We’ve now officially started our journey. On Friday (officially DAY 1) we took the train part of the way out of Auckland proper to a town called Papatoetoe. In town we stocked up on groceries and had a nice lunch before launching off. Our destination was about 36km away at Omana Regional Park.
We set a modest goal for the first day just to test our sea legs and to get acquainted with riding on the left hand side. Our mantra for the day was “look right first, look right first”. What we should have been chanting, however, was “please God don’t let us get smashed by a bus, please God we’ll never ride near Auckland again”. Carrie and I have concluded that the larger the vehicle, the closer the driver feels obligated to whoosh by our fragile selves.
We reached Omana Park after a full day of risking our lives but it was worth it. The park itself was nothing spectacular, but it was nearly vacant and we had a whole field in which to pitch our tent. The solitude and serenity was just what we needed, and they had a cold shower to boot!
We crashed hard that night. Come sunrise (DAY 2), after a hour listening to a chorus of over-eager roosters, we set forth for another day on the saddle. We planned to take the coastal route from Maraetai, heading southeast, and then to chose among a number of different campsites, stopping when we decided enough was enough. We had no idea how lovely a ride we would end up having that day.
While cycling through Maraetai, we passed about 20 cyclists getting dressed and prepping their road bikes. Carrie and I agreed it was a good omen. Plus, the nefarious Auckland suicide traffic completely vanished. The small village quickly disappeared around the first bend, giving us a wonderful view of the Tamaki Strait and a chance to privately celebrate our choice to visit New Zealand.
The next 87km of cycling was the most enjoyable I’ve ever done. We cycled up and down a roller coaster of small hills along a beautiful coastline with almost no cars and little wind. Along the way, the cyclists from Maraetai passed us in small pelotons, offering a “g’day” as they whizzed past. In fact we probably saw more cyclists than cars on that stretch, but that wasn’t really a surprise considering the roadway must have been blessed by the Pope himself as a cycling eden.
We also met some fellow cycle tourists and had a nice chat about planned routes and how long we were staying in New Zealand. As it turned out Bob, Harry and Arnold were headed to the same destination. Our goal was to pitch our tents in a motorcamp in a tiny village called Miranda. Little did we know what we were in for.
After stopping at a dairy (re: convenience store) for some ice cream and groceries, we soon entered the driveway to the Miranda motorcamp. In New Zealand, motorcamps are usually equipped with bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes showers. They have spots for RVs and tent sites. It’s closer to a commune than a campsite, which is great for road-weary cyclists. The motorcamp at Miranda, however, was more like a resort, what with the sculpted thermal hot pool full of soaking Kiwis on holiday and luxurious hot showers. I had two beers with dinner. This is the life.