Thursday, 11 April 2013

HAWKES BAY NZ - Taradale to Ahuriri (45 km)

A diverse array of backgrounds and personalities

When you have a group of personalities such as ours, you find an array of emotions, particularly on  the last day of an extended tour such as the Takaro Trails Tour we have just been on in New Zealand. Some riders show elation on having met the challenge, others show signs of fatigue and then there are others who can't wait to meet the next challenge. We do encounter the odd "spit the dummy" when things are not going smoothly and tempers get a bit frayed when fatigue starts to set in, while others are no different when they finish to when they started.
I have completed three out of the four tours that U3A's Peddling For Pleasure have been on and I have been amazed at how, overall, this group maintains self discipline and can all enjoy the last night get together at a restaurant. It also says a lot for the leadership, when the majority of the riders put their hand up for the next tour. Perhaps the reason for this is that our tours are limited to five days. If it were to be any longer, a rest day would need to be included mid way through. It also says a lot for the tour operators who find good quality, reasonably priced accommodation and are there to look after our daily problems with the minimum of fuss.
Credit Card Cyclists is probably the best known term for us because after our daily ride, we like to have a warm shower, a glass of ale or wine, good food and above all a comfortable bed. I doubt there are any of us who contemplate riding with kilos of gear, sleeping rough and eating dehydrated food and how the hell do you keep the beer cold. Perhaps a more genteel description of our group is "touring light".....whatever.
It is a pleasant experience to encounter a motel manager who understands the psyche of touring cyclists. On our last touring night, we stayed at the Colonial Lodge Motel in Taradale where the owner Mark, whom I believe is a cyclist himself, went that extra yard to ensure our comfort, even to the extent of pointing us in the right direction of finding a restaurant which not only served quality Thai food but with flair. The next morning, instead of the usual breakfast being served in our rooms, he had tables set up in the garden and catered for us in the form of a smorgasbord and with a light chill in the air, our last day of riding was set to start well.
The views were worth it

The photograph on the top right is part of the Otatara Pa Historic Reserve. For those of you interested in Maori historical culture click on the following link

Happy little vegemites aren't they?
Nothing like climbing a bloody great mountain (perhaps not quite as high as Mt. Cook) just after breakfast but it did have the affect of getting the heart rate up by the time we reached the summit.
These little coils ain't goin ta move

If the skeleton key doesn't work, there's always extreme measures


I was pumped after my climb and was ready to ride. However, there was this little problem, one of our guys who had locked his bike broke the key in the lock. He managed to remove the key but none of the other keys fitted and necessitated in a call to Jenny for assistance, which came very promptly and shortly after we were on our way.

It was nice getting back into native forest again after all of the raised limestone trails. I love the smell of the forest as you ride along and the green tones were welcome after all the drought affected brown hills.

Looks like we're getting the gist of handling these gates and yeah I know that they are there for a purpose but is it to keep the wildlife in, the sheep out or just there to frustrate touring cyclists. The jury is still out on this one.
Looks like those rascally coal seem gas miners are intent on fraccing the New Zealand countryside as well.
A portion of the Silky Oaks Chocolate Factory
Silky Oaks Chocolate Factory Cafe

We detoured off the beaten track some 500m to take a look at the Silky Oaks Chocolate Factory where we decided to stop for lunch. It was a quaint, old fashioned styled cafe, something along the lines of what you remember from your childhood but it was in keeping with the old building which also housed the factory. A look around the tables outside showed that it was well patronised with both cyclists and tourists alike and everybody appeared to be content with what they had ordered. I can honestly say that whilst in New Zealand, I have not once had a lousy coffee. I don't pretend to be a discerning gourmet by any means but if you can't find food to your liking here, you are pretty hard to please.

Back on the open trail, we visited the Church Road Winery where some decided to take the winery tour while the rest of us continued on to the wetlands. We followed the stream and took photographs of numerous birds, crossed the old bridge by the Ahuriri Estuary where we came across another wildlife sanctuary and a rather large gathering of wild geese.
I was getting quite disenchanted, here we were nearly at the end of our tour and I hadn't sighted any indiginous animals, lots of birds but no animals. Suddenly around a corner and there they were, a whole paddock of woolly jum-bucks. Now you might say that all jum-bucks look alike but Kiwi jum-bucks have a distinct aura about them. Now for the uninitiated, woolly jum-bucks is an old fashioned Australian term for sheep. All jokes aside, if I was to end my days as a lamb chop on some dinner plate, I would definitely like to spend my last days grazing on the plains of New Zealand.

We continued on the trail through vast wetlands, skirting the Napier Airport until we met the West shore, where still water turned to surf. Following our instructions we didn't have any problem with finding our way to Ahuriri and delivering our bikes to Takaro Trails Reception Centre (

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

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