We left thinking that house sitting is the way forward to exploring New Zealand. Simply cycling from place to place just won’t fulfil all that we want to do here. Bur for now, we had to get back on the bikes and continue our cycle tour in Northland.
A short cycle to a local reservoir to get our cycling legs back in the groove was all we had to do this afternoon. And a chance to use my new fly fishing rod! It was good to be back on the bike, but thoughts of a campervan were at the forefront. After 3 weeks of being able to explore more remote places, go tramping, fishing and trail running, gave us a feeling that we had lots to look forward to. A campervan seemed logical to us, as we could then do a lot more of what we came to New Zealand for.
Whau Valley Damn to Waipu
It was a good start to the day, a morning fly-fishing for the resident trout, while Lindsay went for a run. As we started cycling, we only really had the highway to choose from. So we got our heads down and just cycled. The highway was a bit crap, and then the weather joined in, heavy rain and grey with poor visibility. We cycled as fast as we could to get off the highway and had to dart for shelter at a local library as the thunder and lightning kicked in. Coffee time it is then!
That evening we stayed with a family in Waipu who ran the local radio station. We missed our chance to become local radio stars and showing off our musical abilities. Instead, a quick check of the tide times meant that we darted down to the local beach instead and went fishing! Fishing twice in one day, after not having gone fishing in well over a year – the last time with my twin the evening before Lindsay and I flew to Nepal. And, my fishing talents still excelling as I caught my first Kahwhai!
Waipu to Point Wells
Not much choice for roads today, either State Highway 1, or the scenic coastal route. We chose the scenic coastal route. It started well. Scenic in fact, heading out to Mangawhai Heads offering good views across the coast, and not too awful farmland. All on a good quality sealed road. A normal road. Then the road turned to gravel. We had got used to the crappy gravel roads of Australia, but the gravel roads here were much worse. We had already experienced some gravel roads and they were awful. This one was much the same. It was deep, coarse, not even hard packed and we got bogged down and our rear wheels would spin with no grip as our front wheels slid all over the place. This is no fun. It’s not adventure. It’s just plain shit.
How a western country can still have such bad roads is almost unbelievable, but New Zealand has many of them. It does kind of makes sense though: the population and the number of people who would use the road probably doesn’t make it a viable option to spend lots of money on sealing it. But that still doesn’t take away from the fact it’s still a shit road. When mountain biking, it’s these kind of fire roads that link up the fun single track that we hate. On a road bike, we love smooth and fast tarmac. These roads are nowhere on a cyclists list of wants.
The road suddenly pointed upwards, and we had a very long and slow hill to tackle. I lagged behind massively today. Lindsay was already at the top when I got there and ran down to push me on to keep going. As we got to the summit, we looked at each other, and in unison, the word “campervan” was uttered.
Lindsay was happy again though as soon as she found some chickens for entertainment!
We stayed with a warm shower host that evening and after chatting to him and his wife, they were also of the opinion that cycling the roads of New Zealand is not a particularly desirable option. To get out into the bush, you needed to be on a mountain bike or in boots – we weren’t going to see the best bits on a touring bike, even if it was a great adventure. Their enthusiasm towards cycling however, was great, and we learned of their project advocating a cycle lane along the Harbour Bridge, one which the original planners had a slight oversight, along with other things.
Point Wells to Auckland
As our legs worked hard up every hill, we discussed our options of what to do next. New Zealand is a country we had looked forward to for so long. Cycle touring was not the only thing we wanted to do during our travels. Trail running, tramping, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, diving among others all was. As we cycled into Auckland we made the decision that we should start looking for a campervan soon. A campervan would open up so many more options for us, and allow us to explore more of the country, fish the rivers and run up mountains. We arrived back at the same hosts we stayed with on our first visit to Auckland and explained our plan. Again, they thought that was probably the best option; it seems the locals agree. New Zealand is a country for mountain bikes, so time to for a new toy!
That evening, we were then guided through a small woodland reserve after the sun had set and all was dark. In the middle of Auckland suburbia. The dense forest blocked any moonlight and it was almost black under the canopy of the trees. Luckily we kind of knew these people, so we trusted we weren’t going to be guided to our death. Instead, kneeling down and looking up near a small stream, the banks were lit up with thousands of glowing, blue dots. Like stars hugging the river bank, glow worms were covering every dark and damp place the could. All in a city – a far cry from the normal neon lights.
So, in-between some trail running and watching New Zealands iconic bird the Tui, we were now on the hunt for a campervan to call home…