After almost two weeks without touching the bicycles, we left Auckland towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The first pedalling day wasn’t easy because there were eternal 60km of up and downs, the Kiwis called it “ondulations”. Among these climbs, there was one that was called: the snake hill! As we were a little bit rusted due the resting days, the first day was the readaptation.
We arrived at the end of the afternoon on the Tapapakanga reserve, a beautiful beach of greenish sea colour, where we were able to set up camping and sleep listening to the sound of the sea. The next day we had an early start, we cycled for another 60km to Thames city, which is the start point of the Coromandel Peninsula.
In the middle of the ride, we crossed with a couple that helped us with our stay in Wanaka, Jakub and Dasha. They are from the Czech Republic and are also doing a world bicycle trip and at that stage were finishing the ride around New Zealand. The ride up to Thames was tiring and with a lot of headwinds. We got there at the house of an awesome couple from the Warmshowers, Maria and Geoff, who welcomed us with a vegan dinner and lovely conversations.
We stayed with them for one night and on the next day, they were celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary, the same day that was taking place the Steam Punk Parade, an event that gathers people from all over the city, to a kind of party on Main Street dressed in costumes. We were invited by our hosts to watch the parade, which was very nice, and in the meantime, we could wait for our friends, Luke and Rachel who were on their way to Thames to meet us and get us to go on a Road Trip around the Coromandel peninsula.
We put the bicycles on the car rack and drove to Coromandel town. We spent the rest of the day walking along some of the beaches in the area and found a very nice place where it was possible to see lots of oysters, we only needed a knife and a bucket to go picking it but unfortunately we didn’t have it, would’ve been a great dinner. lol
When you talk about Coromandel, one of the main attractions that come into our mind is the Cathedral Cove. It was one of the film sets of Narnia. So on next day, we did the walk to it, it’s a short 40-minute walk to the beach and since is a very popular destination for the tourists, the place is full of people and famous for being scenery of millionaire weddings.
After a weekend along with friends, we returned our pedalling towards Whangamata, in that route we met an English guy named Graham, who was also travelling by bicycle. Our arrival in Whangamata, a lovely little seaside town with lots of holiday houses, was quite early, so we headed towards the beach to visit it and spend some time.
Graham our traveller companion, was looking for a camping ground and since we are on a low budget travel we decided to find a place to camp for free in town or out of it. We said goodbye to Graham and stayed appreciating the sea and the beautiful landscape.
The peace and tranquillity took care of us and we ended up just were just staring at the sea for about an hour, until we started to get hungry, so we decided to look for a supermarket to get something to eat, at the same moment we were leaving the beach, a guy parked his car and said: DO you guys already have a place to spend the night?! We looked at each other not understanding anything that was going on, until the moment we saw Graham coming out of the same car. He was also approached by the same guy, named Reg, while he was looking for the camping ground. He had told Reg that had cycled with us to Whangamata and that how we ended uo being invited to spend the night at his house.
Reg is a 69-year-old man, that have travelled by bicyle in the United States and has a lot of experience with the New Zealand cycle trails. He is also a Warmshowers member, but at that moment was unavailable, as he is not always in town. He said that sometimes, he gets his car and goes out around the streets, looking for the people that are travelling by bicycle and invites them to stay at his home. We had an incredible day with them, he took us for a bush walk to see a beautiful waterfall and after that, we closed that day preparing a nice dinner for all of us as gratitude, love and friendship.
We had the lovely opportunity to ride for 20km in the company of Reg and Graham that day as well a nice climb accompanied us in the morning. In the afternoon, we had to face one of the busiest roads on that leg, the SH2. Luckily there was some shoulder to ride on, which was considerably large, among the New Zealand roads standards.
Despite the great movement of cars and trucks, we made a very easy pedal to the small town of Kati Kati. During the ride, we had the luck to find an avocado and an orange tree. The avocados were not ripe, but the oranges were the sweetest of our lives. Even though, we put 3 avocados in the bag, considering that avocado is an expensive fruit here, we had a good deal, even having to wait three weeks until they get ripe! lol.
Is very difficult for us to put in words all the love and kindness we have received so far, and sometimes it seems a little cliché or even that we are exaggerating, but we try in every way to thank and give it back this beautiful way of love and create this exchange that the Warmshowers provided to us.
In Kati Kati it was no different, we were hosted for two nights by Ian and Diane, they welcomed us with open arms, took us to the beautiful beach of Waihi and on the second day, we had the incredible experience of doing a ride with a group of friends.
After two nights at Kati Kati, we headed to the famous city of Tauranga, where we stayed for 3 nights, due to the bureaucratic issues of Japan visa to solve. Unfortunately, due to these issues, we did not have much opportunity to get to know the city. Tauranga is a relatively large city and has the largest port area of New Zealand. During those days we had the opportunity to visit the famous Mount Maunganui, which is a suburb of Tauranga, a charming beach region and a lot of surfing beaches. We also made the walk to the summit of the hill, where we could see the immensity of the sea with transparent green water.
We finished our task in Tauranga and got back to our pedalling towards Rotorua, which would take us two days to arrive. The departure from Tauranga was not very easy as it was a long 35km of an endless climb, so we camped in a beautiful park half of the distance to the city and on the day after we cycled to the beautiful Rotorua.
Rotorua is a highly explored destination due to geothermal activities and the strong Maori culture that predominates in this region. We had the opportunity to stay there for 3 nights. One of the incredible things about cycling is certainly having a greater sense of all the senses, and in Rotorua, it was no different, the first perception was the strong smell of sulfur and lots of smoke coming off the ground.
Just outside the city, there was a beautiful park of geothermal activities, mud lakes and an unreal scenery, we were literally overwhelmed, we have never seen such natural beauty. In Rotorua, there are also 3 big Maori villages, where you can learn and see a little bit of this fascinating culture. And we had the opportunity to visit one of these villages, we spent an entire afternoon there, where we could see how they live until the presentation of the famous Haka. On our last day in Rotorua, we stayed upside down, enjoying one of the millions of geothermal pools in town.
In Rotorua we could see a New Zealand from another perspective, a city completely different from all that we had visited. I believe that because of the natural activities and for being where we could actually see, what is Maori culture. Talking about culture is very moving, this is the most valuable thing we have in our history, it is what we carry with us for the rest of our lives. So Rotorua was by far the best place we’ve been on the North Island so far.