I woke to the sound of two guys making no attempt to keep their voices low who were wandering around my camp around 6:30AM. Their voices dwindle, then they return in a short while. Eventually, I hear and feel my tent getting shaken.
"Hey, mate!" I hear. I respond with something inane but cheerful - better to be positive if I'm going to be kicked out or fined.
"You left your camera outside here. Lucky it's still around. Here, I'll just slide it under for you." Sure enough, my overnight bag (that looks like a camera bag) comes underneath the fly. I thank him, and the two guys move on. I don't even get to see them.
My little corner of the rest area. It even had bathrooms and running water.
Now that my early morning front-door wake up call has occurred, I set about putting away camp. My goal is Tauranga today, just over 50 miles away. I should get a nice, early start. Pull the trailer over - and immediately notice that the left tire is flat. Sigh. It takes about 45 minutes to repair, mostly due to the tiny hole that was impossible to see, resulting in several trips to the river to put it underwater and look for bubbles.
Not quite up to the recommended PSI.
Off I go at last. Legs are doing well, and the Karangahaki Gorge is easier than I thought it would be. Beautiful, too, though for some reason I didn't take a picture.
Pushed through to Waihi, but held off on heading to Waihi Beach (another 12 or 14 km out of my way). Waihi Beach in 1985 was a nice place where we camped for 2 days to do some beach frolicking.
This is 1985's version of Waihi Beach, which I did not visit this time. One of those two kids was the smaller version of me.
Continue on through the village. Sun is really beating down, and without a random annoyed person to spit water on me, I am really hot. Go through all 4 liters of water after about 30 miles. Stop in a little town called Katikati - a delightful little village with a heaven-sent Subway. I still think that Subway is about the best deal you can get on food, period. I spend an enjoyable 45 minutes utterly destroying a foot long roast beef double meat sub, and refill my water bottles. The guy at the counter was amazingly friendly, and refilled it for me from the back where the water was nice and cool. He also snuck in an extra cookie for me that I didn't find until later. Cool.
Wish I had taken a picture of this place, it was very idyllic.
Moved on, though. It was about 25 miles to my goal in Tauranga, and I had to get to the bike shop before they closed. The road from Katikati to Tauranga turned out to have more in common with a roller coaster than a road. I dreaded going down a hill because I knew that there would be another steep upgrade every time. By the time I rolled into Tauranga, I had dropped another 3 liters from my water supply.
Tauranga is a very pleasant city, called "the closest thing to the Riviera in New Zealand" by Lonely Planet. I stop by the I-Site (information) and found out that they have an Avanti/Specialized bike shop in Mt. Manganui, the town right next to Tauranga. Off I go again, this time across the bay on a railway footbridge.
Looking back toward Tauranga. Your guess is as good as mine with regards to what the graffiti says in the background - definitely a "D" for spraypaintmanship.
Looking north across the bay to Mt. Manganui. Yes, Alaskan friends, that little hill counts as a mountain here.
Finally pull into the Avanti shop. The guy is very friendly, takes a quick look over the bike, and we come up with the following things to fix:
- Replace the brake pads (I blame this on going down into Piha that first day)
- Rear wheel is out-of-round and needs to be straightened (noticed by Mad Max as he was pushing my bike)
- Put a screw in to hold one of the brakes (apparently forgotten by North Shore Avanti)
- Re-index the derailleur
He also is going to take a careful look at the bike to see if anything else needs attention. It will be tomorrow at lunch before I can pick it up. No big, I want to explore the area anyway. He even loans me a single speed bike to get me around while he is working on mine.
I hole up in a campground in Mt. Manganui, nice place, clean. The owner is a rather humorless man but runs a tight ship. By the time I get all settled in, it's dinner time. I decide to get a little "wild and crazy" and make up the last of my pasta with some fresh melted cheese and butter (purely for the protein, you understand.)
Alas, I am without salt or pepper, but it was still good. Do some reading, work on the blog, talk to a few people (the housekeeper is very nice). One of the people I met had just been in Rotorua where 9 cars (including his) had been broken into with a slim jim. Luckily, they only lost a bit of cash, but other people lost considerably more and the thieves weren't caught. Ah, well - at least a slim jim won't get into my tent.
Finally crash around 11PM. At this point, unsure if I am going to hope for the best and try for Rotorua (assuming my bike will be done on time) or relax for a day and explore.
The trip so far (just the biking part of it) - I am down where that big flag is in Tauranga. Auckland (where I started again 2 days ago) is by where it says "North Shore City".