Christmas Eve

A mizzly morning greeted us as we awoke in the Republic of Whangamomona. The view was somewhat reminiscent of Scotland.

We had breakfast in the pub, sharing our table with the owners Richard and Vicki. They have spent around 8 years developing the pub and the lodge, and are currently renovating the old Post Office, to accomodate their workers.

Before breakfast Tony did a quick tour of the town…

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A  quirky place that is a popular stop for tourists travelling the Forgotten Highway. At weekends it is a haven for motor cyclists. I was here in January with my NZ Cycling friends and the place was packed.

This is the footy oval ( taken in January showing NZ  Cycling friends Gervase and Mike). I suspect not much footy happens here…easy to lose the ball.

Gervase did a marvellous job towing a trailer  with 4 bikes via the saddles, loops, twists and turns of the highway. He is a wise and caring sage and looks after many a cyclist, often to his own detriment.

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Another from January with Greg posing. I liked the fence. Greg was a ‘star’ in the Lord of the Rings movies shot in New Zealand but you may not recognise him as he was heavily made up ( in the movie, not here!). I think he was predominantly a stunt man ( did you wear a helmet Greg?)  and Uruk hai? Greg is a very funny guy as he exudes sarcasm in a way I find amusing.

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Greg recommended the mirror so we now sport on our bikes and has proved an invaluable tool, particularly on the highways.

The ride out to Stratford was great. Just the like the previous day, it was a roller coaster. At the 3km mark we climbed the first of three saddles for the morning.

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We arrived in Stratford and had a rest and iced coffee. Not a town that impressed me, but it had great wifi and toilets. Just like that, the Forgotten Highway was done and dusted.

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The ride today was planned as a 150 km one, circling Taranaki clockwise. With the weather not playing in our favour, we had the option at Stratford to travel anti clockwise around Taranaki to New Plymouth, thereby reducing the total ride to around 103 km.

This is the option we selected, but it meant riding on busier roads the whole way. Traffic was busy being Christmas Eve. We were relieved to arrive in one piece safe, sound and dry!

We are here for two nights. After having ridden well over 900 km now, and climbed over 9000 metres, we have a day rest. The forecast for Christmas Day is rain, rain and rain. So I dare say we will be stuck in our motel room for most of the day.

After tucking into my favourite NZ fast food, Pita Pit we headed off to see the Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park. I had participated in the Taranaki bike event in January camping adjacent to this park. After the event many cyclists end up at the Festival. I had many memories of the evening and was keen to revisit the Festival.

It was a poignant revisit. Rain threatened but the lights were beautiful. The music/light installation was the same. I had sat there in January mesmerised by it, and again found myself doing the same. Here are some photos from the Festival courtesy of Tony’s patience with time delay night exposure.

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We are now at the southern most part of our trip. The next 4 days takes us back to Auckland. 3 of those days are big days with two days being 150 and 170km. So I’d better rest up and hit the spa bath here in our bathroom!!

I hope that you all have a restful Christmas Day.

Ooroo 😊💪🚴🎄🎄🎄

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