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  • by Rolf Mueller Glodde

Waiheke to Wellington by e-bike: Our week 3 diary

Day 15 & 16 : Rest days in Whanganui

Day 15: It’s grey and windy. The only bikers around on the day were Bill and Rolf, while Lindsay, Lynda and Inge walked towards town from this seaside holiday park in Castlecliff - until they called Rolf for rescue. “Get Lindsay’s car keys, ride back to the holiday park and drive back to pick them up”. All the while, Kaitiaki rested in the camper. The nearby beach is full of very fine back sand with lots of driftwood. A local resident made a feature of it.

Day 16: Sunshine! Lindsay, Lynda and Bill went to see old friends; Kaitiaki, Inge & Rolf explored the numerous new murals in town (painted the previous weekend). On the way we showed the driftwood house to Kaitiaki and got a chance to talk with the owner about climate change and Carbon Neutral NZ Trust. He was “converted” already.

The pictures below are just a small sample of the many murals that we saw.

In the evening Robin initiated a public meeting organised by the Quaker Village. 20, mostly senior, participants were keen to hear about our mission and Robin’s talk about Our Climate Declaration, leading to a lively discussion about requirements and possibilities to mitigate Climate Change. It was agreed that faster action is needed! We wonder why seniors are more interested in this existential topic rather than younger people. Maybe they just have more time.

Day 17: Whanganui to Hunterville

First of all, Kaitiaki needed to get to the end/start of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail at the Whanganui River mouth. A telling Carbon Dioxide with a 5kph warning sign caught her eye on the way.

Bill choose an e-bike today for the 60 km over many steep hills, starting with the Durie Hill. An offer of lunch to be provided in Kauangaroa resulted in an enthusiastic smile, but that place was so small (without any town signage) that the support team missed it.

Autumn is visible with leaves falling and changing colours. Lots of dry country from Whanganui to Hunterville, with many dried out corn fields. The plants are still in the ground, but no cobs and everything is ‘crisp fried’.

Really nice people here in Hunterville! And good cycle maps!

At the local Station Hotel we heard that number of cyclists have increased substantially during the past 12 months.

Bill arrived in Hunterville a couple of hours later, pretty wet and as we had all missed the promised lunch rendezvous, exhausted and fed by only a few almonds. A sumptuous late lunch in the campervan revived his spirits quickly.

The Hunterway (dog) showed us the entrance to the Queens Park, a nice picnic and freedom camping park - with intelligent rubbish bins!!

We had an overnight choice of being kept awake by the noise from trucks traveling along SH1 or, from trains heading up the main trunk line. Being pretty exhausted from cycling, juggling journalists and enticing parliamentary staff to participate in the Wellington highlight of our journey, we’ll probably all sleep well - the ear plugs might help.

Day 18: Hunterville to Pohangina Base Another sunny day!

Being closer to the trains was apparently the better choice than closer to SH1 – less trains than trucks.

Bill estimated that every truck in New Zealand probably passed by during the night – twice! Many of the trucks were using engine brakes despite the usual signage requesting that they don’t.

Bill found out that, instead of 43km via the Heartland Gorge to Sea cycleway there was another 45km via the Manawatu Cycleway to tackle - both Grade 3.

Today the supporting crew drove almost the same route and thus met Bill repeatedly - including at the Vinegar Hill Camping Ground and at the Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre in an old cheese factory. The latter is now an art workshop creating; puppets, lanterns and other items for fairs, parades and festivals - supported by grants from Unesco and the Palmerston North Council. Bridget & Jim collect and use a lot of stuff other people don’t want any more - probably about a hundred old bikes. They also generate their own energy with wind, sun and water, which is stored in old batteries. Very inventive and super friendly. Sadly, we had to leave soon after a cuppa and bikkies as well as taking some homemade bread and pickled onions for onwards journey. Bill had another 45km to peddle!

The landscape were fascinating with layers of sedimentation along the various rivers originating from the Ruahine Range. These would have formed over millions of years. It was a dream route for cyclists and campervans on paved roads with very little traffic.

The DOC Pohangina Base Camp was a bit of an anticlimax for the day. Difficult to find (cyclist and both support vehicles passed it) and the luxurious room Lindsay booked for his comfort demanding Lynda turned out to be a small cubicle with nothing else but a bunk bed and only one mattress on the lower bunk. Kaitiaki was amazed so much luxury!

Brian from Wellington kindly let them take the mattress on the second bed in his room.

Day 19: Pohangina Base to Palmerston North

An early start to join Robin for a public meeting at the Palmerston North library at noon. The weather was friendly weather. Approaching Ashhurst, Kaitiaki was fascinated to see the wind farms - renewable energy!

In Ashhurst Lindsay switched his seat from car to bike. He could not stand the inactivity anymore!

The public meetings arranged by Robin were useful and encouraging with people from various fields with good news coverage by the Manuwatu Standard. City Councillor Brent Barrett welcomed our initiative and suggested we change “Carbon Calculator” into “Great Kiwi Carbon Score Board” as a more-catchy name. He appreciated in return, the praise for Palmy’s welcoming i-centre and downtown area. Mike flew in today for $45!!! to join the bikers for the ride through to Wellington and Ali and Terry from Kerikeri are expected tomorrow: some much needed company for Bill.

While the main purpose of the journey is to support the Zero Carbon Bill, which will be the driver for achieving reductions in nationwide emissions, especially across industries, we highlight the requirement for a change of mindset of every individual to reduce personal CO2 emissions. During the last meeting the calculator was acknowledged as positive and enabling rather than restricting approach. This is encouraging.

We were happy to hear that Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick will, on behalf of Climate Change Minister James Shaw, receive Kaitiaki and our “submission voucher” at the Beehive Green on Tuesday April 16 at 12noon!

Day 20: Palmerston North to Eketahuna

Terry and Ali Goodall from Kerikeri arrived at 9am to join the rest of the tour. Despite their concerns about the weather and our lack of a daily Plan B.

It remained dry until lunch time (in Pahiatua). The winding road was terrible with heavy traffic and no shoulder to ride on. After lunch the rain started (although not as heavy as feared), but the road onwards road to Masterton was very pleasant and without any traffic.

Terry & Ali had detoured to Eketahuna by themselves while the rest of the crew warmed up in the camper with tea and donated colourful cupcakes before continuing to the Eketahuna Campground where, shivering Terry and Ali gladly received their dry change of clothes that had been transported in the trailer. Inge’s hot soup revived their spirits.

The campground managers collected their very modest fees ($7/person incl. power) and promised to try the carbon calculator. They are thought that purchasing an EV was too expensive and were happy to hear of the option of cheaper second hand imports.

Day 21: Eketahuna to Masterton Happy days - the sun is back and the forecast looks good!

With more cyclists there is more activity in the morning as different routes are discussed and considered.

Terry & Ali from Kerikeri decided to go along along SH2 to stop at the Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Lindsay, Bill, Mike and Armelle preferred to stick with the planned Waipukurau to Masterton route as per the itinerary with a shortcut via Ihuraua. The support crew chose the latter routes and appreciated the traffic-free roads with just 4 cars on the 40km stretch!

First up - coffee time at The Lazy Graze Cafe in downtown Eketahuna, where Kaitiaki found a new friend. Unfortunately, after the first few km, drizzle set in followed by even heavier rain. This was not forecast! The cyclists who had had an enjoyable but cold and wet ride were welcomed by the crew and Sam, a journalist from the local paper, keen to get an action shot of their wet and exhausted arrival. During the hour-long wait he heard plenty of chatter about Carbon Neutral NZ Trust, Zero Carbon Bill, and of course Bikers and Barbers who have provided bikes and the trailer.

Day 22: Masterton to Tauherenikau Racetrack

Different routes were chosen again. Ali & Terry prefer the route along SH2 which is also being followed by Robin and Lynda in their cars. The others stick with the official cycle track via backroads to Martinborough and then onto the Tauherenikau Racecourse. The campervan and trailer also follow this route and were rewarded with hardly any traffic at all. The weather was kinder today; grey and cold but that is better than wet and cold.

Accommodation, at the Racecourse, was simple but adequate with a large kitchen and lounge. Pizzas and wine brought by Robin from Featherstone helped to create a party atmosphere.

We are nearly at Wellington and our planned events for the next few days are:

  • Monday April 15 at 4pm: Petone Community Hall, 7 Britannia St, Lower Hutt to talk about “Our Climate Declaration” and Carbon Neutral NZ Trust

  • Tuesday April 16 at 12noon: Beehive Green with MP Chloe Swarbrick for Kaitiaki’s hand over of the submission voucher supporting the Zero Carbon Bill and “Our Climate Declaration”. Cyclists will group together at iRide, 242 Thorndon Quay from 11:00am

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