There were a few challenging hills, ~400m high, but again fine weather and a tailwind made for perfect riding. I had driven this road long ago when it was still gravel. It is now sealed and on a bike you have time to appreciate the wonderful views of native bush dotted with Kauri.
After a picnic lunch by the river the ride continued with a gentle climb on a stunning quiet forest road. Some of it reminded me of the Waitakere Ranges Scenic Drive near my home but with much more impressive bush, a far better road and almost no traffic!
A short walk, 2 minutes of the road, takes you to New Zealand’s oldest (known) and largest remaining Kauri Tree. Tane Mahuta is thought to be about 2000 years old. It is about 51m high, 14m girth and is an impressive sight.
From the forest you descend, via an awesome winding downhill graded to not need brakes, into a farmland valley and rush hour traffic (below). The Herekino 4 Square Postshop lady was very friendly, sorting postage for the motel key which had come with me from Baylys. I thought had left it in the room but somehow had bundled, wrapped up in my rain shell, into my bike bag. I only discovered it after lunch when searching for an allen key to adjust my seat!
After about 15km a short steep, but not as steep as warned, climb crests the ridge presenting one of the most wonderful views in the North. The Hokianga Harbour with its golden sand dune North Head is an impressive sight.
Unfortunately the Opononi Hotel served up a nice tasting steak meal & great ensuite bathroom shower but ruined things by making sure both were luke-warm at best. A pity considering their location, metres from the harbour, is superb.