New Zealand Tandem Tour

29th December 2003 ~ 18th January 2004

Week 3

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All photos are by Neville and Tricia unless otherwise stated. The narrative is by Tricia.

Day 15 - Monday, 12th January 2004 - Rotorua
Mel milking a cow at the Agrodome
Mel milking a cow at the Agrodome

Kiwis
Kiwis

Maoris in traditional dress
Maoris in traditional dress
photo by: Mickey Elsberg

Very hot & sunny.

Free day. After breakfast most people went in the buses to the Agrodome for a show of sheep varieties, sheep shearing demo and Mel milking a cow! Then on to Rainbow Springs for a guided walk in a carefully planted and laid out setting to see trout (not allowed to be eaten in New Zealand), various ducks and swans, native birds, Tuatara (prehistoric reptile native to New Zealand), Kiwi in the nocturnal house. Some people then got dropped back at the hotel to "do their own thing" and others went on to Whakarewarewa Thermal Park to see a Maori concert and thermal "happenings". That night most people went to a traditional Maori concert and hangi and a walk through the forest to see glow worms and silver ferns.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 802
N&T's cycling mileage: today 0, cumulative 423

Black Swans in Lake Rotorua
Black Swans in Lake Rotorua

Rotorua Museum
Rotorua Museum

Day 16 - Tuesday, 13th January 2004 - Rotorua to Matamata
Anglican church by Lake Rotorua
Anglican church by Lake Rotorua

Roadside flowers
Roadside flowers

Sunny and hot, overcast, sunny.

Through busy Rotorua north to Ngongotata, turning west to start a steady climb along a nice country road, joining the busy SH5 for a long stretch before being able to escape onto a lovely little road to Tapapa and on to the Okoriore Hotel for a picnic lunch in their grounds. More nice quiet country roads to Te Poi and Taihoa verged with beautiful wild flowers and fields of cows before having to join the busy SH24 into Matamata where coffee and cake was enjoyed at the Workmens Café. On to the Broadway Motel at the other end of town where our bikes would be stored overnight whilst we all split up to be taken to various farms for our "farm homestay" experience.

Route mileage: today 52, cumulative 854
N&T's cycling mileage: today 52, cumulative 475

View from the 'farm homestay' bedroom window
View from our 'farm homestay' bedroom window

Day 17 - Wednesday, 14th January 2004 - Matamata to Tairua
Travelling the country road from Matamata to Te Aroha - 1
Travelling the country road from Matamata to Te Aroha...

Travelling the country road from Matamata to Te Aroha - 2
...in the shadow of the Kaimai Range of hills

Sunny, rain, dull.

We were all delivered back to Matamata by our various hosts and received our day's briefing from Tim and our "lifting" options but for the rest of the day the tongues were wagging exchanging our various experiences about the different spreads on which we had stayed. The country road from Matamata to Te Aroha was fabulous, rolling hills with birds, cows and flowers in the shadow of the Kaimai Range of hills. A welcome coffee stop at Te Aroha after rather a fast ride into town by some! On to Paeroa (home of the "world famous in New Zealand" L&P drink) and then the hunt for the picnic lunch stop in Karangahake Gorge where we were just able to finish our lunch before a heavy rain shower. Some hardy souls opted to carry on riding through the gorge "proper" and wished they hadn't as the traffic was dreadfully inconsiderate to them, others called it a day and loaded onto the buses for the long drive to the Pacific Harbour Lodge at Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula. 2 especially hardy teams rode all the 99 miles to Tairua over some impressive hills. The briefing and dinner that night was at the Shell Restaurant, part of our hotel complex.

Route mileage: today 99, cumulative 953
N&T's cycling mileage: today 44, cumulative 519

Welcome coffee stop at Te Aroha
Welcome coffee stop at Te Aroha

Day 18 - Thursday, 15th January 2004 - Tairua to Coromandel
Wiggling our toes into the amazingly very hot sand at Hotwater Beach
Wiggling our toes into the amazingly
very hot sand at Hotwater Beach

Picnic lunch stop at Buffalo Beach
Picnic lunch stop at Buffalo Beach

Cloudy.

Out of Tairua for the slog up Pumpkin Hill on SH25 Pacific Coast Highway then the drop down to turn off to Hot Water Beach where we were just in time to be able to wiggle our toes into the amazingly very hot sand at one particular point of the beach, before the high tide got us. Socks and shoes back on to ride a pretty, undulating road to the small ferry boat at Flaxmill Bay to cross to Whitianga and on to our picnic lunch stop at Buffalo Beach. Then the hills got bigger again and seemed never ending. Some of us knew these hills from a previously memorable "millennium experience" and treated them cautiously, saving our energy, and some opted to ride the bus. Finally the "big" hill arrived, Whangapoua or "the Coromandel mountain" (T&N took 50 minutes to climb it and 4 minutes to descend it - wow!!). Into the Coromandel Court Motel where we were welcomed and treated royally - our group had taken the whole motel. "Happy hour" and briefing was held in the shade of a tree, followed by a walk into Coromandel to dinner at the excellent Pepper Tree Restaurant.

Route mileage: today 57, cumulative 1010
N&T's cycling mileage: today 57, cumulative 576

T&N took 50 minutes to climb Whangapoua
T&N took 50 minutes to climb Whangapoua
photo by: Conrad Bernier


Day 19 - Friday, 16th January 2004 - Coromandel
Beautiful views down to Coromandel and over the Hauraki Gulf
Beautiful views down to Coromandel
and over the Hauraki Gulf with the train inset

Coromandel Court Motel
Coromandel Court Motel

Sunny & hot.

Free day. After breakfast at the Pepper Tree Restaurant most of us went on the Driving Creek Railway, New Zealand's only narrow gauge railway built initially to haul clay and firewood down the hillside to a pottery workshop. This was a fun trip with beautiful views down to Coromandel and over the Hauraki Gulf. Various options were available for the remainder of the day with John taking a group in the bus to Port Jackson for a swim and a walk at the end of the Coromandel Peninsula, some joining Tim for a hilly there and back ride to Colville, others going to Long Bay for a swim and walk, or shopping in Coromandel and relaxing around the motel. Our briefing was held in the sunshine in the courtyard before walking into Coromandel for dinner at the Success Restaurant: back to the motel for more chat and a study of the stars in this Southern Hemisphere, so different to our stars in the Northern Hemisphere.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 1010
N&T's cycling mileage: today 35, cumulative 611

Today's briefing in the sunshine in the courtyard
Today's briefing in the sunshine in the courtyard

Day 20 - Saturday, 17th January 2004 - Coromandel to Auckland via Thames
The Crown Gold Mine expedition
The Crown Gold Mine expedition

In Thames, taking the group photo
In Thames, taking the group photo (shown below)

Dull, rain, sun, humid.

Breakfast again at the Pepper Tree Restaurant then our farewells to our excellent hosts at the motel before setting off on our final ride of the trip. Up and over 2 big hills not long out of Coromandel, with rain welcomingly cooling us off as we slogged up, with good whizzes down to Wilsons Bay and then a lovely ride along this spectacular coastline of the Firth of Thames: cormorants sunning themselves on nearby rocks, big Pohutakawa trees leaning out of the water (unfortunately most of the magnificent red flowers had gone) and a lovely gently rolling road with the worst of the heavy traffic going the opposite way to us as Aucklanders flocked to their beachside resorts for the weekend.

Some people visited the Butterfly & Orchid Garden at Tararu and then we all collected outside the Crown Gold Mine to load up our bikes for the last time. We then went into the Gold Mine for a tour through an old mining tunnel and then a look at the old machinery in action. Into the buses and to a restaurant in Thames for lunch, where Richard Oddy, owner of Pedaltours joined us.

After the group photo, taken many times by Richard with everyone's camera, it was the long bus ride into Auckland to the Sebel Suites Hotel overlooking the Viaduct Harbour. The bikes were locked up in the underground garage to await delivery of our bike cases to enable packing to begin. Our hotel room was huge with 2 toilets, a kitchen, dining table, lounge area and a separate bedroom with ensuite bathroom.

We later gathered in the lobby to then be bussed to a Brazilian restaurant in Parnell where many speeches were made, gifts exchanged and hilarity enjoyed. Our last complete bus ride back to the hotel, where some energetic people stripped down their tandems and packed them and then went out on the town to experience the Auckland night-life.

Route mileage: today 36, cumulative 1046
N&T's cycling mileage: today 36, cumulative 647

Thames - final gathering before reaching Auckland
Thames - final gathering before reaching Auckland
photo by: Richard Oddy


Day 21 - Sunday, 18th January 2004 - Auckland
The terrace overlooking the Viaduct Harbour
The terrace overlooking the Viaduct Harbour

Packing up our bikes
Packing up our bikes

New Zealand Airways - Lord of the Rings mural clad jumbo
New Zealand Airways
Lord of the Rings mural clad jumbo


Hot & sunny.

Breakfast out on the terrace overlooking the Viaduct Harbour with yellow taxi boats and 2 match race Americas Cup boats. We then scattered to pack up our bikes, etc (great activity in the very hot underground garage) before the 12 Noon checkout time. A final wander around Auckland: a trip up the Skytower, visit to the Maritime Museum, shopping, etc, etc, before goodbyes were said and the buses took away all the Americans to the airport and we realized that this excellent holiday was really over.

It wasn't long before we were also heading homeward inside the New Zealand Airways - Lord of the Rings mural clad jumbo.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 1046
N&T's cycling mileage: today 0, cumulative 647

Auckland
Auckland

Auckland Skytower
Auckland Skytower

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