After an amazing nights sleep we got up at 7, and we’re out the door by 8. Miracle! It had been a beautiful sunrise over the mountains, and noticeably cooler – YAY!
We stopped for a coffee and breakfast at the ‘convenient cow’ store, appropriate for farmer country that we were in. James even managed to find a Cornish pasty for breakfast. (Pies are king in New Zealand and you very rarely see Cornish Pasties)
We cruised on down the trail to Paeroa, where the infamous L&P drink was from. We had been told we got a free bottle of it as we came through, but baring in mind the route told us to turn right when we went past bunnings and there isn’t a bunnings for 60km around we didn’t hold out much hope.
Back on the trail, the route was flat and boring, just farmland for miles around so we put on the speaker and listened to the Spotify playlist people had made for us. At one point Lily Allen ‘fuck you’ was playing just as we were cycling past an older lady 😳 CYCLE FASTER DAMMIT!
We were passed by two cyclists who were cycling on the road rather than the path, who also had their helmets attached to their bike rather than on their head. Now I’m not a party pooper, but it wasn’t the best road to be on as there were a lot of large trucks and no matter your view on helmets, it’s the law to wear one over here, so it should be on!
Eventually we rolled into Matamata, which is the nearest town to Hobbiton movie set, and stopped for a second lunch.
We once again bumped into the ladies from Wellington, who had planned their accommodation for the night at a lady in another town’s house who was hosting TA riders. We didn’t want to intrude on them again as we had coincidentally stayed at the same places as them every night so far so said we would camp a bit further along. Only one of the ladies had been paying attention to trail closures and part of the route had been closed due to vandalism so if we would have camped there, we would have had to head back the way we had come and back on ourselves on an alternative route, so we messaged the host lady to stay at her place too.
Sadly it was fully booked, but she gave us the details of Bill a friend who lived up the hill who also had room. I called Bill and he had space for us.
We cracked on, the route took us on State Highway 29 which was awful. Full of really heavy trucks and it had got very grey and started to rain too so visibility was terrible. I didn’t feel safe at all. I reeeeeeeeally needed a wee and the rain started coming down heavier and heavier, we were soaked but all I could think about was not weeing myself! Eventually we made it to the sign for the Waikato River Trails.
Bill’s place was about 15k before Arapuni and boy was I glad to get there. He was the most lovely guy. Retired, does a bit of air bnb when he wants company and the rest of the time peace and quiet. His place was beautiful, overlooking the Waikato river. He had a sleep out where we could stay, so no need to sleep in a soggy tent, unlike some other poor souls who had already pitched their tent in his garden.
He invited us in to do our laundry and for beers and dinner, he had cooked everyone steak, salad, kumara and corn on the cob. It was delicious. Turns out the ‘poor souls’ who had pitched their tent in his garden were the helmet-less couple who had cycled past us earlier in the day. An interesting couple from Christchurch with some very strong views and weren’t shy in letting them be known… Bill carefully kept out of the way in the kitchen!!
I tactfully retreated to bed at 8pm and left James chatting with another lone cyclist from Oz, another guy in his late 50’s early 60’s, much easier guy to get along with.
Another super comfy bed to settle in for the night,
The adventure continues…