Headed South for a ride which had been on my to do list for a while. Although not challenging riding — flattest cycle trail in NZ — the Hauraki Rail Trail was a new way to see some interesting country.
I skipped the Thames section and rode Te Aroha, Paeroa to Waihi return. Most of the route was familiar as it runs alongside state highways but I’d only seen it from the car.
Starting in Te Aroha the trail is flat and straight for about 21km. Wide enough for two abreast riding, or for cyclists to pass, the scenery is not particularly exciting apart from the glimpses of farming life and wildlife. It was a good way to stretch the legs after the two hour drive (but no traffic as everyone in Auckland had already left).
I had good weather, hot 27 ºc and fine… most of the time.
Once into the Karangahake Gorge the scenery and riding get more interesting
Having driven under this bridge, heading for Tauranga or beyond, many times it was nice to go over it. Take some time to enjoy the scenery before you disappear into it.
At the end of the bridge is one of the highlights of the ride. After the hot summer sun entering this 1km long tunnel was like cycling into air conditioning!
The tunnel is well lit, good enough to cycle without lights if you don’t have them but turning them on helps others see you.
Nice rest stop by the river, below, but would be better without the road on the far side. With my motorist hat on must say the Karangahake Gorge is a wonderful drive, particularly if there is no traffic! I remember going through here in a winter storm and the raging river was close to the road level, the highway closed soon after we had passed through.
Neat to see the bush reclaiming the railway cuttings.
Once at Waihi be sure to cycle through the town centre and up to the Martha Gold Mine. In addition to some mining history there are a great views, and ride’able track around, of the working mine. The Cornish Pumphouse is a relic of past mining right next to the current open cast gold mine.
An interesting ANZAC memorial on the fence overlooking the mine.
A favourite Tonka toy at 1:1 scale
The Victoria Battery, near Waikino, was built in 1896 (that’s old for NZ!). They pioneered use of cyanide to extract gold, a legacy which lingers in places.
No pictures between Waikino and Paeroa as I was riding in torrential rain. Once out of the hills it was dry, dusty bone dry, again apart from my soggy feet. I regretted leaving my “SealSkins” (waterproof socks) in the car that morning!
And back to Te Aroha Station. With the extra distance around Waihi it was 93km in total. Not a hard ride (so flat and no wind!) but an interesting one. Judging by the number of cyclists I saw it’s also a popular one!
Rather than the boring traffic filled haul up SH2 and SH1 motorway I drove home up the the East Coast road. I stopped near Kaiaua for ‘dinner’, with a view over the Firth of Thames towards Coromandel, but others had stopped here to watch (feathered) birds!