Whangamata to Tauranga
24.10.2010 - 24.10.2010 20 °C
After spending the last few nights in beautiful beachside campsites, Whangamata motorcamps was a bit more of a run down trailer park... no matter as all we needed was a restful night in advance of our first big cycle of the trip. But at first glance this seemed unlikely. Rob and I felt very old as we politely asked to be housed in a 'quiet area'. Despite the owner's vehement's protestations that her insalubrious establishment was a 'family campsite' our neighbours were keen to prove her wrong... Four families descended next to our tent in their caravans for a bank holiday booze up - with early tell tales signs like glow in the dark headbands, stacked up crates of beer and a lot of cheesy 90s music cranked up out of their suped up cars suggesting they would be putting up a fight against the 10.30 "quiet time" curfew.... Sleep was in short supply that night.
Bleary-eyed at about 7 in the morning as the sun turned our napkin-sized tent into a sauna we scuttled about getting ready for the cycling leg down to Tauranga. In the short time that we have been going on this trip packing up our panniers has already turned from routine into a ritual. With six panniers and a handlebar bag between us trying to remember where we packed everything important when we need it (like our raincoats when the heavens have opened) turns into a frantic search eventually finding the choice item in the 6th pannier. So now everything has it's 'place' (raincoats on top) so packing is now a meticulous exercise. A few campers were out and about while we were going through this ritual of squeezing our belongings into our panniers keen to find out what we were up to. All the Kiwis we have met so far have been incredibly friendly and hospitable - from bringing us chairs to sit on in the campsite when we are hunched over our trangia stove - to pulling over and offering to pop the bikes in their cars to give us a lift over the punishing hills (they always seem bemused when we politely decline!) Our noisy neighbours asked where we were heading as we pushed our bikes past their caravans to the campsite exit. When we told them they gleefully described how long and hard the hills were out of Whangamata. "good luck" they said, "you'll need it!"
With these encouraging words ringing in our ears we set off on the road. The weather over the last couple of days has been brilliant and we started our long days cycle with a winding incline towards Waihi with clear blue skies and sunshine. Most of the hills we have come up against have been long but not too steep and so we have just whacked the bikes into our lowest gears and plodded up. The first 30 kms to Waihi (an old goldmining town) passed very quickly and we were feeling quite confident that we would get to Tauranga by lunch. By 1.30pm we were still 20 km away and fading fast. The traffic on the road had become quite congested on the approach into the city and the hills had gone from long and sloping into short sharp yoyoing inclines and descents. We took pause at a petrol station where we were reliably informed that if we took the next turn off we would get to a beachside restaurant. Music to our ears - but how far? 'no more than 400 metres'... Hmmm. 5 kms later we were still cycling and mentally cursing at every turn when the restaurant was not round the next bend. When we finallly made it to the beach (Omokoroa) it was spectacular and well worth the cycle. We splashed out on lunch in the restaurant in the boathouse - reciting to each other every couple of mouthfuls how much we deserved it - before the final push into Tauranga having broken the 100km mark for the first time on the trip.