30 December – 2 January: Hello 2019!

Author Mr A

Location: The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

30 December – It was the day before New Year’s Eve and we headed out into the hills to have morning tea with our friends’ parents, on their kiwi fruit orchard. No kiwi involved incedentally, just lots of childhood stories about David and his siblings, and a tour of the house, accompanied by delicious scones and jam.After a couple of hours of fine hospitality we farewelled Pat and Bill and headed off down to the Wairoa River. Initially we had thought we could cruise on down on our packrafts from the upper reaches, but Bill had advised us of flaws in our plan – firstly, the river is tidal, so we would be starting against the water, and secondly, its about 14km – about three times as far as we usually paddle in our inflatable packrafts.

Instead we set off from near the coast and cruised on up with the tide, enjoying the singing skylarks and the swooping swamp harriers over the waters’ edge. Just a short 4km paddle was all we needed, escaping the noise of the highway and relishing being close to nature.

We quickly head away from the noise of State Highway 2
Paddling up the river with the tide, trying not to disturb the water fowl

31 December – Before we knew it, the end of 2018 was upon us, and we decided to head up into the hills behind our base at Omokoroa for a wander through Puketoki Reserve, a stunning little native forest haven, saved from the saw in 1925. Catherine of course captured some lovely memories for us to share.

Enjoying the cool of the forest after the heat on the coast

1 January 2019 – Happy New Year! After a relatively quiet (for us) New Year’s Eve we were up for some paddling out on the glorious Bay of Plenty. Catherine’s dad offered to give us a lift to a Pahoia Domain beach, a couple of bays north of us, from which we then paddled back to his house.

Well, what a start to the the year! It was an awesome paddle. Our packrafts were inflated quick smart and we launched into the bath warm shallow water.

We are so delighted with these little boats, and pleased we changed them over to these new models from Kokopelli. Much smaller packed size means easier to carry around, and a narrower beam makes them a little quicker – well relatively – we are aren’t going to break any paddling records, but thats not our intention. We just dawdled along checking out the incredible scenery.

This grand mansion came into view. Wow….but are the owners happy?!

Investigations are being made into who might own this beauty!

2 January – This morning we packed up the car and set off with a reasonably vague plan to explore over four or five days parts of the North Island we haven’t made it to on previous trips. Our destination today was inland and over the rugged range that runs down the east coast of the Bay of Plenty to the small town of Cambridge.

We had read about the ‘Te Awa River Ride’, a cycle route following the mighty Waikato river, with the most scenic section being between Cambridge and Lake Karapiro, where the river has been dammed.

We hired bikes from the local information centre and set off on the “river ride”. Only one thing missing – the river. After riding through the town, with mostly no bike lanes, we roads along a long straight path by the side of a main road for 90% of the ride, finally arriving at the river.The picture of the ride that appears in all the marketing literature is actually the only really scenic 200 metre section on the whole trip (28km return!)!

Just in case you had read like me that “Cambridge is the cycling centre of New Zealand” and were panning to come – I would reconsider.

It ended up at a very cycle unfriendly road with cars racing past on narrow lanes…we turned back!

We treated ourselves to dinner out at the local Indian restaurant which helped Cambridge to redeem its reputation somewhat.

Onwards tomorrow to explore new locations. We do love a good road trip!

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