Friday, March 10, 2017

Bielefeld does(n't) exist

In the past 2 days 3 different groups of Germans have explained that there is a saying in Germany "Bielefeld doesn't exist".
It all started when a group of motorcyclists from Stuttgart arrived into the backpackers in Kaitaia. I approached them in need of a 15mm spanner to loosen my pedals. I leave my pedals relatively loose as they inherently self tighten when you ride and it is a requirement to remove them to ship the bike. (If you get to the airport and can't undo them you have a problem). For this reason I carry a relatively lightweight 15mm cone spanner attached to the bike at all times under a drink bottle bidon cage. You can use an Allen key to remove the spanner for the pedals. I tried to loosen my pedals ready for the bus from Kaitaia to Auckland, but found that the tightening I saw happen at the Taupo bike shop was more than I could undo with my spanner.   The motorcyclists obliged with a heavier 15mm spanner and some added brute force.   Later, one of the group explained that he wasn't from Stuttgart like the rest of them, that he worked for a Stuttgart company but came from Bielefeld.  Apparently most Germans don't know of Bielefeld or if they do they know the saying that it doesn't exist. He's not used to people especially foreigners saying, that names familiar, where precisely is it, I think I've been there. He responded with between Hanover and Dortmund to which I replied I think I camped in a pine forest in the rain near there. He then expanded on his real home.  He actually comes from Oerlinghausen but refers to the larger Bielefeld, because nobody knows Oerlinghausen.  "Oerlinghausen" I repeat to him, yes I'm sure I know those names. I look on my phone but the 300 photos I carry on the phone don't feature these locations, I pull up my web photos, click on Germany and advance to the relevant page and there is a photo of the tent under the pines, but my caption reads "Helpup" as the locality.  The guy is amazed, nobody has every heard of these places and I've camped just down the road from him. Helpup he says is maybe 5km from his house.  My caption relates to the first sign I saw the next day, so I was actually closer to Oerlinghausen than 5km. He shows me his home in Berliner Strasse. I refer several times during the conversation to a supermarket I sought rain cover at prior to camping. When I look back at my scanned diary of the day I see the supermarket is named in the diary as being in Oerlinghausen, I locate the supermarket that I stopped at on the Google Maps satellite photo and it is less than 1km from this Kaitaia motor cyclists house.
The following day in Kaitaia, when recounting the story to another German guest, he tells me of the saying, "Bielefeld doesn't exist" and as he says it two girls walk into the far end of the kitchen and protest, saying "Bielefeld does exist, we come from Bielefeld"

Kaitaia - Cape Rienga

The weather forecast had been bad for days yet somehow I'd managed to avoid getting caught in anything more than showers. Now I was in Kaitaia, a place where I had thought I'd need 3 days to go to the cape and back. With 110km from Kaitaia to Cape Rienga and no accommodation very close to the cape, I would ride 1 day to somewhere like Te Kao then complete a Te Kao to Cape Rienga return trip on day 2, then ride back to Kaitaia on day 3. This would be a fine plan in fine weather but not something I fancied in the predicted rain and thunderstorms.
Another option I started considering was a 110km ride to the Cape then attempt to hitch a lift (for both myself and the bike) with anybody that happened to be there.  Of course there's a massive flaw with this plan, what if you don't get a lift?  I could be soaked through without camping gear if I choose to ride light, and with a tent that I know has leaks if I take it.
This led me to start thinking of doing the ride in the reverse direction. It sort of messes up the continuity of the south to north trip, but I'd still have ridden it. Doing a drop off might be easier to organise and would certainly add a lot more certainty.  In Vietnam 10 years ago I wanted to ride from Hanoi down the length of the country but didn't want to ride the top half twice, so I bussed the bike from Vinh to Hanoi then rode back down, in essence it's the same thing. I enquired at the reception desk of the backpackers, interested in going the very next day (whilst the weather might still hold out for half a day meaning I'd only be drenched for half a day and arrive back here to a nice shower, dry clothes and a bed).  It turned out that there was another guest being dropped off at the cape the next day, leaving the hostel at 8:30. A quick phone call to the driver and it's locked in. Tomorrow morning I get a lift to the cape, then ride back to Kaitaia.
I go through what I might need and pack a bag with tools and repair items, waterproofs, polypro's - lest I need to sleep out for some reason, food and water with extras just in case. I can fit it all in one pannier, but two would balance the load (and look a lot better in the photo). I opt for the left rear pannier and the front day pack pannier. I'll ride with both on the rear but both bags can be mounted on the left side for the pic :-) of the bike with the lighthouse the fingerpost  and the endless blue of the sky, the Tasman and Pacific behind.  Brilliant!
At 8:30 the next morning a twin cab ute arrives, it's my ride, the bike lies flat in the back, I take the back seat where I can watch the bike and not feel like I'm stealing someone else's booking.  The driver explains how his power steering failed this morning but he's visited his normal mechanic and it's fixed. This instills confidence, not.
We head off, the drivers an old guy, a local from further up where we are headed, and talks continuously explaining the land the history, what's what & where and tells you every time you go past the last ______ (insert everything here). Last shop, last hotel, last golf course, last accommodation, last ...
As we approach the cape the land is covered in sea mist, at the Cape Rienga car park visibility is about 20 metres. We can see the path we need to take but everything is white, certainly no cliffs, rocks or lighthouse to be seen.
I've been told the land is sacred, so I walk with the bike down the path, a bend in the path appears in the whiteness, then another, i descend but still no sight of anything but the occasional tourist coming up the reverse direction. Finally the faint outline of a white building in the white mist, the Cape...
I lean my bike against the fingerpost and click a pic of them, I move back to get the pic I wanted with the lighthouse, fingerpost, bike and oceans. It's not quite how I pictured it...  Another couple snap a picture looking back toward the land, with the fingerpost in the foreground and lighthouse in the background the framing is much better, but their photo is missing the two oceans, the one thing that makes here different to everywhere else. Hmm... but then mine is missing the oceans too, I better get that shot, it'll be the one I keep and value more, because there's something to see in it.
Cape Rienga - NZ end to end (North)
Bluff - 5 weeks ago - NZ end to end (South)
The numbers of people start to increase a little, there's the Aussies from Napier (NZ), a couple from Darwin, we talk of it clearing, and for a moment you get a washed out sense of blue in a patch above you. 11 o'clock comes and goes and I know I have 5 to 6 hours riding in front of me. The rain doesn't matter anymore, when I get to the hostel It'll be finished, and the clothes can get washed and dried. It can dump on me as I ride back, but I'd prefer it didn't. I wait just a bit longer and as those fleeting blue glimpses disappear so do I. (At the hostel later in the night I talk to a couple who were there at 2pm, the mist never lifted - I'm glad I didn't wait hoping)
I've just seen my entire ride for the day from the car, I know the first 20km is hilly volcanic territory and that it turns to what all the motorist call flat afterwards. At 20km to Kaitaia  I meet another (UK) cyclist heading north, he's been told it's flat, I show him the profile on my phone and explain it undulates all the way until the hills really start, but the hills are not so steep to be a problem. As I always say, bike in 1st gear, brain in neutral and pedal.
On the northern outskirts of Kaitsia a yellow building appears. When I reach the big yellow Pak & Save supermarket I stop for supplies and a journey's end selfie. At Pak & Save Kaitaia, my two journeys meet.
Yesterday - 2100km from Bluff to Pak&Save going north
Today - 110km from Cape Rienga to Pak&Save going south
Journey complete.
Pak & Save Kaitaia - the true end of the NZ end to end
The rain that the MetService have been threatening me with for days and days just hasn't happened where I was. I hear Auckland and Coromandel have had flooding, and later on the rain arrives here. The next day I arrange my return to Auckland and Aus, clean my tent ready for AQIS and it stops raining just enough to make trips to the info centre and library.
The timing of the last little bit of my trip, the foregoing of the rest day when the weather didn't look quite as bad as they predicted all worked out. Yep, I paid for two rooms in Ohaeawai and Kaitaia for the same night but I wouldn't change a thing.
I stay yet one more day in Kaitaia as I can't get accommodation for Friday night, it continues to rain all day. As I write this in the hostel lounge, the thunder cracks outside. One more night here in Kaitaia then in the morning I bus back to Auckland, find a bike box and prepare for the flight home.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Whangarei - Ohaeawai - Kaitaia

Heading from the hostel to explore the town yesterday evening I did so in normal clothes (not cycling knicks). It was then that I became only too aware that the very unpleasant nappy rash (common for cycling especially in hot/sweaty climates) is so much worse with a seat that has collapsed in the middle leaving the seat nose in a very awkward position. I realised then that continuing on some very hilly roads in the most humid part of the country, with lots on rain expected, was not a good idea. Clearly the seat would rub against areas this rainy humid weather and pedaling action had inflamed and be excruciating, I had to buy another seat. I checked out where the bike shops were, one would be closed tomorrow, the other open at 8:30.
At 8 the next day I checked out of the backpackers, loaded the bike and headed off to the bike shop. As I waited for the doors to be opened I noticed a nice leather (brooks like) seat on a bike in the window. I has especially impressed with the $139 I read on the tag hanging on the seat. That's very good for a leather seat especially in a small town in Northland New Zealand. A replacement Brooks Flyer is going to cost $220-250 in either AU or NZ.
When the doors finally opened the salesman showed me their range, basically 2 seats in either Male or Female varieties @ $69 ea. I asked about the one in the window and was told "only if you by the bike". I said what about the price tag $139.  When I went to show him - it was $1139 and he always hangs the bike prices from the bikes seat.  Doh...
$69 later I had one of the two stock seats and used his pump to add air to my rear - it wasn't flat but it was low. A slow leak now?  I checked for any new glass etc in the tyre but found nothing. If it had gone down just that much overnight and possibly much of yesterday I wouldn't need to fix it now I could stop every few hours to check it or add air. I should ride now lest that new weather system beat me to my destination.
At 1150m ascent, the day was still quite hilly but not as bad as some just done. I had a light lunch in Kawakawa then continued hoping to ride on before my leg muscles had realised of stopped. ( I'm finding it's always hard restarting after lunch)
Note the crossways tear on top near the nose. That cause the centre to collapse. 
Typical road scene north of Whangarei 
In the south Pine Hedges, In the far north Bamboo
Discontinued manufacture Marathon XR, most upset it did this when there was still tread left
The day finished with a rise into Ohaeawai and my pub sat on the corner where I needed to turn right.
The room I had was a double with basin but shared showers, toilets and kitchenette. This would be home for the next day and a bit.
As time progressed the weather didn't seem to be turning, even overnight we didn't get the rain that we'd had other nights, so in the wee hours I decided the rest day (to avoid the rain) would be not only a waisted day but might put be in a worse position if the rain system arrives a day late. The rest day had to go, I would pack and leave early in an attempt to again beat the rain, this time to Kaitaia. Once sheltered in Kaitaia I could decide what the future would be.
I hadn't fixed the slow leak - I was leaving that for "something to do" on my rest day. I'd just have to check the tyre regularly. It had gone down completely overnight so a check every hour initially.
I packed whilst it was dark, ate breakfast in the hotel lobby - as the lounge with tables was locked, loaded up and left with lights flashing as tree outlines slowly became discernible about 7am. Sunrise would not be for a while yet. At 8am I checked the tyre, not too bad but I'll add s bit, then 10 minutes later a clicking noise. Speed related. I stopped found nothing started again then stopped for another look. What I found was a bubbled tyre, clearly the internal Kevlar strands had failed or been cut and the tube was forcing this weak point in the tower out in a bubble that was hitting a mudguard mount once each wheel rotation.
I came very close to not bringing my spare folding 35mm tyre. In fact I really only added it because I thought I might want to swap my front over to a slightly wider profile for Molesworth Station.  Now I was very glad I did. Finding the issue, removing the old tyre and tube and adding a new tyre new tube delayed me about 20 minutes. At least I wouldn't have to check on the hour any more, so that's a time saving.
The ascent for today 1300m broken basically into two climbs, one first thing in the morning, which i had done and one starting around the 50km mark of the 80km day.
The second climb was the INSERT NAME HERE gorge, many km of winding climb, where every turn looked like it wails be the second last.  Every corner you'd see what looked to be the top in just a couple of bends. The road had little traffic so the heavily cambered road was not so much of an issue, I could ride a uniform gradient by continually heading to the road centre on left bends and to the road edge on right bends. Finally a picnic area sign "400m on the left" it said,surely that has to at or very near the top.  There was a car parked opposite allowing others to pass and as the last car had just passed I said to the lady driver "is that picnic point at the top?" It took a moment for both the question, and the reason for asking, to sink in. She then beamed a smile and said "yes it is".
The other side was more of the same windy road, but a breeze to coast down. The final 20km was back to flattish undulating territory with the occasional light misty rain - not substantial enough to make you uncomfortable, or to make your clothes much wetter than they already were, just enough to make you worried that it was going to suddenly turn into a downpour ( as it had down on numerous nights)
Into Kaitaia I passed the library and info centre, storing their existence for future need, then found the Main Street and the Mainstreet Backpackers that I had booked on the net about 4am, when I decided I'd skip the rest day.

Auckland - Wellsford - Whangarei

There weren't too many passengers on the 8:45 pm - 10:45 pm sailing of the Friday night ferry from Coromandel to Auckland, but as I waited alone for the ferry to arrive the next passenger to arrive was an American girl called "T" who'd been tramping (bushwalking) all over both islands and hitching between tramps. She was about to fly out of AKL and was being dropped off by a local Coromadel couple who'd been hosting her here after they had picked her up hitch hiking on an earlier occasion. T like I had had trouble getting Auckland accommodation, I mentioned that if it were still a problem, I had had to take the only thing left at my hostel, a twin room and that she could use that. She indicated that she'd got the last bed in a dorm of 12 at hers. We discovered quite later that we were both booked at Attic Backpackers. We did our own things on board but on arrival in Auckland wandered up Queen St, she bought something to eat then to the hostel. I had (we both had) an email with late entry codes to get into the place but mine didn't say what to do with the bike, so picking up our named room key packages from near reception I headed off to see if my room had space for the bike. I was much relieved to find that my room had heaps of space for the bike and returned to get it, enthusiastically announcing to T that my room was huge, without thinking of her needing to go to a dorm of 12.
After I'd showered and as I was about to go to bed I saw T still hanging around reception after midnight. Being a Friday night party night I think there was a degree of concern as to which bunk was free.  I made another offer of the spare bed in my room, and held out the spare room key (Being a twin room they'd left me 2 in the envelope). I was pleased when she accepted.  A room of 2 has got to be better than a room of 12, even if the other is occupied by me.
In the morning we talked, ate breakfast and ultimately checked out before I headed off toward the ferries (fairy's in the local lingo).
Every time I visit Auckland or Sydney my brain has trouble separating them.  To be honest I'm probably more used to the CBD in AKL than I am SYD. Having been to Sydney only once on business and Auckland many times. The physical resemblance just adds to this illusion/confusion. Stand at the northern end of the Main Street and you have ferries departing to the North Shore in front of you, a bridge to the north shore on your left and a big pointy tower thing behind you. The location of the Aotea Centre and the Opera House being the only thing they didn't seem to agree on.
One significant difference though is Auckland's lack of Bike and Pedestrian access to that bridge. This means I can't do what I have done in Sydney and take the bike across to the North Shore, in Auckland the cyclists options are to get a ferry or find a car for the bridge.
Having been suggested the Helensville route via SH16 I decided that West Harbour would get me closest to the non-motorway highway where bikes are allowed, so that's where I headed.
By the time you've stuffed around getting away from the CBD and finally hit the road it's getting toward lunch time but you've got a full day of riding in front of you. Unlike the South Island where I could pretty much pick a town then go to its Motor Park, I found that the North Island required careful planning as there aren't many Motor Parks around (unless it's a tourist haunt, then there are hundreds). I didn't know where I was going to stay, an old style pub somewhere along the highway being the most likely I thought. Googling gave a couple of options but too close to Auckland. I thought I'd try for Wellsford and try an land accommodation when I got there. The highway had other ideas though, at 1595 vertical metres of climb for the day it's probably the hilliest day I've done here.
I guess I shouldve framed the sign as well as the view - I think that's a nasty 11%er
Bee Keeping Security camp near Wellsford

To complicate things on a day when I was intending to stay in an old fashioned Pub, I got passed by approx. 200 (seriously 200) motor bikes, mainly Harley's and most with logos on their backs to show where their loyalties lay.  This made me question if there'd be any pubs anywhere in the district with spare rooms.
When the first of the convoy approached I thought initially I had a road train bearing down on me then I realised the noise was deeper, wider, and in every way possible bigger than any road train. I was truly surprised when a motor bike passed, then another, another, another x200.
It was shortly after this and looking at the clock that I decided to look for farm houses close to the road, to see if camping on their property would be possible. Many were set back on long driveways and the first one I tried had only a 14 year old home. The next place I tried I was welcomed, a guy in a caravan by a big shed some 6km or so out of Wellsford. (a honey infrastructure security guard at his post). On private land with the owner on hand I again refrained from cooking dinner with my stove, so after a lunch like dinner and a cup of tea in the caravan I slept.
Hitting the road about 8 the next morning I headed into Wellsford, bought some groceries at the 4 square and used the loo at the petrol station opposite. (I never did find out what facilities the security guard used) then continued on up the road. Now it was SH1 not 16 anymore. The recommendation for the Helensville route suggested 10km of SH1 then a scenic route to the east. I'm still a very slow learner, when another cyclist recommends a route but this time Ive learnt to ignore the advice. These other cyclists are not me. I don't want to ride a whole heap of incredible hills because of a fear of SH1.  I'd rather torture myself less and use a more carefully engineered highway. If a few cars and trucks scared me I would never have survived so many of the countries I visited last trip.
SH1 is the better option but still a very hilly day at 1160m ascending, whe weather is hot and sweaty and I need to do as I did in Thailand many years ago and use 2 pairs of cycling nicks to avoid nappy rash (even with a daily routine of Vaseline)
Nappy rash on a bike is bad at the best of times but today was the first experience of the combination of a malformed seat, (since the leather had torn in the centre of my Brooks  saddle and it had collapsed in the centre - back in Rotorua)
When I eventually arrived in Whangarei I used the visitors centre to book a backpackers in Whangarei for the night and then 2 nights at a pub in the tiny town of Ohaeawai. At Whangarei I would wash some clothes before the weather turned sour, and in Ohaeawai I'd have a rest day and catch up on blogs etc whilst the worst of the weather that was forecast passed by.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Paeroa - Coromandel - Auckland

Recently I had been in two minds about how I should get to Auckland. I had spoken to another rider in Taupo who indicated that there was a ferry from Coromandel town to Auckland, and that you could catch that ferry to Auckland, change ferries for one to the north, and get away from the city with minimal stuffing about.

The idea was appealing but the timing based on the ferry timetable just didn't seem right for me.
After a bit more time and analyzing where my nightly riding destinations would be, it seemed that regardless of whether I rode in from the southern suburbs or used the ferry I'd be needing accommodation in the CBD the same night - Saturday. If that was the case then my preference was to go via Coromandel, one part of NZ that I had not seen in the years I lived here. So the plan was to ride from Paeroa to Coromandel town Friday, spend an afternoon and a full day in - and around - Coromandel before taking the ferry to Auckland on Saturday evening. As it turned out the ferry was booked out for Saturday and Sunday, didn't run Monday but had space for me on the Friday night late sailing.  The bike ride would be just over 80km from Paeroa to Coromandel, 60km of flat then 20km which included a few heavy climbs, I should arrive by mid afternoon. I'd get to see the west coast of the peninsula as I ride, get a chance for a brief look around the town of Coromandel, eat, then ride back down the road to where the ferry departs ready for 8:45 departure. I'd need late entry accommodation in Auckland CBD and this and the ferry booking were done through the info centre at Thames.

As I write this I'm sitting on that ferry, Auckland bound.

Rotorua - Tauranga - Paeroa

What the metservice website said would be 0.6mm of rain between 12 and 2 am turned out to be quite a substantial fall, enough to pool in the irregular ground of the tenting area and I discovered a substantial pool of water at my feet inside the tent at about 2am. With both my silk inner (which I was in) and my down sleeping bag (beside me) both wet at the feet. I - as quickly as I could - grabbed both items and took them over to the toilet block where I hung them over wall partitions and towel rails, mainly to stop them getting wetter in the tent, but maybe also that they may dry off a fraction by morning.  Once it was time to get up I packed everything into the bags in my tent, then mounted the bags on the bike and headed over to pick up the sleeping bags. To my amazement they had dried (the lights were on a movement sensor and there was a fan heater on the same cct, so any time someone entered they'd get a little drying assistance). With the sleeping bags packed I dropped the tent and headed with the packed bike  to the kitchen for breakfast. Shortly after, I was on the road and heading for Tauranga up the eastern side of Lake Rotorua. About 3 km out , a flat, the many patches old tube I'd used on the rear yesterday was now no good, but I had a brand new spare tube to put in, this lasted another 1 km. my pre-occupation with thinking 10 year old patches had failed caused me to break the first rule of tyre-puncture repair. (Rule 1) note the way the tube was oriented, find the hole in the tube and check the corresponding location on the tyre.
With a hole requiring a patch on the brand new tube I found the glass embedded in the tyre that had been behind both of today's and possibly yesterday's also. (I cannot speak with certainty about yesterday's because an old patch did need to be removed and under it a huge slit, so it may have been responsible for the first. )
Back on the road after a couple of delays and a bit of "pit practice", the rain returned in the form of occasional showers, just enough to be annoying and have you putting on and taking off the yellow coat.
I was quite pleased with the route selection as the road had a lot of old Tarmac :-)  The road undulated and climbed and eventually a significant downhill and we were down onto the flat near sea level.

After passing through a large kiwi fruit area I came to the new SH2 route to Tauranga but it was a tollway with no bikes allowed. The old highway goes much the same way and still on the flat, so no great impediment. After lunching under some big oak trees outside a school at a place called Waitangi (no not the famous one) I continued in until presented with the roundabout at the other end of the tollway, where the toll motorway becomes the real SH2 again. I needed to go only a couple of km on the highway, but it too had a sign saying no bikes.  Fortunately I was looking the other way at the time ;-) and I was only going to the ASB stadium exit, it had to be a lot safer than the motorway into Istanbul. Off I went as planned toward ASB where I would skirt around south of the city and then up into the Motor Park on the southern edge of the city. As I approached the upward sloping exit ramp to ASB I could see a residential road parallel to the left, so a veer to the left across the grass and a railway line and I was at the residential street away from the motorway. There was a star-picket and wire fence I needed to lift the bike over so that meant unloading bags. As i loaded the bags back onto the bike at the adjacent bus stop shelter a white ute with yellow lights and orange cones on the rear drive slowly past. I avoided any eye contact both then and after it had done a 180 at a roundabout and passed me riding up the road. I'm guessing I now know their approximate response time.
If they can thwart route planning so successfully in Tauranga what will Auckland be like?  The residential street turned industrial and soon I was on SH26 skirting town to the south with no bike banning signs. Mind you, the road looked, smelt and tasted just like the motorway i had not been allowed on and one truck driver tooting a horn obviously hadn't noticed the lack of bike banning signs.  - but I'd come from a residential area onto it passing no signs saying I couldn't be there.
Into the camp I got myself a basic cabin and asked to put my tent up for a while to dry, they agreed. Drying was very quick in the now blue sky & sunny heat of Tauranga, so the sleeping gear was put out to be doubly sure it was dry also.
With chores done I headed into town to the info centre then off to Mt Maunganui as they said I shouldn't miss going there. After a little bit more trying to navigate roads on a bike in a city with bike banning signs everywhere I finally managed to legally ride to where I wanted to go. On the return trip.

I stopped at the wharf at the fresh fish market, as there were a heap of people either at tables or queued to order Fish and Chips. Here you select the fillet you want from one of many varieties, they weigh it and charge by the kg as you'd expect at a fish market, but then they cook it for you with chips. I can though early recommend the Tauranga Fresh Fish Market for Fish & Chips.
At Tauranga it again rained quite heavily overnight - more than the website said like yesterday, so with unknown holes in the tent I was glad I had a cabin. The weather forecast going forward looks good so tenting will hopefully again be an option, if I can assume that any slight prediction of rain means don't tent because their predicted mm are way off.
From Tauranga it's an up down up down trip north to Waihi then across to Paeroa through Karangahape Gorge. There's no camping areas at or near Paeroa so I looked at options and selected a B&B. Late in the morning I make a call and secure a room. I meet a old fella on a bike at the supermarket at Katikati and quiz him about the gorge. He tells me that there is a rail trail in the gorge and that all bikes should use it, that it's clear to follow and its surface is good. I'm not sure what the gorge rd is like, I shine a narrow lane each way and double yellow lines making it hard for people to pass me, rail trails have great gradients so I'm happy to use the rail trail and not incur the wrath of the drivers.  I use the road from Waihi to wai???? Station then join the trail at the start of the gorge. The trail passes some old gold mining areas with remnants of rock crushing batteries etc then follows the river to a tunnel.

The man at Karikari said you needed lights as the tunnel was black as pitch. They wouldn't do much but I had a head torch and a bike light with two small LEDs in it. It turns out the tunnel does have lights, it's definitely not what you'd call well lit, but it was enough to cycle by. The Paeroa side of the tunnel crosses farming land is less interesting and a bit more gravelly but a good choice for getting to town. I had plenty of time the weather was brilliant and it was a very relaxing afternoon. Brenda the B&B host was very friendly but boy could she talk.