7th January 2004

The ride to lake Taupo was all uphill in pouring rain, but it stopped when we got there. As it was Christmas the prices were high for motels, but we found a very nice place for about 40 pounds a night and stayed there for two days over christmas.
 
David's backwheel developed a wobble from a relatively new tyre which had split to the canvas to give a large bulge. He also noticed that the rim was dodgy as one of the double eyelets had split and two others were looking doubtful. It turned out to be cheaper to buy another rear wheel than a new rim.

Lake Taupo, for the fishermen, contains large numbers of brown and rainbow trout. The average size is three kilos and fish up to 12 kilos are common. It is about 20 miles by 10 miles wide and while we were there had three foot waves and very few fishermen.

The motels owners invited us to a christmas breakfast barbecue with their friends. It is strange drinking Champagne round an open air barbecue on Christmas morning.
We went to look at the bungie jumping over the river but unforunately (or should it be fortunately) it was closed and we couldn't have a go!

On boxing day we left for Turangi and cycled along the lake shore.

At Turangi information centre they marked campsites on our map and we headed off in worsening weather to one of them. All uphill, rain getting wetter, no sign of a campsite. Decided to go back to where the road crossed a canal bridge and camp under the bridge out of the rain. By this time it was getting dark and we set up the tent under the bridge next to the canal. As the ground was surfaced, the tent pegs were no use and a bike placed each side served to anchor the guy ropes. All was well and dry until late at night when the wind got up to gale force and we found that we were in a wind tunnel. We both spent most of the night hanging onto the tent to stop it blowing away. In the morning after only a few hours sleep, all was ok apart from one broken eyelet on the tent.

Taking another road out we came across a camp site that we should have been at. It had been marked on the wrong road by the information centre. Still showery but not cold, and the road continued uphill all day until we stopped at a ski-resort called Whakapapa Village. As the weather was worsening we again stayed in a motel type room for two nights as the following morning it continued to pour with rain. The rest was quite welcome as we had free hot spas and very comfy television and dining rooms.

The next morning we awoke to much better weather with a hint of sunshine and set off downhill most of the day via National Park, Ohakune and Raetihi to stop at Pipiriki on the Whanganui river. David had thoughts of fishing on the river until he saw it. The river was a raging brown torrent and unfishable even if there were fish, which the locals said were difficult to catch in the best of times. They said not to bother - it would be a waste of time.

A small free camping area at Pipiriki was shared with canoeists waiting to be picked up after spending the last three days paddling down the river in the rain. One couple waited five hours for their lift as the agent forgot about them until reminded with a phone call.

It poured down all night and continued up to about midday when we decided to set off to follow the river downstream. in theory if the road follows the river downstream it must go downhill - musn't it? Well it didn't. I suppose there must have been more down than up but there was a lot of up.

After camping in a very small village overnight the sun finally shone and the rest of the ride down the river gorge to Whanganui was in warm sunshine with a tail wind.

After a quick look round Whanganui we headed off to a campsite called Duddings lake for new years eve. The road was now a state highway and quite busy especially with the holiday traffic. The campsite was just as busy and the lake was alive with jet skis.

All the campers were very friendly and we shared large campfires, toasted
marshmallows, plenty of canned beer and were treated to a midnight fireworks display over the lake. It occured to us that we saw the new year in twelve hours before the UK!

Still bright warm sunshine on an even busier road to just past levin. Had some difficulty getting supplies as most of the shops were closed for the holiday but Joan managed to do a good meal from pasta, tuna and a tin of tomato something.
We seem to be in the fruit and veg area and bought a large box of strawberries which tasted ok but had the texture of carrots.

The day after new years day and most of the shops are still shut. This is also a publc holiday just like Boxing day. The wind is now blowing us along rapidly towards Wellington and the traffic is still heavy, but a very hilly detour took us on quieter roads to a suburb of Wellinton called Lower Hutt where we camped for the night on a commercial site ready for the final North Island ride to Wellington in the morning.

A short wind assisted ride to Wellington booking the ferry for 11am tomorrow on the way. Checked in a nice room in a backpacker hotel and spent the rest of the day wandering around Wellington and visiting the museums.

Joan bought some postcards weeks ago and has been carrying them around while she tries to buy stamps. Eventually after buying six stamps and sticking on five of them she noticed that they were postage paid and didn't need them!

No problems with the ferry. Wheeled bikes on with bags as usual. All the tourist books give the names of two ferry companies only. They charge 60 dollars. A local told us of another which only charges 40 dollars. It was just as good as the others.
The ferry landed at Picton at about 2.30pm and we set off towards Nelson to stay with friends of Bob and Myrtle from our cycling club.

Regards,
Dave and Joan