Monday 16 March – a strenuous day

Monday 16 March – a strenuous day

74km from Te Puia Springs to Te Araroa (and around the town), total elevation gain 927m

We had a relatively early start at 8.30am, for the longest ride of our tour. The first part, out of Te Puia Springs, was all downhill, and the first 25km or so were relatively easy.

Small lake on way out of Te Puia Springs

We had one long hill climb just out of Te Puia Springs.

We crossed the Waiapu River at Ruatoria (we didn’t go into the town). The route from here to Tikitiki followed the river through beautiful countryside with some lovely views.

A feature of these rides is that we cause quite a stir among some of the farm animals along the way – cows and horses wandering over to have a look at us or running alongside us. They don’t flinch if a car or truck roars by – but bicycles are clearly in another league. At one point a whole herd of piglets ran down a hill to see what we were doing.

We stopped at Tikitiki for some coffee and to get our water bottles filled up again before the big climbs. It was quite warm and humid and they were almost empty. There is only one place to buy coffee – the RSA, which is also a post office. They were sorting the mail at the front when we walked in. No espresso machine here, but it was good to have a caffeinated drink none the less.

We stopped to have a look at the St Mary’s church before continuing our journey. The interior is quite stunning, with unique Maori carving and design merged with European architecture.

St Mary’s church, Tikitiki

After Tikitiki the big hills started in earnest – three big inclines (and exhilarating downhill runs) in all. The final downhill run took us down to sea level again at Te Araroa.

It was a long and strenuous day, but we all ended strong with enough energy left for a little sight seeing.

Te Araroa has the oldest and largest Pohutakawa tree in New Zealand – it is believed to be over 350 years old and 40m at its widest point. It stands near the beach, alongside a school.

We decided not to ride to the East Cape lighthouse (most easterly light house in the world), as it would have been another 20km there and 20km back on gravel roads.

Awatere River crossing – start of the gravel road to East Cape Lighthouse

We shopped for our dinner (and ate some Ruatoria pies) at the local Four Square, before finding our way to the Moreporks Nest backpackers, a little way out of town.

When we got there, the manager was not at home, so we had to phone and wait, which was a bit annoying. We are the only guests in the backpackers, but there are quite a few foreign visitors in camper vans or tents on the grounds. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared facilities. We were already getting a little nervous about COVID-19, Kris growled at Jenny for standing close to a Frenchman to check out his new tattoos. Luckily we were the first to use the kitchen to make our dinner of bacon and eggs.

We sat on the verandah of the 130 year old colonial home for a little before the insects began to bite us and we retired for an early night.

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