The next day, it was time to hit the road to Taupo, our next stop and first Wwoofing farm location of New Zealand, and we were lucky that part way was an actual cycle path: Te Ara Ahi, or Thermal By Bike.
We had 37 km to our destination that night and the path was off the road but a very gradual uphill climb that I didn’t really notice until I realized we were going very slow and I was very tired. After stopping for lunch along the path at Jock’s Curve (interesting name…), the path alongside the highway turned off onto a lovely quiet side road…
…and then onto a very rocky path totally away from any roads at all. I was happy to be off the road even if it was a tad bumpy, and it was at this point that we got a sense of what New Zealand means by “cycle path.” We hadn’t seen many other cyclists with bikes like ours, but had seen plenty with mountain bikes. It wasn’t until we were about 15km away from Waikite when we hit the rough stuff: grade 2 mountain bike track.
I wish I had some footage to show you of what that was like! We were both a bit too stressed trying to stay on our bikes, not sink into the mud or fly too fast over a hill and end up careening either into the very thick forest or off the edge of a cliff. If I had been on a mountain bike, it would’ve been amazing. But we were on fully loaded touring bikes and it was pretty daunting and I was surprised at how much more mentally alert I had to stay than just biking on the roads.
We got off that track as soon as we could find our way back to the road, and had to decide to either bike an extra 10km to the camping spot we had decided on earlier or see if there was another option. We called the Waikite Thermal Pools camping site and they were all full, but we were in luck because the Wai o Tapu Tavern (only 6km further and right on the road to Taupo) had camping sites and was much cheaper. They even had beer (and honey mead!) So we settled in as the sun was still shining, made some pasta and relaxed a bit. As soon as the sun was gone though, it got very cold and we decided to call it an early night and try to stay warm in the tent.
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.