Thermal By Bike, Part 2

December 9, 2016

We had thought we might go to Waiotapu thermal park but it was pretty expensive and we felt like we had seen plenty of thermal activity in Rotorua so decided to just get to Taupo (which was still about 54km away). We had a late start, stopped at a little cafe on the side of the road in Golden Springs for a coffee (and an influx of at least 50 tourists taking the Kiwi Experience bus we arrived minutes after us), and then decided to push on all the way to Taupo instead of stopping anywhere else. We had to be at the farm the next day but thought it’d be better to bike from Taupo -only 20km- as opposed to do a full day of biking and get to the farm on the same day. We made the right decision because the head wind biking to Taupo was insane. Soul-destroying even. The weather was beautiful – sunny blue skies for miles- but the wind was fierce and even when we were biking downhill, we really had to work at it. 40km straight of biking into a headwind is absolutely exhausting.

Cyclist paradise? Not exactly…

We really have to dig deep and push hard and it is one of the most exhausting days we have had of biking so far. At least in my opinion. It is late afternoon and we finally arrived in Taupo, starving from not having had any lunch and absolutely pooped. I buy a bunch of treats and snacks from the grocery store and we collapse in a nearby field to eat, rest and figure out where we are going to sleep.

Freedom camping with two bikes and a tent is a very different story than freedom camping with a camper van. If you are a self-contained vehicle in New Zealand, you can pretty much finding a free place to stop anywhere. If you are only a self-sufficient person with a bicycle, it is a lot more difficult. We end up stretching the rules a bit and find a camper van spot right on the lack that doesn’t exactly specify no tents, but does specify that you must be a camper van to stay here. We find a patch of trees and a beautiful spot to make dinner, and wait until dark to set up our tent in this patch of trees, away from the eyes of security people or whoever might come and try to either fine us $200 or kick us off in the middle of the night.

No one bothers us and we wake up at dawn to take our tent down and enjoy the sunrise.


Author: Bronwyn

Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of

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