We had a lovely holiday earlier this year with our friends Janet and Colin who now reside in Tasmania. They are great travellers and are always looking for a reason to come back to NZ. Janet is from the Arnst family down south which has a great cycling legacy associated with it. Janet and Colin have recently acquired electric bikes which has enabled them to cover parts of Tassie with less effort than would normally be required. Our plan was to spend some time with them chilling out at Hahei near Whitianga, and get started on the Hauraki Rail Trail and meet up with Janet's sister and brother in law part way through.
|New Chums beach near Whangapoa|
The next day we tootled in to Thames and collected Colin and Janet's bikes from the Rail Trail HQ and we were away. We left the car there as I was intending to ride back to get it after we got to Paeroa, our day one destination. The trail was fast and well manicured. It skirted the edge of Thames for a while and then on to Kopu, Matatoki and past Puriri, where I once lived, (our house was gone) and on through Hikutia and on to Paeroa. The trail, to me, pretty much resembled a very well maintained cattle-race with views best described as "rural New Zealand", not really anything like you would see on the Otago Rail trail. Lots of green grass and the hills of the Coromandel just to the left.
|Janet Kay and Colin somewhere between Thames and Paeroa.|
The people that "organise" the Rail Trail have done a great job at promoting it, and getting locals to open up their homes as Bed and Breakfasts and making visitors feel welcome. We stayed with a semi-retired couple of a similar age to ourselves. Apparently there just wasn't a lot of accommodation in Paeroa as it was, so it has been great for stimulating the local economy. Paeroa, apart from the large concrete Lemon and Paeroa bottle is mainly known for its Horse Racing and Motorcycle street racing event.
I rode back to pick up the car while the others relaxed and thought about where we were going to have tea.
The next day in Paeroa we met Janet's Sister and brother in law, Jennie and Rob and we hit the trail to Waihi via the Karangahake Gorge. Our accommodation in Waihi was a very recently built home that we had all to ourselves for the night. As per agreement, our gear had been dropped off by the shuttle so all we had to do was ride there.
|Waikino on route to Waihi|
|The famous five.|
|Ooh! A rainbow at the trail's end at Waihi.|
|Martha Mine in down town Waihi !|
|The Cornish pumphouse.|
|It rained a lot, for a very short time|
|Doing the "Windows" walk. It was a high-light for me.|
We grabbed some lunched and headed off to our next destination which was Te Aroha, basically just hang a left when you get back to Paeroa !
|Some random cycle tourists on cross bikes|
|A lone wheel barrow full of free feijoas in the middle of the trail from Waihi to Paeroa|
|Heading into the Karangahake Gorge|
|The Victoria battery|
|Ye Olde Gold Miners Lodge|
It was a fun trip and and would score highly for those who live towards the sedentary end of the "Couch Potato" scale. The hire bikes used were reliable, if a tad heavy. Not that there were any hills. It's a much more achievable ride than the Otago Rail trail for the less athletic adventurer. The organisation of the shuttles and accommodation via the Rail Trail people was faultless.
If you were in a hurry (and a bit fit) you could no doubt do the whole thing in one day but it would probably be best to do that kind of thing mid-week. On the weekend when we were on the return leg from Waihi to Paeroa the trail was very popular with lots of young kids out amongst it. There were also alot of middle-aged people out there like ourselves. Janet's brother in-law was hammering away on the last day trying really hard to catch up to some people out in front of him. When he finally caught them he realised they were 60-70 year old ladies! We got chatting to them as we waited for a shuttle at the train station and it turned out that I had ridden the first Kiwi Brevet with one of the lady's sons, Nick. It's a small world. Lets hope we are still getting out in it like these ladies were, at the same age.
Thames to Paeroa = 33km
Paeroa to Waihi = 25km
Paeroa to Te Aroha = 21km
Map borrowed from here.