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Published: February 17th 2006
Heading to Raglan 19-22/01/06
So we finally set off south, the weather is abysmal, we decide to stop at Papatoetoe to sit out the worst of the rain in a cafe; after 50mins we have another coffee each because we've made the first ones last so long they're cold! The rain continues to pour down, there are rivers running down the paths as well as the roads, the drains are full and outside the cafe is a water feature Charlie Dimmock would be proud to say she'd made. We continue drinking coffee and decide the ride's going to be a short one today.
Finally the rain abates and we get togged up in the waterproofs and set off, we occasionally stop to check our route, each time we do somebody comes up to us and offers help, in one instance a man comes out of a shop and says of our map book "This isn't very good, come into my shop and I will sell you a better one." Somehow we manage to decline this offer.
We finally get out of Auckland (it's the most spread out city I have ever visited) and stop at a petrol station for a late
The road is generally rolling and a lot less hilly than in the Northland, we make good progress until we come to the hill up to Pukekawa after crossing the Waikato River. We get up it with only three stops for breath and as we're rolling along the flattish top bit a car passes us then stops, we stop behind it and the driver jumps out greets us with a big smile and says "Are you going to the backpackers?" We nod "Put your bags in the boot, I'll go and start dinner" she says. We don't need a second invitation and within seconds the panniers are packed in the car and Anita drives off up the road to start cooking. Left only with our valuables in our bar bags we race up the road to Shekinah Backpackers Hostel where we hope our luggage has gone!!
Anita's car is a welcome sight in the farm driveway; our room isn't ready so we have to sit in the lounge drinking tea and playing with two very cute kittens for a while - it's a hard life!
The next day we decide to hang around and do nothing for the
The Shekinah Cute Kittens
Every backpackers should have some.
day before heading further south, Penny has other ideas as she is trying to fix a bike for city use and we get roped in to sorting the wheels out, and the gears, and the brakes. Bicycle Repair Man leaps into action, not sure how much we achieve, but it keeps us amused for the afternoon.
So, we set off again on the 21st of Jan, heading towards Raglan, although the road is generally rolling we are both having trouble on the hills and have to push a lot. We get as far as Waingaro Springs and decide to camp for the night and treat ourselves to a dip in the hot pools to ease the aches and pains.
The next day we're off to Raglan, the sign says 24 km, the road atlas says 32km (as it turned out the atlas was right), short day whatever. Before we leave the campsite a number of people tell us that the hills are a problem, mostly they can't believe that we are cycling the route, or that we are cycling full stop. The road is rolling again and we have no problem riding it, at one point we hit
The view from Shekinah Hostel
Amazing view of the Waikato River.
an unpaved stretch which is chewed up and a bit nasty. Later we come to a sign telling us that the road narrows, as we are about to start going down a hill we apply the brakes a bit around the bend before we find that the road narrows sign actually means "We are rebuilding this stretch of road and not only is the road closed off, but we are also detouring you through this rock garden which we are pretending is a temporary road" Mmm, somebody pass me the mountain bike!
We reach Te Uku and stop at the Four Square for for food (breakfast was 1.5 figs and a handful of pistacchios each). The guys behind the counter try to give us a kitten and doesn't want to take "but we're on bikes" as an excuse, "You can train it to run behind you" is suggested.
Just before we reach Raglan I'm beginning to get bad pains in my left knee, we make it to the backpackers and are second in line for the last double, the woman in front of us says "I saw you guys cycling here, you take the room I'll go back to the
The hill that did for my knee
We rode (and walked) up it, nice views from the top!
Info Centre and find somewhere else." I love that woman!
Learning new tricks - painfully 23-27/01/06
We laze around, wandering around Raglan on the 23rd. In the afternoon I try to do the laundry, the machine is empty, so I go to find Ami to get some washing powder off her, when we get back to the laundry there is a towel on the machine and nobody in sight. We decide that as I'm there and the towel's owner is not I can carry on with my washing; at that moment a German woman comes into the room and starts ranting about how she has emptied the machine four times and each time she gets back with her washing somebody else has got in there first. I take our washing and leave, I'll do it later.
24th Jan: today we are learning a new way to injure ourselves - surfing. At the practise session on dry land I ably demonstrate my ability to fall off the board and once we're at Ngaranui Beach I show that I can fall off in the water as well. Vern does incredibly well, managing to stand up a couple of times before falling off! Quite a few of the other beginners are surfing by the end of the lesson.
The next day we both find a number of unusual scrapes and our arms ache a lot.
On the 26th we are planning to leave, but my head is all over the place and I can't even walk in a straight line, so we stay another day. By the afternoon I have recovered enough for us to hire surfboards and go to the beach. When we get there nobody is in the water because a shark has been sighted, after half an hour we are allowed in "At you own risk". We promptly forget everything we have been taught and have a grand old time falling off the boards a lot. The beach and water are rather crowded and I nearly run into a kayaker who positioned himself between me and the shore then just sits looking at me as I catch a wave for the first time today and hurtle towards him.
We finally get moving to Hamilton on the 27th, the road is hilly and it is very hot and humid and, here's a surprise, we have a headwind, now where did that come from? We reach a hill which goes on forever, we push and cycle up it before rolling down the other side for about 2 miles at 10 %, according to Pedaller's Paradise there is a 95 metre hill on this route, I make it nearer 300 metres. After the hill my knee starts to hurt badly and I'm grateful for the flatter roads. We get to J's Backpackers where we're in a dorm for the first time - this should be interesting!
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