After 4’700km, my cycling journey in New Zealand is finally coming to an end. However, also the last few hundred kilometer included all what New Zealand has to offer: sun, rain and storm: boat rides and seals. Next destination is the South of Australia. What I will do there is not yet exactly clear. We will see soon.
After my smartphone and also my camera died, I had to organize an alternative. The smartphone was pretty easy. The camera a bit more complicated. After a longer back and forth, I finally decided to get a Canon 7D body (without the lenses). Such things are very expensive in New Zealand but after some search, I found a shop with an acceptable offer in the north of Auckland. Therefor, I decided to cycle there to pick it up. Unfortunately, that wasn’t as easy as expected. When I finally reached the harbor bridge, which connects downtown Auckland with the north, there were signs all over that cyclists are not permitted on it. I finally asked a local, if there would be a way for cyclists to get to the north part. He was thinking about it for a while but finally said, that it is not really how it should be but he also wouldn’t know a way, except to take the ferry from downtown. Unfortunately, it was too late for this that day. I drove back to the hostel and was a bit frustrated (it looks like I’m not the only one). I called the shop again the next day but they didn’t have a camera available any more… I guess I would have to get a new one in Australia…
Auckland – Kaitaia – 90 Mile Beach
I took the bus towards north the next day because I didn’t want to deal with the heavy traffic. Additionally, I wouldn’t have enough time to cycle to the top north and back. I was at the bus station on time and also got my bike partly dissembled as requested. However, the driver told me, that this is actually not needed for journeys from Auckland towards north… When we finally started driving, I was very happy that I took the bus: The road was pretty hilly and busy. Wouldn’t have been a pleasure. After several hours, we finally reached Kerikeri. I planned to start cycling the same day but changed my mind because it was already later afternoon and it got dark around 6pm. Yes, that’s called fall.
I started cycling the next morning. And it was again hilly right from the beginning. My goal was to cycle till Kaitaia. However, less than 30km before reaching it, I had to recognize that I wouldn’t make it before sunset. I put up my tent on a free DOC campground therefor. It would have been a great place to take a night time lapse. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a functioning camera anymore… After a pretty wet night, I first had to dry my tent before cycling to Kaitaia. I just wanted to have a short breakfast break there but I had to recognize, that somebody got access to my email account and had sent out spam emails from there to several people (I’m sorry for that). Because I didn’t’ know what this person did otherwise as well, I had urgently to change my various passwords… And that took some. During that, a French cyclists, which just had a few days off in Kaitaia, passed by and told me, that there is a campground at the 90 Mile beach and that I would have to go there.
After fixing the technical problems, I continued but first cycled to the i-Site (tourist information) for getting the latest information about the tide. It wasn’t great with low tide at around 7am and 7pm. Maybe it would still work out. I cycled at Waipapakauri to the 90 Mile beach to have a look. And it wasn’t that bad. It would be 20km to the camp ground and I was optimistic to arrive there before sunset. However, cycling on the beach was a bit more exhausting than I thought. It felt like cycling constantly uphill even if it was completely flat… Nevertheless, the light and the atmosphere were just great and I kept cycling happily. After more than 1.5 hours, I finally reached Huketere. However, I couldn’t see the campground. Because of that, I followed a sign to the Huketere Lodge. This was a good decision and I had a great time with the owner and some other guests. Tenting was possible there as well but I opted for a dorm bed instead. And yes, the night sky was again wonderful…
90 Mile Beach – Cape Reinga – Kaitaia – Paihia
I planned to continue along the 90 Mile Beach. But the next exit would have been only after 50km. The beach was pretty soft because of the last especially strong high tide (full moon) and additionally, the low tide was at 7am. I came to the conclusion to cycle inland on the SH1 instead. My next destination was Cape Reinga, the almost most northern point of mainland NZ. It was pretty far till there and I therefore decided to put up my tent 20km before and to cycle there with only little luggage. I was very happy about that because the last few kilometer were very hilly. And I was even happier, when I finally reached Cape Reinga. I wanted to take some pictures but I had to hurry a bit afterwards to be back before it got completely dark… In total, I cycled 110km and climbed 1’200m that day ;-).
The next morning, I cycled back to the Hukatere Lodge. I was hopping to meet there again the same people as the night before but unfortunately, there was almost nobody; not even the owner. I continued along the 50 Mile Beach, even if the light wasn’t as gorgeous this time. But it was still a lot of fun. I finally arrived again in Kaitaia and decided to take from there the bus to Paihia, because the weather forecast for the next few days was pretty bad. The rain really arrived the next morning and I was pretty happy to be in the bus. It felt at least a bit safer as well…
Paihia – Tutukaka – Whangarei
My intension was to cycle from Paihia towards south along the coast. I therefor took the ferry to Russel and enjoyed sun on the ride there. It was a pretty short ride but when we arrived, the weather had changed. It got pretty windy and rain started. I checked the weather forecast again and they were now talking about winds of up to 130km/h. I didn’t have a very good feeling about tenting in such conditions. After some back and fourth, I finally decided to cycle back to Paihia…
I tried it again the next morning but this time not along the coast. Just after starting, I got greeted by a rainbow. What that meant was also clear but first the sun was the winner; unfortunately not for too long. I was already pretty soaked at lunch time and took refuge in a cafe and enjoyed something hot before continuing to Africa. Or it at least sounded like that: Tutukaka.
There was a reason why I was at that place: Helen told me, that it would be one of the best places to dive in New Zealand. And Alexa, my instructor in Vanuatu, agreed on this. I therefore booked two dives for the next day, even if they were with 250 NZD very expensive. The weather was pretty perfect with a completely blue sky. With a few others, I drove out to the Poor Knights Islands. The water here was much colder than in Vanuatu. The wet suit was almost double as thick but you still could feel the cold pretty well. During the second dive, we got accompanied by two seals. And that was pretty amazing and for me definitively the highlight of this dive trip. I therefor happily returned back to shore.
Whangarei – Auckland
It rained again heavily the next day and I decided to stay for another night. The world almost drowned the next morning but the sun started shining again after the sky got rid of all that water. I finally could start cycling; my last real cycling day in NZ if also a pretty short one with only around 30km till Whangarei. And from there I took the bus back to Auckland.
That’s it with cycling in New Zealand. I will probably write a conclusion about the NZ journey soon. But first I’m traveling further to Australia or better to Melbourne. It’s not yet clear what I will do but there is a good chance that my bicycle will be involved :-).
All the best from Auckland,
PS: Have a look in the picture gallery as well.