14&15/12/15. The clouds returned on Monday morning but the rain stayed away other than a few spots just as we started packing up.
The road followed the Kaihu River valley down towards Kaipara Harbour, which must be the largest of several natural inlets on the Tasman Sea coast. Stephen was impressed to discover that the Romans had made it this far (well they must have done because the road was so straight!) and Christine welcomed the fact that it was almost pancake flat for nearly 40 km, although a strongish headwind did have the effect of slightly taking the edge off her enjoyment.
For the last 8 km to Matakohe, our destination for the night, the road turned away from the valley and the climbing started again. (Bet you had been missing the references to hills hadn’t you?!) But of course it was not far so we soon arrived at the campsite which has a very nice kitchen and common room with several armchairs into which we collapsed for a very welcome bit of comfort.
The site was very quiet – as far as we could see there was only one other person, a young German girl in a camper van, staying on the site and we had the common room to ourselves for the evening. However, after Christine went to bed, leaving Stephen reading, an SUV turned up with two young lads and soon music started playing. This didn’t last long but then an argument started and there were sounds of a scuffle. Stephen bravely made his way to the tent (as it was in the opposite direction to the cabin where the two lads were!) where Christine was half awake because of the commotion.The shouting continued for quite a while but we both drifted off to sleep. (Even a relatively easy day’s cycling is a good cure for insomnia.)
Several people in Dargaville and all three people to whom we had spoken in Matakohe all raved about the museum dedicated to the kauri tree which is only a few hundred yards from the campsite saying that it can take a full day so we decided to give it a go. We were running low on supplies and had been disappointed to find that there is no shop in the village. So Stephen was off on his bike 7 km down (and up!) the road to get orange juice for breakfast along with something for the evening meal. At least there was no need to take all the luggage there and back!
After topping up on emails etc at the cafe next door (NZ campsite “fail” for once with no Wifi) we went to the museum and ended up spending 5 hours in all there. There were some very large pieces of wood all beautifully polished to show the lovely grain. Stephen was particularly impressed with this boardroom table made from a single piece 15 feet long from an 1800 year old tree and weighing over a ton.