We left Opononi knowing that the day would bring us through a Kauri forest and we would see one of the largest trees in the world. After my experience with the giant Eucalyptus in Tasmania I was not sure that I would be impressed. I was so wrong. Bridget, Quentin and myself cruised out of the motel early and spent a pleasant morning moving through more and more forest when we came to the sign and walkway for Tane Mahuta. Off I sauntered down the path, saw a Maori woman standing in a bend in the planked walkway so I went up to talk to her. She said hello and then asked me to turn around and look. My God, what a tree! It was immense. Over 4 meters wide and very little taper as it rose into the sky. I was amazed.
We took a few photos as I listened to our Maori guide. This tree is over 2000 years old and a larger one just 400 meters down the road checks in at over 2500 years old and is the 4th largest tree in the world. It may be the most massive. The rainforest here is magnificent. We had climbed this morning and now were rewarded with a wonderful winding descent of several K’s through this lush tropical rainforest. Wow. This is a beautiful place.
This would be a day of ascents – over 1700 meters of climbing and 134 K’s. Our lunch stop was at 58K’s and I decided to wait for Scott and Lee there. Lee is having some real discomfort from too much time on the bicycle seat – discomfort is not a strong enough adjective for what she is going through. But she wants to continue so off we go. It was a long afternoon of riding – a headwind came up making going a little tougher than we had hoped. I broke the wind for Lee wherever I could but we didn’t arrive at our hotel until late in the day. Lee is a real trooper.
There are a lot of cattle, cows and bulls throughout this part of the NZ countryside. They don’t hang out together so when I do run into a group of cattle I’ve found that I can get them going by just encouraging them to get up and get going – pretty soon they are running alongside keeping right up to us. That only lasts until they get to the next fence but it’s really fun till then. They watch us as we ride by and are curious so their response to me shouting,”C’mon you guys, let’s go” doesn’t really surprise me.
When we got into our lodgings I grabbed my bags and headed towards to my room – there was the older woman host and her grandson with a two wheeled card and Marco’s bag loaded on it. Marco was walking just behind them giving them directions. At first I thought what the hell, here is a healthy cyclist having an older woman and a young boy moving his bags when he should be doing just that himself. Then I started to laugh. Marco is so Latin, he just expects that the world revolves around him and that these things should be done for him. It was pretty funny. He also has the heaviest bag, we are all wondering just what he has in it.
The following day Scott rode with Bridget, Q and I. Lee was sitting this one out which was a very smart decision. Time to heal. We just cruised. It was lightly raining all day and the scenery was nice but not a good day for photos. We arrived at our hotel at 1:30 despite the 118K’s and some hills. Tomorrow we will take a bus down to Aukland (40K’s away), drop people off in town who want to shop and eat, and then head to a suburb hotel just south of the city. It is our first day off from the bike.
Tomorrow back on the bike for 144K’s including a trail on an old railway. No traffic and great scenery there.