Sunday, 5 May 2013


Forged by local artist Marcel  Zwezerijnen

As we were departing Lake Taupo, I just had to stop to take the above photograph. I have never seen a bicycle replica marking the entrance or exit of a town before and especially one of such large dimensions. In fact there were two such bikes commissioned by the Taupo Moana Rotary Club with the other bike situated in Taurangi and their purpose is to promote the region as a cycling destination as well as alert motorists to the shared road policy. Lake Taupo attracts an estimated 100,000 cyclists to the region each year.

White water kayaking on the Waikato River at Huka Falls
Water flows through the canyon and over the falls at an estimated 220,000 litres per second

The power of the water is such that this tourist boat is prevented from getting any closer to the falls.

One of the many attractions of Lake Taupo, is the Huka Falls on the Waikato River which caters for the adventurer in the forms of kayaking and rafting as well as giving the tourist a thrill, jet boating as close as possible to the base of the falls. The Waikato River drains Lake Taupo and just prior to the falls, changes from being 100 meters wide to squeezing through a canyon only 15 meters long which creates this spectacular aqua whirling mass of water, so powerful that it can stop a tourist boat in its track and actually push it back.

Not far from the Huka Falls is another natural wonder, the Craters Of The Moon geothermal walk. There is something quite unnatural and eerie about walking over earth emitting steam all around you and peering into craters where puddles of mud are bubbling. It feels very alien and you have this innate, uneasy feeling that at any time the whole lot might explode. It gives the impression that just beneath the crust there is something quite sinister going on and if you applied any pressure on it at all, it could give way and you would be sucked into this mass of molten larva. Amazingly, plants not only grow here they actually thrive in this noxious environment.

The imagination of some people simply blows me away and in places where you least expect it like the next little town on our travels, Tokoroa (link) an old timber town.

The Big Dog Information Centre on left. The Big Sheep Wool Gallery on right. Both are made from corrugated iron.

Next on the list was Tirau (link), just 25 minutes north of Tokoroa where once again there is an abundance of public art on display. Tirau is the crossroads where three major roads meet and pass through and is possibly the reason why there are so many cafes, restaurants and unique shops, especially in a town with a population of 800. We spent an easy hour or so here browsing through the shops and it is very easy to have the feeling that the locals not only have pride but also share a lot of flair.
The Mare & Foal Statue by artist Michelle Farrell of Waiuku outside the Cambridge Town Hall
Back in the car and heading for Cambridge which was a further 23 km north and one of my favourite inland towns and home to New Zealand's thoroughbred horse industry. As further evidence on how the equine industry plays an important part within the district of Waikato, the council, with the help of personal donations, commissioned local artist Michelle Farrell to produce the above sculpture weighing 850kg and costing $129,000.

Winners of Australia's Melbourne Cup

1971 winner of the Melbourne Cup

My coincidental brush with fame: In November, 1971, I happened to be on a Qantas 707 bound for Auckland. On the same plane was the owner of the horse that just won the Melbourne Cup, one of the worlds famous thoroughbred horse races and of course, he had the coveted cup with him. In a wonderful gesture, he had the Chief Steward fill the cup with champagne and passed it around all of the passengers and crew so that they might toast the successful  Silver Knight. I can actually say, I have sipped champagne from the Melbourne Cup.....a fond memory.
Have you ever felt the energy flowing when you enter certain places or areas. There is a real vibrancy in the air which infects you and gives you that feeling of well being. Cambridge is one such place, small enough to be really intimate but with a real heartbeat that instantly gives the impression that this place is alive and kicking. Beautiful tree lined streets, filled with smiling, happy people going about their business or sitting sipping coffee or tea with friends. They look at you when you arrive and seem to say "come in and stay awhile, you are welcome". The town is built on the mighty Waikato River and like it's name sake in England is deep into rowing, which takes place on the beautiful Lake Karopiro within a short distance of the town. In 2010, the World Rowing Championship was held on this lake and several world rowing champions have called Cambridge their home.

Within a short distance of Cambridge there are a number of recreational cycling trails suitable to different levels of fitness. If you hit on the following link, you will find out more,

 The Waikato District has so much to offer, that I would definitely like to spend more than a passing visit to the area.

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee


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