EJJ70challenge – North island

Fri 2 Nov 2012 Starting the North Island journey. Me and my support crew – Annie at Cape Reinga

Fri 2 Nov 2012 Starting the North Island journey. Me and my support crew – Annie at Cape Reinga


Sat 1 Dec 2012 Ride complete! North Island 1309 Km

BlogSouth IslandCan do attitude at 70

Friday, 2 November

I have decided to start the journey on Sunday, with the leg from Mt Albert to somewhere south of Auckland. John Feyter will show me the way to go. We’ll take it gently, and welcome anyone who wants to join us. We’ll start from 1 Linwood Ave, Mt Albert, at 7.30 am, to avoid heavy traffic volumes. If you want to pick up the (small) entourage later on Sunday, please ring me on 027 266 2771.
When the ride proper gets to Auckland (possibly around 15 November) we will stay at John’s and then, next morning, Annie can drop me off at whatever point south at which we stop this Sunday. This way I’ll avoid the congestion on an Auckland week day morning.
Many thanks for the 59 people who have looked at this site and the subset who have sent me goodwill messages. Each one is very much appreciated!!
Written at Lee’s at Island Bay, Wellington


Saturday, 3 November

The drive up from Wellington to John and Debbie Feyter’s in Mt Albert was uneventful. It was raining in Wellington, clear through the Horowhenua and Rangitikei, then drizzle all the way through the Desert Road so that the fabulous mountains were invisible, dry at Taupo and then rain again through to Auckland.
I left Island Bay early and eight hours later was in Mt Albert. John and I went out to West Harbour to meet Mark Koudelka and collect the ebike. We were there two hours, as Mark fitted disk brakes to the front wheel, added mudguards, changed the front tyre to John’s specification, and found three batteries. Originally I had asked for one spare, but Mark had hinted to John earlier that week that I could have another and I took advantage of that offer.
Mark is an amazing guy. Young, energetic and enterprising. To my amazement he did not want me to sign any papers and we made no arrangements for returning the ebike. He’s totally trusting. He’s decided against driving to Cape Reinga to do the photography. “No”, he said, “Just take still photos and write up your experiences with the electric bike. Be honest in your appraisal.” Mark is a Czech, and hopes to use my write-up on his website to attract the young foreign tourists to use his ebikes, either to rent or to sell-and-buyback.


Sunday, 4 November

The ride on Sunday was very successful. I didn’t know that Auckland had so many dedicated bike lanes. John Feyter knew them all and graciously slowed down to the pace more suited to his aged companions – David Harrop and myself. David, like John, had a road bike. John left us at Great South Road, east of the airport, rode home and collected us at Papakura two hours later in his stationwagon. David and I had covered 43 kms; John a lot more as he had doubled back to Mt Albert. A super start to the journey.


Tuesday, 6 November

On Monday Annie and I drove north from Auckland, expecting to reach Houhora. We travelled along the route I planned to ride. However, we took a shortcut from Kaikohe to Kaitaia. At the southern end I thought it would be a preferable route to one I had envisaged, but when we struck the Mangamuka Saddle I changed my mind! What a hill! It extends over 13 very windy kms.
We had phoned ahead to our intended accommodation but it was full, so we decided to stay in Kaitaia for two nights.
Tomorrow I will write up about today – we need sleep!


First Real Biking Day – Tuesday, 6 November

Cape Reinga to Awanui

We took our time to rise and shine, as both Annie and I had to catch up on sleep, especially after arriving from Sydney on midnight flights. After packing my two panniers we left our Kaitaia motel at about 9 am. We knew it takes 1.5 hours to drive to Cape Reinga. It’s sealed all the way now. Half way up we picked up a German hitchhiker who has been studying at Waikato University, majoring in Cognitive Science. and enjoyed our morning coffees bought at Te Kao.
My ride started at 11.15 after taking a couple of snaps. The arrangement was for Annie to meet me 65 kms down the track at the Pukenui Motel at 2.30. I reckoned on something approaching 20 kms an hour. The weather was fine, about 18 degrees, but the wind was very strong.
While I was biking, Annie walked to the lighthouse and along some of the coastal walk that goes for 83 kms. She met a couple from Christchurch who looked about 70 (or more) with huge packs on their backs. We had seen them hitchhiking as we came up the isthmus. They had flown to Auckland, bussed to Whangarei and hitchhiked from there. They were walking back to Auckland!
I stopped for lunch about 1 pm. I climbed a grass bank and sat there feeling like a king, enjoying the goodies Annie had put in my lunch box. I’ve never had a lunch box before! The view extended for miles, over very good farming country. The whole area looks prosperous and in good condition.
We enjoyed chatting to a 90-year-old Maori woman at the Pukenui wharf, and she walked home and brought us back some parsley and a few grapefruit from her garden. I felt relatively fine, despite the constant battle into strong head or side winds, so after having afternoon tea with Annie I set off to ride to Awanui, another 30 kms or so. The third battery didn’t have quite enough charge to see me through and I really struggled to push the last 6 or 7 kms with the bike, into the wind. The sight of Annie at the turn-off was a god-send. An oasis! It was 4.30. I had ridden for 5.25 hours, including stops. I had a real sense of achievement.
My total ride was 92 kms. I had exhausted all three batteries that Mark Koudelka had supplied. My bottom told me I had ridden rather a long way, and my shoulders were sore from being in a fixed position for so long.
Our motel has a spa, so Annie booked it, and cooked another lovely meal. She massaged my shoulders and applied Deep Heat.
My grandson Jack turned 20 today, so gave him a call but the money in the mobile gave out part way through!
We looked at options for tomorrow’s ride and hit the hay.
Written on Wednesday morning


Wednesday, 7 November

Awanui to Waipapa via Coopers Beach

If only yesterday’s wind direction was the same today! Not so. The wind was almost gale strength, and coming from the east. I had to use the motor almost all the way, sometimes even pedalling in downhill stretches!
We left Awanui around 10.15 and Annie met me at Coopers Beach at 11.45. The distance was 28 kms. The first battery gave out just a short distance onwards. Too much head wind. I changed batteries and then Annie stopped for me to give her the dud and pick up the third one to change when needed. The second battery lasted 30 kms.
As arranged, Annie met me at Waipapa at 3 pm. Distance travelled – 86 kms. My shoulders are fine today, but my left upper calf is rather sore. Very strange.


Thursday, 8 November

Rest day at Kerikeri

A rest day from biking today, as I’ve covered four days’ planned rinding in only two days.
Saw a physiotherapist at 9 am as I had a swelling just below my left leg last night. Was down this morning as my resident nurse treated it with Arnica gel and an ice pack. The physio said it was my quad ligament. Overuse. Gave me good advice, ultrasound, a massage that hurt and applied a couple of elastic straps. It’s 100% better.
Annie and I played 9 holes of golf before lunch at the lovely Bay of Islands Golf Club here in Kerikeri. Annie played particularly well – 19 stableford points.
The local Telecom store got Annie’s iPad to work.
We’ve both had short and refreshing afternoon naps.
Tomorrow will be a short ride from Waipapa to Kaikohe. Only 33 kms. Time for a long spell at Ngawha Springs hot pools, which we’ve enjoyed on a previous visit to the far north. Maybe I’ll have time to figure out how to add photos to this site!


And now, today, Friday, 9 November

Waipapa to Kaikohe

elelctric-bike-1The ride from Waipapa to Kaikohe was a breeze. A gorgeous day, with little
wind. It’s only 33 kms but we had planned to revisit the Ngawha Thermal Springs
on this journey, so needed time off the bike. It’s many years since we last
indulged ourselves here, and nothing has changed. It is still basic and unspoiled,
with a selection of magical pools at different temperatures and colours! This
one, “Bulldog”, was about 42 degrees and the water was almost jet black. Others
were green and grey. The price? An incredible $5 each!I had a look at the
bike trail that passes through Kaikohe. But the surface looked a bit too rough
for my ebike. I’m told it is relatively flat, being mainly on a disused rail



Friday, 9 November

Thought I’d add a picture or two before writing up today’s activities.


This is the start of the ride – the end of the road at Cape Reinga. This archway leads to the path down to the lighthouse.


The Cape Reinga lighthouse in the distance, and the junction of the Tasman Sea with the Pacific Ocean in the far background.


Pukenui Wharf, near Houhura.


One exhausted rider, at the end of day one – at Awanui.


Saturday, 10 November

Kaikohe to Dargaville via Twin Bridges

A glorious day beckoned as we drew the curtains at New Haven Motel, Kaikohe. The bike JUST fitted into our room. I took off at 8.45 am leaving Annikins to pack the rest of the gear into the car. The arrangement was for her to stay there until 10 am and then catch up to me, en route to Dargaville, when we’d have morning tea together.
There wasn’t a breath of wind. I know now that my ultra speed creates its own illusion of head wind! The terrain was relatively flat and I was in cycling heaven. I covered 26 kms in the first hour. Not bad for an old codger (with motor assistance – but keep it quiet). The surrounding countryside looked in peak condition. I sang, I recited Fifth Form poetry to myself, I composed stunning blog pages; I could have biked all day.
Annie caught up with me and then went on with the battery I had used up. It had lasted 40 kms: not too bad.
After lunch here at Dargaville Motel Annie had a sleep as she was feeling dizzy. (Too much excitement?) When she woke she was fine, and as I was keen to play golf we set off for the local course, named Northern Wairoa. (Must Google to see why that name.) Annie played an outstanding 9 holes – 20 stableford points. Those steel shafts of my son-in-law Tony’s rejected old clubs are working wonders for my wonderwoman.
Had dinner out. Now back at the motel doing my electronic chores.
In the 77 km journey I think only 7 or 8 cars had passed me. I wonder what tomorrow’s Sunday traffic to Matakohe will be like?


Sunday, 11 November

Dargaville to Wellsford via Matakohe

Had a disturbed night with noise from another unit – they had broken their key and had trouble waking the owner, who lives on the premises.
The day dawned cloudy without any sign of wind. Ideal biking weather! I took off at 9.30 and arranged to meet Annie at the Kauri Museum at Matakohe at 11.30. Arrived early – 44 kms of flat roads. We spent over two hours of absorbing viewing and decided that I should push on to Wellsford, another 54 kms, if Stuart and Ros Callender and the Feyters could both agree to our arriving a day earlier than arranged. They did, so away I went at 2 pm.
No dramas except the chain came off twice.
We put the bike on the rack at 4.30 and drove to the Callenders here at Matakana. Stuart’s grandfather and mine were brothers. As second cousins we get on well together, and Stuart does my legal work in New Zealand. Ros prepared a super dinner and now it’s good night from me and it’s good night from him. (For the Two Ronnies fans.)


Monday, 12 November

Wellsford to Kumeu via Helensville

Beautiful hosts, beautiful place, beautiful stay all round. After a leisurely breakfast and taking a few snapshots of the many interesting things in the Callender establishment (photos to follow when I have more time) we drove back to Wellsford and recommenced the bike trip. For the first time it was raining, very slightly. Actually it was a welcome change, as I haven’t cycled in wet conditions before – neither at Mittagong nor over here. As my Munich friends used to say: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. I was very comfortable.
The ride to Helensville and then on to Huapei/Kumeu was uneventful apart from the gears not engaging properly, sometimes. That was because I had mucked the mechanism up when I adjusted a screw or two to make sure the chain didn’t come off again. I figured that having wonky gears was preferable to having the chain come off.
From Kumeu we drove to Mark Koudelko’s place in West Auckland so Mark could readjust the gears, which he did with ease. Then drove to the Feyters at Mt Albert for a super dinner and wine.
The riding distance today was 80 kms. At the start, Annie asked me the distance and when I told her she said: “Is that all? What a difference from the first day, when that sounded like a huge challenge.” It only took just over 4 hours, and there were a lot of hills to climb.
Tomorrow we drive back to Kumeu and I ride just 20 or so kms here. The rest of the day is free.


Tuesday, 13 November

Kumeu to Auckland

Another stunning day. We drove back out to Huapei / Kumeu where I had stopped riding yesterday. We called on Mark Koudelka to pick up a Volto tee-shirt. Debbie Feyter came with us. Again we had coffees at the Carriages Cafe and took some photos of the train carriages for Felix Clapp, Annie’s youngest grandson. It took only just over an hour to ride back to Mt Albert, a biking distance of 30 kms. Electric bikes are forbidden on the motorway, so the distance was longer than expected as I had to take a slightly circuitous route. Auckland’s west is well endowed with bike tracks and bike lanes, and on the journey I met or passed many cyclists.
Annie took a photo of me in the new tee-shirt so I could substitute it for the main picture in this webpage.
Spent the afternoon popping over to Takapuna to buy Black Light by Ralph Hotere for Charles and then to Remuera to have a cuppa with Don McNichol. No time for other visits, which is a pity as I have so many good Auckland friends whom I would like to see. Annie babysat Nathan as Debbie had a school function to attend, while I caught a train in to Britomart to have an excellent dinner with John Feyter and David Harrop.


Here are a couple of photos taken yesterday

9340666 This is the entrance to the house of Stuart and Ros Callender at Matakana.
They wanted a create a distinctive New Zealand feel to the place. They have succeeded!
Up close one can see the Callender crest in the centre.
Certainly a unique entrance way.


Wednesday, 14 November

Auckland to Kaihere via Kawakawa Bay and Miranda

Annie walked with Nathan Feyter to his school while I mucked about (and started packing).
We drove to the finishing spot that David Harrop and I rode to on the 4th (see below) and I started biking at 11.30am. It was only 70 or so kms to Miranda where we planned to stay the night – and enjoy the hot springs there! I spotted Annie at the bird sanctuary about 3 kms before Miranda and we agreed that I should plough on for another hour. Annie would check in to the Miranda Holiday Park and then set off at 3.45 pm to find me and bring me back to Miranda. All went well, although I encountered some quite heavy bursts of rain. Dried out though (through sheer speed!?). Kaihere is quite a long way along Highway 27.
The ride / drive from Papakura through Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay is a “must see”. It’s surely one of New Zealand’s forgotten or overlooked corners. For a cyclist it’s a breeze. Mostly flat. I covered 28 kms in the first hour. Was there a tail wind? Surely not! There are a couple of gentle hills after Kawakawa Bay (not to be confused with Hundertwasser’s Kawakawa near Kerikeri!).
I thought I saw a weka near Orere Point, so I asked the guy at the bird sanctuary place near here if that were possible, as I thought wekas were only to be seen in the South Island. “Yes”, he said, “There’s a colony there. No one seems to know how it got there.”
The views across the vast Firth of Thames to the Coromandel Peninsula are awesome (can I use that word these days?). The Peninsula sticks out so far it doesn’t seem to accord with my impression of that part of the North Island. Along the coast there are oyster beds, and whitebait was for sale. The sign said: “Best oysters in NZ. We’re not Bluffing.”
We soaked in the hot pool at the Holiday Park for over half an hour, then returned to our spacious cabin for a lovely vegetarian dinner Annie cooked. An early night beckons. No aches, no pains; a nice satisfied feeling.


Thursday, 15 November

Kaihere to Cambridge via Tahuna and Morrinsville

Only 70 kms of cycling today. We rose early at Miranda Holiday Park and drove back 3 kms to the bird sanctuary place, parked there and walked to the two hides. This is labelled Shorebird Country, and the well-stocked “shop” has a pamphlet saying that 134 species of birds can be seen in the area! We couldn’t observe for long as the walk was about 35 minutes each way and we had to be out of our unit by 10 am. We fast-walked back to the car, when we realised the time, and managed to check out at 10.15 – Annie missed breakfast and neither of us had time for a shower. A fine mist had turned into light showers so we were rather wet too!
The ride was a doddle – almost entirely flat along the Hauraki Plains. Again covered 28 kms in the first hour.
Annie met me at the Superloo at Cambridge and we drove to Rod and Viv Callenders’ at Mt Maunganui where we will stay two nights. Rod asked me a while ago if we could be here on the 16th to celebrate Judi’s 60th birthday. It didn’t seem possible according to my original riding plan, but with the longer rides I’ve been able to manage – here we are!
En route from Cambridge I diverted to Tirau to show Annie how the town has reinvented itself. Stopped for hot chocolates and bumped into David Meldrum, an actuary from Auckland. Earlier in the day, while I was riding, Annie had visited a sculpture garden, which just happened to have a glass exhibition on display. Nothing compared with Charles and Cobi’s work, she says, but the prices were surprisingly high.
Judi’s daughter Louise had invited Rod and Viv to a surprise fish and chip meal at Judi’s new place at Bethlehem, so after quick showers (by Annie and me) we were off with them. Judi got a huge surprise! Louise and Josh went home early to put their two beautiful daughters to bed, and we didn’t stay too long either. We’ll see Judi again tomorrow for lunch.
What were the highlights of today’s ride? I guess being “led” for 30 metres or so by birds, on two separate occasions. The first was a yellowy-green bird, quite small, and he/she was within a metre of my face as we powered along at 30 kph. I couldn’t follow him/her as s/he suddenly flew up into a tree. Couldn’t hack the pace, I suppose. Hated competition! Then a blackbird did much the same a few kms later.


Friday, 16 November

Non-cycle day

On her 60th birthday, my cousin Judi Murray came over from Bethlehem to The Mount for lunch. Glorious day. Viv Callender had prepared a super lunch al fresco. Then Annie and I drove to Kawerau to see my older sister Joy. She seems very settled in “the Manse” next door to her son Matai’s church. Saw Matai, Cissie and their kids briefly.
Thought about my old childhood sweetheart, Heather nee Swanney, whose funeral was being held in Carterton at 2 pm.


Saturday, 17 November

Cambridge to Piopio via Kihikihi, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti

electric-bicycle-01Distance covered = 95 kms, but some of those were unnecessary as I had difficulty finding my way out of Cambridge on to the road to Te Awamutu. In fact, I am very critical of the signage all the way from Mt Maunganui today. I can see now why Annie has a problem now and then finding her way, as the signs assume too much on the part of the traveller. It was raining steadily all day. I got soaked. But I was in excellent spirits. I sang loudly to the cows, sheep and horses. Main refrain was “I’m Singing in the Rain”. On other days my major song has been “Wandering the King’s Highway.”
Had a problem with the battery on the ebike as it gave out in the wet conditions. As it did so, Annie just happened on the scene, and I tied a plastic bag over the terminal and then all was well. It was also valuable to have a rear lamp flickering in today’s conditions of low visibility. I had brought my rear (and front) lamp over from Australia but neither Mark nor John in Auckland had a bolt and nut the right size to attach the rear one to the bike. Fortunately, Rodney Callender had one just right, and we fitted it this morning. Annie rang a couple of B&B places in Piopio through the day but evinced no answer or reply, so we decided to book into a motel in Te Kuiti; that I would ride on to Piopio and Annie would pick me up there and bring me back to Te Kuiti. A wise decision, as I would have found it difficult to walk through someone’s house in soaking wet clothes.
Today was the first time I had an offer of a ride. A delightful Maori gentleman stopped just short of the junction of Highways 3 and 4 and asked if I were going to Taumaranui. He had caught my happy song as he passed me and wanted to stop and talk. I was thrilled. It reminded me of the rides that my brother Ken and I were given when we were riding silly distances as young kids. I’ve realised I have made a major omission to Thursday’s saga!! We stopped at the Corogate Cafe!! This is MUST SEE place. Please, please, look up Corogate Cafe, and stop there, or divert your travels there for quite an experience.


Sunday, 18 November

Piopio to Awakino Gorge

e-bike-01We went out to breakfast at Bosco Cafe in Te Kuiti, the cafe ranked No.1 in the top of the North Island. Second placegetter was Corogate Cafe, which I commented on yesterday. It was OK, but not a patch on No.2.
The weather was amazing! I have never ever experienced such swift changes from sunny weather to cold heavy rain, and reverting back to sunny skies, in such rapid succession. I was soaking wet one minute and then flooded with sunshine the next. Then the cycle repeated. It was extraordinary. I hope the photo at left gives some credence to my story.
The scenery was spectacular through the Awakino Gorge. I can add only 38 kms to my tally. I’ve come 820 kms so far, 65% of the projected distance in the North Island.


Monday, 19 November

Another no-cycle day

Called my cousin Joc Bary and found she was at her daughter Tammy’s. Tammy had twin daughters 10 days ago, so went over to see them.
After lunch back here at Mark’s we booked our Tasmanian holiday in January, then went to the New Plymouth Golf Club for 9 holes of golf. It’s a championship course; very hilly. It was most enjoyable in perfect weather. Every fairway is bordered by Pohutukawa trees – attractive today; stunning, I guess, when in full flower.
Forgot to mention the wind yesterday. It was gale force.


Tuesday, 20 November

Highway 3A – Near Waitara to Inglewood

Decided to use brother Mark’s road bike to polish off a small section of the journey:
the 15 kms of Highway 3A. Mark had told me that the road is actually uphill through to Midhirst so I can’t say I wasn’t warned. The short ride was a struggle! What looked like flat stretchs were actually uphill. My legs were fine, but
my heart rate was high and my lungs stretched! Anyway, it took an hour to do the sector and I was never more pleased to see the Inglewood sign. My bike book says the altitude of Inglewood is 200 metres; Midhirst is at 330 metres. Whew!
Just goes to show how spoilt I’ve been with my Volto electrtic bicycle. We had coffee at the award-winning Macfarlane’s Caffe in Inglewood with my niece Phillippa Kingi together with husband Karena and their youngest child Gideon. Then we drove
to Oakura to have lunch with Phillippa’s older brother Graham Pronk-Jones, wife Nathalie and their 8-month-old twins Loius and Joe. Picked up the bike, all fixed, and left Mark’s bike at the bike shop for a service.

e-bike-03 e-bike-02 The LHS photo shows the bridge, in the shape of half a whale’s backbone, I think. From the far end, the view along the bridge points directly at Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont). The kids are Finley and William Jones.RHS photo, from L to R: Mario, Gloria and Jesse Pronk-Jones, myself, Levi and Graham Pronk-Jones, William and Finley Jones (Craig and Kirsty’s two eldest sons). Craig joined us later.


Wednesday, 21 November

Awakino Gorge to Junction of Highways 3 and 3A near Waitara


e-bike-04My support crew excelled herself today. Annie knows now how far and fast I can travel on my Volto ebike, so she gave me good advice. After I drove to the place in the Awakino Gorge that I walked to on Sunday, she turned around and drove back to the place we agreed we would meet for lunch. I had no luggage on the Volto – Annie had my lunch, water, spare batteries: the lot. We met again just before Mt Messenger to change the battery and up I flew. It’s only 3 kms to the top on the northern side and one of my old boogies was shattered. Uncle Gordon Bary used to fret about taking his caravan over Mt Messenger but he did it every year for about 20 years! It’s actually not at all steep, and not a long climb. We rendezvoused again at Urenui to change to the third battery (needed or not) and then I rode the last 18 kms to the junction point from which I rode yesterday (if you get my drift).The picture shows a whitebaiting position on the Awakino River – one of perhaps a hundred! They are set up every 50 or so metres along each side of the river, for quite a long stretch. Each has a jetty and many have a shed like this. Crazy. Unique? The ride was 91 kms and took 4 hours almost exactly, including stops. Actual riding time was 3 hours 33 minutes, an average speed of 25.6 kph. It was a glorious day. The warmest yet: 20 degrees? I’ve now covered 73% of the North Island trip. My nepher Graham Pronk-Jones had organised for the Taranaki whanau to join me for a short ride along the extensive biking/walking track along the foreshore around New Plymouth. It extends for miles! We started near a spectacular bridge, specially built for the track, and ended at a skate park. The photos below are of the bridge and the participants. Note that Mario has a unicycle.


Thursday, 22 November

Inglewood to Patea

8069143The obligatory shot to prove we were near Mt Taranaki. Note no pannier bags – the support crew carries all excess baggage now. Again a beautiful Taranaki day. I rode the 91 kms in 3.5 hours elapsed time and averaged 27 kph. I have to thank Ant and Fleur Butcher (Annie’s eldest son and his wife) for giving me a superb Garmin bike computer which runs off GPS signals. It has many functions that I don’t use but on every ride the screen displays six items: riding time, speed, distance, time of day, calories (??) and heading (ie, direction of travel). Every 5 kms it beeps and displays the time for that lap. Generally it’s in the range 10.3 to 13 minutes, but today I did a record 9.84 minutes for a 5 km lap. That’s more than 30 kph! It must have been generally downhill, though I didn’t notice. It was near the end of the ride, too, when I’m usually slightly tired (who? me?). I find the “heading” quite valuable as, from it, I can tell the wind direction. (It’s always head wind.) We drove back to New Plymouth (Mark and Joy’s house) to stay two more nights as they have been in Auckland, sorting out their preparatory missionary work in Turkey. They will go over in March for six months. We want to spend a little time with them before we head south. On the way we stopped at Phillippa Kingi (my niece) and her husband Karena’s place at Inglewood to give them and their three daughters a sample ride on the Volto ebike. Of course they all loved it.I should alert readers that sometimes I alter the info on previous pages, eg, I forgot to mention yesterday that Mario rode along the bike path on his unicycle. Also, I want to thank the 20 readers who have sent comments to me via this website. Each is very much appreciated. I don’t usually reply. Sorry about that. Too tired? The “supplier” of this web facility   allow me to find how many hits were made each day (but not by whom). It astonishes me that they average 18.5 per day, the highest being 29, and three other days scoring 28 hits.The photos below illustrate a couple of Taranaki-ites exhibiting their sense of humour. Look closely at the small sign in the second photo. Hope you can read it.


Friday, 23 November

A no-cycle day

My brother Mark successfully taught me how to take and import partial screen dumps as I was keen to display the biking routes I have taken and because several readers have said they have needed an atlas beside them. Mark Koudelka of Volto ebikes also requested the route maps on this site, if possible.
Later, I might shift them from the top. Comments would be appreciated.
I just hope it is in order to use Google Maps in this way, noting the copyright symbol at the foot of each map.


Saturday, 24 November

Patea to Wanganui

e-bike-05An amazing ride today. Rode 62 kms in 3.25 hours. At last I had a following wind, most of the way. The trip computer shows time taken for every lap of 5 kms, and I recorded less than 10 minutes for the first time, in the second lap out of Patea. Then another one! I achieved 4 consecutive laps of less than 10 seconds each, ie, an average speed of over 30 kph over 20 kms. Then a longer one, and then another record: 9.13 minutes! Nearly 33 kph. Was the wind that strong? Not telling! Lance Armstrong: eat your heart out.
An intelligent lot over here. Even the sheep are keen to get to school.
Before we reached the Patea starting point we stopped at the Tawhiti Museum. This is a MUST SEE !!!http://www.tawhitimuseum.co.nz/. Charles (Annie’s son) and Cobi had recommended it. Not surprising. Beats the Matakohi Museum for interest, and that’s saying something. We are staying with Annie’s good friends Helen and Colin Broadhead. Lots to do here in Wanganui. Great to be back.


Sunday, 25 November

A no-cycle day

Annie went to morning church; I went to the Wanganui library and used their wi-fi to update yesterday’s blog. Mt Ruapehu was clearly visible with plenty of snow.
After lunch we went visiting, including to the Sarjeant Gallery where one of Charles’s paintings is on display. Then to the Tawhero golf course for 9 holes in the strongest wind Annie has ever experienced. We both scored well, despite the conditions: 21 stableford points for me; 20 for Annie.


Monday, 26 November

Another no-cycle day

So much we wanted to do, we couldn’t fit it all in. The highlight was the visit out to Fordell School. When Charles and Cobi’s kids started there, in April last year, the roll was 37. It is now 84 and still growing. The Principal and staff are real magnets. Unfortunately for Fordell School, Andrew Osmond has accepted the of Principal at St George’s next year, the Anglican co-ed day school for years 4 to 8 attached to Wanganui Collegiate. Andrew is a keen sportsman and had a short ride on my Volto. He said it would be just the thing – when he gets older!


Tuesday, 27 November

Wanganui to Foxton via Fordell


electric-bicycle03 electric-bicycle02 electric-bicycle01

It was super to ride along No. 2 Line from Wanganui to Fordell – our old stamping ground. A stunning day, with the customary view of Ruapehu away to the left. Then back to the racing traffic along the highway. As before, most vehicles have been considerate, but I have witnessed some near misses – not involving me, just stupid overtaking on blind corners.
The Fordell detour added a few kms to the journey – 89 in total today. Annie met me for lunch at the turnoff to the Wanganui Golf Club at Santoft Road and we changed batteries. We met again at the Himatangi corner to change batteries again. Not that changing is essential; we just agree to meet each 35 kms or so and change anyway. I put the bike on the rack at Foxton and then drove down to the beach to my cousin John Bary’s luxurious house. John and Paula returned from the annual trip to Taupo with the Ashhurst Fishing (or Boating?) Club, which John started. This was Ashhurst’s 35th competition at Taupo. I think 20 or so boats went up this year.
Again the wind featured in the day’s ride. Fortunately it was side on. I reckon it was at least 50 knots. I was riding on a lean, I’m sure.


Wednesday, 28 November

Foxton to Waikanae via Peka Peka

Picking up my route from Foxton town, I rode in sombre mood as I realised this was my second-to-last day of riding. The ride has been fantastic, with many days when I was sorry to get off the bike – it had been so enjoyable.
We called in on my niece Kaahu Bennett at Levin and had lunch there. Then I bought a jersey at the Silverdale outlet on Levin’s outskirts.
In two instances, this section of Highway 1 makes special allowances for bikes: the first was at the very long narrow bridge just south of Foxton; the other is the railway overpass just north of Otaki. There are special bike routes to circumnavigate these. Very welcome.
I was well ahead of our planned meeting time at Annie’s friend Jenny Masters’ so decided to detour to Peka Peka to visit Dick and Beth Jessup. It was the best way south from there by bike, anyhow. Peka Peka Road is the start of the Kapiti Coastal Cycle Route. What a change to ride off Highway 1!
Distance today was 68 kms.


Thursday, 29 November

Waikanae to Paraparaumu Beach

To ease things for my biking companions on Saturday, (those doing the final leg to Wellington), I decided to ride to Paraparaumu Beach today. It was only 12 kms from Jenny Masters’ along the Kapiti Coastal Cycle Route. What a wonderful experience! It was a complete pleasure – good weather, interesting views (of Kapiti, of whitebaiters, of coastal bush, and so on), no traffic, quiet streets, passing the properties I used to own in Ngapotiki St, etc. Magic. I was so pleased I had done this on my own, but also felt guilty than I had obviated the opportunity for my family to do this section of the journey. However, those Wellingtonians can ride it some other time.
Bought lunch and took it to Tim Rogerson’s. He and I then played 9 holes of golf at his club – Otaki. Couldn’t putt. Lost!


Friday, 30 November

No-cycle day

A day to relax, play golf (9 holes again at Otaki) with Tim Rogerson and Annie, prepare for the final day of riding in the North Island, tomorrow.


Saturday, 1 December

Paraparaumu Beach to Lyall Bay, Wellington

Many members of my extended family came out to Paraparaumu Beach for the final day of riding. In all, 12 of us rode some of the way and four provided support.
We started with coffee and set off at 11 am. The weather was perfect for the trip. Fine with a gentle breeze, which became increasingly stronger the nearer we were to the capital. After lengthy stops for lunch and afternoon tea the final three riders – Tony, Masina and I – reached the Wellington Railway Station just after 3.30 pm. We could have stopped there, but decided to ride on to their home in Lyall Bay.
Most of the trip had been on cycle tracks. Very welcome and so much more pleasurable than the short rides on main roads today. Decided to ride down the Ngauranga Gorge as that has a path dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. It was very exhilarating.
The trip today covered 71 kms, making 1309 kms for the total North Island journey. According to Google Maps, the shortest route from Cape Reinga to Lyall Bay is only 1070 kms, so my circuitous route, chosen to avoid main highways, added over 200 kms. But I wouldn’t change any of it. Safety was my main consideration, and the magnificent scenery on the secondary roads was a bonus.
My thanks to Annie in particular for her patience throughout the journey, and to Mark Koudelka for supplying the Volto ebike.
Thanks too to all those who have followed my blog, especially the 24 who sent comments via that medium. The highest number of hits in any one day was 33, and the average was 19. Amazing.
Next year – the SOUTH ISLAND!


Paraparaumu start: L to R: Jack (grandson), Michelle (niece), Libby (Jack’s girlfriend), me, Hugh and Jeremy (grandsons), Tony (son-in-law), Masina (granddaughter, obscured), Stephanie (niece)



Wellington Railway Station. Masina (granddaughter) and myself. Cameraman is Tony, my son-in-law.