Well, windy Wellington surely lived up to it’s name! Strong northerlies and and grey day weren’t the best way to see a city.
First up was breakfast out at a local cafe near a popular park.
Then off to the city to catch at ferry out to Matiu / Somes Island. It was an old quarantine station for animals and people but now has been converted in to a predator free sanctuary.
Before you are allowed to enter the island, you have to have a bag search and check your shoes for any guy pests or weeds. The island had about an hour bush walk as well as old quarantine buildings to explore. We just did the bush walk as we were short of time. We saw heaps of native wildlife. Wetas, tuatara, red crowned parrots, skinks, various sea birds.
Next, we hit the city for a quick lunch then head up the cable car to the botanical gardens. Then we waited for a free shuttle to Zealandia that never turned up. I rang them up to ask what happened. They sent the bus. But we had already waisted 40mins.
Zealandia was good but we didn’t have enough time. It is another predator free sanctuary. They have various walks and exhibits in the bush as well as various feeding stations. We saw tui, weta, tuatara, kaka and some various ducks.
Then home for a quick refreshment before heading to the city for dinner and drinks.
The final day of riding!
A leisurely and fast ride down the Hutt Valley. The terrain was all down hill and we followed a major back road that was mirroring the train line down to the harbour.
First stop was at 30km for a pie and milkshake by the water. Then on to the bikeway along the harbour front. The bikeway left a lot to be desired with a lot of vegetation overgrowth and unexpected holes and obstacles. From there, we were directed away from the water on to a side road with the bikeway on the footpath. It was an awkward and uncomfortable ride.
Once in to the city centre, we stopped at te papa – the national museum. We split up. Bill went on a self guided mission. Richard went on the official tour and I went to the Game Masters exhibition. We all sunk a good 2.5hrs.
Then it was in to peak hour traffic with the panniers on a 9km up hill ride to a relative’s house. What a mission. Some of New Zealand’s finest were in attendance as we tried navigate the winding roads and constant climbing. But we made it with only 1 minor incident – I dropped the chain on a particularly good busy hill.
Then after meet and greet, we showered and went to the pub for celebratory beer and pizza.
1230km and 73hrs of riding done!
Another slow start to the morning with a departure at around 11:30am. A quick look through the main street and we were away.
It was a quick 20km of flat farm land to Martinborough, the wine growing area of NZ. We went to a few tastings before having a platter and a glass of Chardonnay at Alana Winery.
We stopped again in the town of Martinborough for a quick afternoon tea before setting off at about 4:00pm for the remaining km.
It was only about 20km to Featherston were we stocked up on water and had a quick break.
Then on to Rimutaka Hill – the biggest climb of the trip, about 500m of climbing over 10km. It was fairly good going with traffic fairly understanding. The views from the top weren’t greatly inspiring but it was a good achievement none the less.
The final 20km was fairly easy going with at least 5km of fast downhill. Then some rolling hills into Upper Hutt.
We arrived quite late at 7pm and the campsite was a bit isolated. So with out food, we set up our tents, showers then took a taxi in to the main street of Upper Hutt for a late dinner.
It was a grey, overcast, coolish morning that greeted us. Even seemed like a threat of rain but never eventuated. We had a slow start to the day eating an extensive breakfast before getting started.
With not many km left on the trip, we took the opportunity to check out a local bird life sanctuary. It is a large area that has had the predators removed and kiwis re released. They also have a captive breeding program for some of the threatened bird life.
We went straight to the Tuatara feeding. It was fairly unexciting. But the lizard was cute but mostly uninterested in moving, even to eat. In the same building was the famous white kiwi and another juvenile kiwi cage mate.
From then we went on a walk around the park to various captive bird aviaries featuring some of NZ’s famous and endangered species – Kaka, Tui, Blue Duck, Kokako, Kakariki, Hihi.
We then had some lunch at the cafe. Then went to the long finned eel feeding.
Back on the bikes, it was a fast 40km in to Masterton for a snack. The cafe owner suggested pushing on to Greytown instead of the closer Carterton.
Arriving at camp, we set up and then went to quite a fancy pub for $20 stone grill steak.
Getting close to Wellington now.
With only a few km to complete for the day, we took it easy and spent the morning exploring the Square in Palmerston North as well as having lunch and getting some food for the ride.
Once we got going, we didn’t get much of a warm up before hitting the big climb for the day over the saddle. It was 10km of up hill past forestry and wind farms before hitting the top.
On the screaming down hill, we stopped to chat to another cycle tourer.
The afternoon was made up of rolling foot hills and back roads. Unfortunately, the back roads had no small towns and we ran out of water at about 35km. We stopped for a swim in a river and filled up a water bottle from the sketchy looking water and treated it with chlorine tablets.
Post swim, we had one more short hill before returning to the highway in to an intense head wind. We could barely maintain 15km/hr in the strong gusts.
We were thankful to get to Eketahuna. We bought ingredients for dinner and head to the pub for a beer. The camp ground is quite scenic and only $6 per night with all the mod cons. Bargain!
The brown day. A day showcasing the drought conditions currently experienced on the North Island. Most of today was spent tracking through farm land and the pastures are all quite brown. A fairly straight forward day. Not much climbing and not much descending.
First stop for the day was a quick servo stop at Turakina. Then a more substantial stop for lunch at Marton at an awesome Vietnamese Bakery.
Afternoon tea was at Fielding visiting with some relatives of Bill’s. Then a quick 15km in to Palmerston North.
From the fastest day to the slowest day. Today, we wound our way down the Wanganui River.
With some trepidation about both my elbow and the gravel ahead, we set off. I had taken some drugs and strapped up the elbow so I hoped it would hold up.
We hit the gravel and took it very slowly. The first 3km was a slow up hill climb. Then a windy slow descent. We took it very slowly because the condition of the gravel was quite poor – lots of bull dust, and big lose gravel rocks. Pace was between 9-12km/hr both on the up and down hill.
First stop for the day was at Jerusalem, a historic convent and church. We had a quick poke around but the nuns were out for a walk. We had a quick break and a Cookie Time.
Back on the gravel, we had about 5km of gravel to go to Ranana and back to the sweet tarmac. The going was a bit faster with the condition of the gravel improving. Back on the sealed road, we reinflated the tyres and continued on.
Morning tea was at a lovely local cafe which had delicious home made baked goods.
Then as we followed the river downstream, it was hardly down hill going. It was rolling hills the whole way! Rude. In the heat of the day, we stopped for a swim in the river.
Final hill for the day was about 200m of climbing and lead to some fantastic views. We then completed the final km in to Wanganui.
Elbow held up ok. It was a bit sore with all the jittering on the gravel and uneven road surface but should be ok for the rest of the trip.
Wheeeeeee! The fastest and most down hill day ever.
Heavy dew in the morning made packing up the tents a dirty pain in the butt. With breakfast finished, we set out for some down hill action! We departed Mordor and said our good byes to Mount Doom.
On first 6km back to the main road, we averaged 32km/hr. Then a further 10km in to a town named National Park for a second breakfast due to the lack of towns for the next stretch.
After a further 35km of mostly down hill, we rolled in to Raetihi. The scenery for the day was quite spectacular with Mount Ruapehu featuring in the skyline with bush and farmlands near by. We also followed the train line for a section.
By the time we hit Raetihi, we had averaged 25km/hr over the first 50km with about another 50km to go. We had lunch and stocked up on two days worth of food due to the remoteness of our next destinations.
After leaving town, we were treated with more enjoyable descent and we got our last glimpses of Mount Ruapehu. Then with about 10km until a town, tragedy struck. We were climbing the last hill for the day, only about 150m of altitude gain, when I was stung under the armpit by something. Now, I’m allergic to wasps so this scared me a lot and I out control of the bike and came down heavily on my right elbow.
We patched me back up and I took some drugs but I was unable to put any weigh on the right arm. Thus the final 10km in to Pipiriki was slow even though the riding was easy and mostly descending.
At Pipiriki, we decided I wouldn’t make the final 20km in to Ranana which was our intended destination. It included 12km of poor condition gravel road. So, we stayed in the camp ground.
The staff at the camp ground were helpful and sourced an ice pack for me. They area is remote and there was no mobile phone coverage, so we borrowed the phone to call Bill.
Yay! A short day on the bike.
We were greeted with some stellar riding weather. Cool, clear and not a breath of wind. We said our good byes to Bill who will ride a day ahead to spend extra time with relatives.
The ride today was entirely up hill but was a complete pleasure in the excellent conditions. Excellent views of the mountains including the “Mount Doom” from Lord of the Rings.
We made decent enough time and got in to the alpine Whakapapa and set up the tents, did some washing and had lunch.
Then a perusal of the info centre and then off on a short walk to Taranaki Falls.
What a day. It should have been quite scenic and enjoyable. But, man, it was hard work. The day was strong headwinds all the time. What would have been a scenic partial circumnavigation of the huge Lake Taupo, just was a hard slog all day
We were out by the crack of 10:30am and on to the road. I was feeling quite sick so the day was going to be a challenge.
Bill wanted to push 100km today to get to Whakapapa to gain a day on the trip. I was fairly unkeen on this idea as I wanted to split it in to a big day and a small day so we could spent some time alpine at Mount Ruapehu. Anyway, we decided to only do the shorter route and call it splits so Bill would be a day ahead and skip the mountain.
First opportunity to eat was at 36km at a small roadside cafe. Up until that point, the route had followed the lake and was quite beautiful. After a second breakfast, we headed on to Turangi.
At Turangi, we got some local intelligence on the road choice ahead. The steep but 8km shorter or the main longer road. The info centre lady was a roadie and recommended the longer route. We stocked up on two days worth of food and got back on the road.
The last 30km was a long, headwind infested slog with a long 5km climb at the end of the day. It was unpleasant.
Getting in to camp was a relief from the incessant wind.