Tuesday, 7 May 2013


I've heard so much about the Coromandel Peninsula being the playground of Auckland, New Zealand, I just had to see it for myself.

Te Aroha

The Hauraki Rail Trail passing through Paeroa

The drive from Cambridge to Thames was relaxing and uneventful, with our first stop at Te Aroha. This pretty little town with a mountain backdrop and the start of the Waihu river winding it's way to the Firth of Thames. It particularly took my interest because it was the start of the Hauraki Rail Trail which runs 83 km to Thames through Waihi and  Paeroa, normally a 2 day ride for recreational cyclists, but this can be stretched to a 3 day ride, simply by taking a side tour to Waihi via Waikino. As with everything on this trip, we only had a taste, I would have loved to have ridden this rail trail but after talking to some locals and finding out that another branch of some 56 km from Kopu (7 km outside of Thames),  to Kaiaua is to be added, I will come back to ride it when it is completed. If you would like to view a map of this ride including the proposed add-on hit the following link http://connect.foxyms.co.nz/files/haurakirailtrail/resources/maps/2-0%20Hauraki%20Rail%20Trail%20A4%20Map%20Pad_web.pdf

Front view - Cotswold Cottages

Rear view (Cotswold Cottages) with two guests from the USA

Mid afternoon, we breezed into Thames and easily located our B&B for the night, the Cotswold Cottages. 

Views from Cotswold Cottages

Thames fish and chips as recommended
It's the attention to detail that matters and Jacqui our hostess surely had an eye for detail, from the bar frig. in the conservatory stocked with wine and beer on an honesty system, the walk to the river, the outdoor settings to take in the views and the beautiful breakfast which she served to a collective table of guests from other parts of the globe. The first morning we shared with an English couple, who have lived the last forty years in Michigan, USA. The second morning, we shared with a couple from Paris, France and a couple of tandem cyclists from San Francisco, USA. I just love meeting people in this casual way.

Thames is the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, steeped in 100 year old history, built on logging and gold mining and now servicing the rural industry of the district. It has only recently received a new lease of life with a lot of Aucklanders finding the laid back lifestyle a far cry from living in a bustling city. An easy drive for a weekend of relaxation, Thames is only 1 hour 20 minutes from Auckland.

The photo of the above bicycle conjures up all sorts of images in my mind as to the characters who actually rode this bike. Were they goldminers on their way to a dig, or an itinerant shearer or perhaps an old but reasonably affluent swaggie. Imagine sitting on that seat on a corrugated road for a 20 km ride. Still they had their durries, billy tea and the odd bottle of sherry or rum to keep them warm.

It's amazing, when you think how far we have come. I would find it extremely difficult swapping a computer for a typewriter, and I couldn't do without Google. On the other hand, I think we have lost a great deal and there is too much pressure on families to-day. Life used to be much easier and less stressful.

I will continue our trip around the peninsula in my next post.
Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

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