One the one hand it feels like we have been here for months, on the other the last six weeks have flown by. No matter which, we have bags and bikes packed as we prepare for the first, eighteen hour, leg of our journey home, from Auckland to Dubai. Hopefully we will be on time as there is only 90 minutes before the second leg departs for an eight hour leg into Birmingham.
After cycling over 1,300 fairly hilly miles, Gavin declared the last four days a ‘holiday’. With Keith at the wheel we motored north up the West coast of the Northland region. Setting out from the suburbs of Auckland, our journey took us through open farmland and the forests beyond. A late afternoon arrival at the tiny coastal village of Oponone provided ample opportunity to stretch tired, car bound, legs. Walking on the soft sandy beach provided glorious views of massive sand dunes across the sea inlet.
Late last week, months of work culminated to fulfill the recently resigned Prime Minister’s ambition to create an off road coast to coast cycle way in this region. Clearly the challenge and temptation would be too great for one of our party to resist, consequently, Gavin and I set off from Horeke in cold fog, taking three hours to complete just 10 miles, so challenging was the trail. The terrains was ‘bike pushingly’ steep in several sections with a surface so rough we had to partially deflate our tyres to cope. A serious sense of humour failure was only averted by glorious Exmoor like scenery and a restorative ice cream sundae when we finally reached the remote little town of Okaihau. Fortunately the remainder of the ride was much easier, mainly following the course of disused railway lines. About 12 miles from the end we came upon Keith, sat on a tree trunk, he had driven the car to Opua, on the west coast, then cycled the trail in reverse to meet up with us. A short car ferry ride brought us to the peaceful and elegant resort of Russell, on the beautiful Bay of Islands.
For fear of mutiny in the ranks, a delightfully quiet day followed just pottering around the seaside resorts of Russell and Paihai, taking in the sights in warm autumn sunshine; there was even time for a leisurely lunch!
Winding up for this trip, we covered just shy of 1,400 miles on the bikes, had one puncture each and slept in 31 beds. The variety of the scenery in each area was a joy, the friendliness of locals and other tourists humbling and even the weather was exceptionally kind to us.
Many thanks to Margaret and Barry in Havelock North, Stephen and Roberta in Motupiko, Sue, Pete and Tom in Wanaka and Wendy and David in Te Kuiti, for putting us up and such warm hospitality.
Huge, huge thanks to Keith for his wonderful hospitality, driving us miles between regions and for his eternal good humour and friendship, we look forward to attempting to return this in September.