Vlog by Isabelle: see below
Today is Waitangi Day, which is NZ’s national day; it commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840. The treaty was signed by representatives acting on behalf of the British Crown, and Maori chiefs. The signing had the effect of securing British sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand.
We wake up with the alarm clock at 7:30am. We want to start our long bike ride by 9am. Quick breakfast.
The programme of today is to ride a part of the Hauraki Rail Trail, which is one of New Zealand Cycle Trail’s 22 Great Rides. This great initiative (‘The New Zealand Cycle Trail Project’) started in 2009, when the government announced there would be $50 million committed to creating a series of cycleways across both islands of New Zealand. This network of cycleways is based around New Zealand’s iconic attractions and existing infrastructure. Ultimately providing thousands of kilometers of trails, these Great Rides will take in the best of New Zealand’s dramatic landscapes and are a great incentive for cycle tourism in New Zealand. These Great Rides are the premier rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail. They are predominantly off-road trails that showcase the very best of New Zealand’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage.
We arrive in the ‘Kopu Bike Hire’ shop, located in Kopu, 5 km South of Thames, just before 9am. Our bikes are waiting for us. The owners of the shop are very nice and helpful.
The shop is located on the Hauraki Rail Trail. We leave at 9:30am, for a big day on our bikes. I’m a bit afraid not only of the weather (but it’s great for the time being and the forecast is good) but also about the distance: shall the kids be alright to ride more than 50 km (especially Jules)?
We intend to go from Kopu to Paeroa (29 km) then to Waikino Station (another 14 km), where the owner will come and pick us up (along with the bikes). The first part to Paeroa (29 km) is nice (and flat); it meanders through farmland. Nice weather. We eat our picnic (sandwiches) when reaching Paeroa. In the town, we go to a Countdown to buy some (well-deserved) treats as deserts (except the girls who share a pack of blueberries). Short rain.
From Paeroa, we head for the Waikino Railway Station to take the vintage train on to Waihi. This leg (14 km) winds through the Karangahake Gorge, famous for its gold mining history. We ride through the 1.1km Karangahake Rail Tunnel.
We reach the historic Waikino Railway Station at 3:30pm. From there a vintage train leaves to Waihi. The next train is at 4:30pm but it doesn’t return. It means that we have to do the Waihi – Waikino part by bike. Kids are not thrilled by the news… We put the bikes on the train for the 30’ ride. Nice scenery.
It takes us 45’ to do these last 11 km (from Waihi to Waikino). The path is nice. We discover a distinctly different landscape along this third leg. Florence is very tired.
We arrive, exhausted but happy, at the appointment with the owner of ‘Kopu Bike Hire’, in Waikino. We rode 55 kilometres!
He drives us back to Kopu where we left our camper. It’s 7pm. We decide to park the camper in one of Thames public parking space that accepts camper. We take a (hot) shower in the camper and eat pasta.
We are all tired. I work till midnight (in fact until my phone runs out of battery…).