Leader: John Briers
Who was there: Motorhomers: Simon & Sarah, Bruce & Nancy, Lyn & Neale, John B & Jackie, Wolfgang, Margaret L, Carol & Dave. Cabins: John B & Lyn, Annette & Steve
Day 1. Friday 17th November 51 kms 1083m Elevation
We left Oronga Bay camp ground and caravan park to cycle along the Waikare inlet to Elliot Bay where we stopped for morning tea. Jackie had kindly parked their van there and offered us her tasty date loaf and banana cake. We enjoyed some relaxation in the sun with great views of vast green paddocks, and glistening sea . Over a few more hills and some gravel and we arrived in the very pretty Te Unenga Bay . There were some handy picnic tables where we ate lunch looking out to sea and the moored yachts. Continuing on we passed through Parekura Bay with fabulous views of various islands and coves with more lovely sandy beaches. A few challenging climbs today .
Day 2. Saturday 18th November. Russell, Kawakawa, Russell Loop. 42km 612 Elevation
The day started off quite gloomy with a little drizzle so the group decided on a later 10am start when rain was supposed to ease off. Fourteen intrepid cyclists headed up the hills to catch the vehicular ferry across to Opua.
Then more uphill and into the Opua/Whangae forest, a gravel road through regenerating mixed Kauri podocarp. This back road is an alternative route, from Kawakawa to Opua, on the Twin Coast cycle trail.
On reaching Kawakawa about midday, some of our group headed for thebakery/pie shop, others the railway station cafe.
The peloton regrouped at 2pm and cycled east on the Twin Coast trail to TaumarereStation. Here we loaded bikes onto the train for a short ride across the viaduct before cycling the last 4kms back to Opua and the ferry.
In the evening we all gathered in the camp kitchen/shelter for a barbecue, musicand communal dinner.
Day 3. Sunday 19th November
Today we woke after a wet and windy night to more rain. Around 8am our trusty leader announced a rest day so we stayed tucked up in our eco cabin and the vanners were enscounced in their motor homes! Sarah and Simon were leaving the group at the end of the day so they pushed off early to Marsden Point.
We were getting the lay of the land with the camp managers so it was unsurprising they weren’t around to check people in or out or to let them know our bathroom light had blown. It’s a lovely campground with the wekas popping in to say hi, chickens trying to sample your tucka and kiwi calls at night, but unfortunately the basics of the camp maintenance and management, don’t happen. They had promised Sloop a projector so he could show some photos and videos but it never materialised!!!! Such a shame as the place has loads of potential.
After a slow start and a pause in the rain most of the gang hightailed to the big smoke AKA Russell. We had coffee in the French cafe and surprisingly met the old friends we were invited to have dinner with that evening. Others pottered around checking out the boats, exploring the second hand shop and sampling cafes.
Back at the camp everyone but Steve and I met for a shared dinner and a few games in the school lounge, which by all accounts was a fairly raucous evening.
Day 4. Monday 20th November. Te Ruapekapeka. 14 km to the top and 14 km back!! 565m elevation
A morning move from Orongo Bay Campground to Whitemans Road which is on the edge of Kawakawa. We parked our cars and motorhomes in the street. One of the locals driving pass comment that the value of property in the street now had gone up considerably since we had parked.
Ten of us cycled the gravel road up to Ruapekapeka Pa and battlefield site. This was mostly UP although a couple of downs on the way. Steve had a broken gear changer prior to the top. With no repairs available he coasted back to the start and missed the walk around the site.
Great views from the top, with the history displayed on the boards around the site. There was a monument to the British killed at battle although no mention of the Maori killed. Maybe there were none? This site is NZ best preserved land war battlefield.
There is an interesting story to be told about the history of this site. Have a read in the of the following links:
The ride up to the battlefield took 1 hour 20 minutes while back took 42 minutes. It was disappointing that there were a few hills on the way back down
We collected our motorhomes and cars. Then drove to the Kawakawa petrol station, famous, fish and chip shop. We had a great lunch before moving onto The Cow Shed, 4km East of Kaikohe.
PS: forgot to take a picture of the food before I had eaten half of it. Homemade paua fritter and crunchy chips.
Evening drinks sitting in the sun.
Day 5. Tuesday 21st November. North West Loop from Kaikohe. 57.7 km 648m elevation
A cloudy start to the day. Perfect cycling weather. From The Cowshed Camp, Kaikohe up Te Pua Road and left onto Lake Road before making our way along a section of the Twin Coast Trail beside Lake Omapere to coffee at Sapphire Cafe in Okaihau. The trail beside Lake Omapere was a section of the historic railway line called the Okaihau Branch. NZ’s most northern line. Originally intended to go all the way to Kaitaia..Opened 1923. Closed 1987.
We continued on the Twin Coast Trail having our lunch beside Utakura River at Snow’s Picnic Spot. A beautiful spot!. After leaving the trail we climbed steadily up Horeke Road back through Okaihau and once again onto the Twin Coast Trail returning to Kaikohe. This time through the historic railway tunnel.
Day 6. Wednesday 22nd November. Kaikohe to Moerewa Loop. 80 km 537m elevation
The Cowshed group cycled 4km into Kaikohe to meet up with the motel group. On the way some managed to sneak into the local bakery for coffee and snacks. We all then rode 7km east on the Twin Coast trail before switching onto back country gravel roads, up a couple of hills and along several picturesque valleys.
45kms later we arrived at Hati’s Café, Moerewa for a well deserved break out beside the back lawn. Orders for coffees, milk shakes, teas, pies, cakes and slices gave us energy to refuel for the ride back.
We returned via the road and trail ascending from 20m at Moewera to 200m back in Kaikohe. After a long, challenging day, all arrived back safe and tired.
In the evening we all gathered at The Cowshed to enjoy a barbecue, music and Sloop’s famous quiz.
Many thanks to John and Jackie for organizing another memorable week of cycling in the beautiful Bay of Islands.