The only cycling activity today was fitting my bike back into AHBART for the trip home. ‘Bart’ had been safely stored across the road from Left Bank in their secure parking area. It was that which made the trip viable, five days parking for a very modest cost which could be racked up in hours in Auckland.
I went for the ‘light option’ Continental breakfast (muesli, fruit, yoghurt, toast with local honey & conserves) at Mint Café as was meeting a cycling friend for lunch later in the day. Had to have a second coffee and remember Brooke being particularly happy after making it, was as good as it looked.
I headed South on SH15, enjoyed the drive up this road which was fun in the Abarth. Nice scenery, light to no traffic and enough twisty bits to exploit the go-kart handling of the little tike. I stopped at Maungatapere to check out the Packard Motor Museum. I only intended to have a quick look but, due to safety regs, it is guided tours only. Was fortunate to join one which had just started, a group from a retirement village, and see this amazing collection.
It was created by Graeme Craw, farmer and earth-moving contractor, who died in 2007. His Wife & Son now direct the museum with a small staff and a lot of volunteers. It covers about 10,000m2 of shed and yard, a huge collection of Packards, modern and classic cars, motor bikes, bicycles, civil engineering machinery and many other types of object. It you want to see a collection of every type of potato masher ever sold in NZ they have it!
I had to bail out of the tour about halfway round to make it to my lunch in Whangarei, but went back after to complete it. Manager Martyn was a fabulous guide, with in depth knowledge of the objects, the history of their collection and a wonderful easy going storytelling approach. If you are in the area, it’s about 10km West of Whangarei on SH14, check out the Packard Motor Museum website for opening times and activity days. It is well worth the visit.
Heading South from Whangarei I was behind a long line of traffic, cars and trucks, which wasn’t going to be much fun. I was in no rush so turned off to take the Waipu-Mangawhai coast road, after stopping at Waipu for fuel. It wasn’t really necessary but this was my first real road trip in the Abarth, a rehearsal for a much longer one. I was curious to see how the consumption had gone on the mix of commuting, motorway, highway and country road on the way up. Over 240km it averaged 7.1 l/100km (39.7mpg) which was pretty good considering. It has a small 35 litre tank so although fills are cheap, they are frequent!
I’m very familiar with the road. Have cycled it several times but pedalling the Abarth along it, and home via SH16, was also fun! It was a great finish to the the long weekend.