The good, the bad and the ugly…not necessarily in that order.

After I finished my blog last night, I jumped into bed. As I lay there I was aware of something touching my upper legs (and it was not Tony!). I reached my hand down and grabbed what I assumed to be a moth, and threw it out across the bed, towards Tony as I expected it to fly.

The room was still quite light and when I checked to see if maybe I had inadvertently killed the moth, I was alarmed to see a reasonably large spider on Tony!

I jumped out of bed, as did he as he was alarmed at the sound I made.

The spider having been flicked off by Tony then tried to hide between the mattress and tucked in sheet…we ultimately won the battle and New Zealand has one spider less.

I have since identified it as a Tunnelweb spider..described as a very fast New Zealand spider and somewhat shy!

Shy or not, it was not sharing my bed and crawling over my body! This creeped me out! I do not think this has ever happened to me (knowingly) before.

Despite that, we both slept very soundly in lovely accomodation at an Air BnB.

We were on the road by 8 am and look what had already arrived in the harbour…yes, 3,500 Aussies. We beat a retreat and headed out of town!

Looking in the opposite direction provided a nicer vista.

We climbed a few hills and had one final view back towards Russell and the Aussie’s.

Following the harbour shores….

We hopped onto the Twin Coast cycle trail.

The first few km were excellent quality. Compacted gravel on top of existing railway infrastructure. At the bridge, an additional deck had been constructed on one side.

We entered at our own risk, but could not see what the issue was.

We arrived at the old Taumarere Railway Station, now used as a tourist railway from Kawakawa, but formerly supporting a thriving town of 1,500 people with industry and tourism benefits.

Our first stop was Kawakawa. Originally we were going to head further north to KeriKeri, as it is a lovely old colonial town, well preserved but after having been in Whangarei we learned of Freidensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian born architect who spent the latter years of his life living in New Zealand.

His designs feature all around the world, and Kawakawa has a toilet block he designed that is regarded as an international work of art.

The style is typical Hundertwasser with wavy lines, irregular ceramic tiles, integrated small sculptures, coloured glass and a live tree incorporated into the architecture.

Hundertwasser requested that any vegetation removed for construction should be replanted on the buildings green roof.

The toilets are Kawakawa’s main tourist attraction, and the most visited toilet in New Zealand, with tourists buses arriving to photograph the toilets.

The toilets are fully functioning.

Back on the rail trail we crossed the Kawiti Truss Bridge that passes through the Ngapipto River Valley, where the descendants of the great Ngati Hine leader Kawiti live to this day.

Although Kawiti cautioned his people never to sell their land, it was confiscated for the North Auckland railway line in 1913.

This impressive truss bridge took 500 men to build and is 74 metres long.

I like this photo showing some of the truss work and the river below.

On the track we found an alive hedgehog. In the five previous trips to New Zealand we had only witnessed flattened dead ones!

I think it is cute, but apparently they pose a significant threat to many New Zealand native species due to their voracious appetites.

Hedgehogs are not endemic, having been first brought here by ‘acclimatisation societies’ to remind settlers of their homelands. They were later introduced in greater numbers to control garden pests such as slugs, snails and grass grubs.

We thought he was cute!

Further along the cycle trail, which certainly was not as well constructed as the first few km, and in many parts, was just a single true track, we found this sign. Interesting.

Kaihoke was the town we hoped to grab some refreshments, apparently a thriving town in its history. When the train line opened in 1914, 1000 people came out to celebrate. The town peaked as a trading centre in the 1950’s before falling on harder times.

Heading into the local Countdown supermarket for a cold, large bottle of water proved a futile exercise. Despite two laps of the supermarket I could not locate any large bottles. I asked and was told not available, but proudly showed me their extensive range of cold alcohol! 😂😂🙈

So in desperation I headed into McDonalds to buy iced coffee and fill our water bottles up in their bathrooms!!

Back onto the road for the last 40 plus km to Rawene, with minimal verge. Groan. Nice countryside though.

We were very glad to turn off to Rawene.

These critters seemed pleased to see us too. We later learned that this is the local dump point for roosters!

Quick trip to Rawene, as it is only 6 km in from SH12.

Down to the ferry at the road end….I caught this ferry last year on my return journey from Cape Reinga, arriving into Rawene to stay with Blair, an Air BNB guy that I have kept in contact with since on Facebook.

Great to see Blair again. Blair is a professional chef, and we have just finished an awesome meal that he cooked. Vegetables and greens all from his garden. We sat on his deck looking out to the harbour.

Todays route and elevation that has taken us from the east to west coast of New Zealand.

Tomorrow is another day…more climbing and over 100 km ride as we head south towards Auckland.

Thanks for reading, I need my beauty sleep…first I’ll check for spiders!!


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