Our cycling in NZ has now pretty much come to end after arriving near Hamilton last Friday afternoon (11th March). We managed to cycle a whole rail trail without any tears, or needing to take luggage on and off our bikes to negotiate any barriers and we’ve been well fed and watered over the weekend (undoing any of the fitness improvements and weight loss we’ve managed so far), including what I think was our first G&T since arriving in NZ! We are now in a small car in Tairua in the Coromandel, seeing NZ through a different mode of transport, and exploring some of the bits we didn’t get a chance to see whilst on our bikes.
After getting dropped off in Waihi the ominous rail trail awaited our wheels. Our experience of rail trails to date has not been brilliant as they haven’t always been suitable for our touring bikes, so we were somewhat apprehensive. However, this trail was actually really rather nice. Pan flat, apart from a few uppy/downy bits right at the start and the surface made it rideable at a decent pace on our bikes. So it made for a very easy 40 odd km to Te Aroha where we had decided to stop for the night. Our campsite here had the added bonus of a flying fox zip wire, which Adam and I had a good go on, acting not at all our ages.
It chucked it down overnight and unfortunately our somewhat lazy tent pitching meant that we awoke to a puddle of water on the floor of the footprint in front of the inner. I stayed tucked up in bed and let Adam deal with the water. Miraculously all the freshly laundered clothes I had just chucked on the floor remained dry. However, we weren’t overly worried about the tent and everything being sodden as we knew we would be staying with friends near Hamilton and so could dry everything out over the weekend.
The roads over to Hamilton were busy in places, despite not being highways. We were still rubbing shoulders with 62 tonne trucks even on these smaller service roads, which is something I still struggle with and does not make me happy. At least the road was flat and the cycle ride itself not too difficult for once. We were reminded of the UK as we passed through Horsham Downs. And then had to stop at the side of the road to let a double-trailered HGV overtake.
I was pretty pleased when we turned up at Lynda and Mike’s place in Ngaruawahia as I knew that was us pretty much done with cycling for a while (I have some nerve damage in my hand that is crying out for a break from gripping onto handlebars). Both our necks were hurting, which we thought was because of the long flat day without getting out of the saddle, but on reflection I suspect the rather abrupt stop on the flying fox zip wire may have played a part….
We got exceptionally well fed, watered and looked after by Lynda and Mike over the weekend (including bacon, steak, wine, G&T, all my favourite things), experiencing even more of the kiwi lifestyle (we like it!). We visited Raglan, so we’ve now also seen some of the West coast of North Island and just took it easy for a few days. We’ve managed to procure a couple of bike cardboard boxes and so have already dismantled the bikes ready for our flight to Melbourne and have left them in Ngaruawahia. We’ve realised we both need new rear tyres as ours are pretty much bald.
We are now travelling around in a hire car (from rent-a-dent – great name!) and have ventured to the Coromandel Peninsula. We’re both feeling a bit lost as to what to do on a daily basis now we’re not cycling. We barely need the downtime that is often required when having a job, so are having to adjust to not doing much. We’ve managed to fill today by driving up the coast and then realising we had left all our food in the fridge at the place we camped last night (d’oh). I guess we are just not quite used to the new routine of just chucking everything in the back of the car. We also don’t know where anything is anymore. Adam’s Swiss Army Knife has definitely been misplaced/lost/stolen so we’re staring forlornly at the tin of peaches we have for breakfast porridge (update: we’ve just bought a can opener – luxury).