We gave ourselves 1 1/2 days to get up to Cape Reinga.
The plan being that we would fly from Wellington to Auckland, then get another internal flight to Kaitaia. Followed by a 50km cycle, spend the night discovering beautiful Northland, then the next day crack on up to Cape Reinga ready for the start. Sounds simple right.
Flights had been booked months ago, and rather than get up at stupid o’clock then pay $100 for the shuttle bus to Wellington airport we’d stay the night in the airport hotel for $130 and get an extra hours sleep.
After a quick farewell FaceTime to the fam, we were off, sharing our flight with the very sleepy Japanese Softball team.
I started watching Bluebell on the flight, note to self, don’t watch whilst feeling a bit emotional.
We made it to Auckland with plenty time until our next flight, the bikes also arrived safely too.
We rock up to the Barrier Air check in desk and find a fellow Tour Aotearoa rider, who is also starting on our day. He didn’t look too cheery though. Turns out although we’d paid over $300 for flights with 23kg baggage, this didn’t include bikes. Even though I’d previously emailed the company to advise them that we’d be travelling with no baggage, just bikes and nowhere throughout the booking did it say this.
After being told we weren’t getting our bikes on the flight, they would have to go on this evenings flight, I had a little panic. We needed to be on the road in the afternoon to make camp before dark and to avoid having a mammoth cycle up to the Cape in one day.
We met another lady Ann, who must be in her 60’s or 70’s who will be cycling the TA route but only to Wellington. She needed a hand disassembling her bike so James jumped in to help her. She had some very kind friends who had delivered her to the airport, turns out they live in Auckland along the Tour Aotearoa route and have offered us a room for the night when we are passing through.
After what felt like a lifetime standing at the desk being told our bikes weren’t going to make it on the flight, eventually we were given boarding passes and told ‘they can squeeze on’.
The flight to Kaitaia was veeeery bumpy. It was a small regional 14 seater plane. James was thrilled about another tiny plane.
After putting the bikes back together and working out where things were supposed to go (were using a kind of dry bag packing cell method, which is great, until you forget where things need to go to all fit together) we were ready to go.
We set off from the airport into town to get water and some food. It felt great to be back on the bike and spinning my legs. Suddenly all the stresses seemed to disappear. I later realise we had a wonderful tail wind (that would soon become a headwind as we changed direction – DOH!)
In Pak’n’save I was speaking to a local lady who was telling me about the water drought at the moment in the north. They are now down to the very bare minimum. Some houses have completely run out of water. We stocked up on the essentials and set off North. Well, until I realised that my garmin was telling me we were heading south, a sign said Cape Reinga was in the opposite direction and James had sent us off in the wrong direction.
After about 40km James was starting to lag, google told us it was 3km to the next town or 20 to where we were planning to stay that evening. We bailed after 3k and set up camp.
At the campsite we met a lovely little camp cat called Gypsy (named by the travellers who live here) and he was a little menace, but oh so cute
Eventually made it to bed for 8.30 as it was getting dark and we needed sleep. Little did we realise sleep would be interrupted by an army of ants who decided inside the tent is where they wanted to hang out and 3 mosquitos who took a liking to my feet and James’ arms.
With (much needed) rain forecast for the morning the plan was to get up early
The adventure continues…