Last year's CAN Do meeting in Hamilton was a good opportunity to have a couple of weeks away cycling.
I flew to Auckland with my touring bike. The ride started inauspiciously, as the road from the airport had road works and I missed a turn-off.
Men in hi-vis overalls urgently flagged me off the road next to a sign marking the start of a motorway. They asked me to sign their visitor's book and gave me a ride to the old Mangere Bridge. From there I navigated to my brother's place in Mt Eden.
Next day I rode into the city via Queen St, unaware of the new pink ‘Lightpath’. Last time I was in Auckland with my bike I'd taken a train out of town, but this time I rode down Tamaki Drive, around Orakei Basin and through Glen Innes, Panmure and Mt Wellington to the Great South Road. I stocked up on groceries in Papakura and camped at Ramarama. My next objective was Raglan.
I used back roads to Tuakau and crossed the Waikato heading south. Feeling short of water I ducked back across the big river to Rangiriri. The first place I saw was a pub so I had a beer as well, and then tried SH1. Major road works were in progress, but a clearly marked cycle route led me through! At Huntly I tried crossing the river and heading west but there was such a strong headwind I returned to Huntly and called it a day.
I reached Raglan the next day, but with a stomach bug. With time up my sleeve I skirted around Pirongia Forest Park on back roads to Pirongia, then across to Te Awamutu. After an unsuccessful search for a memorial at Tokanui, SH3 took me to Hamilton.
After the meeting in Hamilton I joined the post CAN Do ride.
We cycled down to the Avanti Dome and through Cambridge to Lake Karapiro for the night. The next day was a mixture of cycle trail and road heading south and upstream on the Waikato. Forewarned that the cafe at Arapuni would be closed on a Monday, we'd packed our own food. Lunch #1 was at the Waikato bridge near Horahora, and #2 was at Arapuni. A couple of riders headed back to Karapiro while the rest kept on to Mangakino. One forged ahead and convinced the Mangakino pub to open its kitchen and feed us. After Mangakino we dispersed in several directions. For a short time I rode with Jo, who was headed for Tokoroa but had decided to head for Taupo.
I made up my route as I went along, following a roller-coaster road with narrow shoulders. A well-tended ghost bike memorial to Jane Farrelly, killed by a truck a few years ago, was a sobering safety reminder:
I camped at Taupo. Forecast heavy rain persuaded me to stay on the road to Rotorua—with warm pies at intervals. In Rotorua, rain made a backpackers my choice for an early start to the airport and easier repacking of my bike. I enjoy making decisions as I go along on a trip, mixing main roads, back roads and off-road routes. New Zealand has wonderful places and wonderful camp-grounds! Stephen Wood