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November 25th 2009
Published: November 25th 2009
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Lonely RoadLonely RoadLonely Road

Setting off on the 26k ride at Pureora, the trees ghostly in the misty morning.
For the second morning in a row I was woken by the dawn chorus. The first of the birds to announce the new day were the tuis at 4.50 am. The others joined in a few minutes later. The kaka were by far the noisiest as they screeched in the air high above me. I listened in vain for the beautiful notes of the kokako, which I'd heard once before not too far from here. But on this occasion it wasn't to be.

It was far too early to get up, and it was too cold. I snuggled deep into my sleeping bag and watched through the tent's mesh screen as the sky lightened. Soon the first rays of the sun would strike the rimu on the far side of the clearing, and then before long the sun's warmth would reach the tent and turn it into a furnace - forcing me out. But for now it was perfect.

Pureora Protests

I'd arrived at DoC's Kakaho campsite the previous day - after a short but exhilaratiing ride of 26 kilometres from another DoC site at Ngaherenga. Both are on the edges of Pureora Forest Park near Lake Taupo. It was
DoC Dunny DoC Dunny DoC Dunny

The long drop at Ngaherenga campsite, Pureora.
here in 1978 protesters staged a treetop sit-in that forced the Government of the day to impose a logging moratorium and eventually put a stop to native forest logging in the park. We all owe something to those protesters. Pureora is a gem.

Unleashing the Beast of Burden

My ride between the two campsites wasn't marked on my AA road map, but a DoC diagram on a noticeboard had shown me there was a route. It began with a steady climb up onto the shoulder of Mt Pureora, where I paused for a drink. This was the sort of road for which I'd bought the Beast - none of that namby pamby racing bike stuff. From here on the ride was downhill with loose metal and potholes and corrugations. I nudged the Beast forward and away we flew, me doing my best to keep the Beast in the tyre tracks of vehicles that had been before us. The trick I knew, was to look well ahead and pick a path but several times I misjudged it, and went into corners on the wrong side of the road. I needn't have worried. There was no-one else on the whole of the
Taking It EasyTaking It EasyTaking It Easy

Summer's arrived, and I opened the tent up and relaxed with a two-day-old copy of the Sunday Star Times, which I found in the campground rubbish bin.
26 k stretch.

River to Myself

I arrived at Kakaho at midday to find the campsite empty. I pitched the tent and let it dry in the sun, and I skinny dipped in the river. It was a typical DoC campsite - with its modern version of the longdrop loo and a scattering of picnic tables and concrete fireplaces.
That night the stars shone brightly and I fell asleep trying to watch them. And this morning I was woken by that dawn chorus. It was one of those campsites that will remain in my memory.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Not My Favourite PlaceNot My Favourite Place
Not My Favourite Place

This is the wharf at Kawhia, on the west coast south of Raglan. Maybe it was the damp weather, but I found Kawhia dull. I had a rest day here, and spent most of it reading. I couldn't even bring myself to explore the spot where legend says the Tainui canoe landed.
The Living ProofThe Living Proof
The Living Proof

Six weeks into the trip and there's no sign here of BB (Blistered Balls)
Campsite at KawhiaCampsite at Kawhia
Campsite at Kawhia

Right on the water's edge - very tidal. And then the power went out over the whole district for several hours. The camp kitchen was out of action as a result, and my frozen dinner waited til morning.
Another Day, Another Waterfall.Another Day, Another Waterfall.
Another Day, Another Waterfall.

After a heavy night's rain, the water was pouring over the Marokopa Falls, on the road between Te Anga and Waitomo Caves.
It Was a Mystery Until... It Was a Mystery Until...
It Was a Mystery Until...

On the road out of Te Kuiti, summer arrived. The tarseal was starting to melt, globules of it glistening in the sun and the bike's tyres hissing on the sticky surface. In the air and on the ground in a couple of places was something that looked like thistleheads blown on the wind. I took several photos and showed them to someone at a DoC office who said it was seed or pollen from poplar trees. As he said it, I remembered seeing several polars lining the road.
Measuring off the DistanceMeasuring off the Distance
Measuring off the Distance

I use a piece of line off my tent to measure off distance on a map. Simply lie the line along the twists and turns of the road, then measure it against the kilometer scale on the map. It's surprisingly accurate. I wanted to do 120k in one day as my only "training" ride for this weekend's Round TaupoBike Race. My 120k came out at 123k when I cycled it.
Evidence of LoggingEvidence of Logging
Evidence of Logging

The road at Pureora left and re-entered the forest park. Outside the park boundary, there was evidence of logging and replanting - rows of small pines. Sad to think that once this was all covered in rimu and totara.
Centre of the North IslandCentre of the North Island
Centre of the North Island

I came across a sign which pointed to the Centre of the North Island. Naturally, I followed it but after about two kilometres gave up. The road was steadily going downhill and there was no indication how there was to go. The thought of a long climb to return was too much.
South of RaglanSouth of Raglan
South of Raglan

On a quiet back road, I came across this scene. I've still to see the machine that can plant these seedlings so neatly. But I'm intrigued.

25th November 2009

You appear to be making amazingly fast progress, for a meander. That campsite did indeed look beautiful. See you when you reach Wellington for a cold beer, a long shower and a soft bed.
25th November 2009

Wow Dad looks amazing. Good luck for this weekend! Hope you and the fam have a great time. xoxo
25th November 2009

Sounds fantastic. Looking forward to it. Will be in touch when I get a better idea of my ETA. Regards, FC

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