Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

Human nature

When my daughter’s phone was stolen at a campsite last week, I wasn’t surprised by human nature. With time you learn to accept that people suck! But in the last 24hours my faith was restored.

Not only did the police and search and rescue got us out of the Pureora forest, they went back today to find my bivie and brought it back to our hotel. The police chief who coordinated the whole thing offered to take me back to the start of the Timber trail where we were trying to get (it is an hour away from Taupo)The mechanic’s workload at Top Gear was too heavy to fix my bike in time for my departure, so the manager adjusted it and made sure I could get back to my adventure.

I didn’t plan to get to Taupo, but I am happy I did. We met amazing people and enjoyed a needed day off. I was happy to get my first good coffee in days as well as a monster breakfast. There is also lots of riding to be done here, I will definitely be back.

Leaving for the Timber trail tomorrow thanks to Mark and all the staff at Top gear, thanks to Everyone from search and rescue in Taupo.

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Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

A very long day!

You know these days that don’t end up the way they should have? The ones where you regret a bunch of decisions? That trail that I shouldn’t have taken, the point where I should have turned around when the hill was too steep and muddy and slippery, that junction that I should have investigated more, … we are now sitting in our sleeping bags waiting to be rescued

Yesterday was a varied day of riding. We started with rolling hills through farm country, then got onto gravel and the caught the Waikato river trail and enjoyed fun and bumpy singletrack, punchy hills, and light dirt trail. I ended up crashing, feeling over confident riding down a gravel hill with my luggage filled cyclocross. Just scratches, but lesson learned, I will not try to show Kelsey my downhill skills again!

Today started the same as yesterday, but we took a more remote trail to try to get to the timber rail trail. It was awesome being in the middle of nowhere! We got on the skinniest suspended bridge I have seen, an old atv trails and lots of big climbs. We were really happy when we found our lunch spot, the marker for the middle of the north island. It is after eating our dried salami and m&m that everything went south or west or ? We took a trail that wasn’t ment to be ridden and even difficult to walk. After walking for 5 hours on a trail that was supposed to be 2.5km, I made the 111 call.

Search and rescue found us and brought us to Taupo. We will ride and relax here for a couple of days. Enough excitement and remoteness for now.

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Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

Leaving civilization

Rotorua was awesome! Plenty of good coffee shops, good restaurants and awesome mountain bike trails! We took our cross bikes up a few of the intermediate trails. They are in such a good shape, very well maintained. You wouldn’t be able to tell that so many riders use them and so much rain fell on them lately. I could have spent many more days riding there!

Sadly, Kelsey fell and broke her hand. She will be able to continue riding, but we will adapt the itinerary.

The rotten egg smell of Rotorua’s thermal activity is getting to me. I am quite happy to get back to farm country.

We are taking the Te Ara Ahi trail today, 45 km of pavement, gravel and single track taking us to Waikite Valley and it’s amazing thermal pools. We didn’t spend more then 2 minutes on the highway, it was bike paths and trails for most of the ride:) Partly sunny, totally windy, lots of good climbs, it was a good day. The free hot pools included with our $35 campsite were also awesome! It was great to soak for an hour and warm up after that cold windy day.

Back on the road tomorrow for even more remoteness!

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Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

Mastering Road riding in Kiwi country

The plan of this trip is to stay off the road as much as possible, but we still have to ride pavement to link the trails. This time we are going from the Hairakai rail trail to Te Ara Ari thermal trail we had to ride on road from Te Aroha to Rotorua. The road out of Te Aroha is quiet and scenic, maximum speed of 100km with no shoulder, but almost no one on it. We are still in farm country and still talk to cows and sheeps, but waterfalls, mountains and greenery make it very enjoyable. We stopped in Matamata to play tourists and visit The Hobbit movie set and enjoy a night at an awesome cockroach infested campground:( and the start the not so much fun ride to Rotorua.

For one of the rare times Google map’s shortcut off the highway turned out to be awesome! We managed to shorten the ride and avoid 30km of busy highway. It was a good fun climb until we had to get on highway 5 which is very scenic, but busy with not very courteous drivers and a narrow shoulder. To make the ride even tougher, the grey day turned into downpour, so we the last 30km of downhill weren’t enjoyable at all!

We have been staying at Holiday parks since we got here, and we hope to do so as much as we can. They are usually clean campgrounds with tent sites or cabin accommodations. Like a KOA campground, but for less then $20. In Rotorua our campsite is close to town and offers rooms with heat 🙂 So no tenting, time to warm up and relax!

I am quite happy to get in a bigger city and enjoy meals that do not come out of a bag! We actually sat down at a very good restaurant (Terrace kitchen) where we were served exquisite local food and wine. There are lots of coffee shops here, but none serving a cup as good as the one I tried in the smaller towns.

It is awesome to be surrounded by do much volcanic activity. The geyser, bubbling lava pools, smelly sulfur vapour coming out of the ground, lakes and rivers. You wouldn’t want a scratch and smell picture from here!

I wouldn’t recommend the road from Matamata to Rotorua for any level of cyclist, it isn’t safe at all! Most cars will not give you any extra rooms and they will absolutely not slow down. But there was no way I was going to avoid going to Rotorua, I can’t wait to ride these world famous trails!

Sadly my daughter leaves tomorrow, it was awesome to share with her my passion for cyclotourism.

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Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

L’essentiel

Can you imagine having to go back to the basics and have to relearn the essentials? I am now getting better at looking right then left when crossing the street, I am getting better at understanding Kiwi English, I still can’t pronounce the names of the towns, but the worse is navigating the cart without collision in a busy supermarket. Supermarket isles have have the same circulation rules as the road!

Coffee has been awesome! Every town seems to have tones of coffee shops and I have yet to be served a bad latte. Food on the other hand hasn’t been exciting, I think that we need to find more local specialities.

I ride with 2 younger ladies and I am showing them the basics of bikepacking, like carrying a bottle of wine in a jersey pocket, chips on the bike without breaking them, how to do laundry in the shower,…

We had an easy day today, low mileage and touristy visits. Tomorrow will be an uninteresting 70km ride to Rotorua and it seems that are luck with the weather has turn and it should be a wet one.

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Bikepacking, Nouvelle Zelande

Direction royaume des Kiwis

It’s been a few months since the final commitment. I needed to purchase the plane tickets in order to make sure I was actually taking a month off. Where could I ride in November that would have good enough weather and safe enough for a not too brave single women.

New Zealand here I come!

Just another adventure! 1 month on my bike discovering a country I never thought I would set foot in.

I am lucky enough to know a Kiwi who gave me some really interesting reads and hints to help on planning for the journey. The kennett brother cycle trails book and a national geographic map and there I go… I may have to do a little (or a lot) more research, but I seem to be a bit more prepared then on other trips. I am also open to any recommendation.

I was first going solo, but I will now have the immense privilege to have my daughter join for the first 10 days and a friend/collegue will join for the whole month. Anyone else wants to join? We are going mostly off road, there seem to be a lot of trails for us to go from North to south without having to share the road with too many cars. I hear that NZ people are crazy drivers and that roads aren’t safe for cyclists.

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