Day 69 - Day 70: Ahipara - Dargaville
I almost didn't leave the relaxing, surf town of Ahipara and the new friends the hostel there had brought me but after hours of reluctant packing I made the call to go in the heat of the day. And as has been the trend of the whole trip when I make a decision to leave somewhere I want to stay the world always puts crazy coincidences in front of me and this day may be the craziest. An unexpected run in with an awesome friend I had made in the bottom of the South Island 50 days earlier which led to meeting my first cycling buddy who I shared an awesome 30km with on his journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff on the Aoteroa Bike Trail before arriving in the cool little town of Opononi for some lovely local hospitality.
The next day was a ride I will never forget. Crushing round the sweeping road that leads through Waipoua forest which is an otherworldly Kauri forest with the beast of a tree Tane Mahuta standing guard in its centre being the largest tree in NZ and over 2000 years old his presence is remarkable.
Day 75 - 79: Auckland to Pauanui
The Coromandel peninsula was the highlight of the trip for coastal beauty with Pohutukawa blooming all along the road side that dropped directly into white sand bays. New chums beach is deservedly one of the top 10 beaches in the world and led to one of my top 10 friendships of the trip with a very friendly Canadian who I met here and spent so awesome time with for the next 2 days
The highlight of this time was the slightly comical site of Hot Water Beach where at low tide hundreds of people dig there own hot pools in the sand that are heated to beyond boiling by volcanic activity below the surface.
After lounging here and playing in the surf for hours I rode to the stunning little town of Pauanui (or as I called it "the Venice of NZ") for 2 days of amazing scenery, food and even better people. Whakatane - Gisborne The day started off very exciting with my first public talk about my journey to a family works meeting in Whakatane which was organised by a dear friend who I had stayed with the night before. Then I went for an awesome night and catch up with the first family I'd seen since leaving my Dad in Taranaki 40 days earlier. So I was very full of love and food when starting my journey around the East Cape to my original home town in Gisborne which was my last fully coastal section of the trip. After spending a night swimming, playing ukuleke and camping in Opape I headed onto Waihau bay for an awesome night. A rather sluggish lunchtime start to an anticipated small 50km day to Hicks Bay left me in an interesting spot when a thunderstorm started moving in for the next day so instead I made the decision at hicks bay to ride on for 7 more hours and had a real adventure covering 150km to Tokamaru bay for only my second headlight lit, night time ride of the trip.
Due to this massive day and a 4am wake up I could comfortably ride the last 80km into Gisborne with the family welcoming committee and ice cream to get me the last few kms to my second home.