29th May 2017
Opononi to Wellsford 188kms
A nice night at the pub, with a couple of locals, and a pair of Kiwi tourists, and a pretty good sleep. It rained heaps over night, but the morning cleared up, and looked pretty good for our second last day riding the Northland. We were up and packed, ready for breakfast (had no milk for our cereal, so went looking) by 9:30am. Next door was the Fish and Chip shop, so we thought they might have a good bacon and egg toastie for us, but they hadn’t opened yet. The downside of travelling out of season. So we just got on the mighty BMW and headed off. Not long and we found a little village, called Waimamuka, and a funky little cafe. Yay, brekkie! A good toastie and a juice, and we were actually feeling chilled and happy. Off we rode, into the Waipoua forest. This is where the oldest and biggest, Kauri tree in New Zealand.
Opononi on a crisp, clear morning. Very nice, and imagine a warm summer here?
The Kauri trees have been decimated by settlers, as they grow straight up, with minimal lower limbs, or knots, until they break through the canopy, then they branch out, and grow thicker. So they are very straight, and hard, therefore good for building. The Maori used them for canoes, which didn’t cause too much destruction, but once the Europeans got here, they just went crazy. What a shame. There are plenty of Kauri trees still around, but they are young and not even close to the size they once were. Tane Mahuta, is estimated to be around 2000yrs old, and is awe inspiringly large. It was measured against some old slabs of trees cut down by settlers, which were four times the size, in diameter. Hard to comprehend that size.
The ride through the forest was, again, very beautiful, wet and a bit slippery. There were rain clouds around, but we seem to have avoided them pretty well. Coming out of the forest, we rode over some hills, covered in farm land. We seemed to be riding along the ridge of one small range, while looking left and right at two other ranges. At one point, there was sunshine on the left, and rain on the right, and we were just cruising along in the middle. Pretty cool.
Coming down onto the plains, at Dargaville, we got to experience the most straight roads, we’d found so far. Lots of farms, wet paddocks, massive flocks of super sized feral turkeys (never got a photo of any, they seem to appear just as I put the GoPro away), and rugged straight roads. We came out, back on the number one highway, where we turned south towards Auckland. We were only about 130kms from the city, but not quite ready for this adventure to end, so we took a little break at Te Hana, had a great pie from the bakery, and decided we’d had enough for today, and there is a motel in Wellsford, so let’s go there.
Dargaville, is on the Wairoa River, busy and industrial. Te Hana make a good steak pie.
It was all of 7kms down the highway, and we got a discount for cash, and an upgrade to a two room unit. The owners of SunValley Motel, Rob and Helen, have owned the motel for about 12 years, and were fantastic. Very down to earth and we had a good chat with Rob about his life before and at the motel. These people are always hard working and good people, who really try hard to make it all work. It is a very well kept Motel, and has everything you need, and a 200 meter walk to food and beer. Another good night, and we are ready for our last, short day riding in New Zealand.
A nice little Motel, only 8 units, and Beckie was happy in the sun too.
30th May 2017. Wellsford to Auckland 112kms
No sleeping in for us today, we were expecting a visitor. One of Will’s followers from ADVRider, Richard (Oldbeer), was coming through Wellsford, and got in touch with us. So at 9:30am, he arrived on his bike, and we went and had a coffee and a chat. Really nice guy, who loves riding around New Zealand, and has been giving us some great tips and enjoying our adventure.
Richard was off for a guitar lesson, so stopped by to say hi. Great to meet you, and hope to see you again.
From Wellsford, we took the number 16 highway, towards Helensville. Along the way, we stopped at the lookout, as recommended by Richard and Rob, and enjoyed the view right across the rolling hills to Kaipara Harbour. Next was this eccentric billionaires farm, called Gibbs Farm. This guy and his wife, have so much money, they don’t know what to do with it. So they commission artists to create these massive sculptures, to compliment and accentuate the landscape on their working farm. There are at least 28 sculptures so far, and only a few a visible from the road, but once a month, by appointment, you can walk around the farm, and check them out. The farm also backs on to the Kaipara Harbour, which is the largest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.
Carrying on, it was a very pleasant ride through to places like Kaukapakapa (just have to show you some crazy Kiwi names) and Helensville, and before we knew it, we only had 30 odd kilometres to go. Wow, it’s nearly over! Bugger, t has been pretty darn good too. I got the old Stupid Destiny out, and into action to guide us back to Cyclespot, and we got there before 1pm. Handing the bike back was very simple, and just left us with getting an Uber back to Simon’s place, not too far away. So that is that, our New Zealand visit, one month, is done! Bloody hell, we’ll have to come back for longer, and over summer, there is just too much more we want to check out.
Kaukapakapaka. Ha ha ha…just try saying that!
City riding with Jenny GPS, no problems when I’m on the job mate!
Big BMW returns, and the happy Aussies. Happy we didn’t drop the heavy bastard!
At Simon’s, we had to do washing, no clean undies left, and prayed for it to dry in time for our 5am departure. Ooohhh that is going to hurt!