Today we started our first official bike ride in New Zealand toward Te Aroha. But before that I had to find a place to have breakfast, as meals are not included here when staying in a hotel. I had spotted a bakery last night which looked worth trying. But unfortunately it was closed when I arrived there this morning. That meant that there was not enough time left to find a new place to have breakfast, so no breakfast for me.
When the time came to meet up with the others in the lobby again I saw some people being rather surprised by the luggage that I carried with me. Well there is a reason why I have been called luggage-on-legs before this trip. 😀
And I found out that I am not the only one who brought her own bike to the tour, as there was a nice red road bike in the hotel lobby waiting to be loaded onto the bus, it belonging to the American guy.
Before we were able to start our bike ride or get to the point where it actually starts, in Clevedon, we had to go back to the bike rental shop that fitted my bike for me on Friday, as the other 9 participants, who borrowed their bikes from the tour arranging company, had their bikes waiting there for them. So we spent about an hour at that shop to fit the other participant’s bikes before we finally started our bus tour to Clevedon, 46km south-east of Auckland.
Starting the first group ride in Clevedon
At around 1p.m. we were finally ready to jump on our bikes for the first ride of the tour. The weather gods were pretty much on our ride today,sure the street was still a little wet and slippery, but at least it was not raining and we had some comfortable 25˚C.
We were cycling mostly along the coastline of the Firth of Thames, even though we were not always able to see the shore. Since we had started the day’s ride so late we had our lunch stop already after 15km on the coast of the Firth of Thames.
Until this point it was an easy ride. But after lunch the first climb was waiting for us. It wasn’t really a high climb, only about 150m in height – over a distance of 2km. But still I had to get off my bike for a short while to catch my breath. I really started wondering if I would be able to make this entire tour since it already seemed so hard at that point. Well in case I feel weak later on during this trip there is still a chance to take the bus instead for some part of the tour, but I hope I don’t have to. And I did follow the instructions of our guide to not use the click-in shoes due to the “slippery” road conditions…next time I will rather be clipped in.
The scenery reminded me of previous visits to Denmark. Despite its subtropical climate the area was green, where I would have expected some grass land to be burned out by the sun, considering that it is now mid summer here. But nothing of that. That is most likely due to the fact that New Zealand after all is a rather slim island and it is never far to the next coast, so the weather changes often. I read somewhere in my travel guides that one can experience four seasons in just one day, so who knows maybe the winter clothes, that I only brought because I will most definitively need them once I get back home, will come handy after all? I hope I won’t need them here though.
Soon the climbs of today’s ride were mastered and were followed by some nice downhills where I was able to make some speed and relax while riding my bike. Now the coast came into sight again — and some cows must have been enjoying their view as much as I did…
At around 4:30p.m. I arrived at the meeting point in Miranda, where the other participants and the bus were waiting. My front wheel was dismounted from my bike and my bike packed on the hanger by the other participants before I was able to blink twice. For the remaining 60km to Te Aroha we had to take the bus again.
Relaxing in Te Aroha
An hour later we reached our final destination of the day, and after settling into our home for the night there was just enough time to go into town to buy some supplies for breakfast for the next day, before we had another group meeting to learn about the plans for the next day, and after that some take-away dinner.
Too sad there was not more time left as I would have loved to explore this place and climb the mountain of Te Aroha which, at 952m, is the highest peak in the Kaimai Mamaku Forrest Park, and learn more about the history of this place where in the 1880th gold was found. But unfortunately there were just not enough hours in the day to do so and tomorrow we will be leaving at around 9a.m. so there won’t be a chance for that either. What little I have seen of this town it reminded me of the old western movies…