I have dabbled in triathlons in Winnipeg and when I saw posters advertising a triathlon at our local beach, I figured it was time to pony up and try one in New Zealand.
The fun never ends in New Zealand. Heading north out of Napier and Hawke’s Bay, we took a detour to spend five days on the Coromandel Peninsula, in the beachside town of Hahei, overlooking Mercury Bay. (Coming directly from Auckland, Hahei is a two hour drive through the beautiful Coromandel Forest Park.)
I am great lover of red wines. Once we discovered that the Hawke’s Bay region is New Zealand’s largest and oldest red wine producing center and it also offers 200 kilometers of cycling trails, we were sold on a visit.
I have this weird little thing. Well, really I have a few weird little things but I only want to talk about one of them today.
A traveler just never knows what is going to be around the next corner. Each trip has its unusual little bit of quirkiness, to make every day a special adventure. Case in point is Tirau, in the Waikato region of New Zealand, population 690.
Leaving Auckland for a few days, we had a five hour drive ahead of us, with a planned stop midway to check out Rotorua, a popular destination because of its abundant thermal hot-springs. Tirau wasn’t even on our radar as a place to stop.
We have been enjoying cycling through the Central Business District as a way to discover Auckland. On one such trip, we happened upon Khartoum Place. A small pedestrian walkway, just outside the Auckland Art Gallery, it joins Kitchener Street and Lorne Street. Attracted by the shade on a hot afternoon, we wandered through the square and happened upon a centenary commemoration to women’s suffrage in New Zealand in 1893.
The truly brilliant thing about a bicycle as a means of touring is the ease with which we can change our plans about where we want to go and that has implications for the shape of the things we see and do. There is none of the 100 kilometer per hour drive-by experience of a place. We all know that feeling. We spot something intriguing along the road and before we can fully formulate the thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. What is that?” we are long past it and cannot be bothered to stop, turn around and go exploring.
Time to head out of town.
Just an hour north of downtown Auckland via the Northern Motorway is the village of Matakana, our hopping-off point to visit, by bike, some of the 19 wineries that comprise the Matakana Wine Trail.
Time to venture out and explore our neighborhood.
After the excitement of a white Christmas in Winnipeg has passed and with the prospect of many more months of snow, it’s time to head south, way south, with our bicycles in tow, to find summer in New Zealand.