Free Bird

We got away earlier today and headed straight to the beach to see what we thought of New Zealand’s number 1 beach.


Yes, it’s pretty nice, in particular the vista over the rocky outcrop isles.

Onwards and upwards..there were a few climbs to knock off in the first 23 km. The second climb was the longest and fortunately the temperature was a much more pleasant 19 degrees.

Just cresting the top of climb

Free Bird was a great song written and recorded by Lynyrd Skynyard….a long song that is regarded as one of their ‘anthems’.  Often when I ride a song will play over and over in my head, and today I realised that had not happened riding the first three days. Maybe the heat dried my mind.   I realised this as Free Bird played over and over today as I climbed.

I thought about the song as I climbed today. For Lynyard Skynard it did not end well with three of their band members being killed in a catastrophic plane crash a few years later…but maybe they are Freebirds now?

Cycle touring is like a free bird. You can go where you want, in whatever time frames you choose. You choose your own pace which when touring is far more relaxed as you need to back up day after day.  You can stop whenever you like without feeling guilty – whether that be to enjoy the view, take some photos, eat, drink, caffeinated, pee, chat….whatever really!

It really appeals to me as I relax so much more as I feel no real pressure so therefore can totally chillax.

As can be seen below, the majority of the climbing was over and done with early, and my back behaved heaps better today thankfully. Today’s total ride length was 112 km.


Today we rode on rail trail, more specifically the Hauraki Rail Trail. It started off quite crappy, with lots of drifts of very loose gravel, but after a period settled into a mixture of reasonably compressed clay and gravel to chunky gravel.

It was really very pleasant. Slow, as hard to do much above 16-17 kmh on the gravel, with bends, turns etc. We ended up doing 19 km on the trail. At one point our gps was taking back onto SH2, but a quick look and we shook our heads. The traffic was heavy with little to no verge.

We are so glad we did as the trail vista was great. This was the first bridge we crossed.


I liked this sign advising to leave Rover at home. I love my dogs, but per the sign, they do not mix with wildlife or cyclists.  A guy at my workplace broke his pelvis last year after a dog ran under his wheel.


At Waikino there is the old railway station with a great cafe inside.


Inside the cafe I liked the warning sign.


A section of the Karangahake Gorge.


This tunnel was a kilometre long. We rode through. Very cool


This section was fascinating. This is the ruins of an old battery station. On top of this cement there used to be huge containers containing potassium cyanide and crushed ore.  See sign below.



Oh dear…guess what happened. Yes another puncture. Fortunately the team mechanic was available to assist. Thankyou Tony. The culprit was a pinched tube with two tell tale holes. The section of trail just before this had been pretty bumpy with larger rocks.


Now this is more like it….but it did not last long.


This was another great section, but less than 100 m in length.


Lunchtime was at Te Aroha. My second trip to this funky town as I wanted Tony to see this unique water fountain.


And this!


But not this! Yes, she is wearing gumboots! What can I say?


We were downing our ubiquitous ice coffees at the great cafe Ironique. The greatest loos too. I love this shovel themed sink.  Note the old bike tube in the bin! I do not leave mine just anywhere.


I really like the door too!


The rest of the ride was a bit of a slog, with a very slight gradual incline into a strong headwind.  The temperature was around 30 degrees but it did not feel anything like that due to the wind.

Now we are in Matamata, or Hobbiton as it is otherwise known as. This is the cute Information Centre.


The weather forecast for tomorrow currently looks shite! Thunderstorms and rain! This certainly brings back memories. When Sue and I were doing our Auckland to Wellington ride earlier this year, the weather turned to crap here as well, and signalled the 1 in 100 year storm event. We bailed some 40 km into our ride, requisitioning a shuttle bus van  noted at the cafe we were holed up in.

The forecast for tomorrow is thunderstorms and rain! Oh great, and we are riding one of our harder climbs to Tauranga and the  back to Rotorua. Over 140 km tomorrow!

Fingers crossed that the weather is not quite as bad as forecast, and that the meteorologists are overstating and then under deliver!  Bad weather chick magnestism!!

Today’s route.


I have just finished eating some crayfish, courtesy of our Air BNB hosts. Bit lucky so I’m hoping my luck holds out.

Ooroo – time for some stretching!





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