Meandering around Te Ika-a-Māui, New Zealand's North Island in early 2020

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 20: Stratford - Patea (47 miles, 840 feet of ascent)

I shall call this the day of Two Towers.
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Stratford Glockenspiel Clock Tower

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Hawera Water Tower
It began similarly to yesterday: misty, overcast, and a wet tent. So once again I squished the wet tent (@jay clock would be proud of me) into its bag having first dropped and packed the inner, then got wheels rolling about ten thirty. With perhaps only fortyish miles to complete, I was in no rush.

My first port of call was the i-site in Stratford to establish where tonight's resting place would be. Hawera was just down the road at around twenty miles; a little too close. I was looking for something at around halfway to Whanganui; the assistant in the i-site came up trumps. There was a motor camp at Patea, just about the perfect distance and the little town even had a small supermarket. She also warned me that although the run down to Hawera was fairly easy, it got a bit lumpy from then on. Oh well, situation normal I suppose.

As I set off northwards, then fortunately immediately realised I should be heading south, the sky was still grey and low enough to be cloaking Mount Taranaki almost completely. I'm not sure why, but even though all my journey was on SH3, I found the trip down to Hawera an absolute joy. The twenty miles flew by, perhaps because the general profile was downhill towards the coast. I arrived in Hawera ready for a second breakfast/lunch, a treat I'd not been able to enjoy the past few days.

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Chicken, brie, cranberry and avo roll, with an apple crumble pie to follow.
Another food photo (Hope @HobbesOnTour doesn't find this too distressing), but perhaps trying to illustrate a point. This little lot came to NZ$11, around £5.50 which I thought was a bargain. Maybe not haute cuisine, but delicious food, good coffee, and sufficiently filling. So after a long relaxed lunch, onwards to the ups and downs the i-site assistant had warned me about. The sun was now back to its normal self, but moderated by a gentle coastal breeze. Although I only caught occasional glimpses of the ocean, they at least gave me the satisfaction of knowing I'd cycled the whole way across the country.

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Aotea Memorial Waka in Pātea

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Pātea war memorial - always moved by memorials such as this, even across the other side of the world. Hard to conceive how many lives the Wars must have touched.

Before I knew it I'd arrived in Pātea and made my way out of town to the estuary where the site was signposted. Another quirky little site with a notice on the rustic reception door saying 'Make yourself comfortable and we'll see you later.' So I did. There was another cyclist already set up so we briefly shared experiences. Andy was on a much longer tour having started in Invercargill back in January and was heading for Cape Reinga in the north - bottom to top.

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Fortunately the trains (goods trains only here) are far from frequent in NZ. Was only woken twice during the night.

I typed this having eaten and relaxed outside with a cuppa, still feeling warm as the evening drew in. I'm not sure why this day was such a pleasure. I could have taken a few quiet side roads but instead chose to stick with SH3, its generous shoulder and gentle rollercoaster climbs making for sweet, easy cycling. Maybe the softer rolling landscape, rather than the severe, remote mountainous region I'd recently experienced, reminded me of home. Maybe it's that I had (I thought) another fairly relaxed day to come, with a rest day after that. Who knows, but I liked it!

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 21: Pātea - Whanganui (41 miles, 2133 feet of ascent)

Another quiet, gentle, steady day … and there's nothing wrong with that.

Across the estuary from Pātea Beach Motorhome Camp was the railway line you might have spotted in yesterday’s closing photo. In all the time I was there, three trains passed; all freight. I cycled alongside the line at numerous times during the day and saw not one single train. I assume the track runs from Wellington up to New Plymouth and couldn't help feeling what an underused network it seems to be here, reserved almost entirely for freight. I felt that a case for passenger services could surely be made, but in a later discussion with a Kiwi learned that after the passenger network had been run down following privatisation, there were a number of interwoven reasons it was no longer viable - demand, cost, topography, dominance of freight. Pity.

After breakfast and with only some forty miles to do, I could once more take it easy, so I read for half an hour while the tent dried. It was well after 10:30 by the time I said my cheerios to Andy and got rolling, even then feeling no compulsion to press on. It was so relaxed just pootling along under a beneficent sun, with little breeze, and facing another largely undemanding day. I had got the Garmin (mostly) up and running once more, remembering that I'd dropped it the night before. The impact must have loosened a connection with the screen. A couple of sharp taps seemed to do the trick, but for how long I've no idea.

A dozen or so miles later I passed through the little town of Waverley and since it had a cafe, grabbed the opportunity for second breakfast. The cafe had friendly, talkative staff and a steady throughput of what seemed to be regular clientele - nice to see small businesses thriving. A pot of tea and ginger slice set me up for the remainder of the journey.After Waverley, the road played out much like yesterday - rolling hills, pasture land, occasional glimpses of the sea, and a mostly wide and generous shoulder. Turn the pedals and enjoy the ride whilst the inter city traffic sped past at a safe distance.

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So that's where parkrun started!

With fewer than ten miles to go, I almost missed a sign for a Berry farm and cafe. With time to spare, and a downhill run to Whanganui, I thought an ice cream might touch the spot. The farm did their own ice creams using a vanilla base which they then infused with crushed berries of your choosing. I can recommend the Boysenberry, though I'm sure the others would have been delicious too.

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When I approached the outskirts of Whanganui, it soon became clear this was a bigger town than I'd originally thought. So much the better; I've decided on a rest day tomorrow so I can have the chance to look around, do some laundry and think about the route for my run down to Wellington.

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Virginia Park, Whanganui

My campground for the night, the Aramoho Outback Camp, was a little further than a short stroll into town (or back to the nearest supermarket), so I treated myself to a meal at the eatery near the campground entrance - 'Caroline's Boatshed.' I had breads and dips for starters (I think it was a sharing platter for two, but they were polite enough not to say), and lamb rump for the main course. When in New Zealand, do as the Kiwis do. The lamb was succulent, tender and cooked perfectly and it was good to get some fresh veg, but the sauces were not quite to my taste. It might be me of course, but most foods here seem to have the sweetness turned up a notch or two. Anyway, the two courses and a handle (sub-pint) of Tui beer came to NZ$54. The site fees are NZ$15 per night, so I was offsetting some of those savings with a more extravagant meal … because I'm worth it!

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Looking downstream on the Whanganui River towards Durie Hill and Tower

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 22: Whanganui rest day (8 miles)

Peering out from the tent flap at 7:30 visited on me a foreboding sky, the like of which I'd prefer not to sally forth under. Fortunately this was to be a rest day so a start of any kind, neither early nor late, was not on the agenda. I checked the weather forecast; showers during the morning, brightening up in the afternoon. Laundry would have to be delayed a while. Needing to ablute anyway, I arose, made breakfast then returned to my tent, shortly after which the rains commenced.

When I awoke from monitoring the inside of my eyelids, the pattering on the tent was no more than the tree under which I was pitched shedding it's accumulated droplets. Now ready to launder, a search for the washing powder I'd been lugging round for two weeks yielded naught; I must have left it in Stratford. Not keen on returning 70 miles for a few hundred grams of washing powder, I fashioned some soap flakes from a half block I had with me. It would do. When the machine had performed its job for the reasonable sum of NZ$2, I draped the washing over the line. The gusting breeze required me to hang around to keep returning items blown off the line back to their precarious positions. No matter, I was enjoying a relaxed read. A kindly lady from one of the motorhomes nearby spotted my predicament and popped across with a 'kiwi gift' of a handful of pegs. So kind and much appreciated.

With washing now fixed in place and the sky brightening up, I could head off for a mosey around Whanganui. Sadly most of the Saturday craft market was now cleared away, so I headed to the i-site to see what I could pick up. With it being a Saturday and me late out of the traps, most of the galleries and museums were shortly due to close, so I just enjoyed a cycle around some of the sites.

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Whanganui Opera House - last Victorian theatre in NZ

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Cooks Gardens Bell Tower

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Sarjeant Gallery and Memorial Museum

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Whanganui Velodrome, with the Durie Tower in the background

One place I did want to visit was the 'Durie Elevator' a tunnel and lift built to create an easy link between the newly formed residential area on Durie Hill and the city in the early 20th century. A fascinating solution and, for NZ$2, a short but sweet ride, the culmination of which offered magnificent views of Whanganui.

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Entrance to Durie Tunnel and Elevator

The evening's meal was courtesy of a supermarket visit which provided a 'Hawaian slice,' egg and celery salad, tabouleh, and a date scone, all for about half the cost of last night's starter. More importantly, sitting back on the veranda on site in the setting sun, equally as enjoyable.

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Steam-powered paddle steamer heading up the Whanganui River

With its historic, artistic and cultural sensibility, coupled with a similar but different relaxed feel to Napier, I liked Whanganui.

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 23: Whanganui - Palmerston North (60 miles, 2014 feet of ascent)

I suppose the proximity to the Whanganui River is what drew in the fog, but that's what greeted me as I emerged from the tent this morning. Coupled with that was of course a wet tent once more, so an earlier start for this somewhat longer day wasn't going to be on the cards.

The car park of the bar with which the site is associated is clearly the gathering place for the Sunday classic and custom car meetup. One after another after another rolled - and in some instances, roared ' - into the car park. This apparent fetish with all things auto seems quite common out here. Maybe back home too, but I just don't come across it.

Despite taking time to dry the tent, I was still under way just after ten and retraced my steps from yesterday back into a quiet Whanganui. Over the River I then picked up my familiar friend in SH3, at least for a dozen miles or so. Although I could have stayed with it for longer, the option to take some back roads drew me and I headed off for Martin in the hope of second breakfast. After another dozen miles my wish was granted and I stopped at the first cafe I came to in town. A classy little place with prices to match, but both the butter chicken pie and chocolate fudge to follow stoked up the fire. I enjoyed both, but why do even decent places put a pie in the microwave to warm it through, thereby inevitably rendering the pastry soggy? Shame.

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The next section across to Feilding was perhaps the most English of all with lots of little ups and downs, twists and turns. A lovely stretch, brought to a close by another (un)healthy portion of ice cream from a dairy as I passed through Feilding. The final dozen miles to Palmerston North consisted of a series of dead straight sections connected by regular ninety degree turns.

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Too many roads like this during the final section

Rather uninspiring. Much like my route planning to bring me to the site which for the first time failed. A local was able to point me in the general direction, from where my nose did the rest. At NZ$28 this was one of the more expensive sites, but where that level of contribution went was a bit of a mystery. It sure wasn't on the warmth of the welcome, nor on the kitchen set up which, despite having cookers, microwaves and kettles, lacked the little extras that similarly expensive sites had such as washing up liquid and tea towels. Pity, because the location alongside the river is quite lovely.

A goodly walk into town found me a supermarket from which the makings of an evening meal could be assembled, then back to camp to enjoy it. Almost. Two cyclists doing the Tour Aotearoa had arrived and set up on the adjacent pitch. Nothing wrong with that until one conducted a phone call with family back home … on speaker phone. I could hear everything his wife and baby son said! Why do folks do that? Apologies. I have a lower than usual tolerance for such things. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

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HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
I'm with you on the subject of wet tents. I fully get the logic that they will dry quickly when pitched, but there's a primitive instinct that my "home" should be dry when I need it.
Besides..... There's the extra weight of all that water :laugh:

Your faint experience after the climb is interesting for all and emphasises the importance of listening to our bodies - mine is always telling me to slow down.... And eat! ^_^

On ice cream I've tried (and fallen for!) Avocado ice cream! ^_^

I find myself a little excited by the apparent informality of some of the campgrounds. I love the idea of "make yourself at home, we'll be around later".

Finally, keep the food descriptions coming! ^_^
 
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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
I'm with you on the subject of wet tents. I fully get the logic that they will dry quickly when pitched, but there's a primitive instinct that my "home" should be dry when I need it.
Besides..... There's the extra weight of all that water :laugh:

Your faint experience after the climb is interesting for all and emphasises the importance of listening to our bodies - mine is always telling me to slow down.... And eat! ^_^

On ice cream I've tried (and fallen for!) Avocado ice cream! ^_^

I find myself a little excited by the apparent informality of some of the campgrounds. I love the idea of "make yourself at home, we'll be around later".

Finally, keep the food descriptions coming! ^_^
Thanks for those comments F.

Avocado ice cream? Suprised I didn't come across it in NZ. The Kiwis (like the Mexicans?) are big on their "avos" and you can often buy them from roadside stalls that have honesty boxes.

Came across several 'informal' campgrounds, but could never shake the guilt of not paying up front before pitching.
 
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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 24: Palmerston North - Patiahua (27 miles, 1913 feet of ascent)

I'm grateful to my TA cyclist neighbours for the early morning call which awoke me from my slumbers. I'm not quite sure how someone who uses a tent themselves, fails to appreciate that voices used at normal levels penetrate thin fabric, especially in the stillness of the morning. At least it afforded me the chance to slowly come round and appreciate that the night's breeze had left me with a dry tent. The day itself was overcast, warm and humid; just what I wanted on the day I returned to the hills. Still, having decided that my Wellington-bound route will consist of only brief days where possible, today's short jaunt over the range shouldn't be too demanding.

I slowly gathered myself at breakfast and enjoyed a brief chat with a couple of Germans also on the TA; much friendlier and more considerate types, but also clearly on a mission. The thought of having to bang out the miles from dawn to dusk leaves me reeling, but I can also see the attraction completing the whole thing in 'n' days must have for some.

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The digital displays on the sign alongside this new bridge displayed in real time the number of pedestrains and cyclists that passed over the bridge
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Victoria Park was a relaxing place with plenty of things to see and do.

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Now that's how you do integrated public transport.
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The Hopwood Clock Tower, also known as Kerei Te Panau

With few miles ahead of me, I had the luxury of time to potter around Palmerston North and I have to say I'm impressed. This seems to be the first place I've visited making a concerted effort to be cycle-friendly. There are on- and off-road bike paths, clearly marked and highly visible. There are plenty of cycle stands and cycle stations with pumps and tools. Even the local buses have cycle carriers on the front. No doubt Palmerston being flat with roads arranged in a grid helps here, as must its status as a university town. Nevertheless, well done Palmerston North!

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Looking back towards Palmerston North

The main route across the range would have been via the Manawatu Gorge, but a landslip closed the main highway a few years ago and the highways authority are having to work hard to reinstate it. Meanwhile there are two alternative routes across, of which I chose the southerly. The climb itself wasn't particularly steep, though as is usual did make its presence felt for some while. It was on this climb that I had my nearest close pass of the tour so far. I could hear the truck labouring up the climb behind me for quite a while; it seemed to be struggling more than I was. Because I was out of the saddle, I couldn't see it in my mirror so it was only as it drew alongside that it became clear just how close the driver had decided to pass. It must have been less than two feet and I can't think why so close; there was road to spare and time to come past, even at the snail's pace we were both managing. No harm done on this occasion, but if I'd wobbled …

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The run down the other side was a delight, steeper at first then gently over the remaining few miles into Patiahua. It made a welcome change to be looking out over greener fields rather than the parched brown landscape with which I'd become familiar. I guess that's indicative of greater rainfall, so I might have to pay a toll for enjoying more verdant surroundings.

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This central walkway between the two carriageways in Patiahua runs down what was originally planned to the rail line through the town. That never happened.

My campground for the evening, just on the edge of Patiahua, was small, almost empty and blissfully quiet. I had a wonderful evening talking with Douglas, another TA cyclist who's of a similar age and political leaning to me. Really enjoyed getting a view on a Kiwi's life from someone with a similar background.

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 25: Patiahua - Eketahuna (25 miles, 1342 feet of ascent)

Sleep did not come easily to me last night, nor has it for a couple of nights now. Not sure what's causing it; perhaps I'm not working hard enough during the day, or maybe I'm in bed too early? When I did drop off, I slept well, so I assume my sleep system is not at fault. Since I suffer no I'll effects the following day, it matters not.

After another leisurely breakfast and slow departure, followed by nearly an hour's read with a coffee in Patiahua, I eventually hit the road for Eketahuna proper around eleven. Another short day so another relaxed journey. For a brief moment I considered simply heading down SH2, but wisely came to my senses and headed instead for the backroads; a little further but doubtless more pleasant. And so it proved.

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Once over the ridge which bounded the eastern flank of the town, the road quickly dropped into and subsequently followed the Mangaone valley for most of the journey. It had the same feel, same scale and same sense of proportion as a ride in Derbyshire back home. Barely a car passed all day; in fact I saw more TA riders than I saw vehicles. Since I was heading south like them, and because I'd dropped the speed to half-bimble, they all came past me. Unlike the inconsiderate individual who passed me on the climb yesterday, all these acknowledged and returned my greetings. Turning the pedals slowly and methodically, rather than intently and in earnest brought a different kind of joy, one I shall likely repeat tomorrow.

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Before long it was time to climb back out of the valley towards Eketahuna and a simple site that had been recommended to me by the cyclist I met out on the Cape. Rolling down into the town I passed their rugby club, which appears to have a long history having been founded in the same year as my home town football club, Sheffield United. That's a good age for a club in such a small town, perhaps pointing back to more prosperous times?

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The giant kiwi in Ekatahuna that the TA riders all seem to stop at. A checkpoint possibly?

Before heading to the site I took second breakfast and watched life (and more TA riders) passing by for an hour or so. It looks like I'll be sharing the route into Wellington with them over the next few days. Like Patiahua last night, the site itself is small, quiet, but well appointed. It has the simple things - like dishcloths and washing up liquid - that the bigger more expensive sites often lack. There's no reception building, but someone on the site said just to set myself up and someone would be along later to collect fees. I'm really impressed with the sites in these little towns along SH2; they're reasonably priced and well appointed. Here for example, it's only NZ$8 for a non-powered pitch; the same price as (but much better quality than) the rather ramshackle site up at Tokamaru Bay.

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 26: Eketahuna (rain stopped play)

Although I had no plans for a rest day today, the patter of rain drops on the tent fabric during the night hinted at that possibility. The morning came and the rain persisted. Since my new schedule came with no imperative to press on swiftly to Wellington, I could afford to sit this one out and hope for better weather tomorrow.

The temperature also plummeted, making sitting in shorts and t-shirt rather uncomfortable. Had I been on the bike, I'm pretty sure the cold, wet conditions would have adversely affected my enjoyment. Instead, I remained relatively comfortable in my tent where reading and listening to podcasts provided pleasure in themselves.

When I took breakfast on the site veranda, other campers who had heard a forecast suggested it would clear up in the afternoon. If it did, with my next stop only thirty miles down the road, I could decide to set off quite late should I have so chosen. But the forecasters (or those relaying their message to me) didn't do such a great job and it rained lightly on and off for most of the day. I was happy relaxing and even got the chance to book accommodation for my last two nights in Wellington. As it would be an early start from Welly, I wanted to have an easy run to the station to catch my train and sidestep the possibility of having to strike camp in poor weather.

I spotted today that in resetting the Garmin, I'd neglected to program it to save to SD card which meant that although my tracks would have been saved, I would be struggling to upload them. Even once home I'd have problems because the Garmin had begun refusing to show up in Windows Explorer when connected to the ‘puter, so I'd still be unable to browse to the saved files. Searching the Interwebs has yet to unearth a solution.

With nowhere to go, other than to pop into town to pick up provisions during a gap in the weather, I had the chance to have a good natter with a couple of older folks who were travelling solo in their respective motorhomes. One in particular knew the UK well, her son having studied at Uni in Manchester. I can’t remember which of the tourers I’d met earlier who’d mentioned it, but he remarked how friendly, bijou, inviting, well-equipped and reasonably priced most of the municipal or community sites were in the small towns strung out along this stretch of State Highway 2. That certainly was my experience too.

Despite the pleasantness of the site, the friendliness of the residents and the restfulness I’d enjoyed, fingers crossed I’ll be back on the bike tomorrow.

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 27: Eketahuna - Masterton (29 miles, 839 feet of ascent)

A cold night followed yesterday's cold day, which of course led to a rather wet tent. The morning breeze and intermittent sunshine helped here, as did another day in which the miles were to be few. After paying the site supervisor for a second night, I was ready to roll, but sorry to leave this friendly, charming, cheap and well-equipped little site. If you're cycling through the area and need a stop, Eketahuna Campground should definitely be on your shortlist.

Having originally intended to go straight through to Martinborough from here, I had no route to Masterton, my revised destination for the day. Yesterday I received a notification text from Spark, my NZ telecoms provider that I had used 80% of my data allowance. Since I've had several days without WiFi, I wasn't surprised, but now need to ration my remaining bytes. With only a week and a bit to go, with most of my remaining accommodation providing free WiFi, there seems little point in buying a data extension. All of which means I'd rather not plan new routes online. So off I set today, confident that the route to Masterton I'd planned in OSMAnd would be OK. All the roads went where I'd expected them to, but I’d mistakenly selected a couple of miles of gravel road. Oh well.

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Surprised to come across a railway bridge this far out in the boondocks

The scenery was similar to the day before yesterday's, with the hills and valleys once more providing reminders of home. In fact, similarly to before, most of the route wove along various valley floors with only the minimum of climbing. I could get used to this. The quietness of the road often made you feel miles away from anywhere, yet round each corner a farm or property of some kind regularly appeared. The sense of complete isolation I often felt whilst out on the Cape was missing … probably reassuringly.

Another short day meant I arrived in Masterton mid-afternoon, so before heading to the site, I sought out a bakery for second breakfast. A pot of tea, chicken club sandwich and a portion of apple strudel came to less than NZ$10. I really am taken with New Zealand bakeries as a source of food and drink for the road.

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Mini art galleries all in shipping containers

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This annual competition is a big thing. A really big thing!

I backtracked to the campground and booked in for NZ$22, not cheap, but a reasonable site. After pitching the tent I then headed for the supermarket, only a ten minute walk away. In addition to some food for the evening, I also needed to replace the washing powder I'd left behind in Taupo(?) so I was no longer reduced to using soap. Back at the site I followed Matt's advice and took out from the box of powder just enough to see me through my remaining days. Thanks for that tip Matt; someone will hopefully make the best of the remainder I left in the site laundry.

There seemed to be several groups of blokes booked into the cabins here on site. Perhaps they're competitors in the 'Golden Shears' contest here in the town over the next few days. As my beard's beginning to become a little unruly, I wonder if they might give it a trim? Don't think I'd take to the rough handling though; rather prefer being pampered in a barber's chair over being wrassled to the ground by a burly Kiwi!

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Thank you kindly; that's appreciated.

Ah sadly no on the Garmin front. The cable was my first thought too - I'm now on my third one, so no joy on that front unfortunately. I suspect it's a driver issue following a Windows update at some point. Some other USB (storage) devices continue to connect successfully (mp3 player), whilst others have stopped working (camera). If I were still at work with (admin) access to other computers, I'd try the garmin out there. One small advantage of being at work I suppose, but I'll stick with (semi) retirement thanks all the same. Under the current circumstances of course, I can't even try it out on a buddy's computer. Faff though it is, at least I can still transfer files using the micro SD card.
 
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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Day 28: Masterton - Martinborough (33 miles, 826 feet of ascent)

The day did not start well. After rising and taking a leisurely breakfast once more, whilst striking the tent a pole snapped. I was merely detaching part of the inner as I had so many times previously when a sudden 'crack', left me with a snapped pole poking through the fabric sleeve. Fortunately Vango provide a temporary fix in the repair kit in the form of a metal sleeve splint to slip over the broken section. This would be a repair first for me, but one that would need to wait until I next erected the tent. It could of course have been worse and have happened much earlier in the tour. But come on Vango, the pole's barely been used forty times in all and it's not been misused. I suspect we'll be having words upon my return.

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Passed queen Elizabeth Park on the way through Masterton. Have been impressed with the town parks I've seen.
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First of several of these I saw around these parts. Most motorists manage to follow that suggestion.


Leaving Masterton and the Golden Shears' competition behind, with another relatively short day ahead, I once more headed out into the country. As before the route mostly meandered along tranquil, quiet valleys, passing plenty of farmsteads, but encountering very little traffic. Such pleasure. For the first time in the tour I felt the need to add an extra layer in the form of a gilet. Although last night hadn't been especially cold, the temperature had barely risen during the morning; a single t-shirt would have been slightly uncomfortable, so the gilet and arm-warmers helped out. Now it really did feel like cycling in the UK!

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Crossing the Ruamahanga River
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Another memorial, way out in the rural south
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Rather lonely, but distinctly beautiful
Gladstone church

The miles really flew by today and before long I was passing amongst the vineyards for which this region is so well known. I'd considered taking a vineyard tour whilst here, but the three or four I passed all displayed 'Closed' signs. When I reached Martinborough, it seemed to be rather more of a touristy (read 'expensive'!) thing to do, rather than as an interesting learning experience. The town was rather chic and played its tourist credentials card quite forcefully. The fare offered in its cafes was far from that I'd been enjoying in town bakeries recently. No bakery at all in Martinborough that I could find. When I checked the location of the campground with the assistant in the i-site, she said the camp was full. Uh, oh. However, from previous experience that seems to refer mainly to cabins, so undeterred, off I set to find the campground.

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Martinborough vineyards

In fact the site was almost fully booked as there were a range of different activities and events taking place in the area over the weekend. Fortunately the site manager had set aside a single pitch for TA riders, a group into which he placed me after I'd parted with the NZ$22 fees. Depending on how many riders roll in tonight, it might be a little snug. It might also be rather noisy with the site being so busy; the manager did say one group of people would be setting off in the early hours. Maybe it'll be fine, or maybe around six in the morning I'll be regretting not pushing on to Featherstone?

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IaninSheffield

IaninSheffield

Über Member
Location
Sheffield, UK
Unfair!!!!

For some reason a tent damaged beyond repair is my greatest fear when far away from home. You've just raised my anxiety level! ^_^
It hadn't worried me until you wrote that!

As with all these things, I guess it boils down to risk management. What's the likelihood of a tent becoming damaged beyond repair, and what mitigation could you then bring to bear? On my little trip, my tent was unlikely to cause me an unsurmountable problem if it became wrecked; I was never more than a day or two from somewhere I was likely to be able to get a replacement. In the boondocks of Mexico I guess that could be more of a problem for you?
What it did bring home though was that tunnel tents like mine might not be best suited to storm-like conditions. If a pole snapped from such an innocuous minimal stress, how would it fare from being buffeted by force 6 or higher winds for several hours? But I suppose if I knew a storm front was approaching (I try to keep an eye on the forecasts), I'd probably have sought more robust shelter. What I might do in future though is to carry a spare length of pole that can easily be swapped in if needed. I haven't yet replaced the broken section; under current circumstances, there's hardly a rush! When I do, I'll have a better idea about how easy/difficult a job it is and how easy/difficult it would be to do on tour. But I think I'll also be looking for a replacement tent.
 
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