“I’m going to New Zealand or Tasmania… not sure yet, somewhere a long way from home. I want to have a test run with the bike and touring gear before going away next year.” That’s what I said to Dave a few weeks back. I don’t recall exactly what his reply was, but within a few minutes he was also in on the trip. The following week discounted flights to NZ were booked after a little research on the North Island.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Plans are all well and good in theory, but until you get on the ground in Country they are just plans. More on that later 🙂 First order of the day on arrival is find somewhere to put the bikes together. We caught a bus into town to scope out the landscape, planning to head north up to Whangarei we decided not to assemble here. We also snagged some local SIM cards coming through airport arrivals, after a quick phone check the modern man and his device was on the move.
We later would discover that we were meters from the ferry terminal which many cyclists take to begin their journey stopping in at Waiheke Island en-route to the Coromandel Peninsula. This wasn’t to be. We did find some enjoyable riding around the coastline to the town of Coromandel.
We took another bus and made our way out of Auckland and began putting together our rides for the next two weeks at a petrol station nearby the bus stop.
With my gleaming new rig only having done a few hundred kilometres and finally in complete touring form I took a few detail shots as below. Salsa Anything Cages arrived a few days before the trip (as pictured Top-Left) and the Brooks B17 Imperial Laced Saddle was a recent addition a week or so out after an unfavourable experience with my last saddle.
The feeling of rolling down the streets of another Country on bicycles we bought with us was really special. Although we were a long way from home, I also felt at home on the bike. As it was getting late we decided to find tonight’s camp early and do a supply run to the supermarket to avoid setup after dark. Below is camp the following morning. Camping like this back home in Australia would probably land us in trouble, New Zealand is very accommodating to the freedom camper, unless signed otherwise you can camp in most places out of the way with some amenities nearby, excluding National Parks. Leaving your home for the night the same or better condition than you found it.
After brekky and packing up camp we knew we needed a few things (stove fuel being one) in the next day and had planned to skip ahead north closer to Whangarei and ride back. However the train lines and stations we observed on google maps back home turned out to be diss-used for several years and the end of the line was actually nearby. So, the decision was made to head back into Auckland, get the final things we needed and make our way towards the Coromandel Peninsula early.
AUCKLAND – WHITFORD
Distance: 30.9km / Time Moving: 1:33hrs / Elevation: 350m ~ Strava Ride Data
We rode out of the city via a network of bike paths around some local neighbourhoods, boatyards and other little treasure pockets directed by google maps. Great way to leave a busy city in the afternoon.
Continuing out of Auckland and into some rolling hills and eventually finding ourselves in the town of Witford, where we called it a day and found ourselves in ‘The General Store’ sipping beers and taking a load off. We scoped a park to camp in overnight and Karenza, the bar manager for the night confirmed it’s a goer, just to set up late as there is often a sweep to check for drunks in the park. Being a Sunday night it should be all good. And it was.
WHITFORD – THAMES
Distance: 102km / Time Moving: 6:01hrs / Elevation: 754m ~ Strava Ride Data
Home last night, pictured below, was under a really nice weeping willow. We spent a bit of time after breakfast as anyone who has travelled before does, repacking gear in smarter more sensible arrangements!
A quick weather check gave us the heads up on some rain ahead sometime today. Correct, there was a pretty solid little downpour we got amongst, finding ourselves in Clevedon for hot chocolates as I was wringing the water from my socks. While we waited the rain out two ladies stopped in to say hello, no doubt noticing our loaded bikes. We got a solid download of local information about what was ahead of us or could be if we so wished, fantastic!
Feeling better after the short break we started making tracks to Thames. Rolling hills turned to small streams which fed into the ocean where lunch was had. We had a wicked tail wind for half the ride day which totalled 100km. The sun showed up for the end of the day as we rolled into Thames and found home at the local hotel for the night. Warm shower… check. Cheeky beer and a pub meal… check. Swear it all went straight down into my legs which weren’t revelling in the distance covered today. It was a good decision to rest and recover after a long wet and windy day.
THAMES – COROMANDEL
Distance: 54km / Time Moving: 3:28hrs / Elevation: 2,242m ~ Strava Ride Data
The town of Thames clearly had better times. Many buildings were boarded up or simply vacant. A few photo op’s or ‘bike portraits’ as I called them presented.
Moving out of town we follow the stunning coastline up to Coromandel. We’re looking forward to the next few days as this road continues on, wrapping around most of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Stopping for lunch on the way it was a really great day on the bike, the weather still moody but without outburst. Todays ride had a good climb to summit with views to from where we came and where we would finish up for the day. Just one more hill and a downhill run and we were into Coromandel to find tonights home.
FILM From The road
For now we’ll close the first chapter of this short adventure. Next up in part two, we will circle the Coromandel Peninsula in a story of miss-adventure as we come across something that directs much of our story for the rest of our journey in the north. I’ll finish up with an image from the next stage in the journey. Click through to read all about it here.