What with being in the southern hemisphere for the December solstice this year we were in the envious position of celebrating the longest day of the year twice in 12 months!
Where as our June solstice ride was a mammoth 130+ mile sunrise to sunset jaunt through southern England, our December ride would be somewhat shorter, but no less amazing!
With the sun well and truly out and not a dark cloud in the sky we headed out from our WWOOFing hosts later then planned, lol no surprise there! Our route was to take us from Kumeu, some 20 miles or so north west of Auckland, west to the coast and what we had been told would be a lovely beach at Bethells.
The roads were amazing, with plenty of room on the shoulder for us to ride in when needed. New Zealand seems to have embraced space for cyclists through having a wide, clean and well maintained shoulder that forms part of the cycle path network, at least so far, we will see how it goes in the rest of the country once we get on the road proper.
After a few rolling hills we hit the main climb separating us from the coast. It was a bit of a shock to the system for both of us, coming from the low lying south of England. Luckily for me I had some gears to play with and was soon spinning my way to the top, stopping only for the odd photo op.
But as the saying goes ‘what goes up must come down’ and we were soon hurtling down the other side, stopping only to top up our water bottles at Bethells Valley Rural Fire Force station, thanks again guys!
As we continued to descend through rainforest looking woods the horizon opened up and we could see the sea for the first time.
Soon we were pulling into the Bethells Beach cafe area nestle back in the black sand dunes. This is a super cool cafe, if a bit price.
We picked up a coffee and some chips to supplement our pack-up of raw fruits & veg with some hummus to wet it up, yum!
After lunch the guys at the cafe let us stash our back behind there van and we headed off on the backing hot sand to the sea. The sand here was very dark, but felt great between our toes.
To soon it was time to leave and knowing we had the big hill to contend with we both reluctantly made our way back to the bikes. As it happened this side of the hill was shorter, but steeper and we were soon coasting back home in an attempted to make it in time to catch a lift to The Loft, a Hare Krishna yoga studio come cafe in Auckland, where we had been invited to attend their last ‘Free Spirit Festival’ of the year.