After a shorter then expected ride yesterday today was set to be longer with the vague aim of getting all the way across to Coromandel township, some 50 odd km away.
Things didn’t go to plan right from the start however after a very leisurely breakfast in the campground we headed off for an even more leisurely lunch by the sea.
By the time we actually got on the road it was gone 2pm and it was clear we were not making it to Coromandel town.
After riding a nice off the road cycleway along the beach out of Whitianga we started climbing straightway.
The grade was fairly steep and the climb lasted a few km and was made up of hairpins most of the way.
On the descent we could see the North Coast off in the distance and after screeching down soon found ourselves by what can only be described as one of the most picturesque and empty beaches we have ever been to.
Taking advantage of the situation we dumped the bikes and jumped in for a swim.
Unfortunately we couldn’t ‘freedom camp’ here without facing a $200 fine. Note to anyone considering cycle touring in NZ by road; there are very few places you can just set up your tent for free. Freedom camping is really only for certified self contained vehicles. This leaves you with the option of cheap, but at times infrequent DOC sites or expensive and plentiful private holiday parks. Of course you can camp anywhere if you are confident of not getting caught, but with seriously few roads in places finding a good spot has not been as easy as we had expected.
Just a couple of k’s up the road from our swim we saw signs for a campsite and turned off the main road. As we approached Alex noticed a familiar looking chap tending his garden. It turned out to be non other than David, the friendly guy I sat next to on the plain from Melbourne to Auckland nearly 4month previously!!! He invited us in and showed us around his home. He is quite the artist, painter, sculptor and has even build his own tattoo parlour outback. It was great to see him again and amazing when you consider the chances of it happening.
We left to set up camp next door in the park, but just as we left he gave us a big bag of homegrown veggies to help out with dinner!
Top lad, and a reason why you should always make friends with or at least chat to strangers on planes, trains or buses whenever you can.