Once again we had a wonderful nights sleep, and it was a struggle to wake up.
Bill has offered to make us breakfast last night, but the ‘other guests’ had poo-pooed his offer so it felt rude asking for food even though I’m sure he would have driven to Wellington to get my coffee cup had I asked nicely enough!
We set off on our way to Arapuni to go to the Rhubarb Cafe that other TA riders had been raving about. We were flying, even overtaking an ebike (admittedly it was being ridden by a guy who looked pretty ancient, but still) the track veered off towards the river but we stayed on the road hoping to enjoy a bit more speed but not before noticing that the road went away from the river. Shit. There was a massive field between us and the bike path and we contemplated what to do, zoop across the field and hope that an angry farmer doesn’t see us, follow the road and see where it ends up (there was no signal to check google maps) or go back and rejoin the path where we were supposed to. We chose the easy option of ‘pray the farmer wasn’t around with a gun’ and made a dash for it across the field!
The bike path was pretty wet, slippy and steep but took us all the way to Arapuni Swing Bridge. Which of course, James wheelied across!!
We then head up to the cafe everyone had been having about, but they had nothing vegan on their menu so I ended up having the veggie burger for breakfast and James had a sausage roll, and a bacon and egg roll. To my disappointment the ‘veggie burger’ was just a sweetcorn frittata with a lot of egg – as I would learn later, this would be my downfall.
Eventually we set off down the road. Unfortunately the trail had been closed due to vandalism so we had to go on the road eventually ending up in Mangakino.
Again we bumped into some friends we had made along the way and checked in as to how their days were going. Seems everyone was feeling a bit sluggish. We stopped at a bakery for a toastie and to stock up with food before heading into the forest later.
The trail out of Magakino was awesome, really flowy and it felt good to be on the bike dancing around the trails again, even got to go over a few swing bridges and meet some walkers whose minds were blown that we had cycled from Cape Reinga to get there.
The fun soon stopped and we were back on the road into a head wind, obviously. Seems to be a theme that as soon as it’s mid-afternoon and we are getting tired, the wind direction changes!
Eventually we got back onto trails, at one point there was a puddle to go over, it looked innocuous enough, so I just cruised on through and no, I was knee deep in water with James stopped behind doubled over laughing at me! Bugger!
Then came a smaller bridge, with a weight limit of only one person at a time. Jeeeeepers. That was one hell of a thing, narrow, wobbly and looked like it was just a bit of chicken wire held with a couple of threads! It was horrid to try and get bikes across.
We then started the massive climb, but we wiggles through trees and just forgot where we were for a moment, it was great. Before we knew it we were over half way to the top.
The picture point on this ride was to the centre of the north island, to get there was along a little boardwalks. I didn’t fancy falling off the side so parked up my bike and ran 300m to the centre. Wow, using leg muscles that hadn’t been used in a while wasn’t fun!
As we were on our way up the final climb of the day that seeemed to go on 3 turns more than it needed to, a hunter drove past with his trusty doggo, bonnet surfer
Eventually after a huge, fast descent we made it to the campsite at the start of the timber trail. We were staying in a cabin with the two Wellington ladies and two Aussie’s who we’d been riding with for the past few days which was good fun.
One of the Aussies was telling us a story of how it’s not the snakes you need to be worried about, it’s the cows. Once he was out riding and got attacked by a cow, lots of grappling, being chased around a tree and one very angry cow later he got away!
Hopefully there will be no cows on the trail tomorrow…
The adventure continues…