Sunday, February 19, 2012

On the Road in New Zealand...At Last!

We are sitting in a McDonalds in Kerikeri. This is the first town since Kaitaia that has had a McDonalds (free wifi).

Obviously, we made to Kaitaia. We were on a 20 seater plane. We watched them load the bags and bikes so we knew they were on the flight. Big sigh of relief! The Kaitaia airport was very small. The guy unloaded the luggage and we took it off the trolley ourselves (funny thing, the guy goes out to the plane with a small trolley. He saw us come off the plane with bike helmets and panniers. He went back for a larger trolley).

It took us about an hour and 20 minutes to assemble all our stuff. The bags survived pretty well with just a few holes. The bikes were unscathed. We were able to fill up on water in the airport before the people closed the building and went home. We had a bit of an audience for awhile. We left the by then deserted airport and headed into Kaitaia proper. We were after groceries and fuel for the stove. We found the Pack and Save easily enough. It was hard as we were walking through the store to not spend alot of time looking at the different foods (there really is much the same, but some things are different). We still had to get fuel, then cycle to Hihi Beach. After loading the food, we found The Warehouse (looked to me like a K-mart). I quickly purchased the fuel canister and we headed back the way we came on SH 1.

It was pretty flat and easy riding for quite awhile. Then when we got closer to Taipa, and went through Coopers Beach and Manganui we were doing some pretty steep rollers. I had put my Da Brim on as it was pretty sunny and quite hot. At first I was nervous going down hill. Then I got more confident and picked up more speed. The Da Brim stayed firmly attached to my helmet (no Flying Nun action).

We initially thought we had about 24 miles to go for the day. Well, we kept riding and riding looking for the turn off to Hihi Beach. At one point we saw a sign that said Hihi Beach Motor Camp turn off 12 km. at that point we knew we were going to be riding more than 24 miles. We finally got to the turnoff. By now we were both pretty exhausted (you know that kind of exhausted where your stomach hurts--eating helps, but not for long). At the turnoff we had 5 more km. Whew! We were going to make it!

Hihi Beach turned out to be a pretty cool place. We rolled in at 7:45. They were just finishing up a 3 day Marlin Fishing Classic. They were having a big party. We found spots for our tents, set them up and walked down to the beach to watch the sunset. We ate a late dinner after showering then pretty much hit the sack.

I slept all the way through to 5:45. I felt pretty rested. We had decided since we only had about the same distance as the first day, we would take our time. We fixed breakfast in the kitchen of the motor camp (that's why I only bought one fuel canister--most of these places have kitchens). Before Leandra got up I had walked down to the beach and found a few cool shells. Instead of bringing them with me, I took a photo.

We headed out for Day 2 at about 10:45. It was already pretty warm and humid. This area has a tropical feel to it. The cicadas are deafening and the foliage is junglely looking with these larger than life ferns and lots of palm trees. There are more deciduous trees than evergreens. As we ride we have great views of the hills and the ocean

At about 12:45 we were both hungry and had not come upon a park or wayside picnic place, so we just pulled over at a gravel pullout. We pulled out our tortillas and peanut butter and a store brand Nutella. I had a banana with mine and Leandra had an apple. I also pulled out my camp stool so I had a place to sit. I'm loving that I brought that with me (I don't care if it weighs alot!).

We had a good long break then went back to climbing the hills. Again it was a mix of ups and downs with, maybe, a bit more up than down.

We came into the town of Kaeo. There we spotted Whangaroa College and swimming pool. I was looking for a restroom and figured the pool would have one. The pool looked so inviting that we decided to go for a swim (that and the fact that we were pretty hot and sweaty--also, the nice lifeguard came over to the fence and told us to come swimming).

45 or so minutes later we were back on the road. A lady at the pool told us we had some hills to go up. We were hoping her perception was different than ours. It wasn't. We started up some serious hills. Betsy's Super Granny Gear was getting its first major workout. I thought we had a uphill than a big downhill. I was wrong. It was an uphill then a bigger uphill!

Here is a good place to talk about traffic and the roads. For one thing, this riding on the left has taken a little bit of getting used to. Leandra and I have both had to remind each other to get on the other side a couple of times. Weirdly, the traffic coming up behind me does not freak me out. But, the oncoming traffic (which is on the OTHER SIDE) startles me every time! Yes, the roads are mostly pretty narrow. What is interesting is the speed limits on these roads. It is a two way, one lane each direction, no shoulder road and the speed limit is 100 kph! We have, so far, found the drivers to be pretty accommodating, but maybe a little speedy. No close calls so far.

As soon as I send this on its way, we will head to the Kerikeri Top 10 Holiday Park and day two will finished.

Update: McDonalds wifi was a bust Except for the big fat waste of time, it's all okay because we have wifi at this Holiday Park.

Enjoy the following pictures (they may be out of order).


Wil Thames said...

Excellent pictures and blog!! keep it up, I want to hear all about your tour!!

Alexandra Hübner said...

Hey you guys! Sounds like fun! Wanna change those hills to going up to lake Titicaca? We are right now on 2350 m and have to go to almost 5000 m, no up and down. (7000 ft, 15000 ft) shooing off here, it's gonna be HARD! Have fun!


Swannee said...

Finally reading your blog--how has the time gone so quickly? Love the pictures I've seen so far, and it's so very exciting to know you're exploring a new place. All my best!