Rotorua to Wellington

Rotorua and surroundings

After detour before Rotorua I decided to take a brake and stay two nights at Rotorua. My fitness level's still not where it used to be... But that decision proofs to be a good one anyways, as it rained like hell in the evening. This despite the forecast of just 1mm of rain. But then the rain ceases, and the colors over the Lake Rotorua get just beautiful.

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Next day I ride again just half a day, to the farm of Trevor and Jackie. Both used to travel a lot and he's a keen cyclist as well. I dropped my luggage at their place at lunchtime and cycled to the nearby Waiotapu thermal area. A place full of stinky, bubbly mudpots and lakes colored unbelievably - defnitely worth a visit!
Back to Trevor and Jackie a also meet Catherine, another cyclist from france. The evening gets quite long, as it is normally when cyclists come together.

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Central Northern Island

The next morning I finally started feeling the call to move faster. Over Taupo and Turangi I cycled in two days until close to the beginning of the Desert Highway, where I made a stop on a DOC camping, 15km outside of Turangi. DOC means Departement of Conservation. They set up such camps in nature to give tourists a place to stay and stop them from camping on places they shouldn't. Often these camps are free or at least very cheap, but they tend to be also very basic. The only facility available on this one was a toilet. I got the Water from a river, where the sandfly - despite it's name a bloodsucking small mosquito - nearly eat me. But then the camps been in a real exotic looking (eerrm, well for a Swiss guy at least) forest, which on it's own was already worth a visit. In the evening it got really cozy on the camp, when a lot of people from Europe came together around a big fire and exchanged their stories. Most of them where here to go to Tongariro crossing, one of the famous walks of the country. Only the rain stopped us staing up all night. It also continued in the morning, which made getting out of the tent pretty hard.

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I anyways wanted to head on, and cycling the desert highway was defnitely worth it! Despite beeing one of the main highways traffic was bearable, and most often I had a sidelane for me. But the wind got a real nuisance n the high plateau (~1000m), for some time it even looked like a developing sandstorm and I thought already about searching cover. After a lunchbreak the wind luckily ceased a bit. This means I could cycle 8 to 10 km per hour against the wind. But I didn't mind anyways, as the views on the plateau where just beautiful, with the peaks of the Tongariro, Ruahepu and Ngauruhoe volcanoes looking out of the clouds at times. The next possible stop was then only in Taihape, as the highway led through nature reserves and military country. Also Waiouru didn't have anything to offer except an army base, an army museum and some shabby looking motels. In Taihape I found the first campsite which was not overpriced an nearly empty. Despite that there's been a Swiss couple to have a chat with ;)

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Shortly after Taihape starts the Manawatu Cycleway. In it's description was something about gorges mentioned, but I didn't really think about that. Which probably was better. I'd had missed a lot of beauty if I didn't cycle it just because it beeing the harder route. The stunning views from the top of the gorges down into the subtropical forests and foamy rivers and nearly no traffic made it the far better alternative to the Highway. Seeing a gorge of course always meant crossing it - the bridges are built on there bottom... The day got pretty strenous, as also the campsite in Aspiti wasn't there anymore. So I cycled to Piripiri DOC campground, which was nicely situated next to a river. That again made the night pretty humid, but gave me the chance to photograph a fly why dewdrops.

The next day got a lot shorter and easier. I only made it to Palmerston Nort, a quit cyclist friendly city with nice cyclepaths along the river and a lot of bicycle parkings and marked cycleways. But despite of that I didn't realy fall in love with this completely rectangular city with a lot of two story houses.

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Southern part of Northern Island and Wellington

So I decided to go on, again over cycleways. First over Tararua Traverse and then along Route 52 to Palmerston, and from there on the Wineroute and SH2 to Lake Wairarapa. This day was the windiest in my journey so far, it nearly blew me off my bike. Depending which direction the wind took around the hills, it either slowed me down to a merely 5km/h, oder made my speed with 35km/h without pedalling at all. Luckily this is a really quite area, there was probably a car every 15min, and they even greeted me friendly and occassionaly stopped me for a chat. A real treat after cycling highways! The area also seems to be windy most of the time, as you can see on the picture of the half dismantled shed below. In this area I also celebrate my first 1'000km in New Zealand - with a Mars and a piece of bread ;)

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In Palmerston i get hosted by Mark. He's another cyclist who cycled several months in Europe, NZ and in Southamerica - where he even used to carry a paraglider on his bicycle ;) Next to me he also hosted three Couchsurfers from Lindau in Germany, which happens to be just next to the Swiss border. The evening got again quite social.

The way to Lake Wairarapa has been quite short. That was OK, I had to fight enough against the wind. Which I didn't mind anymore, when it blew the clouds around and over the lake and changed to light from one beautiful setting to the next one. It also proved that my tent's a good one, easy to set up in the wind, and strong and waterproof. By the way, you find the campsite on the northern lakeshore, it's not marked on most maps and set up by surrounding communities. And free again :)

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Over the Rimutaka Ranges I took the Rimutaka Cycletrail. It follows an old Railtrail again. This Railway was quite a special one. Because of the steep grades they used so called fell locomotives. There was a center rail. To horizontal wheels pressed against it to increase friction, like this the train could make gradients a steep as 7.7% or 1:13. Nowadays the rails are removed, and the trail's famous for cyclists and for walking.

 

In Wellington I decide to stay a few days at another Warmshowers place and relax a bit before I take the ferry to the Southern Island.

All Photos

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