• by Rolf Mueller Glodde

Waiheke to Wellington by e-bike: Our week 2 diary

Day 9: Mangakino to Pureora

50 very adventurous kilometres by bike. Only Lindsay and Bill were riding on e-bikes. The tracks played a lot of tricks on them: signage was very scarce and, the biggest surprise was a long suspension bridge so narrow that it would not allow rider and bike side by side. The bikes had to be carried in front of the riders, in a vertical manner.

Lindsay and Bill met Rose on the way, a young Dutch lady we had already met in Arapuni. She was on her way from Cape Reinga to the Bluff, fully packed and alone. They felt very sorry for her, but could not warn her due no cell phone coverage. She would have to go across many times, saddle bag by saddle bag.

The hills were steep and steeper, and the path thin and thinner. When the riders arrived at the Pa Harakeke chalet, they were full of adventure stories and very exhausted. Kaitiaki on the backseat kept them safe :)

The support team also had an interesting day, starting with a shuttle to Tokoroa (Lynda took Warren with his nicely bandaged leg to the bus), then back to Mangakino Beach where the camper and trailer waited. Then on to Pureora.

Kaitiaki’s sister just loved our excursion into a fascinating native forest to see the world’s largest Totara tree (approx 1,750 years old). Then we found the beautiful Pa Harakeke Eco Centre Marae with its luxurious two chalets in the middle of a huge flax field with lots of pous, story tablets and a lookout. The chalets are fully equipped, including washing machine and dryer and a spacious kitchen. Most delightful and definitely worth a longer stay in such peaceful surroundings. This is near the geographical centre of the North island!

Lindsay took a photo of Kaitiaki on top of the marker pole.

Day 10: Pureora to Piropiro

It was raining so we made an early start from Pureora before the expected further deterioration that afternoon. Just as we were leaving, Jef arrived on his electric motorbike from Whangarei and after a quick change of clothes he transitioned to a peddle version bike for the ride. The motorbike rode along in the trailer.

Lindsay, Bill, Jef and Kaitiaki went off with a bit of rain gear, leaving a nervous Lynda to pack the luggage. Edwina of Pa Harakeke farewelled us with a pot of Pure-Ora-Manuka-Honey with Ginseng as a koha for good luck on our journey. They also offer guided and supported tours, bike hire, native tree planting and other TimberTrail services - see www.paraheke.co.nz.

The support team then left for DOC’s Piropiro campground in the forest. The last 15km of the journey was via a windy, unsealed, corrugated logging road. They finally reached the large flat grassy area with 2 open shacks, 3 composting toilets, a small water tank and a concrete BBQ pit. After a cosy lunch in the van, Lynda was relieved when the bikers finally arrived, wet, mud-covered, tired and hungry. Jef had an abrasion on a leg which he had been using to compensate for the non-functioning bicycle brake: no worries. A bit of cleaning and iodine was all that was needed. Kaitiaki looked quite happy with her rain coat.

Lynda and Lindsay disappeared to their posh Black Fern Lodge about 15km away, while Bill & Jef cleaned themselves in the rain before joining us for an interesting afternoon with stories about their past adventures with Greenpeace and other groups.

Hopefully the rain will stop by tomorrow morning…

Day 11: Piropiro to Ongarue and Taumarunui

It was sunny enough to dry yesterday’s wet clothes while waiting for Lindsay and Lynda to arrive at the DOC camp ground. It was 44km for Lindsay to Flashpackers in Ongarue but a further 23 km for Bill to meet up with the support team at Taumarunui Holiday Park. The ride was much easier today with sunshine and downhill terrain. Long suspension bridges (up to 140m) and the Ongarue Spiral with a high bridge and a tunnel were the ride’s highlights.

En-route we saw huge areas of totally logged hillsides which really annoyed Kaitiaki. She was angry about the likely erosion that will occur on those denuded steep hills. "We need more sequestering trees!” she yelled. "Such areas should be re-planted with natives for carbon-sink forests!"

At the Flashpackers we were reacquainted with Rose, the medical scientist from the Netherlands. Freshly cleaned after the previous wet day with a camera on her helmet she was ready to pedal on to Taumarunui!

At the Taumarunui Holiday Park the support team cleaned the muddy bikes, Jef's e-motorbike as well as the campervan and Free Volto’s solar panels. Jeffs calf, which he had used for braking the previous day, has already healed over nicely. Today he rode an e-bike and was impressed how easy life was with the battery help!

Day 12: Ongarue/Taumarunui to Whakahoro

Another sunny day!

A slow start at Taumaranui Holiday Park as we waited to meet Lindsay & Lynda at the obligatory cafe in town. Lindsay had to peddle the 23km from Ongarue (that Bill had covered yesterday). Jef took Kaitiaki on a short ride on his solar powered e-bike before leaving to motor back home to Ngunguru near Whangarei.

After the coffee, our sole bikers, Lindsay and Bill, left for Blue Duck Station at Whakahoro, where the support crew welcomed them shortly upon their own arrival. The unsealed Oio Road from Owhango is long and windy with some very steep river banks and beautiful landscapes. Lindsay had to peddle the last 10km having exhausted his battery earlier in his 96km ride. Both cyclists were exhausted but very happy, and the Blue Duck Cafe offered yummy local food and drinks and even a hot shower for $4 and WIFI for $2. The DOC camping ground in this expansive valley is beautiful and peaceful.

At the Blue Duck Café, Kaitiaki enjoyed a nice dinner with us. Dan Steele, the owner of the Blue Duck Station popped in for a random “quality check”. His extensive property has; blue ducks, sheep, cattle, kiwis, alpaca and several accommodation and adventure providers. We enjoyed an interesting chat with Dan about his family’s business and our Carbon Neutral ambitions. He then left to read bedtime stories to his kids - we recommended Kaitiaki’s video :)

Day 13: Whakahoro to Horopito

Another sunny day but it is COLD! Bill was cozy enough in the trailer with the bikes. Kaitiaki liked riding today; firstly on the the wild boar at the Blue Duck Cafe, then on the horse crafted entirely of horse shoes along the way from Whakahoro to Ohakune where our small, remaining group of 5, transferred in the support vehicles.

Kaitiaki also liked the Kaitieke School and the 'free range children' on the way.

From Ohakune, Rolf joined Lindsay and Bill on the Old Coach Track to Horopito on his little foldable e-bike. This is a fantastic trail through forest with numerous sign posts explaining the pioneering of coach tracks and rail through this mountainous territory. The old and new viaducts and tunnels are amazing.

Kaitiaki wished that the electrification of the rail would have been pursued in the 1980’s !

We reached the Pipiriki Camping Ground, where our friendly hosts explained their pretty self-sufficient set-up and enthusiastically offered to “like” our facebook.com/carbonneutralkerikeri upon explanation of our hikoi for the Zero Carbon Bill .

Day 14: Pipiriki to Whanganui

Erstens kommt es anders, und zweitens als man denkt!

English: things are unpredictable!

A foggy day and Bill cycled off to Whanganui on his push bike 80km down the road. Lindsay, Lynda, Inge and Rolf were booked on the tour to the Bridge to Nowhere, by jetboat. Kaitiaki is not impressed: CO2 and noise!

Tourism is a fun and economically important source of income for this remote, “forgotten” region! The operators of Whanganui River Adventures with their Piripiri Camping Grounds, Ken and Josephine are conservation-minded operating solar water heating, solar lighting, recycling etc., but the jet boat and minibus are still powered by combustion engine. Being ex-farming locals, they were among the earliest tourism providers on the Whanganui River but now facing a lot of competition.

Our adventure was fabulous with vistas and tales about history. Unfortunately, Lindsey tripped on the boat and dislodged a middle finger on his right hand. Doctors at Whanganui Hospital rectified the finger but advised him not to cycle for 2 weeks!!!!

The camper & trailer drove down the beautifully winding Whanganui River Road, following Bill (our only “standing” endurance cyclist) who was too fast for us.

We have a rest day in Whanganui.

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