As I’m quickly learning there’s no such thing as a normal week while pedalling away. This one included a one legged kiwi bird, a little distance milestone, an amazing couple called Shaun and Jenny and adventures into the Coromandel!
Just after I finished my last post I was relaxing when the chap who owned the hostel came up to me and asked me if I wanted to meet a Kiwi bird, not a question I get asked very often I must admit! Yeah why not!…before I knew it me and two other people from the hostel were on our way to meet this kiwi. I expected to find a proper tourist trap but instead it was a small bird sanctuary which was run by a guy called Robert. He had been doing so for 25 years and had all sorts of interesting birds, including a couple of owls, a very noisy pair of Tui’s and Sparky the Kiwi Bird. Sparky had been injured in a snare trap and had lost one of his legs, it was the second Kiwi Robert had looked after and normally when they are injured they are put down but he had managed to save Sparky. Now I don’t know about you but I had no idea what to expect…how big is a kiwi? Is it fluffy or smooth? Granted it’s not something I often lay awake wondering but now with a kiwi in front of me I thought I really don’t know much about them. We got to properly meet Sparky as well (bigger than I thought he would be), stroke him (fluffier than I expected) and feed him some worms. Fascinating for sure! Apparently getting this close to a kiwi is not something that normally happens as they are really protected here and when you do normally try see one they are in kiwi houses or in the wild which means you often can’t see very much at all. A really cool experience!
After the excitement of meeting Sparky I got sorted and the next day headed out of Whangerai. I was a little nervous as the first section out of town I had no choice but to be on the dreaded SH 1 highway. A terrible road to cycle along with big logging trucks and cars that fly by without giving you much room. I got off at the first opportunity and went through a place called Portland which cut a bit of the highway out before I rejoined it for a short 3km before I could get off again. Fortunately that would be the last of the highway for a while. Thank god! The cross country route I found took me to Waipu and from there it was a pretty relaxed ride along to Mangawhai Heads where I spent the night.
The following day I planned to cycle about 65km and stop at a place called Sandspit. I got on the road pretty early and in the next town decided to stop for a cup of tea. While I was sat there watching the world go by a elderly lady asked what I was up to and where I was heading. It turned out that this lady was Jill and she lived around the corner but was waiting for her car which was being looked at in the garage opposite. She told me about how she had been to the uk but only for 5 days because she won a competition to go to the royal wedding of William and Kate. Long way to go but she said it was brilliant and they had really good seats and a great view! After she gave me some tips of which route would be best I said goodbye and wobbled off. After going over a mighty hill which I wasn’t expecting because the road I was on was called Matakana valley road…implying I would be a a valley…No matter, I eventually reached Matakana which wasn’t far from where I planned to stop for the evening. It as only lunch time so I did some map checking and decided to press on to try and make it a little further south as I wanted to be in Auckland for the weekend. The nearer I could get meant the shorter the next day would be and with the weather being so nice I got pedalling.
To avoid the highway I had to snake around it and the best route would take me on a 35km detour. No worries, I didn’t mind at all as being off that horrible road was much better and the scenery was much more interesting. It was along this route that I suddenly realised I’d cycled 1000km, wahoo! I knew it was close when I set off in the morning but I clearly wasn’t paying attention as I missed it actually ticking over and only noticed a few km’s further along the road. I stopped and had a little celebratory dance and an apple to mark my little milestone, I really know how to celebrate I think you’ll agree! Don’t get me wrong, many people have cycled this far before and have done so much quicker but after my slightly bumpy start and considering I haven’t really ever done any bike touring before I was really pleased to have reach it!
I carried on and looped back to Waiwera on the east coast and from there found a spot to camp at a site in Orewa. The next day I planned to cycle a bit further along the coast and hop on a ferry which would take me to central Auckland so after my long day it meant a pretty relaxed one the next day which was nice. That evening on the campsite I met Paul and his partner and they very kindly offered me dinner, unfortunatly I had already eaten but I went over to their caravan and had a nice chat with them both. He was originally from York but had been out in New Zealand for 10 years and loved it so it was interesting to find out what he thought of New Zealand and wether he missed being back in the UK.
I got into Auckland without any drama and had a bit of time to kill so got some food, read my book and talked to a guy who was a bicycle mechanic and curious about what I was up to. On my very first day of my trip I had met a guy called Shaun from South Africa when I was in a forest on the outskirts of Auckland. I was lost and he was out mountain biking. We chatted for maybe 10 minutes, exchanged details and he said if your passing through Auckland let me know. So I did and he and his wife Jenny offered me a place to stay for a couple of nights. Awesome! I got a comfy bed, amazing food and they made me feel incredibly welcome! Shaun helped me get a few bits that I needed for the bike and introduced me to some South Africa delicacies, sorry mate I’m not going to try and put what they were, I’ll only mess up what they were called but they were really nice! To top things off on the Saturday afternoon we went mountain biking which was great, wow my bike is heavy! I forgot how much fun it was to blast through a forest! Thank you guys for making me feel so welcome! Will hopefully see you in a couple of weeks!
After two nights I headed back on my way but this time south out of Auckland. The plan was to get to the coromandel peninsula for the middle of the week so I had a few days to work my way there. Fortunately being Sunday it wasn’t too busy leaving Auckland so I got to Clevedon without too much traffic. From there headed along the coast road which as the weather was lovely there was lots of bikers out…hmm wasn’t jealous at all! I’ve seen on the news this area has been hit by quite a lot of rain over the past month or so and all along the road there was signs of landslides and mud on the road. It also was the first chance I got to see the coromandel…ooh looks quite hilly over there! I stopped at a quiet little campsite which stayed quiet all evening and I ended up having it all to myself, how nice!
The following day I set off and worked my round to Thames, a town at the bottom of the peninsula. Along the main road I stopped at a cafe with a slightly unusual name, I’ve put a picture below as I thought the sign was pretty good as well. It was great, so I had a cup of tea and a scone, how very fancy. I was thinking of stopping in Thames but when I got there I decided to push on a bit further and eventually stopped at a campsite in Tapu further up the coast. Lovely views and apart form the wind being a bit strong it was great and to top it off there was an awesome sunset!
I’ve broken up the last section into two short days so I’ve stopped in Coromandle Town for the night. I was told about the ride from Tapu to here and how it included a couple of big hills, those who told me weren’t lying but they weren’t too bad and at the top of one one them there was an amazing view. I also noticed hanging on the fence a pair of knickers and a mug. Unusual…This really confused me but I decided to take a picture anyway. What a strange thing to do….
Tomorrow I’ll have a short ride to a town called Kuaotuna which is on the north east corner of the peninsula. I’ve arranger to do some Help X which is doing some work in exchange for bed and board. Not exactly sure what I’ll be up to but it should be good fun and is a good way to rest the legs for a few days. I’ll let you know what I end up getting up to! Below is the sunset at the campsite at Tapu.