Published: November 12th 2010November 12th 2010
The small town of Kaeo contained plenty of eye catching works of art.
Awaking after a sound sleep overnight had discharged any tension still lingering from a botched airport experience and work at the back of my mind. I was also pleased to encounter that my legs had regained their strength and were not harbouring any ill-will against me. While Ben added an extra hour of rest to his schedule, I wandered over to the common area to have some breakfast. As you do while travelling, you meet some interesting people. This day was no exception. The hostel didn't exactly have the young crowd and was rather a haven for maturity levels across the board. Bill introduced himself as I noticed him perpetuating the aura of a writer, reading on his laptop and scribbling in a notebook. We got talking, which was perhaps not the right way to put it. I listened for the good part of an hour about consipiracy theories relating to America, which is where Bill originated. The climax of the conversation was about how the government was spraying toxic chemicals into the air in order to reduce the population of America by a few billion. All highly believable stuff.
I was rather pleased when Ben surfaced and I could slip away from Bill with the excuse that we needed to get on our way. Which wasn't untrue in any case. It was a later start than planned. However, 10 minutes before departure the rain came through with a vengence and I was feeling fortunate at that point to have been delayed. At the end of that brief downpour we cycled off under a drizzle of rain onto the wet roads with our destination set as Mangonui.
The day was clearing slightly and all looking hopeful, as we pushed on through the township of Waipapa, noting with bemusement that they had "The Warehouse" in that tiny little town. The lip of the road was wide and truly necessary for cyclists with the number of large trucks passing by on Highway 10. Despite that, the country view was stunning, which I could admire between periods without my head down slugging my heavy bike up a hill. Problems struck halfway to Kaeo as I heard "puncture!" yelled out behind me. I backtracked down the hill to watch Ben display his Bear Grillis skills in changing a bike tyre, including patching it with a sticky plaster on discovering that the tube repair kit was a bit short of some items.
Finally after some patchy weather moving through and a 60 km/hour speed downhill maintaining precision control over the handlebars as logging trucks swept past too closely, we reached the town of Kaeo. In true New Zealand small town style there were some great little works of art to admire, such as the painted mural at the local petrol station, and the jandal covered fence. We had lunch while it drizzled on the sheltered outside bench of the Four Square supermarket, greeting the friendly locals as they came in to buy their supplies.
By the end of lunch the skies had opened to pure rainfall. It was time to harden up and also test out Ben's well publicised theory about how canvas army bags were the best choice for waterproof panniers. The next 33 kilometres were wet, and had me losing my gumption about the sanity of this trip. However, Ben proved to be a worthwhile companion continuing to be cheery about the view and ignoring the rain seeping through his non-waterproof jacket.
At Mangonui we rewarded ourselves with some of the world famous fish and chips at the Mangonui Fish shop built out on a wharf like structure over the water. It was a birthday wish of mine to get to this place, and being my birthday, was an excellent way to do something extraordinary. The information centre offered us some alternatives for accommodation. Unfortunately all those in our budget were located out of town. With heavy legs we again mounted the bicycles and pushed on, back over the pictureque Oruaiti river and past the fence decorated with old bicycles. As a birthday treat I thought we should pick the comparatively expensive backpackers that would be the first on the way. That we did and were very pleased with the Puketiti lodge, which is more like a bed and breakfast than a backpackers. It was just the luxury necessary for rolling over another year sitting on the deck and admiring the stunning view out to the harbour.