Wednesday to Friday of our first full week tandeming the Tour Aotearoa has brought us, slowly, from Kaitaia at the bottom of the Cape Reinga peninsula across VERY hilly bits of northernmost New Zealand to the delightfully-named Dargaville, the country’s sweet potato capital, would you believe, with a colourful history of immigration from Croatia.
After three days of hard slog – up as high as 1300 feet and back down, repeatedly, for what comes down surely goes up again, and very promptly – we’re taking a Saturday break, partly to rest aching muscles and sore bottoms (saddle sores rule OK) and partly because a key and remote fisherman’s ferry that will take us from Potou Point across the bay to Helensville and Auckland beyond only has space on Monday, or possibly even only Tuesday.
We’re averaging about 60km a day, a bit short of what we need to make it to the other end of NZ by March 23.
(The fast ones among the 300 riders starting out on the proper, full Tour Aotearoa in a week’s time will be taking one day to complete what takes us a whole, slow week!)
But it’s giving us time to appreciate astonishing landscapes, and especially this week the majestic Kauri tree forests, with trees as old as 2000 years, in that tiny, postage stamp-sized space of Northland that survived clear-cutting of NZ woodland in the late 19th century, and, unbelievably, right through to the 1960s.
We’ll blog later about cows and sheep, of which NZ has rather large numbers and which tell an important tale of what we human settlers have done to this planet.
Let it just be noted here that, in the North Island especially, whenever one lifts one’s head from the view of the steep uphill road ahead, the view away from the coast can be really rather similar.
Hills, grassland, conifers, isolated wooden farmhouses, fences (or finces as they call them here…), sheep, cattle, and, yes, yet more sheep and cattle.
Though not here at magnificent Hokianga Harbour.
As before, let the pictures and short captions speak for themselves – and as ever, please note that we are raising money for the wonderful Rory Peck Trust, and still have half way to go to our target of £3000, or £1 for each tandemmed kilometre. Tandamned?