Archive for New Zealand – North Island

A Whirlwind of Sightseeing

Day 30 & 31: May 18 & 19 – Coromandel Peninsula and Auckland

Today I took the quick 10min drive over to a town called Hahei to hike to a place that is only accessible by foot or boat, called Cathedral Cove.

Hiking to Cathedral Cove

Hiking to Cathedral Cove

I thought this tree was pretty cool

I thought this tree was pretty cool

 

Cathedral Cove was a really peaceful place, with a cool rock formation that you can walk under.  I took a seat on the beach and just listened to the sound of the water for about an hour.  While I was on the beach one of the couples that I had shared the hot pool spa with last night came over and chatted for a bit!  I guess we were on the same sightseeing schedule! lol!

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

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On the other side of Cathedral Cove

On the other side of Cathedral Cove

The beach were I hung out

The beach were I hung out listening to the water at Cathedral Cove

 

After finishing the hike back to the car, I drove into Thames were I strolled around the town and took care of some errands.

After Thames, I drove back to Auckland and spent a lovely, relaxing evening with the family of a friend who graciously opened up their home to me, fed me, provided great conversation, gave me a place to sleep and made me feel right at home!  Thank you!! :)

The next morning I was up early to catch a ferry to Rangitoto Island (a great recommendation from my hosts last night!).  Rangitoto Island is a volcano that came out of the sea about 600 years ago.  Once dropped off by the ferry there is a hike to the summit that is estimated at taking about 1.5hrs.  It was a pretty neat hike with lots of volcanic remains to spot along the way.

Volcano rocks

Volcano rocks

The trail leading to Rangitoto summit

The trail leading to Rangitoto summit

The crater at the top of Rangitoto Island

The crater at the top of Rangitoto Island

Volcano rock

Volcano rock

At the Rangitoto Summit with Auckland in the background

At the Rangitoto Summit with Auckland in the background

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Auckland from the ferry back to Devonport (north suburb of Auckland)

Auckland from the ferry back to Devonport (north suburb of Auckland)

 

After catching the ferry back to the mainland, I headed over to North Head to check out some of their tunnels created during the war (another worthy recommendation from my host last night!).

View from North Head

View of Auckland from North Head

Heading towards the tunnels

Heading towards the tunnels

Inside a tunnel - some areas you actually need a light to see in front of you

Inside a tunnel – some areas you actually need a light to see in front of you

The disappearing gun (after firing it automatically goes down the hole to be safely reloaded)

The disappearing gun (after firing it automatically goes down the hole to be safely reloaded)

North Head

North Head

View of Rangitoto Island from North Head

View of Rangitoto Island from North Head

 

After North Head, I made my way back to the Auckland airport area to check into my accommodations for the evening.  I hauled all of my gear up to my room, sorted through things and packed up my bike for the upcoming flight.

A partly dismantled bike

A partly dismantled bike

Packing up my gear

Packing up my gear

 

It turns out the bike box I have for this flight is bigger than the one I had for the flight from Toronto.  So I didn’t have to take as much apart – yaaay!  The front racks were able to stay attached, as well as the back rack.  And it was waaaaay easier to get everything packed in.

Self Made Hot Pool

Day 29: May 17 – Takanini to Auckland Airport

Daily Distance = 24.35km, Trip Total = 940.41km, Today’s Climb = 125m

The weather for today had been consistently forecasted as rain and strong winds.  That had been the forecasted weather for today for the last 5 days when I started checking.  And it proved accurate.  So I appropriately layered up in all of my rain gear and headed outside.  Fortunately (and intentionally) I only had a short distance to cover today.  However it was mostly through the suburbs of Auckland, so there were A LOT of stops to check my phone and ensure that I was on the right road and wouldn’t inadvertently find myself on a major highway.  The map app on my phone has proven invaluable!

I made a couple wrong turns along the way, but all of them I was able to correct pretty quickly.  I also did have to walk across a very, very wet field to get to a pedestrian bridge over a highway.  But other than these minor hiccups I was able to navigate myself to a car rental location where I was warmly greeted and asked about my cycling trek to date.

After picking up my rental car, I quickly headed south to Evo Cycles in Pukekohe where they kindly gave me a bike box for free.  After this I had a couple other errands to run – so much easier and quicker to do with a car!  I went to The Warehouse store where I was able to buy bubble wrap.  I inquired about purchasing a cardboard box, but they said they didn’t sell them so they gave me one for free as well.  Then I picked up some groceries and changed out of my wet clothes and into some dry clothes.

A rainbow in Pukukohe - even though it is a bit faint it still has extremely vibrant colours

A rainbow in Pukukohe – even though it is a bit faint it still has extremely vibrant colours (more so in person than what was picked up on camera)

 

Next I drove the couple of hours to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  It rained pretty much the whole way, so I didn’t stop and instead went directly to my destination.  I checked in around 3:30pm and was told that between now and the next 4hrs I could dig my own hot pool spa on the beach.  There is a certain area of this beach which on 2hrs each side of low tide (today’s low tide is at 5:30pm) you can dig a hole and it will fill with hot water, creating your own personal hot pool spa.  When the tide comes, it then smooths out all the sand and starts as a blank canvas for the next group to dig their personal hot pools.

I got settled in, changed into my bathing suit, went back to reception were I rented a shovel and started the 10min walk down to the beach.  As a pleasant bonus, by this time it had stopped raining!  At first when I was walking down the boardwalk to the beach I was the only one carrying a shovel, so I started feeling a bit foolish and wondering if I had fallen for some kind of local joke!

Following the masses to the hot water beach area

Following the masses to the hot water beach area

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There is a pretty specific area which produces hot water when you dig.  The first area that I started digging had cold water and I was beginning to wonder if I just had to dig deeper.  Fortunately somebody saw me digging and told me that the temperature doesn’t change based on depth.  If it’s cold at the start, it will stay cold.

So I started digging in another area in the middle of a bunch of pools that people had created and it was scorching hot!  Far too hot!  So I stepped back and decided what I would try next.  While I was pondering my next attempt, a couple started digging in the cold area that I first started to dig.  And then moved to the far too hot area.  Finally they asked another couple if they could expand upon their pool.  They agreed and then the four invited me over to join as well.  After we had a pool dug big enough for the 5 of us and of the perfect temperature, we introduced ourselves and chatted while the sunset.

Getting closer

Hot water beach

Self built hot water pools

Self built hot water pools

Enjoying our pools

Enjoying our pools

 

 

Getting my Cycling Legs Back – I Hope

Day 28: May 16 – Miranda to Takanini

Daily Distance = 69.60km, Trip Total = 916.06km, Today’s Climb = 467m

It is interesting how perception changes sometimes.  A week ago tackling 70km’s with close to 500m of climbing and all my gear would have seemed a little daunting.  Manageable but daunting.  Yet today I woke up and felt like it was going to be a ‘light’ day.  So I slept in and enjoyed my comfortable accommodations, only getting on the road around 9:30am.

The first 20km’s were pretty flat and had a great view of the water to my right.

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And then I started getting into some light climbs and noticed an increase in dump truck traffic.  Odd considering how quiet this road had been until now.  Soon after I found out why……there have been some ‘slips’ on this road!

There has been a lot of rain lately, slips become common

There has been a lot of rain lately, slips become common

Sometimes dropping down to one lane

Sometimes dropping down to one lane

 

After several minutes of riding through these slips I started to worry slightly that the road may become closed off at some point.  If that were the case I would have to backtrack about 25km’s and take some much busier roads to get to my destination for the day.  I eventually came to an area where construction crew were managing the traffic flow and they confirmed that the road was currently open all the way through.  PHEW!

After a couple km’s of going through the slips, the road headed inland a bit and passed through the Hunua Ranges.  This is where the bulk of my climbing for the day would be.

Starting to head over the Hunua Range

Starting to head over the Hunua Range

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Sheep farm on the hill

Sheep farm on the hill

The top of today's climb

The top of today’s climb

 

Once I got to the highest point of the climb, the grey clouds seemed to scatter slightly and I had sunshine as I sailed down the other side.  Eventually coming out to a bay.

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There was a bench by the water calling my name, so I pulled up and took a break.

A perfect resting spot for my bike and I

A perfect resting spot for my bike and I

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Almost immediately after I got back on my bike the clouds came back!  The picture below was only taken about 10min after the picture above and only a few hundred metres apart!

A lone palm tree

A lone palm tree

 

The rest of the ride was pretty calm as I passed through a few small towns and arrived at my destination on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

My parents did however pass along these couple of pictures that they took while they were in Foxton Beach New Zealand and I felt they were worth sharing:

I thought this was cute :)

I thought this was cute :)

I've been seeing these birds all over north and south island.  I was beginning to think they couldn't fly 'cuz everytime I got near them they'd run away instead of fly

I’ve seen these birds all over north and south island. I was beginning to think they couldn’t fly ‘cuz everytime I got near them they’d run away instead of fly

Country Roads

Day 27: May 15 – Matamata to Miranda

Daily Distance = 98.94km, Trip Total = 846.46km, Today’s Climb = 72m

I had some serious ground to cover today, so my alarm was set for 6:45am.  After breaky (bagel w peanut butter and a banana), I made the three trips to bring my gear and bike down stairs and attached the panniers and canister.  Here’s the end result:

Fully decked out bike

Fully loaded touring bike

 

I was pedalling shortly after 8am, making my way north on a service road that ran beside Hwy 27.  A few km’s up the road in the town of Waharoa, the service road no longer existed and I was forced to cycle on Hwy 27.

After a couple km’s on Hwy 27 I had a choice to make.  Stay on the highway and contend with traffic.  Or roll the dice and take some side roads, hoping they would be paved (gravel roads with a fully loaded bike is a tough ride) and that they wouldn’t be dead ends.  There have been a few occasions that I’ve gone to take a road that my phone app says goes all the way through, but then it’s signed as ‘no exit’.  The side roads would also add about 15km to my ride for the day, but flat roads and there was little to no wind today.  While I stood on the side of the road pondering my decision for about 2mins and being passed by about 5 transport trucks, I decided to take my chances on the country roads.  Man was I happy with my decision!  These roads were perfect for cycling!  Paved, flat, no dead ends, a bit of traffic, but for the most part I had the road to myself.

LUV paved country roads!

LUV paved country roads!

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Today’s ride was in a plateau with hills in the distance on both the East and West.

View to the East

View to the East near Te Aroha

View to the West

View to the West

I passed a lot of farm land today

I passed a lot of farm land today

 

Now the downside of country roads are dogs.  I did have a couple dogs give a good chase along their property line, fortunately they  didn’t attempt getting through the fences (I assume electric fences) that keep the livestock in.

I pushed pretty hard today and didn’t take many breaks.  Truthfully, there weren’t too many places to stop and I was happy to be on the bike.  I only passed through two towns all day and stopped for about 15-20min in each of them.  Otherwise my breaks where just to refuel, grab some snacks and a decent amount of time consulting my phone to see if I was on the right road and where my next turn was (there were a lot of right-left turns today).

Firth of Thames

Miranda – I think this is supposed to be a town, but it really just seems to be a smattering of houses and a hot springs

 

I reached Miranda by 2:30pm where I was staying in a guest suite (Airbnb style).  My host was so friendly and immediately filled up the Hot Tub, picked some mandarines from their tree for me and extended an offer to join them for dinner.

Miranda guest suite

Miranda guest suite

 

 

Hobbits

Day 25 & 26: May 13 & 14 – Rotorua to Matamata

Daily Distance = 70.97km, Trip Total = 747.52km, Today’s Climb = 429m

Today will be the first day of cycling with all of my gear, so I made sure I was on the road before 9am to give myself lots of day light hours.

Fortunately I had a strong tail wind and for the first 1/2hr I barely had to pedal as I made my way through the town and outskirts of Rotorua.  The next hour and a bit did involve some pedalling as pretty much all of my day’s climbing was occurring in a gradual but steady incline over 10km’s.  I definitely felt the weight of the extra gear on my bike during this stretch, but it was a gradual enough of a climb that I was able to stay on the bike.  The tailwind may have helped as well :)

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Some of the views along the way

Some of the views along the way

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After the gradual climb, then I had a plateau for a while followed by a lengthy gradual downhill stretch.  The rest of the ride finished in a blur and I was in Matamata shortly after 1pm!

Heading down the descent

Heading down the descent – there was an awesome view in the distance

It's always a joy to see the name of the town of the day's destination on the road signs :)

It’s always a joy to see the name of the town of the day’s destination on the road signs :)

 

I was booked for a Hobbiton tour the following day, but tried to switch the tour to today given I was in town so early.  Unfortunately they were already booked up.  So I went to my accommodations for the night, hauled my bike and gear up a flight of stairs, got cleaned up and took a walk around the town.

 

The next day I headed to the I-site to go on my Hobbiton tour (for those who are not Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit fans, this is the movie set of The Shire – the hometown of the hobbits from these films).

The I-site in Matamata takes on the character of Hobbiton!

The I-site in Matamata takes on the character of Hobbiton!

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The drive to Hobbiton was quite scenic with lots of rolling green hills.

The drive to Hobbiton

The drive to Hobbiton

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We had a 2hr walking tour of the Hobbiton movie set and walked around the village.  Along the way we were told stories about some of the things that happened on set, some of the facts like how many people where involved, some of the lengths they took to pay attention to detail on the set, etc.

Hobbiton - can you spot the 40 hobbit holes embedded in the hill?

Hobbiton – can you spot the 40 hobbit holes embedded in the hill?

A hobbit hole

A hobbit hole

Our guide Alex

Our guide Alex

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The largest hobbit hole (Bag End).  The tree above is fake.  The trunk and branches are steel and the leaves are silk

The largest hobbit hole (Bag End). The tree above is actually fake – the trunk and branches are made of metal, I believe the leaves are silk

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The tour was completed with a cider at the pub on set

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The rest of the day was pretty mellow.  I picked up some groceries, did some research on upcoming parts of the trip and watched some Netflix :)

Here Comes the Rain

Day 23 & 24: May 11 & 12 – Taupo to Rotorua*

*Cycled Taupo to Broadlands, drove Broadlands to Rotorua

Daily Distance = 25.66km, Trip Total = 676.55km, Today’s Climb = 144m

My parents had been watching the news earlier in the week and heard that the remnants of cyclone Donna were likely to hit north island New Zealand today.  Since then we had been keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts and they were pretty consistent that the area we were in were going to experience a lot of rain and strong winds, gale force at times.  So I decided to wake up early and get as much cycling in as early as possible before the weather struck.

I was on the road shortly after 7:30am (sunrise is currently just after 7am).  I cycled for about an hour and a half along Broadlands Road.

Broadlands road - at this stage it had a beautiful wide shoulder. I had also learned the day before that this road is used for the local Ironman, which I saw evidence of painted on the road

Broadlands road – at this stage it had a beautiful wide shoulder. I had also learned the day before that this road is used for the local Ironman, which I saw evidence of painted on the road

Unfortunately the shoulder did not stay with me, but this road had relatively light traffic, so was enjoyable to cycle on

Unfortunately the shoulder did not stay with me, but this road had relatively light traffic, so was enjoyable to cycle on

This area also had a lot of large farms

This area also had a lot of large farms

 

Shortly after 9am my parents picked me up and we drove to Rotorua where it started pouring rain within 1/2hr of arriving in Rotorua.  My parents and I said our g’byes as they needed to drive to Auckland today to catch their flight tomorrow.  I am definitely going to miss the company and having a car to hop into whenever I want, but I am also looking forward to seeing what lay ahead!  I decided to send my tent and a few articles of clothing home with my parents to try to lighten the load.  I think I’m going to skip out on camping on this trip and instead continue to lean towards the comfort and convenience of hostels and hotels. :)

My hotel room today had a pretty cool view of a geyser in Te Puia

Room overlooking Te Puia - the geyser constantly had steam coming out of it and the mud pool was always bubbling

Room overlooking Te Puia – the geyser constantly had steam coming out of it and the mud pool was always bubbling

View from my room and evidence of the geothermal area

View from my room and evidence of the geothermal area

A closer view of the mud pool

A closer view of the mud pool

 

The majority of the day was spent resting as I had limited wifi and the rain and winds were pretty strong so I chose to hold off on any exploration of the town until tomorrow in the hopes that the rain would settle down.

I did however get some picture updates of Dash from her sitters, so thought I would pass a couple of them along for those who want a Dash fix :)

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She looks pretty comfy and happy!

She looks pretty comfy and happy!

 

The next day I stayed in Rotorua to continue waiting out what is hopefully the majority of the rain and wind going through the area.

The view of the geyser from my hotel on the 2nd day - notice the wind has now changed direction from yesterday!

The view of the geyser from my hotel on the 2nd day – notice the wind has now changed direction from yesterday!

 

Mid-day it was still raining quite heavily, but I decided to get all of my rain gear on and walk the 3km to Kuirau Park which I had been told is definitely worth the visit.  This park, like many of the parks that we have been to in New Zealand are free admission.  Actually, I don’t think a single park that we have entered yet has had a fee with it.

Kuirau Park is also a geothermal area and you can see steam and bubbles in the water.  It may have been tougher to see today just because of how heavily it was raining but it was still worth checking out.

Evidence of the amount of rain over the last 24+ hrs

Evidence of the amount of rain over the last 24+ hrs

There is a trail under those 2-3 inches of water!

There is a trail under those 2-3 inches of water!

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Signs of the geothermal activity in Kuirau Park

Signs of the geothermal activity in Kuirau Park

The road leading into Kuirau Park

The road leading into Kuirau Park

These birds have been all over New Zealand - I haven't actually looked up what they are yet

These birds have been all over New Zealand – I haven’t actually looked up what they are yet

A field of birds!

A field of birds and evidence of rain!

 

The rest of the day was all about getting some more R&R with some frequent checks of the weather forecast.  They are calling for the system to start to clear overnight, fingers crossed it does! :)

The Scenic Route

Day 21 & 22: May 9 & 10 – Whanganui to Taupo

This is a stretch of North Island New Zealand that gets pretty mountainous.  Highway 1 is pretty busy and highly trafficked and the other roads going through this area are pretty remote.  So, I decided to catch a ride with my parents for this stretch and turn it into strictly sightseeing instead of cycling.

We drove the more remote route on Highway 4 and 47 up to Turangi, from there we picked up Highway 1 to Taupo.  This was a really scenic drive (especially along highways 4 & 47):

These hills were massive and went on as far as the eye can see!

These hills were massive and went on as far as the eye can see!

The white specs on the first hill are sheep

The white specs on the first hill are sheep

You can't tell in the picture, but about a foot on the other side of the cow is a cliff.  I'm still shocked how a cow was up here!

You can’t tell in the picture, but about a foot on the other side of the cow is a cliff. I’m still shocked how a cow was up here!

Some perspective on the side of the hills, in the middle of the frame are some houses nestled in the valley

Some perspective on the side of the hills, in the middle of the frame are some houses nestled in the valley

The town of Ohakune with Mount Ruapehu in the background

The town of Ohakune with Mount Ruapehu in the background

We drove up to the ski base area of Mount Ruapehu

We drove up to the ski base area of Mount Ruapehu

And then drove down the mountain a bit, grabbed lunch and hiked about an hour to a waterfall

And then drove down the mountain a bit, grabbed lunch and hiked about an hour to a waterfall

A boardwalk along the hike to the waterfall

A loooooooong boardwalk along the hike to the waterfall

On the boardwalk with Mount Ruapehu in the background

On the boardwalk with Mount Ruapehu in the background

Waitonga falls

Waitonga falls

 

Then we headed back down the mountain to our accommodations for the evening, where we were sent on a bit of a scavenger hunt.  Our accommodations had a note on the door saying their reception was closed and to go to another hotel in the area.  We walked the 1/2km to that hotel which also had a note on the door saying that their reception was closed and gave a couple of numbers to call.  Both numbers went unanswered, so we left voice messages.  We started walking back to the first hotel when they returned our call, told us the room number and let us know that the door was unlocked and the key was in the room.  Oh small towns! lol!

The next morning we continued our drive to Taupo.

Mount Ngauruhoe in the middle and we believe that is mount Tongariro on the left

Mount Ngauruhoe

A closer view of Mount Ngauruhoe

A closer view of Mount Ngauruhoe

Mount Ruapehu is the tallest of these three mountains and still visible!

Mount Tongariro – there is a 19.4km hike that you can take up this mountain, which we decided to skip

A thermal area in Turangi

A thermal area in Turangi

Areas of these thermal pools were bubbling, but it was hard to capture in a picture.  I did get a video of it tho!

Areas of these thermal pools were bubbling, but it was hard to capture in a picture. I did get a video of it tho!

Further up the road along Lake Taupo these 3 black swans came to greet us, looking for food I'm sure.  It was a little too close for comfort for me, so I made sure I was the farthest away!

Further up the road along Lake Taupo these 3 black swans came to greet us, looking for food I’m sure. It was a little too close for comfort for me, so I made sure I was the farthest away!

And then we drove on to Huka Falls which is a pretty impressive area with some powerful moving water

And then we drove on to Huka Falls which is a pretty impressive area with some powerful moving water

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

Some info on Huka Falls

Some info on Huka Falls.  I have to say, since Murchison there have been much more information posted at lookouts/towns/scenic stops about the history and facts of the location

In Taupo we went for a walk along the Lake and came across this golfing challenge

In Taupo we went for a walk along the Lake and came across this golfing challenge

Who thinks they can make this shot?

Who thinks they can make this shot?

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State Highway 1

Day 20: May 8 – Paraparaumu to Whanganui*

Cycled Paraparaumu to Foxton, drove Foxton to Whanganui

Daily Distance = 66.51km, Trip Total = 650.89km, Today’s Climb = 212m

After a having a toasted bagel with peanut butter in the community kitchen at the hostel for breakfast I loaded up my bike and headed on the road.

I was able to pick up bike paths for the first 15km but after that I had no choice but to cycle along the shoulder of State Highway 1.  This section of the highway is quite busy and the shoulder width ranged from almost a full car width to less than 1 foot and in some cases (specifically over bridges) there was no shoulder at all.  Adding a semi-moderate yet persistent head wind I wasn’t spending much time taking in the scenery around me, instead I was focused on the road and my mirror.

Part of the bike path north of Paraparaumu

Part of the bike path north of Paraparaumu

Cycling through an extensive wetland area

Cycling through an extensive wetland area

This guy followed me when I stopped for a snack!

This guy followed me when I stopped for a snack!

 

The traffic remained busy on SH1 until Levin.  On the outskirts of Levin I came across a fruit and veggie stand and was ecstatic to find some strawberries for only $1.50!  This was my first strawberry sighting so I had to stop.

STRAWBERRIES!!!

STRAWBERRIES!!!

Mmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmm

 

In Levin I was able to find side roads for a few km’s before rejoining SH1.  SH1 north of Levin is quieter than south of Levin.  I suspect some traffic turns off in Levin to head towards Palmerston North, but it is still a bit busier than I would have liked.

While on this stretch of the road I bumped into another tour cyclist, Andrew, who stopped and chatted for a bit.  He is from New Zealand and is doing a short tour, taking in some of the windmills along the way.

Fellow tour cyclist Andrew

Fellow tour cyclist Andrew

 

Andrew informed me of a massive bridge that I was approaching and told me about a great cycle path beside the bridge.

This is only half the bridge.  There's no way I would have gotten the whole bridge in one pic!

This is only half the bridge and even it fades into the distance. There’s no way I would have gotten the whole bridge in one pic.  It was at least 1km long

Cool creek under the bridge

Cool creek under the bridge

 

Just before 2pm I arrived in Foxton where I met up with my parents and caught a lift to Whanganui.

A park in Foxton

A park in Foxton

 

Carrying a bit more of my gear today (notice two full panniers on my bike instead of just the one partly full pannier I previously had), and the persistent headwind, my legs were tired and I was ready for a break.  It will be interesting to see how the ride goes when my bike is fully loaded – it might take some time for my legs/body to adjust to the extra gear!

In Whanganui we picked up some groceries, made dinner, spent some time in the hot tub and had a relaxing evening.

A Multitude of Bike Paths

Day 19: May 7 – Wellington to Paraparaumu

Daily Distance = 56.57km, Trip Total = 584.38km, Today’s Climb = 362m

I was on the road just before 9am today.  I didn’t have a huge amount of ground to cover, but I find that any day I am cycling in or out of a new city I get slowed down quite a bit.  This is because I’m constantly stopping to: 1) assess where bike signs on the road are trying to direct me (I find these are usually more intuitive when you are familiar with the area!) and 2) consult the map on my phone to see if I’m optimizing the amount of ground covered on bike paths in my direction and 3) make sure I don’t inadvertently end up on a major highway before I absolutely have to.

Fortunately I only made a couple minor wrong turns as I navigated my way out of Wellington and I was quick to correct them so I didn’t do much backtracking, which is always a plus in my books!

Part of the climb out of Wellington

A portion of the climb out of Wellington (I was happy for the path beside the highway)

 

I was pleasantly surprised today to find that I was able to cover the majority of my ride on paths that ran close to SH1.  In total I think I was only on State Highway 1 for under 10km.  And the stretch that I was on the highway had a very wide paved shoulder, so it felt safe to cycle on.

I luv finding bike paths like these that are going my way!

I luv finding bike paths like these that are going my way!

A pedestrian/cycle bridge that overpasses SH1

A pedestrian/cycle bridge that overpasses SH1 – while I was taking this picture a vehicle honked and stuck their hand out the window to give me a thumbs up :)

I had a moment of disheartenment when I noticed all of the fences surrounding the bottom of this ramp.  Then it dawned on me that this was a train platform and I would likely be able to get out somehow.  Only one flight of stairs (not easy with a partially loaded bike) and I was able to get back to the road :)

I had a moment of disheartenment when I noticed all of the fences surrounding the bottom of this ramp. Then it dawned on me that this was a train platform and I would likely be able to get out somehow. Only one flight of stairs (not easy with a partially loaded bike) and I was able to get back to the road :)

More bike paths.....and it looks like a sunburn is developing....

More bike paths…..and green as far as the eye can see!

Part of today's ride went along the coast

Part of today’s ride went along the coast and immediately to the right is an escarpment

 

With less than 10km to my destination, I was cycling on the paved shoulder of the highway and fully expected to spend the rest of the ride on the highway when I saw a sign flash by: ‘cyclists take next exit, there is an alternative route available’.  So, I decided to follow the sign and low and behold, I had a nice wide bike path, mostly to myself, which deposited me at my destination for the day.

The cyclists 'alternative route' as per the sign on the highway

The cyclists ‘alternative route’ as per the sign on the highway

Cycle path signs

Path signs

 

I reached my destination around 1:30pm and after checking in I spent about an hour outside chatting with a fellow guest at the hostel.  He was super nice and informative.  Let me know where everything was in the hostel, places to eat in town and offered a ride to the grocery store in case I needed to re-stock any supplies.  After getting cleaned up I walked along the beach for a while which was just across the street from where I was staying.

Looking back at the escarpment

Looking back at the escarpment

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island

A fishing boat coming in for the day

A fishing boat coming in for the day

The Nations Capital

Day 17 & 18: May 5 & 6 – Wellington

No cycling – rest and sightseeing days

I had a couple mellow days.  I tend to gravitate towards water, so I headed down to the waterfront and meandered around.  There was a firefighter combat challenge taking place so I stopped to watch for a bit.

A firefighter obstacle course

A firefighter obstacle course

Part of the firefighter combat challenge

Part of the firefighter combat challenge

 

And then I headed over to the Te Papa museum and checked out a couple of the exhibits.  They had a feature on Gallipoli, which the lady described to me as ‘New Zealand’s version of Vimy Ridge’ from WWI.  It was a pretty interesting exhibit with larger than life artwork and interactive displays to describe the story.

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This piece was probably 3-4x larger than life, with impressive attention to detail

This piece was probably 2-3x larger than life, with impressive attention to detail

Walking through a mimic of the trenches

Walking through a mimic of the trenches

 

Next was an exhibit on animals, these two birds the Moa (largest flightless bird, can get up to 500lbs) and Haast’s eagle (largest eagle to have existed) are now extinct and used to be native to New Zealand.

Moa and Haast's eagle

Moa and Haast’s eagle

Dino's

Dino’s

 

The next exhibit was about earthquakes and actually had a little house that you could stand in and it would shake so you can ‘experience’ an earthquake.  New Zealand has a lot of earthquakes, from what I gather they are occur pretty much daily somewhere in the country.  In fact I think I felt one in Wellington when the place I was in early evening on the 6th swayed for a few seconds.  I’ve been told this is the site where they report New Zealand earthquakes: http://www.geonet.org.nz

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A shaking house to mimic what an earthquake would feel like

A shaking house to mimic what an earthquake would feel like

 

After the museum I hiked up to the Mount Victoria lookout.

Wellington is known for its wind, this statue is representing a man leaning into a gale force wind

Wellington is known for its wind, this statue is representing a man leaning into a gale force wind

I just thought these houses were cute

I just thought these houses were cute

A beach in Wellington

A beach in Wellington

Looking over Evans Bay from Mount Victoria Lookout

Looking over Evans Bay from Mount Victoria Lookout

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View of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout

View of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout

 

Overall I was pretty impressed with the Wellington waterfront area.  They have a lot of activity on the waterfront, it is predominantly pedestrian/cyclists based and it seems to draw a lot of people.  They also have a few large pedestrian overpass areas that expand the amount of area that is pedestrian/cyclist friendly.

These two would occasionally jump from the staircase into the water below, but they waited for a lot of build up from the crowd and when they finally jumped I could never get in front of the crowd that would build up to get a pic

These two would occasionally jump from the staircase into the water below, but they waited for a lot of encouragement from the crowd and when they finally jumped I could never get a clear line of site for a pic

Large overpass area

Large overpass area

Another overpass

Another overpass

An interesting way of bringing more green into the city

An interesting way of bringing more green into the city

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Every Fri. and Sat. night there is a night market, so I had to go check it out as well.

Mostly food stalls, but some entertainment at the night market as well

Mostly food stalls, but some entertainment at the night market as well

 

Otherwise my time was spent starting to map out the next few days ahead of me as I will start to explore North Island!