Tour Aotearoa 2016

Tour Aotearoa, to ride the length of our country, 3000km, between 10 and 30 days.  Self supported.

12 months of discussion, working out what kit and bike set up would work.  12 months of body and mind preparation.  The last month till the 21st of February dragged.2016-02-21 11.28.01Sunday the 21st of February, midday, finally arrived.2016-02-21 16.31.46And quite possibly the hardest day of the tour, Day 1, lovely sunny day, lots of happy albeit nervous like minded people about to set out on an adventure.  One long flat beach, with a constant side-head wind.  Brett’s back locked up at some point on the beach, an old back injury.  He waved down a car, thank-fully they didn’t have room to take him, and then the voltaren kicked in, and we were back on it.2016-02-21 18.51.58Almost at Ahipara, the wind was now head on, but dropping.  A welcome site, the fish n chippy was still open and doing a roaring trade to wary 90 mile beach survivors.2016-02-22 08.27.41Beautiful Far North

2016-02-22 10.53.53Watering and feedhole, Broadwood.  A bit early in the game to stomach an entire pie.

2016-02-22 14.11.22Some easy kms on the Rawene ferry with Jonathan Kennett and Gordie Mains

2016-02-22 17.47.10

2016-02-22 19.38.39Hanging with Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest, Stunning, literally

After visiting with Tane, the descent through the forest southbound, in the waning light amongst Tane’s descendants, just as imposingly jinormous as Tane, was woooooowwww.

2016-02-23 12.28.46-2Imagine that, come all the way north and my cuz Matiu takes time out from his busy day to come and give me a hug, awwww.  Dargaville

Riding down to Pouto Point, gravel grinding the hills in the northland heat, the logging trucks were knocking off after a busy day.  Thought we’d missed that evenings’ ferry, from the point to Helensville, so decided to back off the pace.  Brett received a message from Luke – the ferry is delayed, you’ve 23km, and a cold coke waiting.  Made the ferry as it was approaching the sand to load us, wahoo what a ride!  I see from photos that it looks like a great place to hang and swim for a few hours – next time.2016-02-23 17.28.52More easy miles on the chartered fishing boat ‘ferry’ Pouto point to Helensville end of day 3.  The fish n chippie was taking orders from the boat, ready for pick up when we got off.  That night we slept on the floor of the Helensville Cruising Club after a hot shower.2016-02-24 06.57.16Helensville to Auckland, kinda early morning2016-02-24 08.15.01

2016-02-24 08.49.33#toddlerslaundry

G3 743Mt Eden photo control point

G3 745Yep we’re still in NZ, Auckland watermelon stop

G3 753Nice to be joined for breaky that morning at the Rhubarb cafe in Arapuni by cousin Gillian, and Phillip who joined us for a few kms.

Waikato River Trails

2016-02-26 11.31.24You sure you don’t have a beer truck instead?

G3 756Brett was lucky to find a trail angel who cleaned his chain, just out of Mangakino.  Amazing generosity of kiwis as we passed through their territory.

G3 757Awww, so cool seeing cuz Penny, and her wee sproggs, Maria and Campbell, Mangakino Bus Stop Cafe, even if it was only for an hour, thanks for tracking us down finally Pen xx

2016-02-26 17.22.23 - CopyWhat a bridge! Old skool tramping bridge.  Every step I took I felt the bridge was going to rotate 180 degrees, and I’d be stream side.  The back of beyond on the way to the middle of the North Island.

G3 762Well whattaya know, the centre of the North Island right there in concrete!

The Timber Trail was a treasure, go and check it out!  Massive bridges over deep gorges.  Coming off the Timber Trail, the rain started to fall.  Taumarunui wasn’t too far off, the roads lovely and winding.  It was Saturday night, the motels full.  Mum’s cousin and wife, 7km out of town, had left a message inviting us to stay.  Was lovely to catch up with you Harold and Sarah, thank-you. 2016-02-28 10.00.33

The roads the next morning from Taumarunui continued to wind, but the riding was pleasant.  As we crested one hill, Brett recognised his friend from a past decade, Paul Chaplow, on his bike to meet us.

At the odd times we came across long skids from previous riders.  Some gave us a giggle to think of the speeds they must have been carrying, and the corners they missed. 2016-02-28 15.31.44It bought the boy out in this fella!

2016-02-28 15.32.142016-02-28 15.53.46That evening we rode through to The Blue Duck Cafe at Whakahoro.  This place felt like a staging post in the middle of nowhere, on the way to the Bridge to Nowhere.  It was great!  Then a load of 20 somethings got off the Stray bus, and had their lecture on possum trapping.  I hope they weren’t feeling too seedy from the previous night.

Yay, Whanganui National Park goodness.

2016-02-28 19.29.07The awesome wee shelter about 80 minutes on from the Blue Duck Cafe.  Running water, a toilet and a shelter, heaven!  Wendy and Ian stopped in briefly, they weren’t enjoying the trail – too bad!  That night we were joined by Brendon from Napier, and another chap later on, who knows what time.  The rain came in during the night as forecast, along with the clouds shrouding the bush.2016-02-29 11.01.58Do you think we were feeling pretty happy with ourselves…maybe.  Having fun anyway.  And pretty stoked when Ian and Kirst turned up and handed me my shorts that had been drying on the outside of my rear bag – cheers!!

Bridge to Nowhere was just that.  Great to visit after hearing all the stories over the years.  At the landing on the Whanganui River, we had a wait of a few hours for a jet boat.  Booked on the opposite company, so watched as a crew of 11 riders went on their way as we waited. Had a nice interlude with these guys, of which a lasting memory of Dr Richard on the uke in a rendition of ‘Cows with Guns’.  The boat trips could make for a pretty disjointed day, just when you had the roll on.  Moving had become the norm.

2016-03-01 10.56.53Riding through the tunnel to the lift in Wanganui – saved us a 300 odd metre climb – nice!  The lift rattled and shook.2016-03-01 14.56.20Oh what a spread left for us by trail angels just out of Hunterville – two types of scone and elderflower cordial, complete with a bucket of soapy water and tea towel for dishes.  The road then took us through to the Rangitikei, and then the dog leg along all the back roads possible north of Ashhurst.  This could be where I think I decided I actually enjoyed riding gravel, kinda meditative.2016-03-01 16.33.202016-03-01 11.15.13And the views of the Rangitikei, with the evening sun on the hills, while reminiscing of jet boating trips as a little girl with the family to Vinegar Hill, made for a pleasant evening.  That evening we stopped in at a farm house to fill our water bottles, not sure where we’d sleep that night.  The farmer and his wife had seen riders going by during the days previous, but were intrigued to hear what we were all really up to.  That night we camped at Rangiwahia, behind the community hall.  Surprisingly a warm toilet block, so I managed to dry out our shorts.

G3 777It don’t look like much, but sometimes in life you really don’t need much.  Running water, a toilet and baby wipes…oh the simple things in life.

G3 778Between days 3 and 9 my face was swollen, as were my legs, with a good ole cold sore to boot.  After day 9 the swelling had gone down and I was feeling great.

Nice ride through from Rangiwahia to Ashhurst, where old friends of Brett’s, Mel Grant and her parents stalked us on the side of the road and joined us for lunch.  Then along the Manawatu river trail to Palmy, and up n over the Pahiatua track.  Not sure if Jonathan was having a bad day, but the gravel road to Pahiatua felt pretty direct, not his usual johnra!  Mum joined us for lamb shanks and scallops at the Post Office Hotel in Pahiatua, great to finally catch up with her.2016-03-02 19.28.29Now thats called a decent feed!  I recommend the Post Office Hotel in Pahiatua, very accommodating, and the bed was comfy too!2016-03-03 07.28.41Dawn of a new day, Pahiatua to Eketahuna2016-03-03 09.15.16My dear Mum, still riding her bike in her young 70’s.

What a beaut day, misty sunny morning out of Pahiatua.  The sun stayed with us all the way down the Wairarapa.  Eke we coffeed with Mum.  A quick stop in at the Cemetary to be with Dad on his birthday, then a tail wind picked us up and blew us on down the country.  Brett popped another drive side spoke, just north of Masterton, a quick pit stop there saw him with a new rear wheel.

The wind did an about face near Featherston, but it wasn’t deterring us.  Up over the Rimutaka Incline trail, and down the other side.  Pushing on to Upper Hutt, we had our second biggest day on 191km, feeling great!  And great to catch up with bro, sis-in-law, and neice.

Another disjointed day waiting for the ferry, but lovely all the same to be able to catch up with yet more family, cheers Pete.2016-03-05 07.44.14Ahhh finally the south island.  We’re finally getting somewhere.

Hit the Maungatapu with quiet determination.  Knew this section, getting into second home territory, and tried riding it clean, but alas those loose peebles got the better of me again.  Still managed to knock 20 minutes off our previous time, while giving the guys around us a run for their money…sorry!  I paid for it later, nothing left in the tank, hitting the wall at Wakefield, called it a day over a beer and fish n chips.

Day of head wind to follow.  Riding with fellow riders makes for an easier day for sure.  Aero bars would have been welcomed. 2016-03-06 16.15.53-1Posing with Dirk, Tamsin and Brett, Lake Rotoroa.2016-03-07 11.15.49A much more pleasant day from Murchison, over the saddle to Reid’s Store, and the delights awaiting there.  By now the rain had started to descend, but thats life in the saddle some days.  Still enjoyed riding Rahu Saddle, and down the other side to be greeted by the smell of the coal fires of Murchison.  There was more rain due that night.

And boy did it rain.  It was constant through the night.  I woke feeling ampted to ride Big River Waiuta.  Brett was of the opposite mind set.  He knew and had spent a lot of time in that region, and felt it completely unwise to even contemplate riding in.  Riding in a pair, listening to the others wishes is part of the partnership.2016-03-08 12.21.02Bit of rain overnight, Grey River.2016-03-08 15.56.05Start of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

2016-03-10 10.03.12It sure knows how to rain on the West Coast!2016-03-10 19.12.47Franz Joseph where the Garlic Breads are a whole loaf.  What are you eating Brett?

2016-03-11 12.47.32Beautiful Bruce Bay, man we have a beautiful country!

Brett’s not a fan of salmon.  No there isn’t a cafe at Lake Peringa.  Lunch was 5.30pm that day at the Hard Antler, Haast.  Brett, you’ll keep!

Early morning, heading toward Haast Pass.  Another feed the night before of Lamb Shanks  at the Hard Antler, proving a good big-day-pre-feed.

Yay, the Haast Saddle, and the middle of the Main Divide.

2016-03-12 13.25.32Cuz Damien, son Liam, and my sis MJ stalked us.  Side of Lake Hawea, where Damien joined us for some kms.  Possibly not the best day, we, or I, was quietly hell bent on cracking 200km.2016-03-12 15.53.16The Wanaka AMP show was in full swing.

The day started in Haast before sun up, and as the sun set and we switched our lights on on the descent down the Crown Range to Arrowtown.  208km.  Sure happy to achieve that goal.  It had been a good day, and thank-fully some tail wind too.G3 940G3 943Good to see you sis x

Walter Peak Station

One district to go, and nearly the end of my story2016-03-13 15.52.442016-03-13 17.57.352016-03-13 18.36.04Round the Mountain Cycle Trail, almost Mossburn2016-03-14 06.56.32Early morning sorta.  Last day of the tour…2016-03-14 07.56.162016-03-14 08.25.48Just when we think we’re on the home straight we encounter some bulls on the loose that just don’t want to pull over.  Brett you can go first2016-03-14 08.31.242016-03-14 13.36.53It was always going to come at some point. 2016-03-14 13.46.30What an adventure!  Thanks Brett, and to all those we hung with along the route…nice to have shared some time with you.  And to the Kennett Brothers, what a work of art putting this together.  Long may others enjoy the adventure just as much as we did.

22 days, an hour and 41 minutes.  An average of 136km a day.  My steed a Salsa Fargo.

One journey, a lifetime of memories.  I do miss the days on the bike, the freedom and being able to eat heaps!  There will be another adventure….



About helsbels75

A keen cyclist, with no preference for which type of bike, as long as it helps me get out to see whats around the next corner.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tour Aotearoa 2016

  1. Great read and photos..well done.

  2. Jo says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s