Absolutely knackered, that’s how I felt when Naomi and myself arrived at Auckland Airport. Fortunately due to good planning we’d cleaned all our outside gear and therefore had no issues getting through bio control ! We were then quite lucky finding a cheap shuttle to the Ibis Hotel in Auckland City, a well located hotel but very functional 😉
We managed to keep our eyes open long enough to get out and celebrate New Year down at the waterfront, a basket of calamari and fries washed down with some cracking real ales was our dinner and it was topped of with some stunning fireworks set off from the Skytower !! That was it, we were tired and just about made it back to the hotel before we fell asleep. Next morning we hit the tourist trail, a visit to the Skytower being first on our list….<img src="https://johnpchevis.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/20140108-211915.jpg" alt="20140108-211915.jpg" class="alignnone
A great building with some stunning views !
We walked away from the Skytower with a bit of a spring in our step having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A short walk from there took us down to the waterfront where we continued to explore this fantastic city, here are a few highlights….
Just keeps getting better !!
As you’d expect, Auckland has a slightly more industrial zone on the waterfront but guess what, yep you guessed it, they’ve made it look great…
Looks great and feels good, there’s also some great restaurants close by.
The restaurants were out of our price range but we managed to find an Irish bar with some good food at reasonable prices before continuing our tour. We wandered up Queen Street and some of the side streets before coming to a park by the cinema, before we knew what happened we’d booked tickets for the evening showing of the Hobit !!
I enjoyed the film but Naomi wasn’t to impressed, never mind, it made for a cheap night ! The following day saw us demolish a hearty breakfast before assembling the bikes. That done we went shopping for a few last items before chilling out, we’d managed to make contact with a guy we cycled through Africa with, actually he made contact with us but the result was we’d be meeting him for dinner later. Yet another Irish pub, great food, great ale and fantastic company. And Darragh even paid, well most of it anyway, thanks Darragh you certainly set the ball rolling for hospitality in New Zealand !!
Naomi, myself and Darragh, great night out !!
Our first days ride saw us leave Auckland via Queen Street, Quay Street and Tamaki Drive, we made our way round Mission Bay and out into the suburbs…
Kylie posing with the Skytower behind her and again with the bay and Auckland in the distance !!
We made a few wrong turns but eventually got going in the right direction and headed out via Panmure, Howick, Whitford around the headland and into Clevedon before heading to Kawagawa Bay and Orere Point. We were supposed to stop in Miranda about 30km further on but as we’d done 90km already we were happy to find a campsite. To be honest we were knackered, our legs hurt and our bums were sore, it had been a brutal first day. It was very hot and the route had some serious hills, neither of us were looking forward to the next day !!
Here are a few more photos from the first day…..
Just as well the scenery was uplifting as we were struggling !!
Day 2 ended up being 107km, now if you’d told me before we left the camp I’d have stayed in bed. Despite our legs and bums being sore we still managed to cycle to Te Aroha and yet another wonderful campsite. Not as many hills on this ride but we were still suffering, there were a few things to brighten our day though. The first was a little eccentric cafe called The Coro Gate Cafe, wonderful coffee and even better fish and chips. Angie the lady behind the counter was from the UK many moons back and gave us her card, call if you have any problems she said, anything at all !! Next was the incredible scenery……
Just love it 😉
The camps have been good so far, lounges, kitchens, friendly people who take pity on poor cyclists and feed us, just loving this country !!
We’d made contact with another friend from our trip through Africa and Vince who lives in Wellington said he’d drive up and meet us in Tirau. He has a large truck and said he’d collect us and our bikes and take us to Rotorua for a couple of days. So we set of for our third days cycle, still sore but determined to get to Tirau before Vince, beautiful rolling countryside was the order of the day and with just one quick stop in Matamata for coffee we covered the 68km in good order. Vince was only about 40 mins behind us so we were soon loaded and on our way to Rotorua 😉
Vince had organised a motel for the three of us for a couple of nights but he was determined to show us a few places on the way to the motel. The first stop was at a trout farm, very important place as it puts over half a million trout into the rivers around Rotorua, keeps the fishing fraternity very happy and when there happy there spending money !! We met a guy called Red, ex eastender but been in New Zealand for a long time, he told us all about the process, the different fish, sizes etc. then he said if we came back the following day he’d smoke some trout for us, try keeping me away !!
We changed into our swim kit back at the motel and were soon on our way to Kerosene Creak for a dip in the river, it’s fantastic as it sits over volcanic activity which keeps the water lovely and hot…….
It’s free and we loved it !!
From there Vince took us to lake Tarawera, beautiful spot, we had a coffee while we enjoyed the view….
The lake in all it’s glory and again from the viewpoint with Naomi and Vince 😉
More lakes still to come, two lakes side by side in fact, the Blue Lake and the Green Lake, different colours due to minerals in the sand on the lake bed and very shallow water…..
The Blue Lake above and the Green Lake below, the photos don’t really show there different colours to well but in the right light they really are quite different !
Vince is quite passionate about the area and has visited it fairly often, he’s also interested in engineering so he took us to the sight of an early Victorian power station on a fast flowing river, there’s also a cave here that was a hideout for a Maori warrior back in the day….
The cave, the fast flowing river and Naomi outside the cave 😉
Unfortunately my photo of the old power station was terrible and has been deleted !! Enough sightseeing for one day so we stopped to get some fish and chips and a couple of bottles of wine before heading back to the motel.
Up early to load three mountain bikes that Vince had brought up with him and then off to Taupo. We pulled into a view point so we could get a look at the lake and mountains, the heat haze made photos a bit awkward but here they are…
If you look closely you can just make out the white tops on the mountain !
Next stop was a place called Craters of the Moon, a volcanic area where for only a few dollars you can walk round and take photos. We weren’t very lucky here as the activity was not at it’s best according to Vince, normally you can see lots of steam, boiling mud and if your really lucky a geyser. We still had a good walk and enjoyed being there though….
Not a bad place at all 😉
Vince was on a roll and all out to show us everything this area had to offer, I only had to look at a picture of a jet boat going up rapids and before we knew it he’d rung and booked us in, we had about 40mins so just enough time to see the dam let off water before going jet boating !!
The first picture was taken less than ten minutes before the second photo, the force of water is quite incredible, they let off water from the lake three times a day normally and it’s become a bit of a tourist hot spot !
And so to jet boating up the rapids, good fun but alas no photos, typical venture try’s to sell you your photos at an over inflated price rather than giving them as part of a package, neither Naomi nor myself wanted to pay 35 dollars for ours !!
Huka Falls followed that but thankfully not before a cup of coffee overlooking lake Taupo…..
First photo is the view across Lake Taupo, the second and third photos were taken at Huka Falls.
The falls may not look much but there’s enough water going over every minute to fill five Olympic sized swimming pools and that’s pretty impressive !!
Realising we were late for our meeting with Red and his smoked trout we made tracks back to Rotorua but Vince just couldn’t help himself and stopped one last time…….
Can’t beat a bit of boiling mud !!
Fortunately for us Red hadn’t quite given up on us and we were treated to some fantastic smoked trout, coffee and conversation before he finally had to get to work which was our cue to leave but not without some more fish to take with us, thanks Red !!
And so back to the motel to off load the bikes before heading out for a few beers and dinner !!
Morning arrived and we were busy putting the mountain bikes back on the truck, Vince was determined to get us onto some tracks. We drove out to a redwood forest then cycled up a gravel road for an hour before turning into a grade three track called “Corners” ! Now I’m no fan of mountain biking and ever since falling off in Africa and separating my shoulder I’m even less keen. Add to that I’m on someone else’s bike which isn’t quite my size and you have one unhappy chap !! All that said the ride back down this fabulous track was fantastic, I think I might even have smiled !! My strategy was simple, follow Vince and do as he does, it worked for the most part but I wanted to photograph him coming towards me so I went first and promptly fell off ! As I said though the track was great and the forest just amazing so here are a few photos….
Beautiful forest, great walk with good company !!
And finally our trip to Rotorua was over so back to the motel to dismantle Vince’s bikes, load all our kit, his bikes and our bikes into his truck and off we went to Taupo for one last treat, a visit to De Brett’s hot springs. The hot springs are next to the Hilton a Hotel and are extensive, clean and hot. We spent a couple of hours there just soaking our tired muscles before hitting the road to Napier. Vince said we’d be better not cycling the road from Taupo to Napier as there’s no shoulder and it’s a busy road with lots of trucks and they don’t stop or slow down !!
Thanks to Vince we’d had a great time in Rotorua and Taupo, we’d seen far more than we’d have been able on our own and now we were going to cycle from Napier down State Highway 2 to Wellington, we’ll make a few short diversions to some wineries along the way I’ve no doubt but that’s in the next blog.
Take care, thanks for reading and I hope you continue to do so 😉