Home for my “summer vacation”, a stifling summer in Japan, my current place of abode but a cold winter down under, home and my vacation destination.
Returning home for 5 weeks means I have plenty of time not only for family but to catch up with good friends. It was a great great chance for the “awesome foursome” to have a week together. Katherine, Susan, Marg and I have been friends for 35 years! We all met at boarding school back in the 80’s. We do our best to catch up regularly.
This year our catch up included 3 days on a bike riding the Hauraki Rail trail through the Waikato in the North Island of New Zealand. Katherine, Marg and I rode and Susan was our road crew. She was a godsend, transporting our luggage, driving ahead and sussing out lunch break stops and arriving at our destination first and meeting us with a cuppa waiting!
Leading up to the cycle I was seriously questioning our sanity as it is the middle of winter and the weather report was looking very dubious. However conditions were spring like. We had a brief patch of showers but were doing a walking track then and aside from that, no rain! It started half an hour after we arrived at our final destination, Nice timing!
The New Zealand Cycle Trail is a wonderful idea that started back in 2009. The idea was to build a network of cycle trails that would provide a healthy and enjoyable way for Kiwis and international visitors to see the country and would also generate economic, social and environmental benefits. Some of these cycle trails have been developed on old disused railway lines. They are fabulous as they wide straight and off the mail roads so there is no dealing with traffic!
We did the Hauraki Rail trail over 3 days. We rented “comfort” bikes. Comfort is a relative term! They did have nice wide seats and we sat reasonably upright. They were easy to use but I did have a sore posterior! A bath on day 2 was very welcome and the hot spring soak on arrival at our final destination was bliss.
Being a group of 4 made accommodation very reasonable. We stayed at motels and a holiday home. Bike rental, helmet, lock and saddle bag and 3 nights accommodation worked out at about NZ$240 which is about US$160 which I thought was pretty reasonable.
Day One Thames to Paeroa
The ride was fairly flat and straight. It was a god intro day of 33 kms. We passed through lush green dairy land. lots of bird life in the hedgerows, Cows, calves and horses.
Day 2 Paeroa to Waihi
This was our most picturesque day and the most varied scenery. It was 25km. We passed through the Karangahake Gorge which has a rich history both figuratively and literally in mining. We met Susan here for a picnic lunch and the 4 of us did 2 walks through the gorge and the old gold mines. After the gorge the trail became a little more windy and up and down as it did not follow the rail line which is still in use as a tourist line. It was not strenuous for an experienced cyclist but had me ready for the bath when we got to our accommodation! Waihi is a mining town with a huge open cast working mine.
Day 3 Waihi – Paeroa – Te Aroha
This was out longest day as we had to backtrack to Paeroa. It was 46 km in total. The Waikino Railway station Cafe was a highlight for morning tea. It was quaint and old fashioned with an open fire. We enjoyed lunch at Paeroa and had fun exploring the Antique shops before heading for Te Aroha where the welcoming Hot spring pool awaited! We were so so lucky with the weather. Black clouds were looming as we approached Te Aroha and we arrived with about half an hour to spare before the heavens opened.
Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu