For previous blog entries of our ride through NZ, Australia, South East Asia, China and Central Asia, click on the little arrows beside the dates in the Blog Archive below and use the scroll down menu.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Gisborne to Wellington - end of the North Island


Glenross backpackers
Glenross backpackers
Shi - cat - su
Longest place name in the world

Livvy, Tess, Paddy, Billy, Baxter
Emma and family
The bothy
Murray, Milly, Pippa

Mohaka River

The bothy

Distance covered - 1250kms

Route- Gisborne - Morere - Wairoa - Tutira - Napier - Waipawa - Herbertville - Pongaroa - Masterton - Lower Hutt - Wellington

After our excellent stop at Heather and Keith's, we said our goodbyes and got back on the bikes. Ian and Anna, our new cycling buddies met us in Gisborne and we set off to Morere where we were treated to a shot in the hot spring pools. Nice. Setting off early next morning, we had some really big climbs and bad weather to contend with and by 4 o'clock we're soaked and miserable. A car pulled up and a lady called Cat told us about her family's bothy we could stay in a few miles down the road, free of charge as we were on a budget, fundraising etc. Spirits lifted, we cycled on to the bothy near a very remote town called Kotemaori. When we arrived, Cat was waiting for us and showed us into a beautiful cottage, complete with log fire and beers chilling for us in the fridge. Cat explained that it was her Dad, Hamish, who mostly took charge of running the bothy and we could nip down to the farmhouse to see him later that night. So after dinner, we all went down to meet everyone. Hamish welcomed us in and we spent the evening drinking gin and whisky and getting to know this wonderful man. Hamish runs the dairy farm along with Cat his daughter and her husband Murray. They also have 2 daughters, Milly and Pippa, several sheepdogs and 2 pet calves called Larry and Barry. Hamish explained to us that the bothy was used almost like a refuge for people travelling. Hamish talked about how travel was very important for people and he wanted to encourage that by giving them a place to go, somewhere special they would remember for a long time.We felt so lucky to have met Cat on the road that day as we sat drinking chai tea and whisky by the fire. The next morning, we had intended to leave but Hamish mentioned that they had bought some kayak's for people to use when they visited and asked if we would like a shot. So Ben and I kayaked down the Mohaka river for an hour and a half and Hamish picked us up in the 4 x 4 further downstream. We had a great time paddling down this quiet, unspoilt valley with beautiful scenery and wildlife all around us. We then did some 4 x 4ing in the landrover to get to the top of a nearby hill for a great view. That night Cat, Murray and Hamish had us round for a wonderful dinner and some great company. I'm so glad we had the pleasure of meeting such good people. Country people in NZ are generally very friendly, helpful and open but these guys were unforgettable. We were touched by their warmth and felt privileged to be welcomed into their family life the way we were. They did so much for us and asked for nothing in return.

We left the bothy in great spirits and made our way to the city of Napier. It's more the size of a town to me though. We both really liked Napier. Ian and Anna went off to a hotel for a couple of nights luxury while me and Bear Grylls slept on Napier beach behind a bush. It wasn't the best nights sleep we've had(we didn't put the tent up so as to be less conspicuous) but the next morning I realised it had been good for me to rough it a bit. The next day we cycled just 20 kms in the evening after spending all day lounging around on the beach and ended up just outside Hastings. As it was getting dark and we hadn't set up camp yet, we knocked on a door near some farmland and Emma and Emile let us put our tent up in their garden. Thanks to both of you. We set off in the morning and met Ian and Anna in Havelock West. We spent a great day cycling on some quiet back roads Ian had found in the Pedallers Paradise book by Nigel Rushton and hardly saw a car all day. The weather turned really nasty and we went to Rivers Edge camp site in Waipawa where Paddy and his wife Tess agreed to let us stay for free to help with the continuation of our trip and fundraising. We were even upgraded to a very nice cabin. Thanks to both of you. The campsite is a great place, very well looked after and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Please see our places to stay page for details of this and all the other campsites/hostels mentioned in the blog.

We left Waipawa and carried on the wonderful quiet little number 52 road to a place called Herbertville at the end of a quiet road by the sea. Pat, the owner there, again very kindly let us stay free of charge. Herbertville is a quiet little campsite which sits on a beautiful stretch of rugged, unspoilt and very remote coastline. The night we spent at Herbertville was a Saturday and lo-and-behold, despite being in the middle of nowhere, there was a pub. Hooray! And the cheapest pub we've been in so far. A good night was had by all as we walked in to find middle-aged women pole dancing with pool cues, singing to Lionel Ritchie and the invitees of a 21st birthday party dancing on the bar. When we got into the tent however, the wind started to pick up. We had spent most of the day cycling into a head wind and could now really feel the wind picking up. By 1am, the wind had turned into a full-on gale and our poor wee tent was in danger of being ripped apart. So, in the madness of the force 10, we managed to dismantle the tent and drag it to the campsite kitchen where we packed it away. Then, finding ourselves homeless for the evening we slept in the laundry room, where we thought the roof was going to get ripped off in the wind. So after a bad nights sleep, we went to see how Ian and Anna had got on. They had had a bit of shelter behind a caravan and were in their very nice Nallo GT 3 expedition tent made by Hilleberg, so they survived the night outside. The four of us cycled off into the hellish head wind again. We were all getting pretty sick of it by this stage, there's nothing more disheartening on a bike. It's amazing how Mark Beaumont managed to keep cycling into a headwind on that longest, straight road in Australia for so long. Fair play to the man. We agreed on a short days cycle to the village of Pongaroa, 55kms away. However, as it was still into a head wind and up some massive climbs, it felt more like 100kms. We arrived in Pongaroa in an absolute gale, far worse than the one at Herbertville. Realising, there was no way we could put a tent up in such weather we agreed to cycle another 10kms to a backpackers down the road. And what a 10kms it turned out to be! The journey took over an hour as we battled against the wind. Gusts of over 100kms an hour would fling the bikes round 180 degrees and send us reeling in the opposite direction. This 10km ride seemed harder than an SXC race but was so ridiculous we couldn't stop laughing. We were quite concerned though about the real possibility of trees falling on us but managed to arrive at the backpackers unscathed. When we arrived at Glen Ross backpackers, we were happy to find a beautifully clean and spacious hostel which was much more like a holiday home than a backpackers. It sits up on a moor in a very remote spot surrounded by farmland and neighboured only by George and Pauline, the owners, house. There were no other guests staying so we had a choice of rooms to stay in. We lit a fire and relaxed in front of the TV that evening. George came down to welcome us. We couldn't believe our good fortune to be offered free accommodation once again. This place is really something special and at only $25 dollars a night it is a total bargain. Pauline, George's wife, left us cake and eggs and we woke up the next morning to find a loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm, on the worktop. Pauline and George really go the extra mile to make you feel at home.

So off we went again into the headwind for the 3rd day in a row, aiming to get 90kms down the road to Masterton. We set off thinking we'd never make it in the wind but after 40 kms or so the wind died down and we absolutely flew into Masterton. We managed to maintain an average speed of about 30kms an hour for over an hour. It was a great cycle. We arrived in Masterton at Mawley Park campsite where Mike agreed to let us stay for free.

Our next stop was Lower Hutt, about 20kms out of Wellington where we've just spent the night with our friends Carol and Stew. Thanks for looking after us so well you two. This afternoon we are cycling into Wellington to stay with Lucy's friend Mary. Mary lives right in the centre of Wellington, so we'll dump the bikes and go for a look in town. New Zealand hospitality so far has been truly amazing and we really think this is a great country. People are a lot more trusting and open here than back home which makes travelling in the country easier. We are looking forward to getting to the South Island in a couple of days for the next leg of our great adventure. We hope to do some more cycling with Ian and Anna too. We're so glad we met these two and have become such good friends in a short space of time. We will miss you when you go but will see you in Frankfurt on our way home next year!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Guys

    we are also traveling around NZ by bikes and are about a day behind you ;-)

    In fact I think we saw you cycling round napier the other day. We got your blog from the Glenross BBH what a fantastic place to stay for cyclists

    we are on

    we are in wellington over the weekend and are heading to the south Island on Tuesday next week

    hope to catch up with you sometime