Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kiwi CAN fly!

At least "Ski-wis" can. Taken during today's out and back ride to Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu.

Midday on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu

Ever wondered how.mountains make their own weather? Here's exhibit A, Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom) in action.

A scenic ride from my backpackers in National Park, and I managed to stay upright on the bike the whole time, despite some tremendous wind gusts.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Trail to Taranaki Falls from Whakapaps Village

Tongariro National Park is serving up some "mountain" weather today.

Chose to skip the madness of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and had the trail to myself, once a handful of Northern Circuit trampers on their hike out came by.

Not cold, but misty, light rain on occasion and a stiff breeze for a bit.

Nice day to enjoy the alpine flowers and stark landscape.

Riding in National Park

Great riding, hot then chilly then hot mountain weather and some ominous looking volcanoes. Sweet.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hwy 1, Taupo to Turangi, about 8am

View of Mt Tauhara (1088m), one of the many volcanoes in this interesting part of the North Island.

While the sun did come out before noon, today's ride was massive sidewinds, headwinds 15km out of Turangi, and gale force gusts that knocked me off my bike as I was pulling into town.

Also, wonderful views of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe in the national park.

People doing the Tongariro Crossing today would have "enjoyed" quite a gale up on top.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

8:45pm in Taupo, view to Mt Ruapehu after stormy day

Rode InterCity bus from Napier to Lake Taupo, avoiding a steep, remote, no shoulder 148km slogc with bad weather for extra "thrills."

Spent afternoon planning next ride segment, to Taurangi then National Park.

My goal is to explore some of the Nga Haerenga cycle trails in this relatively unvisited part of the central North Island.

Logistics are a puzzle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hawke's Bay Trails a Great Ride on the New Zealand Cycle Trails

Here's what the local Nga Haerenga project, map courtesy of the Hawke's Bay i-Site looks like after 3 days of my "trail testing." Sections ringed in black marker are the bits the I-Site knows aren't open, as of Jan 26, 2012. I found several missing links  which made this exercise more of challenge than it might appear.

Overall issues: the Water Ride (orange) needs signposts and bike path stencils ASAP. It's way too easy right now to miss a turn, and end up on some.busy roundabout on Hwy 2. Section near Prebensen Rd in particular. Headwinds on Westshore very strong. After Taradale, sweet ride on the limestone/clay stopbank along Tutaekuri River. Fertilizer plant in Awatoto keeps it real.

Landscapes Ride (green) the best. Wetlands near Clive great, end point of Clifton Cafe great. I skipped the Tukituki River stopbank, instead riding Tukituki Road all the way. Great hills and rollouts, and few cars. After Red Bridge hit new gravel too deep to ride in. Waimarama Rd was terrible alternative, fast traffic, no shoulder. Yuck. Ride back on stop bank to Black Bridge fast. Some vandalism near BB and the footpath over a boneshaker. Scenery on Landscapes the best. Te Mata peak with paragliders. Best of all, the motion activated bicycle warning device on bridge across Horseshoe wetland. I vote that NZ Transport install these babies every road in the country.

Wineries ride (yellow) will be much more enjoyable once it's made offroad. Hwy 50 is not fun, with intermittent shoulders and trucks. Horticultural spraying isn't something I want to deal with often. Oak Avenue is lovely with an allee of oaks planted 1874. Hastings CBD is cyclists' nightmare: cars parked in the bike lane (dooring, anyone?) and the small green bike stencils in the roundabouts on Karamu St, what on earth are they communicating: hit a cyclist here?! More thought needed here if this is supposed to aid "share the road." You need to go go the CBD if you want food, otherwise, keep out of there. Don't like the aggressive behaviour when i try to ride through a roundabout as if I'm a vehicle (I am, but motorists don't altogether get this right now. I guess it will take time.

Wineries along the yellow (and orange and green) routes are a delight

My verdict? Once the kinks are ironed out, these trails rock. And I didn't need to swap bikes to do them.

Well done, Hawke's Bay.

The wine tasting is free, just having a d-i-y iced coffee

Of course there is tango music playing in the background, all the angelic children are dressed in pretty pastel outfits, and the wine glasses are clinked by well groomed people wearing panama hats.

Ahhh. The Hawke's Bay beloved by the tourist promo folks. Sometimes it does exist.

Te Awa Winery,Roy's Hill Rd, Hastings

2:30pm on the "Wineries" route. To get here it's a major highway, traffic, horticultural spraying, and hotter than heck. Will be a nicer ride in autumn, when they build the off road limestone bike path.

Had some ding dong in Hastings yell at me to get on the footpath, even though at that point I was in the bike lane on Omahu Rd. I guess he's not "sold" on the Hawke's Bay Trails project.

Tough cookies, mate.

Interesting warning to users of the Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails

Great "warning" from one farmer adjacent to the "landscapes ride" outside Clive.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

End of the East Cape Ride

Arrived in Gisborne about 1pm after a 7am start from Togala Bay. More walking up steep winding highway to leave the shore  then rolling through cattle and sheep stations. Clouded,high winds from the south, rain sprinkles

On the final coast run, two short climbs made impossible by headwinds, and a return to urban traffic. Passed 4 trailers loaded with logs, waiting for port to reopen for loading the orange freighter, to right of photo, in background.

I've booked a seat on tomorrow's 9am Intercity bus, as I'm skipping busy Hwy 2 from Gisborne to Napier. I plan to stay a few days looking at Art Deco.buildings,and riding to some Hawkes Bay wineries. 

After that, I'll continue looking for the least trafficked regions of the North Island.

So, is "East Cape" a top coastal cycling route?


Friday, January 20, 2012

View from deck of Te Puka Tavern in Tokomaru Bay

Took a while to get my bike out of the locked ballroom of the Te Puia Hot Springs Hotel, as the owner had a late night with the Fri nite local pub crowd. So, a great downhill run, a look around the ruins of Tokomaru's heyday as a major early 20th century livestock shipping port, in the days before roads.

And, a place that sells espresso!

Today's goal is Tolaga Bay, total of about 47km, as it's hot as heck and I started late. Then tomorrow, ride last 50km to Gisborne, and Hawkes Bay.

The private hot springs pool at Te Puia Hot Springs Hotel

Ahhhh, hot and makes you feel bouyant. Will sleep through the yelling and laughter in the bar below my room no problem. Maori people really know a good thing when they find it.

After 80+km on Hwy 35, what you want to see

"Only" 80km but today's ride from Hicks Bay included 3 hills, going from 0 (sea level) at Te Araroa, to 220m on the last stinker. I'm not good at stomping on the pedals on my heavily loaded bike, so i walked up sections of the climbs many times. The downhill rolls, are, however, exceptionally good fun. A hilly, rural ride through places that are little more than a point on the map. Cafes and shops are very sparse here in remotest East Cape, so logistics are a major issue. But tonight's accomodation has a rowdy pub and a private hot pool, tied into the sulphur springs deep under the ground of this reserve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lake Rotoma, Sat waterskiing races

Enroute from Rotorua to Whakatane, stopped with the sightseers. Rotoma is one of 3 extinct volcanoes now lakes that you ride by on Hwy 34.

Blustery conditions, bright hot sun, blotted out by fast moving clouds that threaten rain.

After this lake, a short ascent followed by long down down down. Great 90kms to Bay of Plenty. Wish every route were like this one. Light traffic due to weekend and 7:15am start

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lake pools at Polynesian Spa in Rotorua

Unsettled weather including high winds means an extra day layover in Rotorua. For $43 I visited one of the better known hot springs resorts. Pleasant soak in 38 to 42 degree pools, sometimes with sun, sometimes rain. Tomorrow, back riding, early start, to Whakatane on the Bay of Plenty. Fingers crossed on the weather.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bicycle travelers attacked in road rage incident in Wellington

Today's New Zealand Herald reports an attack on two cyclists, Russ Roca and Laura Crawford two days' ago. www.nzherald.co.nz: "Shame and fears over driver's road rage attack on cyclists"

According to the article, there were several witnesses and they got the plate number of the assailant. Not exactly a good advertisement for enjoying New Zealand from s bike seat.

Well, there are over 4 million people in NZ, and of course there are deranged, angry individuals among them.

Bad things happen when you travel. I hope the arse involved in the attack is picked up promptly and prosecuted.


Redwoods in Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest

Some solid types check out my rig.

One week on the road: Auckland to Rotorua

It's 7am, sky is clearing after heavy downpour overnight in Rotorua. Since starting my trip, the weather has been challenging. Hot muggy days, followed by socked in weather, rain, heavy at times. Not the best for riding.

Took lots of time to figure a way out of Auckland. On the "Seabird Coast" lovely coastal riding, but no views of the Firth of Thames. Shared the road with a "Cannonball Run", a motor rally which meant I had fast cars, and people driving fast coming from behind all day. In rainy conditions, with a fully loaded bike, this is not much fun.

Headwinds near Miranda meant I stopped early at the only place I could find: Miranda Hot Springs Motor Camp. Nothing like staying at a hot springs resort in a downpour.

Riding to Thames was less than 30km, but the ride on a "now you see it, now you don't" shoulderless highway, along with rained out holiday makers heading back to Auckland, again, a real handle bar gripper.

Thames to Coromandel Town was simply superb. Rain cleared off, brilliant views. A couple of challenging hills followed by descents that were a bit scary.

A day in Coromandel, and a ride out to Colville. Gorgeous views, more beastly hills, and, rather than get back after dark, I hitch hiked, bike and all, with a friendly dairy farmer.

Given the difficult weather, the difficult terrain, the difficult traffic with too many "boy racers" taking blind corners with no room for error, I've chosen to adapt my trip. The Bay of Plenty, my original destination, is getting all the weather, and a local cyclist was killed on the highway this week, in what the newspaper report euphemisitically described as: "driver behavior and speed being investigated."

Tell me about it.

You can't change other people's behaviour, no matter how much you'd like to. Instead, all you can do is reduce your own risk factors, and ride smart. I bought a 15 hour bus pass on Intercity Coaches, and rode here. I plan to trim down my load, store gear at the YHA, then head back to Tauranga and East Cape. I've got too much gear for the riding, and it's beyond dangerous to be top heavy on these steep roads.

Not all bad, though. Met Michele, young Italian guy who's riding both islands. After "arrivaderci" in Thames, I met him downtown in Rotorua yesterday. Our conversations seem to center on hill experiences.

I made a tour of Rotorua's 8 bike stores (no kidding) finally finding a suitable handlebar mirror to use. Everyone here talks about mountain biking, mountain biking, mountain biking. They also tell me that cyclists get no respect on NZ roads, that's why everything's heading to the relative 'safety' of the single track.

Still, in addition to Michele, there are at least 3 other cycle travellers riding the same route I'm taking. Heading to Coromandel is the preferred route.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leaving Auckland

View back to city. First plan to take train to outer suburbs scotched as line work, so riding instead.

Hydrangea farm outside Clevedon

Rainy Saturday, light traffic on the Clevedon - Kawakawa Rd

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Auckland to points south

I arrived in Auckland on New Year's Day. The city is very quiet, as Aucklanders take their extended Xmas holidays at this time. Most stores don't reopen until Jan 9.

No success in buying a handlebar mirror, as I guess all the local cyclists got one in their Xmas stockings. I'm also trying to find a DOC [Dept of Conservation] survival bag, a thick bright yellow plastic bag that I hope will serve me in case I need to do "desperation camping." I don't have a tent with me, and rain is forecast for the next couple of weeks.

I've done a shake out ride on Waiheke Island, about 35 mins by ferry from the CBD. It re-introduced me to the hills of NZ.

The YHA Auckland International has been home for a few days, and will hold my cardboard bike box until I show up again,in about 7 weeks. I've left the bike at Planet Bike on Dominion Road for a quick mechanic check. I've reassembled it, but I want someone experienced to double check, before I head out on a major tour.

I feel out of shape, and a bit anxious. Already had to deal with a carload of halfwits on Waiheke, who sprayed me with their softdrink as they drove past. It's a warning. Only takes the occasional fool like this to challenge my normally positive feelings about kiwis.

However, the anxiety is temporary. Nothing will prevent me from riding.