To recap for those that haven’t read the first blog :-
We cycled from Auckland down to Tirau where our friend Vince picked us up, we spent a couple of days with him in Rotorua and Taupo before he dropped us off at the Kennedy Park Resort in Napier.
Kennedy Park is huge and pretty close to town so all in all quite convenient, what wasn’t great though was our pitch being on a corner plot which meant we constantly had people using our pitch as a short cut !! Also another minor complaint of this park would be the lack of any pots, pans, cutlery, crockery or utensils in the kitchen, it’s not a cheap park but it seems the more you pay the less you get ! We’ve since stayed at parks costing us 36 dollars less per night and not only did we get all of the above mentioned items but they even supplied free tea and coffee, come on Kennedy Park buck up your ideas !!
We booked in for two nights to give ourselves a chance to have a look around, Napier is listed as the Art Deco capital of New Zealand so we thought it might be worth investigating. Also there are some great bike routes from the town along the coast to various places but we chose to ride out to Cape Kidnappers and see the Gannet colony. The ride is about 30km each way and is a mixture of paved cycle paths, shared pavements, quiet roads, gravel tracks and tow paths. It was a lovely sunny day as we set off and we thoroughly enjoyed being on our bikes without all our kit, so much easier !! The routes are quite well marked but leave a little to do in terms of keeping your eyes peeled for the appropriate markers, otherwise you’ll end up on a different route. Occasionally you need to stop and open gates, they prevent stock from escaping, or sometimes you stop just to take photos and enjoy the beautiful surroundings 😉
We made it to Cape Kidnapper in a couple of hours, we certainly weren’t rushing, took a few photos and then looked at getting on a trip to the Gannet colony but alas the first one had left and it would have been a four hour wait for the next one. We consoled ourselves with coffees and cakes in the local cafe. The ride back to Napier was a little tougher on the way back as the wind had got up and you guessed it, a head wind !!
Back in town we visited the tourist info place to see about our onward travel, booked ourselves on the interislander ferry and started looking at trains on the South Island. Next up was a quick look at the Art Deco buildings, neither of us could get enthused about them though, to be honest it was a Sunday and Napier didn’t have much of an atmosphere, seemed almost shut so we went for lunch instead.
I’m not saying that Napier isn’t a great little town, I think a combination of us being a little tired and it being a very quiet Sunday meant we didn’t see it at its best, still we did have a lovely bike ride and to prove it here are a few photos….
At least the sunset was a work of art 😉
Our cycle ride from Napier to Waipukurau was about 70km and for the most part meant cycling into a head wind and rain. The ride started with us taking a route away from the main road through the suburbs and into Hastings then following the railway until we got onto the state highway. Although this is a busy road there is at least a small shoulder to cycle on, small being the right word here, as trucks fly past they come close enough to make you wobble !! Fortunately for us just as we were about to get very wet for the second time we came upon a cafe, a very timely stop for a coffee and a salad, thank you ” Paper Mulberry Cafe” both were delicious 😉
As we continued on our way south we started to wonder why cyclists in New Zealand are given hardly any respect, on a number of occasions now we have had people shout rude things from windows as they hurtle past or just blast there horns at us making us jump !! At least when we stop and get off our bikes we’re generally greeted with kindness and hospitality, I suppose this at least makes up for it in some small way.
With one more timely stop at yet another of New Zealand’s growing army of cafés and coffee houses, we were spared yet another drenching and were now only about 15km from our intended destination at the Waipukurau Holiday Park. The park sits right on the main road and although it doesn’t look much from there it is a welcoming place thanks to Bruce and his small team. Pitches for our two tents would have been $30 but for an extra $5 we got a caravan for the night, perfect !!
The kitchen was also brilliant and well equipped and the showers were clean with lashings of hot water, it really was good to not have to put up our tents in strong winds and rain, thanks Bruce !!
A few pictures from our ride, only got the camera out when the rain stopped ! And our caravan, didn’t look much but it was warm and dry !!
From Waipukurau to Dannevirke, 55km but with the unrelenting headwind it felt more like 70km, fortunately the rain had stopped and the sun showed itself a few times !! A few good hills kept us honest during the day, the biggest of all was into Norsewood and yet another cafe 😉 Cycling is hard and rewards are needed for morale, apart from that I just like good coffee and it went well with my toasted sandwich and chips !!
Nothing much to report other than the camp being at the bottom of a steep hill that we knew we’d have to climb back out off in the morning, again great facilities in a lovely quiet spot with free tea and coffee and all for only $8 each, amazing 😉
More photos from the days ride and our camp site, very quiet and restful !!
Dannevirke to Eketahuna, 70km and just for a change no head wind, well certainly not as bad as the last few days. The sun was out for us as well but hadn’t reached its full strength so jackets were on for some of the day. Leaving the campsite was one of the biggest hills of the day and again we had some grand scenery along the way. We stopped in Woodville at a tourist office or Isite as they call them and booked our train from Christchurch to Graymouth. The route is regarded as one of the most scenic rail journeys and will take us over Arthur’s Pass, we’ll already have cycled over the Lewis Pass to get into Christchurch and can’t afford to spend to many days getting back to Graymouth, apart from that we fancy seeing the stunning views from the comfort of a train !!
From Woodville our next stop was at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka, we were hoping to do the brewery tour but unfortunately missed it by 15mins and there wasn’t another one for some time, we had lunch and sampled the product instead. The lunch was expensive and not that good and the ale was to cold to be able to taste it, all in all not a great visit !!
Onward to camp at Eketahuna ” Kiwi Country “, first a bit of shopping as the camps at the bottom of another hill, surprise surprise !!
We were met with a cheery hello from the hostess, she was busy prepping food for her own birthday bash which was the following day. I offered my help but was told that friends and relatives were on there way to help and sure enough as the evening wore on the camp filled up with her family and friends. They made us welcome and even invited us to join there evening BBQ but we declined as we had food that needed cooking and frankly we were to tired to be that social 😉
The facilities were again amazing, full kitchen with all the pots and pans, great showers and free tea and coffee again, and all for $6 per person, wow !!
More photos from the days ride, and our camp spot in Eketahuna 😉
Ooh, I forgot about our little walk. There’s a beautiful walk from the camp that follows the river along a cliff and takes you back into the town. We decided we needed some exercise so went for a walk, it’s only a couple of kilometres but it was very nice….
Like I said, beautiful 😉
Eketahuna to Masterton, our shortest ride yet at only 44km, more headwinds though and with a bit of a chill in the air so the jackets were back on ! With only a short ride on fairly flat roads we were able to stop once or twice, the first time was at a model railway !
We took a bit of a chance here because it was only just 9.00am when we rocked up at the door and there info said they didn’t oped until 11.00am. As we were on cycles and had made the detour albeit only 2km from the main road they took pity on us and allowed us in. The place is called Middleton Model Railway and proudly boasts to being the largest model railway in New Zealand, how many can there be exactly ? Anyway as I say they allowed us in and nothing quite prepared us for what was hidden behind the barn doors. The layout is huge and very complex, it requires a team of guys to run it properly but visitors can operate several trains themselves by pressing one of many buttons. The sets are well done and the landscape includes all the buildings, cars, trucks and street furniture of the era. Amazingly the decade is changed on a regular basis which involves replacing just about everything except the scenery panels and some buildings, amazing !
This is the passion of one man and has taken 30 years to perfect and he’s still adding to it when his full time job allows him time. Both he and his wife run a small dairy producing some cheese that’s so good it’s competed and won medals at world level ( Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese ), they even know which of there cows is responsible for which cheese and we got to meet them, amazing that he finds time to play with trains 😉
I bet you went “aah” !!
From here we made our way to Pukaha Mount Bruce, the home of the white Kiwi !! We stopped here to take a look but the prices were very high so instead we just had a coffee, again bloody expensive. We did however get to meet a Kaka bird, large beak and very cheeky !! This place is also at the foot of Mount Bruce and was the hardest part of the days ride although nowhere near as tough as we’d expected. From there we practically coasted into Masterton with barely a pedal stroke and before we knew it we’d arrived at Mawley Camp Ground.
The Kaka, cheeky little buggar !!
Having arrived early we put up the tents, showered and changed then went into town, bad move really as we passed an outdoor shop with a sale on !! I couldn’t resist a goretex jacket and a merino hoodie and Naomi came out with an armful as well !!
Never mind, on to something a bit cheaper, the Wool Shed, it’s the sheep museum in Masterton. Now Masterson is the home of the New Zealand sheep shearing contest, The Golden Shears so it’s the right place to have this museum. It tells all about the early settlers and there struggle to claim and tame the land for pasture, how the humble sheep was the animal responsible for the economic rise of New Zealand and how methods of raising sheep have changed over the years. To be honest I wasn’t expecting it to be that interesting but was pleasantly surprised. We were even shown some video of one of the shearing contests, man those guys are quick !! Perhaps the most famous is David Fagan, now 16 time winner of the Golden Shears and winner of over 600 titles worldwide, a remarkable career.
The view from the bridge on the way into town, some photos from the museum and our camp in Masterton.
The following day we set off for Martinborough, only 50km with no major hills on the way. We’d taken the back road to avoid the state highway, very pleased we did. The weather may have been dry but it was perhaps the strongest headwind we’d cycled against on our entire trip. The wind was so strong it blew us across the road on several occasions, fortunately the road was very quiet !
As there were no cafés, shops or tourist places on our route we headed straight to the first cafe we found in Martinborough, we figured we deserved a coffee and a cake after battling the wind for three hours !! That done we headed to the supermarket before cycling up the road to the Top 10 Holiday Park. A warm and friendly greeting was followed by a huge amount of useful info, where to eat, drink and shop, which vineyards to visit and when, where it would be best to pitch a tent in strong winds and a list of all the facilities in camp, really made us feel at home.
It was such a beautiful ride when the wind stopped blowing long enough to appreciate it !!
We had a day off in Martinborough so there was no need to get up to early, even so we were having breakfast at 8.30, after that we spent some time catching up on emails and writing blogs. By half past eleven we’d pretty much sorted ourselves and decided to head out to a few vineyards for a spot of wine tasting. We started with one of the oldest in the area ” Ata Rangi ” it was one of five original vineyards many years ago and is still making good wines today. The tasting is $5 each and for that you get a very small amount of six different wines, strangely I usually favour red wines but today I much preferred there Pinot Gris, a rather pleasant white wine !!
We moved on to ” Poppies ” just along the road and repeated the process here. Again I favoured a white wine but this time it was a Riesling, are my taste buds on holiday or what !!
Moving on, our next stop was at ” Margrain ” only this time we stopped for lunch and not a tasting, we were informed that there was a long wait for food but we weren’t in any hurry and the view was quite pleasant so we just settled back with some drinks and waited. When the food eventually arrived it was good and we were grateful that the wait was worth it, it would have been easy to rush the food and serve rubbish but they didn’t, they took there time and served good food 😉
We stopped in the town centre on our way back to camp and had a coffee at one of many cafés in town, it’s an odd place, there’s a supermarket but just about every other shop is food or wine related, not sure where you’d go for clothes, shoes etc !!
Back at camp we chilled out, read a book, emailed, wrote this blog until it was time to cook then settled back and wondered what tomorrow would bring. We should be meeting up with Vince again and hopefully with another TDA rider and friend, Lindsay, one of them will take all our kit in a truck while the other one cycles with us over the hill and into Wellington, should be a great ride and we are so looking forward to seeing them both again !!
Naomi at our first tasting, the three vineyards, the lovely views at lunch and a few photos of Matinborough 😉
We took our time the following morning, no point rushing out of a nice warm sleeping bag if you don’t have to. After a nice leisurely breakfast we just had time to check a few emails before our friends from Wellington turned up. Naomi and myself are so fortunate, not only are we in an enviable position that we’re able to travel the world, but to travel the world on our bikes is a bonus. Added to that we’ve both also been fortunate to have met along our way some amazing people, kind and generous people, people like our two friends, Vince Langford and Lindsay Gault. We met them both on our TDA trip through Africa and by the magic of the internet, Facebook and email we’ve managed to stay in contact. Vince has already shown what a star he is when he travelled up from Wellington to pick us up in Tirau and show us the delights of Rotorua and Taupo. Now Vince and Lindsay had agreed to come out to Martinborough, collect all our kit in Vince’s truck and take it to the other side of the Rimutaka Incline. It’s a bike trail that follows the old railway that used to climb over the hill into Wellington, as it’s on loose gravel and a bit of a gradient we were grateful to them both for this solution. Vince set off and Lindsay led us out of Martinborough up the hill towards Featherston and from there we turned left along the foothills of the Rimutakas before tuning right up a beautiful valley and into the hills beyond. The trail is about 7 or 8km to the summit and it’s a fairly reasonable gradient although we were both glad not to have the added weight !!
We’d managed about two thirds of the climb to the summit when Vince came barreling down to meet us. He’s astonishing, he’d taken the truck to the other side, fixed a puncture on his own bike before setting out up the hill from his side to come over the summit and down again to meet us, a real testament to this 59 year olds fitness !!
We stopped at the summit and ate some pie that Lindsay’s wife had kindly prepared before we set off on the descent to the carpark at the bottom, such a fabulous ride, great friends, warm sunshine and stunning scenery, we are truly blessed 😉
After stowing all the bikes on the back of Vince’s truck we set of for Lindsay’s house where we’d be able to swim if we wished to do so, in the meantime Vince decided he’d do a BBQ in the evening so left us at Lindsay’s so he could shop and tidy the house ready for guests. Lindsay and Barbara continued to ply us with drinks and snacks and we were even able to freshen up before heading to Vince’s house. Vince had pulled out all the stops and had enlisted the help of a friend called Kay to help with food. What a lovely relaxed evening, great food, good beer, fantastic friends and a view from the balcony to beat most others !!
Here are a few photos from the ride over the Rimutaka Trail…..
Vince and Lindsay at the start, lots of photos from the ride and finally the view from the balcony, not to shabby is it 😉
So there you have it folks, blog number tow for New Zealand, our thanks to Vince, Lindsay, Barbara, Kay and anyone else that’s helped us along our way, it’s great to have friends 😉
Take care folks and keep reading !!