Day 7 – Whitianga / Hot Water Beach Rest Day

A great start to the day with a well deserved sleep in and a cooked breakfast made by Richard’s grandma. Then went back in to Whitianga for the morning.

First up was the Lost Springs Hot Pools which was a pay day spa. They had proper thermal volcanic water pumped in to landscaped pools surrounded by lovely gardens. Very luxurious.

A quick lunch and a lap of the main street and we were off to the wharf.

The afternoon was spent on the Caves Cruiser exploring the Cathedral Caves and Mercury Bay. No one else was on the trip so it was a private harbour cruise. The ocean was a bit rough so we couldn’t get in to all the nooks and crannies. But we did get to see all the major sights and enjoyed two lots of snorkelling – one with the snapper at Gemstone Bay and the other off Matarangi Island.

Took a shuttle bus back home and then off to Hot Water Beach for the low tide hot pools. The main attraction is as low tide, a thermal hot spring is exposed and you dig yourself a pool in the sand to soak in. We were a bit late to the party but took over some already dug hot pools. We took over 3 dug pools as the tide came in and people abandoned them. The final one we made some extra excavation and it was fantastically warm.

Back home then out again for pizzas at a local cafe then visiting friends for the evening.

Tomorrow, back on the bike.

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Day 6 – Coromandel Town to Hot Water Beach 75km

With mussles eaten and a bit of rain over night to keep it fresh, we made a start for the day at about 10am.

It was a rude start with one of the biggest hills for the trip only 1km in to the ride. 4km of riding with an elevation gain of about 400m. What a hill! Unrelenting, steep, no easing off. Just a lot of low gear grinding. Had to take a few rests along the way.

The view from top was spectacular on to a very fast but controllable decent.

First stop for the day was lunch at Whangapoua Beach where we cooked up some pesto pasta.

After an hour of relaxing, we head over to New Chums Beach, apparently one of the top 20 beaches in the world. It was about a 20min walk to get there which is the only way in to keep it as intact as possible. The beach was quite beautiful with a boarder of untouched bushland and cliffs. But there were a few people around and would have been better deserted.

Back to Whangapoua, we departed at about 4:30pm and took some scenic back roads before hitting the last hill (a very pleasant ride) of the day into Whitianga for dinner. We had fish and chips which were delicious.

The final 15km included a ferry ride before arriving at Bill’s mother’s place in Hot Water Beach quite late at just before 10pm.

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Day 5 – Thames to Coromandel Town 62km

A very slow start to the day didn’t see us leaving camp until 11am. Then we head in to town for some shopping. I desperately need more sun protection clothing. After some shirts and lunch was procured, we made a start.

Going was fast, easy and incredibly beautiful along the coast line.

A quick lunch stop in Tapu then we were on to the serious riding.

Two big hills to climb. First one about 300m over 5km and the second only 150m. The first was a really enjoyable long haul up the hill. I got some cheering encouragement from other traffic. The view from top was spectacular. Next hill was a bit boring.

Then a short run in to Coromandel Town where I am writing this from the Star and Garter Hotel. Plans for dinner include 1kg of local Coromandel mussels.

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Day 4 – Orere Point to Thames 74km

First up for the day was the foot hills of the last hill from the day before. Then a fantastic rolling decent down to the Shorebird Coast.

We were rolling along the beautiful coast of the Haurika Gulf viewing the rally of camper vans there to see the migratory sea birds. The Godwit sea bird is the main attraction from Siberia. Of course we had a quick stop in the Sea Bird Info Centre.

Next stop for the day was the Miranda Hot Springs, a huge volcanic hot pool. We left out bikes there while Bill’s old sailing mate, Max, picked us up and cooked us a delicious meal of muscles for lunch. His house had a beautiful view of the bay.

After lunch, we patronised the facilities at Miranda Hot Springs. They had two main pools. One a huge 50m warm volcanic pool and a hotter, smaller spa pool. We spent a good hour soaking and relaxing.

Back on the bikes for a flat and fast run in to Thames. At Thames, we split up. Bill heading the short gravel way over the ridge to spend some extra time with his mother. Richard and I continue up the Coromandel Peninsula.

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Day 3 – Auckland to Orere Point (revised from Miranda Hot Springs) 81km

Another sunny and hot day.

Some how the rookie, who has never been to the North Island (me), got the job of navigating through maze of streets out of Auckland. With only 1 check of the map, we made it though the 25km to get out of town.

First stop was at 35km at Whitford where we had second breakfast at a fantastic cafe. Bill ate the last muffin much to my chagrin. But they had one of the best ice coffees I have ever had.

Next up we had a short 6km detour down the wrong road which Rich picked up after some signage said the next town was 23km when it should have been 10km. So after some back tracking and back on the correct road, we hit a brutal short, steep hill in which I had to have multiple rests and may have had a misty eyed moment.

In to Clevedon for lunch at 50km, we decided we weren’t going to make it the further 60km to Miranda Hot Springs. 110km was probably a bit much for the first day! A revised few options were floated.

Afternoon tea stop was at Kawakawa Bay. We made an attempt at a swim but we’re easily deterred by the rock and oyster beach. Bill made it in but cut his foot. Snacks were eaten and an dinner supplies bought from the local “diary” (corner store) after advice from locals that nothing would be open at the destination.

One final fantastic hill of the day was about 150m gain over 2.5km though some beautiful bush. The other traffic was friendly and was waving us on.

We arrived in Orere Point for a total of 81km for the day and found the local shop was not only open but has much better fair.

A bit of a tough first day for some one who hasn’t been on the bike for 25 months!

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Day 2 – Auckland

Since I have never been to the North Island, we decided to do a day in Auckland to see the sights and a few last minute supplies. It was a very hot and sunny day. We ditched the bikes and got a lift in to the city for a lap of Queen Street and the outdoor shops then a trip across the harbour to Devonport.

At Devonport, we had a beautiful lunch at one of the cafes then went for a short walk up to North Head for a 360° view.

About 10km of walking all up left the legs well stretched.

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