Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cycling In New Zealand 2018 Days 10 & 11: Rotorua To Auckland - Of Redwoods & Wine Islands

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / New Zealand / Cycling New Zealand 2018 / Days D10-11     |     Go to D1-2/D3/D4/D5/D6/D7-8/D9/D12-13
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Cycling New Zealand 2018 Days 10 & 11: Rotorua To Auckland - Of Redwoods & Wine Islands
New Zealand, North & South Island : Tuesday & Wednesday, 30th & 31st October 2018
This is part of a multi-mode cycling tour North Island & South IslandNew Zealand:
Day 11 Cycling Route:
Cycling Distance: 11 km.     Level: Medium
Time: 11:30 am to 5:50 pm.
Time Taken: 7 hrs 20 mins. (including ferry rides, stops for lunch, visiting bicycle shop & vineyard, and lots of photo opps(.

This is page 8 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D9 Rotorua            |          Go to Other Days      |      Go to D12-13 Muriwai >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Traffic in New Zealand is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
    Some New Zealanders can get quite impatient when it comes to driving. So do not hog the road, stay within your lane and put on your indicators when turning or changing lanes so as not to irate them.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The maps below shows a quick cycling circuit around the Redwoods Forest of Rotorua, and a cycling loop at Auckland Downtown and Waiheke Island. Auckland Downtown can be quite hilly, and Waiheke Island is definitely very hilly.
    For cycling, New Zealand has fairly well developed cycling routes that run in the cities, town, villages, and country side. Some of the cycling trails are on dedicated cycling lanes, some on shared lanes with pedestrians or other traffic. Some are on paved tracks while others are on gravel or earth trails, and they go through fairly busy towns, green forests and bright blue lakeside. The New Zealand Cycle Trail site provides an interactive map of exciting journeys on 2,500km of trails suited to everyone from sightseeing easy-going riders, to hardcore mountain bikers up for a challenge.\
    There are interesting cycling trails of different difficulty at the Redwoods Forest in Rotorua; click here for link to the Redwood Cycling Trails and click here for the maps of these trails.

3. Navigation
    When cycling, we used Google Maps in Cycling Mode for navigation but there is a lag when starting off, so one would have to cycle a bit to get the orientation right. Google Maps is also useful as it shows various places of interests that were not shown on GPS units.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.

4. Weather
    30th October: Morning temperatures in Rotorua averaged 13°C. Afternoon and evening temperatures in Auckland averaged 16°C & 13°C.
   31st October: Day and evening temperatures in Auckland averaged 16°C & 14°C.
   Useful weather forecast sites for the New Zealand are the New Zealand Met Service and AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

5. Places/Points of Interests
    Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
In Rotorua:
- The Redwoods Forest (Whakarewarewa) (GPS: -38.15663, 176.27249).
- Rotorua Museum (Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa) (GPS: -38.13574, 176.25895).
- Waitūkei Sculpture (GPS: -38.13617, 176.25855).
- Blue Baths (GPS: -38.13634, 176.25769).
Government Gardens (GPS: -38.13532, 176.2569).
- Prince's Arch & Gateway (GPS: -38.13487, 176.25589).
- Prince's Gate Boutique Hotel (GPS: -38.13463, 176.25515).
Kuirau Park Mud Pools (GPS: -38.13496, 176.24604).
- The corrugated iron artwork at (GPS: -37.97808, 175.75745) Tirau, this was enroute back to Auckland.

In Auckland:
Brompton Shop at Electric Bike Team (GPS: -36.85911, 174.7583).
- Fuller's Ferry ride from Auckland Downtown (Auckland Ferry Terminal) (GPS: -36.84298, 174.76694) to Waiheke Island (Matiatia Wharf) (GPS: -36.78008, 174.99198).
Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant (GPS: -36.79248, 175.00010) & other vineyards at Waiheke Island.

6. Food
Nice Malaysian rice & noodle meals can be found at Yummy Kitchen (GPS: -36.99297, 174.88592) at the Manukau outskirts of Auckland.
- Lunch with a view of Auckland Waterfront from the Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant (GPS: -36.79248, 175.00010) at Waiheke Island.

7. Accomodations
    We stayed with friends in the Greenhithe suburbs of Auckland.

8. Bringing Bikes Onto Ferries
    The Fuller ferry return fare from Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal to Waiheke Matiatia Wharf was NZD45 per adult, it's an open daily ticket and one can board anytime within the same day. Ferries embark almost every half an hour during peak time, click here for the timetable; sailing time is forty minute - some ferries stop at Davenport, these then take an extra ten minute, see the time table for details. Bicycles can be brought on board the Auckland ferries without any additional charges. There is no need to fold them, park and secure them at locations indicated by the crew (usually at the rear of the lower deck).


9. Bringing Bikes Onto Buses
    Only folded folding bicycles are allowed onto the Auckland buses. Some buses on Waiheke Island have bike racks that can be used during daylight hours.

10. Communicating with Each Other
   When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest. Vodafone prepaid phone cards can be bought at the Vodafone stall located just outside the Arrival Hall. We got ours from a promoter at the shopping arcade within the arrival hall, with each of us getting the prepaid mobile cards at NZ$25 (inclusive of GST) which came with 1.5Gb of data lasting 30 days. Also included were 200 minutes for local calls and calls to selected countries, including Malaysia. This also includes text messages to the selected countries. There's also free chat data when using FaceBook Messenger and WhatsApp.
    Most hotels, motels, home-stays, restaurants, airports and ferries have free Wifi; do note that these free wifi may not be secure and registration could be required. But one can safe on one's mobile data by using these especially for uploading or downloading videos.

11. Communicating with Locals
    All locals speaks very good English and communicating with them should not be a problem.
    
12. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

Yesterday was another road trip from Hamilton for Rotorua where we attended the Tamaki Maori Village culture show. Today we head on another longer 250 km. road trip back to Auckland, and the day after we boarded a ferry for Waiheke Island. Will we get to do some cycling? Let's see .....
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DAY 10: ROTORUA REDWOODS RIDE

Cycling Route: Around Redwoods Forest, Rotorua.
This is an easy route that starts at the Redwoods Park, goes off-road a bit around the Dodzy Skills Park up to the Scion Research Centre. Note that although the roads leading into Scion. look like public roads, entry is restricted and there is no short-cutting through the facility and one has to take an off-road route skirting the centre.
Cycling Distance: 3.40 km.     Level: Easy.
(Zoom out to see Rotorua attractions)


Good morning! It's time to cycle again... but where? We were a bit short of time as we needed to be back in Auckland by the evening. So we decided to go to the Redwoods Forest not that far away... the thing is (as we were to later find out) there are many cycling trails at the Redwoods, but most of them were off-road trails using mountain bikes. But don't get me wrong, there are many places to cycle in Rotorua, it's just that we did not have the time and wanted to visit the Redwoods  too! Travelling to and from Rotorua takes some time, the next time we are here we will spend at least two nights!


We parked at the roadside bays near the Redwoods Treewalk and the Redwoods Information Centre. Unloaded and unfolded our bike... but was uncertain of where to ride... Haha... so much for being prepared! There we some other cyclists around, see them heading on the heading south east from the car-park we wanted to follow them. Thank goodness, we had the cow sense to ask them first. It's a no-no for our bikes, the route was on-road for half a kilometre only; after that it's a dirt mountain track. A kind police officer offered to help, and told us to take the south-west tarred road as it goes quite a distance!
And "YIPPEEEE!"  went Lynn as she pedaled down the Long Mile Road, a road that was line by red pine trees!


But her happiness was short-lived, Long Mile Road wasn't such a long mile, it did not even reach a mile! Less than half a mile away, an electronic gate stretched across the road and barred our continuation along the road! Odd.... Google Maps indicated it as a public road! In fact the whole place seemed to be fenced off; and the other cyclists just went off road, going on dirt tracks skimming along and beside the security fence of the enclosure!
The cordoned off security area held Scion, a research institute. But I could not understand why they had barricaded off the public roads, not very friendly of them seeing that they do research into forestry, wood products, etc.


Well all the other cyclists just avoided the area and went off road, so who are we to argue. Just play safe and follow suit! Who knows what's inside the lab... perhaps some X-Files or Fringe style research.  Actually the track wasn't that bad as it took us through a very green secondary forest.... and across some muddy puddles too! 😂


And through forest of redwood trees we went, some of the trees were huge like Giant Sequoias, the world's tallest tree (see top most photo) of the Redwood Forest of California. We felt like humble creatures, dwarfed by giants!
Coming down slope from the redwood forest, we hit tarred roads again but these led back to the rear gate of Scion. We asked for directions again, on alternative routes to get back to our start point. Another helpful cyclist advised that going by the tarred roads will mean going on a big five kilometre loop that runs along the highway, an unsafe route as it does not have cycling lanes.
Then it started to drizzle.... that made up our minds! It's a quick rush back up the mountain trail and back to the Redwoods Treewalk. We just made it in the nick of time, just before the drizzle turned into a heavy downpour... Phew... Well... that was the extent of our short-lived cycling in Rotorua. Haha!


We drove off and headed for the colonial centre of Rotorua. By then the rain had petered off and stopped; well it's time to be regular tourists then, and we drove off to the Rotorua Museum. The museum sat in a grand Tudor-style building. Unfortunately this stately building does not meet the latest seismic rating required by the New Building Standard and was temporarily closed to the public. So we just had to be satisfied with viewing it from the Government Gardens.


These sober looking statues is the Waitūkei Sculpturebronze sculptures by Rotorua artist Lyonel Grant which were completed in 2001, and stand in Government Gardens just to the right of the Rotorua Museum. The two figures, one male, one female, were inspired by the mixing of Māori and European cultures in Rotorua.
That's me sitting in between the two, looking rather grumpy for having not really scratched my cycling itch.


The Rotorua Museum was a former old bath house before being converted into a museum; but do not fear.... near by is the Blue Baths. It's hot bath pools are opened to the public; entry per adult is NZD11.
Other historical things to view here are Memorial Monument, the Rotorua Lawn Bowling ClubPrince's Arch & Gateway, and the Te Runanga Tea House. (zoom out of the above map to view these tourist spots). And just before leaving, view the Prince's Gate Boutique Hotel. a hotel that looked like it had leapt out from the past.

As we were about to leave Rotorua, we saw thick smoke coming out from nearby pools in a park; this was Kuirau Park, with many small thermal mud pools exuding a strong smell of sulphur.

Our 5-hours 250 km. drive back to Auckland was quite uneventful; we passed by Tirau again, this time saw another of their corrugated iron artwork; Santa with his reindeers on top of the roof of the Christmas Heirloom Company shop. Haha.... Christmas is coming soon!

7:00pm - We reached the Manukau outskirts of Auckland. Our hungry, growling tummies posed this question "What shall we eat?" Hmmmm..... eating out had mostly been western and one time Thai at Arrowtown. "Perhaps, we could try Malaysian" Lynn quipped, and out came her phone for a Google search that revealed a very accurate result: "Yummy Kitchen Yummy Kitchen Malaysian & Chinese Cuisine", just round the corner from where we were. The place is operated my a Malaysian couple, the chef was from Ipoh while his wife was from Raub. We obediently zoomed over and ordered "Malaysian Char Kway Teow (CKT)" and "Dry Wantan Noodles In Thick Soy Sauce" The CKT was okay, but did not come close to Tom's that we had a few days earlier; perhaps it needed some crushed pepper 😂(.... see Days 7 & 8 blog for a recap of Tom's CKT and the crushed pepper joke).
(For Yummy Kitchen's Full Menu & Pricing, click here)
Well, it has been a long road trip back with just a bit of cycling thrown in... let's hope tomorrow we will get to do more cycling!

(For more photos of the Day 10 Click Here)
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DAY 11: DOWNTOWN AUKLAND & WAIHEKE ISLAND RIDE


This is a multi-mode route that included ferry, bus and taxi rides. Cycling was at Downtown Auckland which proved to be surprisingly slopey, and also at Waiheke Island which proved to be really hilly!
Cycling Distance: 11 km.     Level: Medium
(Click here for a Relive of our Auckland-Waiheke Island ride).


"GOOD MORNING AUCKLAND!"
We lazed around at Koh's place, watched the ducks come buy and ate a slow, lazy breakfast. By the time Lily dropped us at Downtown Auckland it was close to 11:30am. 
Okay, we don't really have that much time, and a couple of options cropped up:
1. Take ride along Auckland Waterfront, starting from Auckland (Waitematā) Harbour, looping pass Mission Bay to St. Heliers Bay and back, for a total loop of 20km.
OR
2. Take a ferry over to Waiheke Island and cycle to a vineyard there.

Option 2, with the vineyards, sounded more interesting. But first, for some camaraderie, we will go visit the Auckland Brompton Shop at the Electric Bike Team (EBT) shop which was just about 3-4 kilometres away. The weather had gotten a bit hot too, it was suppose to be 16°C, but with a strong Mr. Sun shining brightly down it felt more like the high twenties.... we slowly shed our thicker clothing one by one... no worries, it's not a strip-teas and we won't end up in the raw!

We started quite eagerly, cycling along the shared lanes at Quay Street before turning inland at ANZAC Avenue. This was went things got more interesting, the road got steeper but still manageable, but by the time we hit Symonds Street it was really steep (something like about 12% gradient). Coupled with the hot weather, Lynn just gave up and went for a shelter at a bus stop near the Copthorne Hotel while asking me to proceed on.

The steepness abated a bit as I went into the Auckland University but got steep again at the Grafton Gully Cycleway. To make matters worse, I missed a crucial turn near the St. Paul's Church and went further into the university grounds and had to U-turn back. Seriously, I am not to sure why I was using this route; I was just following Google Maps in cycling mode. Perhaps Mr. Google found it expedient to have me gallivanting around a bit instead of going for a more direct route!

Anyway, after about thirty minutes, I found myself near the EBT shop for a final push along a very steep East Street.

And here I am with Andy of the Auckland Brompton Group. He was most surprised to see me showing up. That's his cool raw lacquer Brompton on the right, and me leaning on Goofy, my copper plated Brompton. On my rear rack were a couple of Ikea Dimpa bags into which we had packed our bikes to load into Lily's car. These bags were to come in handy again later on.
But I could not stay long..... poor Lynn was waiting for me!

Almost an hour after I left her, I found her to be in good company of Antonio, an Italian tourist on an extended stay in NZ. Ever a romantic Italian, he had somehow found a bunch of beautiful red roses to present to Lynn! I almost half expected him to go down on his knees and start serenading.

Spirits lifted up by Antonio and happy like a lark, Lynn cycled back to harbour - no more complains about the slopes or the heat 😝.

1:00pm - We boarded the Fullers Ferry to head for Waiheke Island. There was no extra charges for our bikes, and the best thing was that we did not even have to fold them! We just parked them at the rear of the lower deck and secured them to the railings with bungee cords.

The ferry ride was only forty minutes, but one should try to sit on the open deck and appreciate the scenery like this view of Auckland (Waitematā Harbour) Harbour skyline as we sailed out into the Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana). And then there was the cool wind-in-the-face experience. Wow!


Passed by Motutapu Island, with it's bright green hills, almost bare of trees, it reminded us of our cycling adventures at Batanes in the Philippines. But this island has a long history, it was one of the earliest places inhabited both by Polynesians, and later by Europeans in the Auckland Region. The earliest evidence for occupation of Motutapu dates to before the eruption of the neighbouring Rangitoto Island around1400 AD.


Landed on Waiheke, at the Matiatia Wharf and raring to go!


Ocean View Road leading out of the harbour had nice shared cycling lanes. These were pretty wide but served traffic for both directions. Just about a kilometer into our ride, we started to regret cycling here.... the roads got steeper and steeper while the weather got hotter and hotter. My advise on cycling at Waiheke is DON'T! The road here are even more steep that those at Downtown Auckland. That is unless one is a slope freak who like to take on the hills and has a fair bit of time; we neither had both. Half the time we were pushing our bikes... Hah!


Cycling complains aside, Waiheke is a beautiful place to be at.... nice vineyards scenery!


Lynn getting the hang of riding the slopes, sans the scarf and sleeves pulled up as it was getting hotter.


Right at the top of Church Bay Road another nice scenery awaited us, this time overlooking Huruhi Bay .....


... and then looking inland, a panorama of undulating bright green slopes of the island, many of them planted vineyards.


Mission almost accomplished: at the entrance leading to the Mudbrick Vineyard.

..... just another ride-push on a half-mile dusty road leading up to the restaurant. 


And we were happily posing for photos.....


.... and having a late lunch of free-range Houhora Pork Charcuterie, and line-caught fish served with Falafel and smoked Aubergine......


..... with a fantastic view of the sea and Motutapu Island.


And wine tasting too... going for Mudbrick's Premium Wine Tasting of four wines, two from Waiheke.


3:45 Not wanting to face the hot weather again.... and actually feeling a bit tipsy we decided to call a taxi to take us to Matiatia Wharf. The taxi fare was reasonable at NZD7 per taxi, and it was shared among the three of us (together with another visitor). Thinking that the cab would be a car, we folded and packed our bikes into the Dimpa bags. Allen, the cab driver was a jolly fellow; quickly rushed us to board, and sped us to the harbour. Upon reaching he shouted "Run! Run! Don't miss the 4:00pm ferry!" Like a superman, with a Dimpa-ful of Brompton hooked to each shoulder I ran together with Lynn and just managed to board before they pulled the gang-plank away. PHEW! Mudbrick's wine must had loaded me up with super strength! It's a good thing we caught the 4:00pm as we had a reunion at 6:00pm.


On board the crowded rush-hour BRT bus... where are our bikes? Folded and tucked beneath our legs!
From the ferry terminal, it was a short cycle ride to Lower Albert Street to catch a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)


The BRT runs on the dedicated Northern Busway to Constellation Station where cuz Koh would be picking us up. While waiting we saw some people dressed up weirdly and with crazy make-up to! Oops! It's Halloween and we forgot about it.


Back at Greenhithe, it was a reunion with a couple of college mates - KT & TT. Lily had generously cooked delicious Malaysian curry noodles. Surprisingly TT knows Lily & Koh. Auckland is not such a big place after all.

Click here for a Relive of our Auckland-Waiheke Island ride.
(For more photos of the Day 11 Click Here)
This is page 8 of a 9-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D9 Rotorua            |          Go to Other Days      |      Go to D12-13 Muriwai >
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