Cyclists: Peter Arnold, Matthew Crozier, Marlene Hiestand, Pieter Holl, Margaret Law, Janette Lloyd, Marianne McNeil, Ken & Liz Phillips, Wolfgang Pohl, Chris Pyke, Reed Ren.
9th November. Papamoa
The 12 intrepid cyclists booked into the tour arrived progressively at the Tasman Papamoa Holiday Park throughout the sunny afternoon. After a briefing that evening, during which the many duties were allocated out, most of us headed over the food court at the nearby plaza for a bite to eat.
10th November – Papamoa to Pukehina Beach – 67km, 390m of climbing
After our first early morning shared breakfast and lunch making session in the campground kitchen, we packed up and were on the road by 8.30am, Peter driving Ken and Liz’s Ute and trailer on the first of what would become many 10km shared driving stints, and the rest of us on our bikes. We headed inland to the cycleway, which we followed to Parton Road and eventually to the cycleway running beside the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road.
After turning off onto Te Tumu Road, we met up with Peter for our first driver change and morning tea stop.
Rested and refuelled, we continued to Ford Road and a short side trip to view the Kaituna Mole and “The Cut”, which were built in the 1950s to divert the Kaituna River away from Maketu. And well worth the effort it was too, with the mole being very popular amongst the local fishermen and fisher women.
From there, we continued to Maketu, where we were able to watch a very competent skipper bring his small craft in over the bar.
After grinding up our first hill and onto the ridge behind the town, which afforded great views of the spit, estuary and Mt Maunganui to the west, and Pukehina Beach, our still some way off destination, to the east, we carried on to Paengaroa, where we had lunch in the well-appointed local park.
Rested and refuelled again, some with a caffeine fix from the nearby café, we looped around through some very pretty farmland before dropping down to SH2 and out to the coast, ending the day with a very nice tail-wind assisted ride through the settlement to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, our comfortable and spacious accommodation for the night.
11th November – Pukehina Beach to Kawerau – 80km, 920m of climbing
We left Pukehina Beach with raincoats on, stopping on the side of the road heading to Matata after 20kms for a very wet morning tea.
At Matata we had the choice of going on a high road over Manawahe Hill to Rotoma or taking a lower shorter route. Four decided on Manawahe Road which had some big climbs, stopping at Lake Rotoma under shelter for lunch, before heading down a very busy and wet SH30 to Kawarau turnoff. They arrived at the motel very wet to meet the others already there.
That evening we headed off to a local club in a courtesy van for dinner.
12th November – Kawerau to Murupara – 81km, 720m of climbing
Today’s ride began with a rainy morning. The rain got even heavier when we had morning tea.
However, it cleared up by lunch time. We had our lunches at a lovely lakeside.
The afternoon riding was fine and fresh.
We turned up to the motel quite early.
13th November – Murupara to Taupo – 96km, 830m of climbing
The day dawned fine with some cloud about. We started with a long gradual uphill climb out of Murupara heading towards SH5. Morning tea was in a layby surrounded by pine forest. Soon we were on SH5 cycling through Waiotapu and onto the Waiotapu Loop Road past a large mud pool with the smell of sulphur in the air. Then over a bridge across a warm stream where some tourists were taking a dip.
After turning off the highway we stopped for lunch in Reporoa
After lunch we continued, traveling slightly uphill through Broadlands and down into Taupo.
A 96km day! We were all looking forward to our day off in Taupo.
14th November – Taupo Rest Day
We spent our rest day in Taupo visiting friends, checking out a few tourist hot spots, catching up on chores and relaxing. Reed and Wolfgang spent most of their time preparing a delicious Chinese evening meal for us.
15th November – Taupo to Mangakino – 63.3km, 794m of climbing
Beautiful riding today😀. Woke to a blue cloudless sky in Taupo. Rode down to the Lakefront to admire the view over the lake to the mountains, around the marina & across the control gates heading out of Taupo.
Ken led the ride initially along Poihipi Rd & then onto side roads and away from the traffic. Beautiful riding through lovely scenery around Forest Rd. Stopped for an early morning tea as we only had a 60kms to ride today. Bit of a climb back to Poihipi Rd then a lovely ride down Kaahu Rd towards Whakamaru. Arrived at the lakeside for a lunch and coffee stop at the Dam Cafe ☕️.
The last 10 kms to Mangakino were mostly along the river trail which was fun.
Arrived at our accommodation, Maraetai Lodge, to find chocolates on our pillows!! Lovely spot after a great day’s riding 😀😀.
16th November – Mangakino to Okoroire – 83km, 780m of climbing
We were well rested and ready to go early with loads of energy from last night’s excellent meal at the District Services & Citizen Club, and after a good sleep at the very comfortable Lake Maraetai Lodge.
El fresco breakfast on the deck with views over the lake, with the Kinleith Forest behind it – the first half of the day’s ride. But first it would be a 20km dog’s leg back to the Whakamaru Dam to get back to the same point on the other side of the lake.
The day started overcast – just to prepare us for the forecast rain in the late afternoon. The day’s steep section was at the 23km mark. A 100m climb, 9.8% max, to get up onto the forest block. Most managed the climb; some had to walk up. The road was easy after that with a gradual descent towards Tokoroa. Morning tea was very welcome and well deserved.
We slipped behind Tokoroa, heading north through very picturesque undulating rolling hills, mainly following the valleys and ridges.
Not long after that, Peter discovered a slow leak and had to replace a tube – with plenty of support and guidance!
Not far to Putaruru now, but got stopped for the second time today by road maintenance crews.
Finally made it to Putaruru for lunch. Some went shopping to top up the pantry, others for bike parts, and some just because there were shops there.
Okoroire Lodge is a very classy establishment, clearly showing its heritage.
Most enjoyed soothing aching muscles in the warm thermal waters before a lovely dinner in the dining hall. We did not leave hungry!
Those in the outside cabins were lucky to finish off the day with their own personal spa.
17th November – Okoroire to Ngongotaha – 62km, 773 metres of climbing
We set off from Okoroire, after a very good buffet style breakfast, along Somerville Road heading for the busy SH28 for a few kilometres until we hit an even busier SH5. The most dangerous part was crossing a confined bridge with two trucks thundering past us going well over the speed limit. We were pleased to turn onto the less busy SH28 again and make a left turn up Leslie Road. This was a lovely quiet no exit road with tar seal right up to the forestry road about 10 km further on.
A real bonus for the group was a side trip into the Putaruru Blue Springs. We had the gate opened for us by a contracting mower man, allowing us to ride in and out to view the springs. After a 200 odd metre climb, we found Wolfgang waiting patiently for us with morning tea.
From there we faced a big climb up to Mamaku mainly on gravel road. The forestry ride in my opinion was beautiful. Having a hardtail to ride on the gravel road was a joy. Things went a wee bit pear shaped when we got to an intersection. We had been told that the way to go was straight through the intersection and head along Cecil Road. It was blocked by a big dump of dirt and a deep drainage ditch. It did not look too good for touring bikes so most of the group headed out to the SH5 and the long way around to Mamaku. A few of us (four) braved Cecil Road and found that after 400 metres we were on lovely gravel road which soon led to tar seal and an easy road into Mamaku. The touring bikes found that they were in for a long hard slog into deep metal and about 10 km, extra tough riding. Eventually we all met up at the lovely Blueberry Café for lunch and a coffee. Mamaku did not get a visit from the bulk of the group as we then headed back to SH5 and then down Oturoa road to Ngongotaha. It was a lovely ride down through scenic countryside with a tail wind to finish a great day out riding. We stayed right on the shores of Lake Rotorua on a very wet night at the Rotorua Family Holiday Park.
18th November – Ngongotaha to Hairini (Tauranga) – 67km, 920m of climbing
Everyone was ready to ride at 8am from the Ngongotaha Family Holiday Park on our second to last day which took us to Tauranga. The weather was looking good but threatened some showers later.
The Route to Tauranga was 62kms, 49kms was paved and 13kms gravel and took about 3½ hours riding time.
Out of Ngongotaha we joined SH36 for about 4km then wound our way along scenic rural farmland roads before re-joining SH36 at about 10kms with its usual busy trucking traffic which included logging trucks and milk tankers. The weather was mostly fine at this stage but we had some showers later. At 17km and the landscape changed to native bush and a descent into the Mangorewa Gorge then a 118 m climb in 2.3 kms which is the highest point on the route. No problem to eBikes!
At 24km, we turned off SH36 onto Mangatoi Road which was undulating and gravel for 10 kms. At 40 km we turned right onto Oropi Rd then right again onto McPhail Rd which had a couple of kilometres of gravel. The scenery was a mix of farmland and native bush. Lunch was at the entrance to the Rimu Loop track Reserve. Margaret showed us the short loop walk to view some magnificent giant Rimu trees.
From about 30kms, the route was a slow descent into Tauranga except for a couple of climbs at about 47km and 54kms. We arrived at the Cottage Park Thermal Motel about mid-afternoon.
19th November – Hairini to Papamoa – 26km, 110m of climbing
Author: Pieter and Wolfgang
The last day of the tour was our easiest with only 26km of mainly flat riding on a mixture of cycle ways, quiet roads and busy roads.
From Hairini, we rode into the Tauranga CBD before crossing to Mt Maunganui on the cycle way attached to the main road bridge. After stopping for coffee at one of the local cafes, we followed the coast back to Papamoa and our waiting vehicles, arriving there around 11 am.
And so ended our excellent tour. A big thank you to Margaret for organising the tour and keeping us under control during the tour (which was not without its challenges!).