Wow, I can’t believe it’s actually Christmas Eve. The lack of snow has really got me a bit confused about the whole Christmas scene over here. Sure, there are decorations around towns and even some hostels, but without a blanket of the white stuff, and the need to wear a toque outside, it just doesn’t quite compute with me. Regardless, the day was fantastic for me again, although there was a certain amount of suffering as always, but there were some chance encounters and great views which once again made any temporary pain worth enduring in the long run. Check out the map for some pictures and the route. The maps will probably be the best place to see pictures for the rest of this trip until I return. It just isn’t practical to try and upload lots of pictures unfortunately. Anywho, enough about that, on with the tale.
I managed to actually get up nice and early this morning at Mangawhai Heads. That was in spite of being up sort of late talking with a swiss couple who moved to NZ. He has dreams of opening up a hostel, so it was interesting to chat with them about their thoughts. He also had an amazingly harrowing story from a few days back. He was out playing in the surf (at the same beach I was body surfing at a few days ago), and got pulled out by a riptide. Long story short, he was minutes away from death when finally rescued and had to be airlifted to a city hospital where he stayed for two days. Crazy true story, eh? Anyway, I did get up at 7am, and was ready to hit the road shortly after 8am. I had the plan to get to Orewa, but had no accomodations booked, so wanted to get there as quick as possible to try and secure a spot.
I hit the road with heavy feet, and got set for another day grinding away. I stopped not far up the road in order to try and use a payphone to book accomodations. While standing there, another tourer rolled by, then turned around and came to chat. It was Robbie from Oregon. We chatted for a little bit, and learned we both had pretty similar touring plans. However, he planned to head to Auckland, and I was stopping 40km short tonight, so he took off down the road. I headed off shortly after, taking a left turn. Well, a little later, we ran into each other again. He had missed the turn, and had to double back. We decided to ride together for a while.
Well, a while turned into about 30km, all the way to Wellsford, where we then stopped at a cafe for a late breakfast and more chatting. This Robbie fellow pretty well tore the legs off me. He was a really strong biker. Of course, it helped that he was a retired semi-pro (category 2) bike racer. We got along really well, and hopefully we’ll hook up again somewhere further south. By then, I’ll have shed a bit of weight, so maybe I’ll be able to keep up with him 😉
Sadly, at Wellsford, we parted ways. I decided to stay on SH1 and take that towards Auckland. My biking book advised that taking SH1 into or out of Auckland is not for sane cyclists. However, I figured that it wouldn’t be too bad on account of it being Christmas Eve. Most traffic would be travelling North out of Auckland. My plan worked out pretty well, with my lane being not too bad. It wasn’t without its harrowing moments though, as there were some major construction points, where traffic bunched up quite badly, and I had nowhere to go. Let’s just say it was rather interesting. No worries though, I’m completely fine. Unfortunately my chain problems continued to plague me and I had to stop at a couple more inopportune spots to do some impromptu repairs. I’m definitely investing in a new chain, and will beg a shop to let me do a full cleaning and tune up of my drivetrain before too long.
I got to my end destination of Orewa Beach around 3:30pm. The final stretch of roads to get there were really twisty and windy, and steep hills. It was very exciting. However, every now and again, I’d glimpse off the side of the road turqoise waters. I knew I was getting somewhere pretty special. Right before the hostel, I went by one such beach, and was duly impressed. I finally got to the hostel, and wouldn’t you know it, there was no room at all. However, the owner was quite willing to hook me up with a tent spot for only 16NZD. Done deal. The nice thing is that I’m only 40km or so from Auckland, so I can relax tonight, have a nice Christmas breakfast, and then roll into Auckland. I’ve secured my crash spot again in Auckland, and will even get to go to a full day of Cricket action on boxing day.
Orewa Beach is beautiful! I walked to a grocery store for my Christmas Eve meal, and was absolutely blown away. I’ve definitely chosen a primo spot to spend the night. Christmas morning I’ll get to check out a beautiful sandy beach. Tonight, I had a nice meal of Chicken, Potatoes, carrots, peas, a can of pineapple slices, some cheese, a desert of a cream donut, and a nice bottle of NZ wine. Sweet eh? Although the hostel is full, people are sort of doing their own thing, although I’m now geting pulled into a conversation with a South African and an American, so perhaps I’ll socialize with them instead of typing all night. Until next post, take care all! And fondest Christmas wishes from the lands down under.