From Taipa I was riding into very familiar territory. When I was a kid quite a few of our family Summer Holidays were on the East coast between Taipa & Whangarei. We stayed in a resort hotel in Taipa which was nice but different to most accommodation in the North. It was a single row of suite size rooms off a central corridor the length of those you see in Las Vegas Mega hotels. Quite bizarre in a NZ context but a nice place on a lovely beach.
Riding over the hill you get to Cable Bay which has changed a little since the holidays of old. A little strip of baches has expanded into a suburb (below left) but the beach (below right) is as lovely as ever.
Over the hill from Cable Bay is Mill Bay (below left). A calm sheltered anchorage for boats from around NZ & the world. It had also developed a bit but is still a charming place, especially when the tide is in. Some of us stopped in Mangonui, location of last nights Fush n Chups, for a coffee. It’s an old quaint, well as old & quaint as NZ gets, town with some sensitive development to improve the foreshore.
It was great to see the old General Store, perched over the harbour on stilts, is still trading despite the new supermarket just up the road at Coopers Beach. I remember many trips there to restock holiday consumables like fishing line, hooks, papers & milk!
The ride goes inland and battling a blustery headwind was made somewhat easier by watching a mobile motor-show heading North. At first I thought the passing parade was a classic British car club as MG, Riley, Austin Healy and (I think) Morris cars went past but then came a mix of modern & classic Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes. We left the main highway to follow the coast around Whangaroa Harbour (below left) and avoided the wind! After an, at times, challenging series of climbs a long downhill took us to lunch on by the beach at Taiaue Bay (below right).
From lunch, at sea level don’t forget, a steep climb was rewarded by the amazing view over Matauri Bay (below left). It was still blowing a gale but mostly now a side, sometimes tail, wind as the road headed inland towards Waipapa. A secondary road led back out to Kerikeri where I took a short diversion to the Stone Store as thought that was a meeting place. There was no sign of anybody so I headed back up the hill and met the bus at the top heading down to the store. Some had already continued on towards Paihia, a short ferry ride from our overnight stop at Russell, so I did too.
The ride out of Kerikeri was good until you got to road works. Where they were actually working wasn’t too bad but the new seal they, is it transit or council on the main highways?, are laying these days is an awful uneven application of a very coarse chip. In addition to the chip grain it feels like the base coat is rough and vibration on a road bike with high pressure tyres is awful. It really is a relief to get back on the worn finer chip old seal!
I expected a headwind as we headed out towards Paihia but a couple of hills nearer the coast and the evening calm must have been enough to subdue it. The ride map showed a loop around to Opua to catch the vehicle ferry, the route the bus had to take, but those of us still riding got the passenger ferry from Paihia, just.
It sails regularly but they held one for us that was about to depart which saved about 30 minutes waiting. The hotel in Russell was a welcome sight and it’s location near the wharf brilliant after a long day in the saddle. Stagger along the wharf, across the road, into the room and a hot shower. Tomorrows rest day will be spent resting!