Hikutia - Katikati
As if it wasn’t enough that Ian & Natalie’s place near Hikutia was perched high up on a hill overlooking a lush, green valley, our next hosts Dawn & Adrian’s historic home just north of Katikati is positioned higher still to take advantage of magical panoramic views across the land and sea. The good news here is that we didn’t have to cycle up their hill - more on that later.
Leaving Ian & Natalie’s after a full fry we were ready for anything and the 60km ride ahead was an absolute pleasure. We rejoined the Hauraki Rail Trail riding through fertile plains, passing through Paeroa, the hometown of the famous Kiwi soft drink L&P, and after which point we actually started meeting some, not many, other cyclists (weekend warriors and day trippers, nobody as serious as us!) and on through the Karangahake Gorge stopping at Waikino Railway Station for lunch The entire trail as far as Waihi was absolutely stunning with fresh, rural and river views around every twist and turn.
It seemed a shame to have to join back on to the State Highway 2, but needs must, and for the most part there is a hard shoulder to tuck in on, although with a headwind and the backdraft from the bigger trucks and towing vehicles it was a case of holding on tight at times. Hitting speeds of up to 50kms per hour may not seem like much, but on a loaded bike on a windy day with weekend traffic, it feels pretty fast on the downhills to keep under control. My optimistic theory of riding north to south which surely meant downhill has already gone to pot, that and the dream of a tailwind the whole way. The uphills and headwinds are out to get us.
It was on one of the fast downhills that we were passed by a vehicle who tooted (not uncommon thus far, everyone toots and waves) and subsequently pulled in ahead of us. This could mean only one thing – it was someone who knew us! And yes it was Dawn whose home we were heading towards. We had 7kms of uphill to go to get to her farm and so it seemed the right thing to do to unload the panniers right there and then into the back of her car. Instantly we felt so light and wobbly!
More good news and another welcome sight was Dawn again, this time on her quad bike and trailer, at the bottom of the steep gravel road leading up to her house. We didn’t need to be asked twice if we wanted a ride! We loaded up and along with Jess the dog dropped the bikes at the house before jumping on the quad again to head back down for a cooling dip in one of the farm’s own waterholes.
This is a magical place where Dawn & Adrian have chosen to painstakingly relocate and restore their historic home, it is a labour of love and a work in progress and we really hope to return someday to see it in all its restored glory.
Staying with Dawn & Adrian for 2 nights meant we had a full day of rest, it was a Sunday after all, just chilling out, doing laundry and a bit of forward planning with their expert local knowledge. Since we’re not purist cycling tourists we have no qualms about accepting Dawn’s kind offer to drive us through the next stretch of State Highway 2 sometimes known as “Suicide Highway” so we can avoid the heavy traffic around Tauranga.
Tomorrow will be a short cycling day from Matata via Whakatane to Ohope.
This 9-week trip to NZ is not all about biking. We start by dropping the bikes in Auckland, flying to Queenstown to spend a couple of weeks and to run the marathon. Fly back to AKL and ride south to Nelson via Eastland & Hawkes Bay, before returning from Wellington to AKL by train.
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