Kopiko Aotearoa – New Zealand

After completing the Tour Aotearoa in 2018, we were keen to see what the next adventure courtesy of the Kennett Brothers was going to be.  Let me introduce you to Kopiko Aotearoa – a 1,000 odd kilometre brevet from Cape Egmont to East Cape.  Lambers and Crammers were on tour again.

Kopiko means ‘to go alternately in opposite directions, meander, wander, ramble’. With Crammers involved there was to be no meandering but there was a lot of rambling 🤔.  We managed to talk and laugh our way across the country.

You could have taken this journey in either direction.  We chose to go from West to East as we heard that we were more likely to encounter a tail wind that way 😉.  Don’t beleive everything you hear – we had to wait until we were nearly at the East Cape lighthouse before we encountered a tail wind!

We had heard that there were going to be a lot of hills and that rumour proved to be true – my rides up Te Mata Peak definitely helped my preparation.  The plan was to complete the trip in 10 days which we did. According to Crammers Strava stats we pedalled 1,075km, climbed 19,995 metres and spent 75 hours on our bike seats.  We think the metres climbed were a little overstated after seeing other people’s statistics but whatever it was it was a lot!

As with the Tour the highlight was the people we met along the way – the comradery between the riders is fantastic.  We also got to reconnect with some of the people we had met on the Tour which was the icing on the cake.  It was also great to go to places that we have never been to before and will possibly never go to again.  The highlight for me would have to be Lake Waikaremoana – it was a stunning day and to come up over the hill to see the Lake in all her glory was special.

I am collating this blog as I am on day four of the covid-19 lockdown – it is hard to believe that it was less than a month ago we were on this biking adventure.  I love bike packing due to it’s simplistic nature – you are generally carrying all that you need on a daily basis – your bike, food and a place to sleep.  I believe one of the positives of this lockdown process is that some people will also get back to appreciating the simple things in life.

Be safe, be kind and Kia Kaha New Zealand.

Sunday 23rd February 2020

Day 1 – Cape Egmont Lighthouse to Purangi – 114km – 1,450m climbing

If you want to break a drought then organise a cycle trip! Driving out to the Lighthouse was wet and it was rather cool while I was setting my bike up.

We soon warmed up but the tail winds we were promised proved elusive. We’ve renamed them multi directional head winds 💨🚴‍♀️🚴‍♂️.

The cycle through Pukeiti was beautiful and Founders Cafe had opened specifically for us so it would have been rude not to stop.

There had been a few gentle climbs to Parihaka and then Pukeiti which proved a good warm up for what was to come.

With our first coffee under our belt we headed for New Plymouth where we had organised lunch with friends and family. It was James (Crammers son) 18th Birthday. Two coffees down and we were farewelled by the troops.

Just past Lepperton we came across a winery selling French wine and coffee. The lure of coffee was too much so in we popped. It turns out the winery sells non alcoholic French wine – Sur Le Mur has the exclusive rights to this particular wine. It was really interesting but we stuck to the coffee and the owner spoiled us with a number of sweet French treats. After doing the sniff test I succumbed to a small taster of the bubbles – very drinkable.

We met a local couple down by the Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge who had bought their goat 🐐 Honey down to eat the grass as they were short at home.

We then had a fairly good climb just before Purangi where the gravel road started. Laurel from Purangi Orchard (our accommodation for the night) had said there was 15km of gravel before their place. I was really hoping she had got confused and thought we were coming from the east because my butt wasn’t up to another 15km and definitely not 15km of gravel. Thankfully 😅 I was right and the Purangi Orchard appeared like an oasis just around the corner 😊.

We were staying in an old school house. Our roomies for the night were Shirley and Marcus so it was lots of fun sharing stories – they had also done Tour Aotearoa in 2018 when we did it.

Our hosts, Laurel & Ian were so hospitable and invited us down for dessert and coffee after dinner. That was a nice treat. They were lovely people and we enjoyed chatting with them.

Crammers was quite miffed at the end of the day because we had cycled all this way and we were still in the Naki. As the crow flies he was probably only 50km from home. We’d spent all day going around in a circle around the mountain 🏔 😂.

Monday 24th February 2020

Day 2 – Purangi to Ohura – 95km – 1,550m climbing

We woke very refreshed after a snuggly night in the schoolhouse – Marcus was guilty of snoring but we were all rather weary so it wasn’t a problem 😉.

It was a beautiful blue sky day although a little chilly when we set off. The 15km of gravel road with a few climbs meant it didn’t take long to warm up. It also didn’t take long for me to have my first involuntary lie down 🤦‍♀️ oops 😬

After removing a number of prickles from my butt we did three good climbs before descending into the Republic of Whangamomona. The scenery was fantastic.

In 1989 regional council boundaries were redrawn, with an emphasis on connected catchments. These revised maps made Whangamomona part of the then-Manawatu-Wanganui Region. Residents objected, as they wanted to continue being part of the Taranaki Region, and on 1 November 1989, they responded by declaring themselves the “Republic of Whangamomona” at the first Republic Day. Though the move began as a pointed protest, the town continued to hold a celebratory Republic Day once a year, during which a vote for President was held. The day has become a local festival day, and attracts visitors from throughout the North Island. In 2001, the celebration became biennial, held in January to take advantage of the summer weather.

We couldn’t have got a better day to come through here ☀️😎. We had a coffee stop at the pub – it was going to be the only one of the day.

We then headed towards Ohura through a lovely valley. We had a great view to Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngurahoe.

We came across some interesting signage on a property – clearly they have not been swept up in Jacindamania 🤔

Our photo control point today was the Moki Tunnel which was built between 1935 and 1936. About two decades ago, a witty traveller nailed up a sign re-naming the Moki Tunnel as the “Hobbit Hole”. This nickname is still used today.

We then had a long descent down the Tangarakau Gorge which was a gravel road. It looked like we were descending but it definitely didn’t feel like that!

We met a Dutch couple at our lunch stop who kindly refilled my water bottles in their campervan. It was lucky they did as it was really hot and I would have run out prior to Ohura.

We had a few more climbs and some awesome descents before we got to Ohura. The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of “place which is uncovered” for Ōhura. Ohura was the centre for coal mining in the region, operating through to circa 1965, where previously the mines, railway network and farming had been major parts of the local industry.

In 2013 it had a population of 129 but from what we could see that may have declined.

Surprisingly there is a Mexican food caravan in town run by a fantastic lady called Michelle. In fact it appears that Michelle runs the town – we organised our accommodation through her and even got the key to the school swimming pool from her.

We had spotted the pool as we rode in and thought it looked very inviting. We were right – it was so refreshing and a great relief for the aching knees.

Michelle then whipped us up a delicious Mexican meal which we ate while the sun went down. There are at least 15 cyclists in town tonight so lots of good chat and laughs.

Crammers is relieved to have left the Naki finally 😂. We are now in the Ruapehu District.

Tuesday 25th February 2020

Day 3 – Ohura to the middle of the Timber Trail – 95km – 1,580 metres climbing

After a communal breakfast in the house we shared with some fellow riders we went to farewell Michelle at the Mexican food cart who was hard at work again feeding the cyclists.

It was a foggy morning but you could see the blue sky in the distance so we knew we were in for another hot one.

The first 35km was generally on tarseal with a fairly decent climb over the Okahukura Saddle. There was a pinch climb at the top so we stopped to catch our breath and have a snack. We then heard a siren and an ambulance 🚑 came racing up the other side. We were hoping it wasn’t for a fellow cyclist behind us. We started our very fast descent and towards the bottom and came across a fire engine 🚒 coming the other way. Around the next blind corner was another one which nearly collected Crammers as he got a bit close to the centre line 🙈.

We then had about 15km on gravel into Ongarue. We stopped there to see if there was any coffee on offer to no avail. A cold drink, a water refill and a lie down had to suffice. That hammock was so comfy – I was a bit worried I was going to do myself an injury getting back out 😂.

Next up was the Timber Trail – we have ridden this Trail a number of times but always in the other direction. The last time we rode it was in 2018 and they had a lot of rain so the track wasn’t in good shape. They’ve done and are doing some work on it so it rolled pretty well. There were also a lot more descents than we remembered in reverse so that was cool.

We were playing Russian roulette going this way though as the East to Westers were coming in the opposite direction along with those doing the Tour Aotearoa. It wasn’t too bad and it was nice to chat to the Tour Aotearoa riders having done it two years ago.

We met the first rider coming from the East – he had ridden about 800km in four days. The lovely thing was that he stopped to have a quick chat – what a machine. About 15 minutes behind him were three other East to Westers but they weren’t stopping – obviously trying to catch the first guy.

Crammers got a jet boil for Christmas so we decided if he was carrying it we better use it. It was luxury having a cuppa on the Trail.

We made it to the Timber Trail Lodge at 5pm – we really are exceeding all expectations with our timing on this trip. Dinner was being served at 7pm but we were offered complimentary pizza 🍕which was yum.

Had an interesting chat to these seasoned riders from Christchurch who are doing the Kopiko with us. They have some matching riding outfits – one of which they wear to dinner 😉.

Another outstanding dinner tonight which went down a treat. We’re currently sitting on the deck enjoying a spectacular night sky.

A big tick ✔️ today for no involuntary lie downs and no wind 💨.

Wednesday 26th February 2020

Day 4 – Timber Trail Lodge to Whakamaru- 85km – 1,625 metres climbing

As we sit down to do our homework tonight I can officially say it was a tough day in the office. We averaged 11.8km an hour and spent most of the day on gravel.

We started the day well with a rather large breakfast at the lodge. We then had the usual sun blocking and butt blocking to do before setting off about 8am. It was to be another day playing Russian roulette with the TA riders and the East to Westers.

We had about a 500 metre climb for the first 23km so those coming the other way were going reasonably quickly which resulted in a few near misses and eventually with me upside down 🤦‍♀️. Crammers wasn’t quick enough with his camera today so there was no photographic evidence 😉 so did it really happen!

We then decided that Crammers should take the lead with the Queen Mary (his tank of a bike) so he could stop them in their tracks. Things quietened down a bit as we approached the highest point.

The boys from Christchurch then caught up with us and Kamikaze Kevin took the lead on the 13km downhill. Man that was fun – the track is in great condition.

We stopped off at the Historic Tractor site and had a chat with this young German guy who was touring around NZ on his bike. He really was carrying everything but the kitchen sink!

In fact today was a very social day. Those who know us well, know we love a good yarn so we did have a lot of chit chats with our fellow riders going the other way. We’ve been trying to gain some insight into the days we have ahead of us because tomorrow we enter unchartered territory. So far it is not sounding good so maybe we’re better off not knowing 🤔.

After getting off the Timber Trail it was onto the forestry roads towards the geographic centre of the North Island. We saw our fellow riders, Grant & Alison who told us about a good water source just around the corner. Down the bank Crammers went to fill up our bottles which we didn’t end up drinking as we did have enough as it turned out. We love carrying additional weight 😬.

Next excitement was the Arataki swingbridge – it is a right balancing act and my aero bars kept whacking me on the head. When we did the TA, Crammers kindly took my bike across but this time I was determined to do it myself 😊.

Not long after this our butts got a reprieve as we hit the tar seal again for a few kilometres. We met this guy who has come all the way from the UK to do the TA and he was moaning about how much road riding there was – he said he should have stayed home and gone for a jog. Maybe he should have done his research before coming all the way down here 🤔.

We then got onto the Waikato River Trail towards Whakamaru. We are convinced that the people who built these trails were saddists – the pinch climbs are nasty 🤢, especially after a long, slow day.

We then arrived into the Republic of Whakamaru. They have set up a staging post for us here at Maggie & Gary Bruntons. Maggie is doing the TA next week but they have set up a little oasis for us – shower with towels, charging station, washing machine & dryer, ice bath and we can camp in their orchard. Absolutely outstanding. Gary welcomed us with our entry visas to the Republic of Whakamaru 😂.

Our clothes are pretty much walking around on there own so after 4 days they’ve finally been tamed 😅.

We are now enjoying a meal at Russmans across the road. A lovely end to a challenging day. We have now hit the 400km mark and have done over 6,000 metres of climbing.

Thursday 27th February 2020

Day 5 – Whakamaru to Murupara – 121km – 1,500 metres climbing

Our first night using the tents went pretty well and it was remarkably warm. There was quite a bit of road noise with a lot of trucks going through most of the night. I woke at 5am but must have gone back into a deep sleep because the next thing I know Crammers is knocking on my tent and it was 6.40am. We had planned on leaving at 7am but that didn’t quite work out.

First up we had 25km on the Waikato River Trail which took us to the southern end of it. It turned out to be reasonably pleasant as we rolled up and down along the river. There were a few “Jenny Craig” gates as Crammers calls them to get through. The bags on our bikes usually slow us down going through them.

Today’s instalment of Russian roulette was bought to us in the form of State Highway One – so many trucks who show us cyclists very little mercy 😳.

Thankfully we only had a short time on State Highway One before quite a bit of back country gravel roads with a bit of tar seal thrown in to give our butts a reprieve. We didn’t have a lot of breakfast so had to have a few snack stops today.

Our first cafe stop was at the 68km mark at the Waikite Valley Thermal Park which we got to at 3pm so it was a late lunch. The three wise men from Christchurch were there so we swapped a few stories. It was so hot the thermal pools didn’t tempt us at all.

We had a very big climb out of Waikite and then we were up and down to the Waiotapu Tavern. Our photo control point today was at the Waiotapu Thermal Mud Pools.

We met this guy walking along the road and he said he was looking for a place to swim – Crammers had mentioned this thermal spring you could swim in so I was thinking it was one in the same. I gave him instructions to where we were going but when we got there I realised this was no swimming spot – not at 100 degrees Celsius – oops 🙊. We saw this guy again as we biked out and I told him he couldn’t swim there – he was flying high I think and was muttering away. We cycled on.

Waiotapu means sacred water and there are many geothermal wonders to see here. The mud pools were originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920’s. They are quite amazing bubbling away.

We had a couple of kilometres on the highway before ducking back into the Bush to do a bit more of the Te Ara Ahi Trail before popping back out on to state highway 38. It was about 5pm so the usual logging truck traffic had dispersed so we didn’t have to play Russian roulette with them thank goodness. The last 13 kilometres into Murupara is all down hill so we got some pretty good speeds up coming into town.

The heat of the day combined with sitting on a bike seat for long periods of time is cause for a very hot ass and as Crammers says we could probably fry an egg on it.

We’re staying in a cabin at the campground and had dinner at the only cafe in town. We bumped into a couple of guys we did the TA with in 2018 who are going East to West. It was great to see them and catch up on the news as well as get some insight into what we have coming up – the theme is lots of hill climbing 🙈.

Friday 28th February 2020

Day 6 – Murupara to Lake Waikaremoana – 99km – 2,918 metres climbed

It was an interesting night at the Murupara Motor Camp with some jam fest going on in the vicinity until after 2am 😳. I was a little worse for wear when the alarm went off at 6am.

Fortunately today exceeded all our expectations in terms of riding, scenery and socialising.

We left Murupara at 7.15am and it didn’t take long until we were climbing our way into the hills. You could see the ranges in front of you so it was pretty obvious we were going up. The tar seal lasted longer than we expected so that was a bonus.

We enjoyed doing a bit of cycling with Lisa and Brenda from Blenheim. Lisa’s husband is going from East to West while her parents look after their kids.

Our photo control point today was the Maori Pou statues.

We had a big climb back up after this before a lovely descent into a valley which went alongside the river where we saw a few of the infamous wild horses of Urewera.

Today we also went past the halfway point at the Okahu Road turnoff – apparently this point is equidistance between Cape Egmont and East Cape. It will be interesting to see if it is once we finish because we calculated we were at the halfway point in Murupara.

Our one and only cafe stop today was at the 50km mark at Ruatahuna. It is a very new and modern set up servicing the remote communities on State Highway 38.

We were lucky enough to get there while Jonathan Kennett was there. Jonathan and his wife are riding a tandem from the East – that must be a serious test of their marriage 😳.

Jonathan and his brothers are legends in the cycling fraternity in NZ having pioneered many events and trails. They organised the Tour Aotearoa and now the Kopiko.

We had a nice lunch at the cafe along with about 20 other cyclists most of whom had come from the East. The chicken burger, two coffees and a slice of chocolate cake were just what the doctor ordered 😉.

We were also lucky enough to catch up with Gill, another one of our cycling buddies from the TA. We ended up having a two hour lunch break 🙈 – we are slipping back into our old habits 😂.

It was probably quite good as our big lunch had time to settle before we settled in for a 13km climb. The sun had come out but we were in the bush a lot of the time so it was a perfect temperature. The scenery was just stunning – an amazing part of NZ.

With 15km to go we got our first glimpse of Lake Waikaremoana – it was a big WOW 😮 moment. We then undulated around the edge of the lake slowly descending down to the holiday park where we have set up camp for the night. It is a Friday night so the place is pretty busy so our only option was to put the tents up.

The guy running the camp re opened the shop up for us as we had got in after it closed at 5.30pm. We needed some breakfast and lunch supplies for tomorrow. We also decided a treat was in order after 6 days 🍫.

Our campsite is right next to the lake and we are currently sitting at the picnic table admiring the many stars above. With minimal light pollution it is pretty spectacular.

Crammers whipped up a couple of honey & soy dehydrated meals which were delicious. I’ve even managed two cups of tea and of course a few bits of chocolate 😋.

With no trucks roaring by and no jam fest it should be a fairly peaceful night 🤞.

Saturday 29th February 2020

Day 7 – Lake Waikaremoana to Donneraille Park (10km on from Tiniroto) – 109km – 2,650 metres climbed

Just as we settled into our tents for a peaceful night a couple of Moreporks decided to have a pow wow in the trees above our tents. The ducks then put their 2 cents worth in 😂. Fortunately it didn’t take long for them to go to sleep too 🦆 😴.

The wind 💨 then got up and caused a bit of a stir every now and then. I was trying to work out if it was going to be a headwind 😳. By the time we got up at 6am it was completely calm 👍🏼.

I had to wake Crammers this morning – he was out for the count 😴.

We then went to a new low – Mince and Cheese pies for breakfast 😚. We had run out of breakfast foods and that’s all the camp shop had on offer.

We had about a 15km ride to Tuai first up. We had looked to stay at Tuai but it didn’t pan out. After biking through it we were very pleased about that – I mean it has a street named Rotten Row 🤔.

We meandered along on a mixture of gravel and tarseal before turning off at Ohuka. After a quick snack we then started climbing up a value add hill – it just kept on giving. It was then up and down with a few more value add hills. The descents were pretty awesome though.

We did have a little wind moment in amongst it all when we were nearly blown off our bikes. A little bit of hike your bike was in order until we got out of the wind and could hop back on.

We stopped at some shearer’s quarters who had a sign out welcoming us in. They had little mince pies and tea and coffee – it was a 1 and a bit Pie day 😋.

Amazingly we were on tarseal all the way to the Tiniroto Tavern. The East to Westers had put the living fear into us telling us how hard we were going to find it. To be honest, although our climbing stats are up it was no harder than any other day.

We got a very hospitable welcome at the Tiniroto Tavern where we were joined by a few of our riding crew. Warm water just doesn’t cut the mustard in the afternoon so a ice cold lemon, lime & bitters hit the spot.

We had another 14km to our accommodation for the night which is a converted shearer’s quarters – Mahaanui Quarters. It is very cool – $100 for the whole place and it sleeps 6. Brenda, Lisa and Tony have joined us for the night. Crammers & I whipped up steak, mash, broccoli and cheesy courgettes 😋. Our hostess, Sally is awesome – she’s even taken our washing home to dry in her drier. Our second lot of washing in 7 days 🌸.

The day started out a bit overcast and we had a few spots of rain at one stage but eventually the sun came out and it was business as usual. It was another very scenic ride – lots of high country beef and sheep farms. So cool to be experiencing a new part of our beautiful country.

Sunday 1st March 2020

Day 8 – Donneraille Park (10km on from Tiniroto) to Matawai – 125km – 2,471 metres climbed

Sally from Mahaanui Farmstay kindly took us and our bikes back to the main road 😅 – we had detoured 4km off the track for the night and the climb back out of there was hideous.

We made really good time on the first 50km today but it was a game of two halves. I managed to hit the deck again and this time Crammers was there to capture the Kodak moment 😂.

I also thought I saw a big stag on the side of the road but it turned out to be an oversized goat with horns. Hallucinations don’t usually start so early in the day – it was a sign that this was going to be a long day 😂.

The other thing we have seen a lot of over this side of the island are Turkeys 🦃 running wild and as Crammers says ‘us turkeys on bikes are fitting right on in.’

We had decided we were going to eat our homemade ham and cheese sandwiches at the Rere Rockslide which was at 75km but it was a real push to get there.

The Rere Rockslide is a natural rock formation that you can slide down into on some sort of floatation device and there is a small lake at the end. The most successful thing to use is a boogie board but we saw people on an air mattress and a unicorn. The unicorn 🦄 started going down OK before turning around so the people hit the water backwards. Very amusing.

The landscapes today consisted mainly of sheep and beef farms and we had a lot of gravel roads to contend with 😳.

After lunch it really was a hard slog – both of our legs had had enough and we had 50 kilometres to go 🙈. The sun wasn’t out in force but it was very hot. We had to go and commandeer more water supplies from a sheep stations water tank.

Fortunately the last 14km was on tarseal and Matawai was a sight for sore eyes. Our friends Steve & Sue from Opotoki were also a sight for sore eyes as they surprised us in Matawai with homemade shepherds pie, banana & date loaf and breakfast supplies 😋. Our first Trail Angels of the KA 😇 and we’ve just hit the 850km mark.

We demolished the shepherds pie and shared the loaf with some of our riding buddies for dessert. We’re very popular now 😉.

We are staying in a cute cabin at the Matawai campground. It feels a lot cooler than where we’ve come from but they tell us the heat should be back with us as we hit the coast 👍🏼. Looking forward to finally seeing the East Coast 🌊 tomorrow.

Monday 2nd March 2020

Day 9 – Matawai to Te Kaha – 128km – 2,827 metres climbed

Our Trail Angels had left us Vogel’s and avocado 🥑 for breakfast so that was a right treat. The camp store also opened at 6am especially for us so we treated ourselves to a coffee.

Crammers tried to charge his bike at the EV charging station before we set off. Our fellow rider, Fiona, took a photo and was going to post it to the Kopiko Facebook page so he would get disqualified 😂.

Next stop was Motu township which at about 8am is fairly quiet. We came across the three wise men from Christchurch winding their way up the Motu Rd. They had stayed in the Motu community centre for the night.

The Motu Road was the first properly formed crossing of Eastland, opened 15 years before the Waioeka Gorge road that is now State Highway 2.

The first full trip over the Motu Rd by motorcar was in 1914. The driver commented, “it was the most dangerous trip in New Zealand, and he would not take it on again, except in case of urgent business”. Even before the two ends of the Motu Rd were connected, they were bicycled, linked by a horse track that was first cut through in the 1870s.

The Motu Rd is 48km long with a high point of 780 metres above sea level. There are three climbs but they were very pleasant. The bush and views down the valley are stunning although it was a bit overcast this morning.

Just before we reached the coastline about 1pm our Trail Angel, Steve, appeared again with hot coffee and home made sandwiches 👍🏼.

We got our first glimpse of the East Coast just after lunch – we were quite excited to be finally seeing the other coast after 900km on the pedals.

The road up the coast (State Highway 35), meanders up and down and inland along the coast. We did have visions of riding right alongside the coast all the way but unfortunately that is not the case.

The landscape and properties remind us of those in the far north – wild and rustic. There are a lot of “No Trespassing”, “Keep Out”, and “Private Property” signs up which gives it a bit of a hostile feel.

To start with the beaches look a bit unkept with drift wood scattered along the shoreline. The further up we went the sandier they have become.

We have pulled a bit of a swifty tonight and have been transported back to Opotoki for the night. Our spot tracker is having a sleepover in a tree about 5km past Te Kaha 😉.

We have been spoilt by our Trail Angels again with a roast dinner and trifle.

The washing is done, lunches made and bikes sorted ready to go back to be reunited with our spot tracker in the morning. We are looking forward to the final push to the East Cape tomorrow – we have 108 kilometres to go – yahoo 👏🏻🚴‍♂️🚴‍♀️☀️😎

Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Day 10 – Te Kaha to East Cape – 110km – 1,445 metres climbed

Today was the grand finale – the end of another epic Lambers & Crammers adventure – we finally made it all the way to the East Cape after 10 days on the pedals.

According to Crammers Strava stats we pedalled 1,075km, climbed 19,995 metres and spent 75 hours on our bike seats. No wonder our bodies are feeling a little weary tonight.

After our luxurious night in Opotoki we were on the road at 6am back to where our spot tracker was having a sleepover. Crammers located the spot tracker only to discover the little plastic bag it was stored in had been nibbled by some nocturnal creature 😳. It was still flashing so onto the back of the bike it went for the final time.

We got away on our bikes at 7.30am. We hadn’t seen our cycling buddies that had stayed in Te Kaha so we thought they’d got the jump on us and we’d be playing catch up.

The terrain was lovely – gently rolling hills. We had knocked out 52km by about 11am and along came our Trail Angel, Steve, with our thermos of hot coffee 👍🏼. We also learnt that all our riding buddies were about 10 kilometres behind us – that gave us a bit of a boost – we had finally shaken our dilly dally status 😉.

We came across this road sign showing a cow on what looked like a skateboard – we were looking forward to seeing them hoofing along on there boards 😂.

The beaches were definitely nicer the further north you went. Didn’t see so many hostile signs today.

Our Trail Angel and his trusty dog then met us in Te Araroa for lunch. It was quite breezy but it was looking like we might finally get that tail wind we had ridden over 1,000 kilometres to find 👍🏼.

We had been told that the last 22km to the lighthouse was all on gravel. Again those Easties had misinformed us – about 8km was tarseal – you beauty. The other 14km was shake your chamois stuff.

Our first glimpse of the lighthouse confirmed we had a little hike to do once we finally finished pedalling.

Today was the best riding day – not too much climbing, lots of sweeping downhills, tarseal, sunshine, a tail wind around to the lighthouse and a big dose of adrenaline.

Steve cheered us over the finish line before we ditched our bikes to hike up the 700 odd steps to the lighthouse. We took a bottle of beer and a small bottle of bubbles to celebrate at the top.

The lighthouse was relocated to it’s current position from East Island in 1922. It was fully automated in 1985 and is controlled by Maritime NZ in Wellington.

We met some of our riding buddies on our way back down so it was good to be able to high five them in person.

It was then back into the car for the 3 hour trip back to Opotoki with a detour to Waihau Bay for a milkshake and some chips 😋.

Steve Thomas and Sue had whipped us up a yummy meal to complete a great day.

Thanks to my riding buddy Crammers – we managed to talk and laugh our way across the country. Top job on the bike maintenance – we had no misdemeanours 👍🏼.

Once again we met some great people and reconnected with some of our fellow TA riders. Crammers has renamed all us mad buggers – we’re now known as ‘psycho lists’ 😂

About SUNGRL

This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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