Hi Gang. Wow, time flies doesn’t it? I’m already another day behind in my blog posts, so I’ll have to be somewhat brief as I prepare this little monologue for you all. The last post was coming live from my tent in the middle of Waihi, the mining town. Well, this one is coming to you from the comfort of a beautiful home in Tauranga, where I’m spending New Years thanks to some contacts I received by way of my sister in Saudi Arabia. Thanks Sis! This post will focus on my ride to Tauranga, and the next one on the activities I did in the past day and a half. As you know, there is a map already up on the website, so check it out. I’ve also now had the opportunity to upload all of the pictures I’ve taken to date on this trip, so please feel free to view them all on Flickr.
Ralph and I both got up at a good time, with the intention of getting on the road by 9am that morning. By our calculations, Tauranga should only be about a 55km ride, so we hoped to make good time and be there by the early afternoon, in time to enjoy the rest of the day and perhaps even do some celebrating at night. However, as he had to find a campground, and I had accommodations, we knew that we’d probably once again part ways, and perhaps rejoin each other later in the journey. We were lucky that morning in that our tents were actually quite dry, and not dew-covered as usual. This meant packing up was easier than normal, and let us get out on time.
We set out at a pretty good clip. Ralph let me lead to set the pace, as he no doubt could go much quicker than me if he so desired. It was a nice gesture, but as a result, I pushed myself pretty hard. This was the first time that within 2 hours, we’d covered 42km! It was definitely a fast day. Part of me was just looking forward to the day off, so I didn’t mind pushing a little harder. Also, the next little bit will be shorter days with more breaks, as I get to some interesting places like Rotorua, Taupo, and National Park where the Tongariro Crossing track is.
The scenery along the route was fairly typical, so I didn’t really bother taking that many pictures on this ride. Also, at that pace, I had to focus a bit more on the biking and the traffic. We got to a town called Katikati, and ended up passing another touring cyclist. Once we stopped further on, he caught up, and we chatted a bit. It was Bernie from Edmonton. A fellow down just for about 4 weeks, and essentially doing it to get in shape. He didn’t have any great tourist plans, but focussed on getting to places. Of course, this wasn’t really our goals, so we didn’t plan on biking together. However, our paces were pretty much the same, so we now had three cyclists charging along the roads.
We pulled into the Taurango area just around 1pm I think, and headed to the info place to get information on campgrounds as well as for me to make a call to my contacts. That is where we parted ways. Bernie and Ralph actually both headed to the same campground, which was the only one with any room left. Tauranga is a well-known spot for New Years Eve it turned out, so all rooms were full around the area. That might work out for me, as I’d hoped to have a nice New Year’s celebration. I made my call from a phone, and was off to meet Cynthia and Mike Manion.
Their house is beautiful, and had a stunning view of the bay and Mount Maunganui, which I planned to climb the next day. Cynthia and Mike were overwhelmingly kind to me, offering me food, a great room with ensuite, as well as use of their phone, Internet connection, and laundry facilities. I can’t express my gratitude enough for this. It has certainly made my day off and indeed my kick start to 2008 that much better. Thanks a bunch Cynthia and Mike!
After a quick lunch, Mike took me on a brief car tour of the area, as he had some errands to run, and since he’s lived here most of his life, had lots of stories to tell me about the area. It was also nice just getting to spend time with a real kiwi family and learn more about the similarities Canadians and Kiwis share. It turns out, there are quite a few such similarities between our cultures. It certainly wasn’t hard to find common ground or topics of conversation, which is why it has been tricky getting to a blog post. I’ll save the rest for my next post on New Years Eve and the 1st day of 2008. Take care!