17 January 2020 – Hauraki Rail Trail, New Zealand, Day 2 – Thames to Paeroa

After a long and hot day 1 of riding on the Hauraki trail, everyone was in need of a good nights sleep. Unfortunately Miss Z did not get the memo and her teeth were giving her grie. Meaning she was up most of the night, wanting to sleep in our bed, and kicked Anto to the couch. At some point we decided to turn off our alarm in the hope we’d actually get some sleep. Of course everyone then slept until 8am putting us behind schedule for the day and still being tired.

We had a quick breakfast of cereal and toas, and despite having repacked the night before, it still took forever to get the car packed and out for the day while chasing 3 tired kids around. We were both leaving Thames after 2 nights there (heading along the trail to Paeroa), and also leaving our hire car for the next few days until we finished our riding tour. This had meant quite a lot of organisation of different bags, trying to only take what we thought we’d need with us, and leaving the boot of the car packed sensibly with items we’d need when returning late from the last day of riding.

After the necessary late start the previous day, we hoped to be out on the road by 9am today…… but alas, it was 9.50am before we even left the hotel! We got to Jolly Bikes and they had our bikes out ready for us, with a new pillow arrangement for Zinnia to try and keep her upright. She wasn’t keen on going into the trailer to even try it so it didn’t bode well for the next 3 days of riding.

With Zinnia sorted (hopefully) and our car and luggage dropped off we were on our bikes and off and riding by 10.30am.

The first part of the mornings ride had us retracing our steps from the previous afternoon – heading along the trail between Thames and Kopu. It was more enjoyable this morning with fresher legs and being less tired and hot. We noticed more of the scenery and some artworks by the side of the trail that we’d just zoomed past the previous day, intent on finishing.

We were enjoying the firmer gravel and sections of paving, and the cooler temperatures. But unfortunately we had a very strong headwind for the first part of the day, so had hooked Soren up to the trailgator to give him some rest for the hard work to come later (which turned out to be wise).

Poor Astrid just had to motor along, tucking in behind me to give her a break from the wind. Soon we were out of Thames and passing plenty of cows, and had made it the first 7km back to the Kopu bridge.

We saw plenty of other cyclists out on the trail and had a few lovely chats as we were riding along. They were all impressed that we were riding with the kids and that at how many kilometres the bigger kids were managing!

Today we didn’t have to cross the Kopu bridge and instead went under, taking the trail towards Paeroa. Here began the procession of many, many cattle grids. We’d had several on the first day, but in the Miranda to Thames section they were wider and easier to negotiate with the trailer.

Unfortunately that didn’t last for the rest of the bike tour and we lost count of the number of cattle grids I had to squeeze through. Many also had steep inclines up to them, proving a challenge for little legs but the kids handled them brilliantly.

There was plenty of farmland scenery – cows, corn plenty of paddocks. We had a beautiful blue skies and a pleasant temperature, so aside from the headwind we were having a much easier time of it than the previous day and made good time.

While we saw plenty of cyclists out and about, we had the trail to ourselves much of the time, gravel and fields stretching before us.

Of course there were the bridges, so many bridges! Often they had steep ramps up and some impressive drops off the side on the way down. Soren exited a few in a less desirable fashion but both kids shamed a few adults we passed who struggled up and over the bridges while they zoomed up. Peddling the chariot up those sharp inclines earned me some extra drinks!

One of the highlights of our riding was the visit to the Matatoki Cheese Barn, in Matatoki, about 5km from Kopu and 12km into the ride for the day. There are numerous animals for the kids to visit and play with including alpacas, goats, rabbits, sheep and guinea pigs and chickens.

We ordered some food and the kids were straight over and visiting the animals while we waited for our lunch…….

Zinnia was fascinated by the goats, and they loved her too! There were so many squeals of delight…….

All the goats were rather friendly and Astrid was straight in for pats too. Zinnia didn’t care if they were bigger than her, she wanted to visit all the animals…….

After a lap of the animals and some pats it was time for some food. We had yummy iced coffees and a mango lassi for the kids, and a very impressive cheese platter with meats, relish, salad, tomatoes, crackers and lots of their handmade cheeses. I also had a cheese and relish toastie, which was delicious. As a bonus, lunch was several hours earlier than the 3pm version from the day before!!!

With full tummies we checked out the wares and food at the cheese barn and let the kids buy some small packets of food for the animals (incidentally the same thing we feed our alpacas at home, for about 300 times the cost!). The kids were beside themselves with excitement at feeding their new animal friends and the animals recognised the paper bags the food comes in as they were all bounding over to get their share!

The kids were happy to share their food with other visiting kids and the animals were more than willing to exchange food treats for additional pats!

After another long play with the animals, we had to extract the kids, rather reluctantly, to get back on the bikes. It was almost 1pm and we still had a fair bit of riding to go for the day and didn’t want another 6pm finish to our days riding!

After the debacle with the trailer from the previous day, Zinnia was happy as a bug in a rug with her new pillow arrangement, and was no longer falling down. We did need to rope in the pillows and adjust them occasionally but it was pretty comfy for her and she was much happier with her toys, drinks and snacks to keep her entertained.

All still rather red from the day before, we did insist on even more sunscreen being applied, as sunburn on sunburn isn’t fun and it was warming up fast!

Not long after we were back out on the trail, the trailgator mount had worked it’s way loose and we didn’t have the appropriate tools to fix it. This meant that Soren was riding solo for the rest of the day, whether he liked it or not!

Despite the lovely conditions it was again slow going with tired legs. The gravel was a bit easier to deal with than the really loose stuff on the first day’s section but it was hard to get too much pace up. We met a few people attempting the trail on road bikes who were having an interesting time with their thin tyres! Our time plan for day was slipping away as the kids were getting more and more exhausted and hot.

When everyone was in need of another break we made it to the Convenient Cow cafe in Hikutaia. The kids had giant ice creams again which were only $2 each today, and the sugar hit lifted their spirits (and made everyone rather sticky)……..

With renewed energy and ready to smash out the final kilometres for the day, it was back on bikes. We were still hot and tired but we passed quite a few other cyclists who were happy to chat to the kids and there was some lovely scenery, with plenty of cows and corn fields.

Zinnia was back to napping on and off. Astrid was doing well despite having sore legs from the previous day, and Soren had picked himself up after a couple of skids and falls on the the bridges and was clocking up close to 20km solo for the day.

When it was afternoon snack time, Zinnia was happy to giver herself her bottle of milk and chat to the nearby cows as she whizzed past. The other kids were tired but we spied the outskirts of Paeroa in the distance and were determined to make it!

The last few kilometres went past a little quicker as we rode towards the houses. There were a few million (or so it seemed) of those cattle grids that we had to negotiate, slowing us down. I think we went over 20 or 30, just in that one day (and more were to come later). The kids tiny feet, made negotiating the gaps challenging, but we didn’t lose any feet down them!

Finally we rolled into the outskirts of Paeroa, and saw the giant L&P bottle. The kids had their first L&P the previous night and were already fans.

Finally, after a little checking of maps we managed to find our hotel for the night (the trail rolled right past it’s back door) and were very happy to see the hotel manager who had spied (and probably heard) us from miles away and came to greet us! Zinnia was well and truly napping when we arrived, in her pillow fortress, having had a better day but was still a little hot and tired from all the excitement. We racked up another 34km of riding for the day and 76km in 2 days. The kids legs were sore!

Our hotel (Peddlar’s Motel) for the night had us in 2 separate but adjacent rooms. The big kids got their own room, bathroom and giant TV. The access to 2 showers meant we all quickly participated in getting out of sweaty bike clothes and having a well-earned shower and some clean clothes.

With some washing sorted it was time to check out Paeroa. The hotel managers had lent us a stroller, so we wandered the streets admiring many of the lovely buildings and many murals dotted around the streets. Paeroa is known for it’s antique shops. Most were closed at this late hour of the day, but we were more than happy to check out the murals and food options.

You would have thought Astrid and Soren would have had enough riding for one day!

All tired, we thought the best option was a takeaway pizza dinner on the grassed area near our motel. After picking up some supermarket supplies it was off to order some pizzas and grab some cold drinks and have a picnic on the grass.

The pizzas were insanely cheap (between $7 and $9 each for family sized) and really quite delicious. We may have burnt just a few calories in the previous 2 days riding and the pizzas went down a treat!

The big kids were then relegated to bed in their own room, under Anto supervision, so they didn’t stay up all night watching TV! I had to negotiate Zinnia sleeping in her own cot but we had both a King-sized bed and air conditioning for the night, which felt like bliss on our tired and sunburnt bodies.

Daily statistics for Friday the 17th of January, 2020

The temperature range for the day was 17 to 24 degrees between Thames and Paeroa. Although, again, our GPS’s both recorded temperatures coming off the gravel at 31 degrees, while riding.

Our total riding for the day was 34.05km with 145m of elevation (almost entirely all those damn bridges we had to go over). The moving time for the day was 3 hours and 14 minutes and an elapsed time of again around 6 hours. We did happily finish the day at 4.45pm, a much better effort than the 6pm from the previous day!

Again Astrid rode the whole day solo. Soren had to finish off the day solo, due to the issue with the trailgator mount so rode close to 20km solo for the day. Here is our ride summary from Strava…..

Here is a google map of the ground we covered (by bike) during the day……

Our total walking for the day (on top of the riding) was 8.4km. We certainly worked off our pizza 🙂

Up next…..

We were off on day 3 of our riding adventure. It was going to be one of the most scenic days, riding through the Karangahake Gorge. We even managed to get an (inadvertently) long hike in around the Gorge and checked out the old mining tunnels and did the famous ‘windows walk’.

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