We started the week at Lake Taupo. After getting fully stocked up on food we headed round the North of the lake, on little back roads, to Kinlock. From here we ditched the roads and traffic and got onto our first trail. It took a little getting used to handling the fully loaded bikes on MTB trails, but we were soon totally enjoying ourselves, flying along the rocky, muddy single-track.
At Kawakawa Bay we found a wooden shelter – our camp spot for the night, and a lovely pebble beach. I just managed a quick swim before the rains started, but we had a fantastic, peaceful night there.
Waking up to more rain, we finished the fun, rolling trail, climbing up back to a road. From here it was still super quiet, country lanes through farmland, till we got into Pureroa forest. The forest was beautiful, but we had some steep gravel fire roads. It was still so quiet, we barely saw anyone all day! Another evening of rain had us trapped in the tent playing many, many games of cards.
Then it was the Timber Trail, and it was magnificent. 82 miles of muddy single track, climbing up to 980 m before some flowy, twisting descent, all through prehistoric forest full of huge trees. We only encountered a few hikers, until we arrived at the Piropiro campsite, deep in the forest. This free site was great, with little shelters which each had a log burning stove in!
The next day we finished off the Timber Trail, crossing quite a few huge swing bridges (which was terrifying!) and cycling round a rail spiral from the old logging tram line. Another showery day but we had a nice campsite and restock of food rations in the evening.
Back on the tarmac, we had a boring day on a busy main road, with a head wind and a long climb up to National Park. However we did have a great view of Tongariro national park and Mount Ruapehu as we skirted them.
From Raetihi we headed through a beautiful, green gorge to the Whanganui River Road, which was a great cycling road through some beautiful scenery. It was also quite hilly. We stopped at various historical sights along the route, enjoying a hot sunny day. However as soon as we got to the campsite, a huge thunderstorm started. After hiding in the toilet for hours, waiting for it to stop, we found the grass totally flooded and had to press onwards. Luckily finding a mountain lodge with a hikers special deal just down the road. The owners were kind enough to let two soaking wet and freezing cold cyclists in on the deal.
We had another hot and sunny morning as we cruised into Whanganui, and we finished off the Mountains to Sea trail by getting to the coast for our lunch just in time for it to start raining again. That evening we had another lovely warm showers stay with Ann and John.
Jim’s words – Trail, Curry, Rad, Bridge, Windy, Peacock and Rain.