I know it’s less than a week since I last did a post but I’ve ended up with a relaxed day in a place called Tokomunu Bay and while I’ve been pedalling around the East Cape I got a bit trigger happy with my camera so I’ve got more pictures than I know what to do with…so a quick post seemed like a good idea! Welcome to the East Cape!!
Before I got to the Cape I had a bit of time in Rotarua so I went off to explore and battle the other tourists. The first place I went to which had been recommended by my warm shower hosts, Pete and Eva was the Redwood forest. A short ride got me there so I left the bike and went for a bit of a walk. There was a suspended walkway in the trees which you could wander round which got you a bit closer to the canopy. It wasn’t very long so I ended up getting round it quicker than expected, it was one way and only had one access point. When I got back to the start I noticed there wasn’t anybody there checking when you got to the end so I went for another loop taking my time to absorb the environment a bit more. It was really beautiful with the sun creeping down through the tops of the trees which gave it a bit of a magical feel! Every so often there was a bench so I just sat down and enjoyed listening to the birds whistling away and the wind as it occasionally blasted the forest making the trees sway gently from side to side. It was so relaxing!
After a walk around the walkway I went for a wander out into the forest. There was a few different routes and I ended up on the yellow path (the signs were yellow not the path – that would just be silly) which was about 7 k or so. It took me to a lookout which had a great view down to Rotarua and the lake beyond. I also happened to see the geyser going off which you can see at the bottom…as it turned out this was a better view of it as when I actually went and saw it up close the next day the weather turned out crap. Crumbs!
The following day I went to the Rotarua museum and then went to Te Puia, home to said geyser above and described as the grandfather of geysers…quite a statement…I was expecting a lot. Ruth who I’d cycled with a couple of days before was also in Rotarua so we both went to do battle with the coach loads of other tourists and check out what else was there. As well as the geyser’s there was a kiwi house – I think dark room with chance of seeing kiwi bird would be a better description but they didn’t like that suggestion, bubbling pools of mud and the unmistakable smell of rotten eggs. You got a lot for your money! According to the info, Pohutu geyser, which means constant splashing in Maori would reach up to 30 meters…the key wording there…up to. At first all I saw was 30m so when it shot up to the lofty heights of maybe 5 meters I thought someone had forgotten to crank up the power. Combine that with the crap weather which meant the sky was the same colour as the geyser making it pretty tricky to see I was a bit disappointed. I guess it’s luck of the draw and today my luck wasn’t in. Fortunately the sky’s cleared a bit and we wondered back around for another look. After noticing ‘up to’ and seeing it a bit clearer my expectations were a bit more realistic. I overheard a tour group guide saying that the gray matter around the geyser increases in size 1 inch every 25 years…meaning what’s already there has taken 640 million years…pretty mind boggling stuff! Sorry about the not so impressive picture but there’s a geyser in there somewhere..honest!
After two days off the bike and an amazing stay with Pete,Eva and their two kids, Yulia and Lucas, thank you again guys, I loaded my bike and headed off roughly towards the East Cape. The first day took me along some nice but quite busy roads to Whakatane where I camped for the night before blasting along to Opotiki where the road around the Cape properly starts! Exciting stuff! The first day on the loop was great, the sun was blasting down, the traffic wasn’t too bad and it was one of those roads which has an amazing view every corner you come around. Hence the millions of pictures! And to think there was one point I nearly didn’t come this way…I’m so glad I did!
I ended up doing a bigger day than I planned the first day. As most of the Cape is owned by Maori’s I was warned more than once about not wild camping. As I didn’t want to be disrespectful or annoy a local I planned each day as I went usually aiming for a camp site which in theory existed on my map. End of day one got me to a place called Te Kaha where there was a small campsite having ridden 110km, it flew by with scenery like this and is my longest day so far. I was quite pleased, the legs must be getting a bit fitter I guess!
The second day I decided to aim for a place called Te Araroa which was about 90km away and had a cheap hostel where I hoped to camp in the garden. Again I was lucky with the weather and the scenery continued to be amazing! It was also a nice change as the previous few days riding into and out of Rotarua were along quite busy roads with trucks and cars blasting by. Around here though I had long periods without any traffic passing me at all, it was great and meant I could hear what was actually going on around me and relax into riding. There were birds swooshing past and whistling away, the trees russelled in the wind and the occasional bee buzzed past my ear. Actually they were interesting little blighters, those bees, as with a few areas I’ve cycled through there are a lot of bee hives and here was no exception. On one occasion I stopped next to an Armco – I must say a marvelous thing to lean a heavy touring bike against is an Armco – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried stopping against a post or sign and oh so carefully balanced Daisy against it only for her to flattened it or roll off while my backs turned resulting in a bike crumbled on the floor. Balls! Anyway Armco, Daisy leant beautifully again it, I jump off and hear a buzzing…I look around and noticed many of these buzzing bees…I then realised behind the bush next to the Armco, not 2 meters away was a whole load of hives! Ahh! I jumped back on and shot off down the road! Stop somewhere else I think. On other occasions when zooming down a nice hill I’d be thwacked in the face by one or more bees…you can almost see their expressions as they fly towards me…pure panic! Bloody hurt as well!
I also came across this sign, now I don’t know about you but that looks a lot like a cow on a skateboard? An interesting concept and one that I thought about for the rest of my ride…do you think they could? If so how would they push themselves along and start? How do they stop? Would their hooves grip the board? All interesting questions I’m sure you’ll agree! You’ve got a lot of thinking time on a bike in case you were wondering! Unfortunately and a little disappointed I didn’t see any skateboarding cows despite looking very carefully! Next time maybe!
At Te Araroa I had the whole hostel to myself so had a quiet evening reading and doing my diary. The next day I wanted to get to Tokomaru Bay which I had read on other blogs had a nice hostel called Stranded in Paridise. Sounds like an appealing place to stop! I had been making good progress round the cape and while I didn’t want to rush it I wanted to get moving. One was because the weather was great and was meant to change at the beginning of the week and the second, being the weekend there weren’t as many trucks on the roads! A big bonus! I don’t know why but I think I was just tired and a bit worn out but for some reason I struggled on this third day, my legs didn’t work very well, constantly aching, there was an annoying headwind and the kilometres ticked by slower than normal. It was a tough day! It wasn’t all bad though as I had been told this section was dull in comparison to the first part along the coast, it was different but I wouldn’t say dull. (Below is the scenery on the third day, dull isn’t a word I’d use) I eventually got to a place called Te Puia Springs where there was a small shop…it was heavenly! I practically fell in the door way, got some food, a really cold drink and collapsed for half an hour outside. I was bushed! I looked at my map and worked out it was about 11km to Tokomaru Bay…awesome, not far! What turned out to be even better was after a small hill out of town it was 9km’s of gentle down hill! Easy this! Amazing how food and a nice hill can sway your mood! I found the hostel, freshened up and set about the important task of relaxing! I walked down to the local shop, got some food, a cheeky beer and spent the rest of the afternoon staring at the beautiful view! Amazing!
Not exactly dull. It was bloody windy though! It turned out all good as the hostel is indeed like being stranded in paradise. I’m having a day off – I’m quite tempted to have two but I’ll see and letting my legs chill a bit. When I do get moving again I’m heading towards Gisborne and then into the hills which should get me over towards Taupo – some 80km from Rotarua – bit of a detour this route! (Below is the view from the hostel – I could be stranded here for a wee while)