Day 1: Brisbane to Napier via Auckland and Palmerston North.
Three hours in a 737 across the ditch is about all I need in one haul. I'm waiting for the day when there will be standing room only on planes.
If there is to be chaos, let it be organised. Like a number of airports I have visited, Auckland is certainly not organised.
Our diversion through Palmerston North to Napier turned out to be a highlight in so much as the ancient volcanic panorama flying in was a real unexpected treat.
The reception we received at the Marineland Motel with management keeping the bar open for us and arranging some very welcome food. A quality motel on the bay and conveniently positioned across the road from a cycling path.
Day 2: Napier to Havelock North via Ahuriri and Cape Kidnappers, 52 km.
Bright and early, the Takaro Trails mini bus arrived to transport us to their premises in Ahuriri, where we were fitted for and took possession of our bikes and instructed on the finer points of our first day's ride.
I always find the start of day one is a little like scrambled eggs, excitement and adrenaline mixed with a little confusion and at times pure impatience. Due to the calm and competent staff , the éggs' on this occasion were pretty much to order.
A relaxed ride along the waterfront was a good start and after a quick caffeine fix in Napier we were on our way to Clifton and Cape Kidnappers. Having a blue sky with wispy white clouds and the thermometer hovering around 20 degrees C, it was a good start.
The ride to Clifton was scenic and pleasant and everyone quickly moved into a nice relaxed pace.
There was something about the cafe at Clifton which imbued flair. Sometimes, it is difficult to pick up a lunch menu and find something different. What was on offer was not only a little left of centre but was enjoyed by all. The outdoor surroundings with tables conveniently placed under trees was another plus.
Back on the road to find ourselves travelling through orchards heavy in fruit, golden grain crops ready for harvesting and a winery eager to let us taste it's produce.
The night was spent with New Zealand ale for starters at one pub and good pub food and the odd red to wash it down at another.
As this was my wife's first bicycle tour, she elected to have a well deserved spa and a walk around the compact CBD before dinner.
Havelock North Motor Lodge was a quality motel with comfortable beds and spa, conveniently located to the centre of town. As this was the first lodgings of the trip, it bode well with our expectations.
Day 3: Havelock North to Waipawa via the Patangata Pub, 50 km.
I think we were all pretty pleased at not having to ride one of the above velocipedes. The advent of gears on bikes certainly makes the cyclist's life a lot easier.
The grand landscapes we were to witness can be likened to photographs found in coffee table books. At the end of the day, people talked more of the beauty that surrounds, than the challenges encountered.
As a bonus for completing the day's ride, most were accommodated in quality B&Bs on the outskirts of town. It's hard to conjure up thoughts of how a shared pizza could turn into a banquet, but it did. What is it they infuse the red wine with over here?
Day 4: Waipawa to Hastings via Bridge Pa, 63 km.
After yesterday's assault on our muscles, I was a little wary at reading in our ride notes, "Terrain is rolling countryside with several uphill sections."Yeah, right!...... It also said "followed by lovely long downhill cruises!"
Was I being too cynical? ......well...... I did study my map a little more closely and I did reveal, over drinks, as delicately as I could, what I thought the ride entailed but this was quickly laughed off with "it couldn't possibly be like to-day." I've already told you that the red wine over here is infused with magical powers......it helps to numb the brain.
What goes up....surely must come down.
For every negative there is a positive and the above sign was a real positive to some embattled and tired cyclists. They said 'Welcome' and they made us really welcome.
There was another positive but you will have to read the post on this section for that to be revealed. Was it clear and present danger or was it pure adrenaline, fuelled?
We stayed at Portman's Motor Lodge which was of a similar standard to the other motels we stayed in.Day 5: Hastings to Taradale around the Gimblett Gravels Wine Appellation , 45 km.
To-day is an easy stroll with visits to a couple of vineyards and a scenic ride to Taradale.
As it was still too early to have lunch it was decided to have coffee and cake and pick up the makings for a picnic on the river further up the trail.
Recreational cycling as far as I am concerned is all about enjoying your surroundings not going like a bat out of hell with the only view being the rear end of the rider in front. I'm all for slow cookin and slow ridin, well slower anyway.
We were certainly made welcome at our next lodgings The Colonial Lodge Motel where the owner really made us feel comfortable.
Day 6: Taradale to Ahuriri via the Puketapu Loop, 45km.
Our last riding day, started well with breakfast on the lawn and as usual I had a good study of the ride notes and the Google Map which I had previously prepared. Nothing really caught my attention, except for recommending taking a short diversion to the Otatara Pa Historic Reserve, where a walk to the Pa site would afford stunning views out over the region. I don't know whether we got lost on the way, although it seemed pretty straightforward but we had to climb a reasonably steep hill. Was it worth it? Yes, for two reasons, the first being......it certainly put the heart rate up and secondly the panoramic views on all sides were simply stunning.
This ride covered wineries, chocolate factories, wildlife and seascapes.
This summarises the Takaro Trails Cycle Tours (Link) but for more detail and photographs please check out the individual posts.
How would I rate the tour.?.....................*****
Cheers and safe riding,