11/12/15. We woke to the sound of light but persistent rain and to the buzzing of mosquitoes inside the outer tent. Thankfully none seemed to have found their way into where we had been sleeping.
After a breakfast of bread and honey we took opportunity of a brief respite in the rain to pack up the tent and bags. When the rain restarted we hightailed it to the neighbouring cafe to (a) top up our water bottles (the water at the campsite had to be boiled before drinking (b) try for Wi-fi (there was none) to see what had developed on the oven front and (c) have a coffee/hot chocolate while seeing if the rain was going to stop (it wasn’t).
About 10.30 we grabbed the bull by the horns and headed out. After a couple of km back along the gravel track that lead to the campsite, the main road was very welcome for the better surface but we were immediately faced with a long climb which saw us rising over 900 feet in 3 km. (Obsessed with hills? Us??) Well before the top the visibilty closed right down as we entered the clouds and life was pretty miserable. Christine was having difficulty seeing through the raindrops on her glasses and Stephen was alternately “boiling in the bag” in his waterproofs while cycling and getting chilled while waiting for Christine.
At the top there was a shortish downhill but we were grateful not to immediately lose all the altitude gained. However, it was not all “sweetness and light” as the road did undulate so we did get more climbing practice. (Sorry! Hills again!)
This continued for quite a while before a long descent at the bottom of which was the first sign of “civilisation” since the cafe in the form of a petrol station with small foodstore attached. We piled into the dry and were greeted by the welcome sight of a dozen or so pies sitting in the oven keeping warm. Just what the doctor ordered! We munched two of them down while standing close to the oven to keep the chill off us now that we had stopped pedalling.
By now we had both reached the conclusion that we didn’t fancy a night in the tent as planned and were trying to decide between taking the first accommodation with four walls that we saw or carrying on to the next town, Dargaville, which was just about reachable. The friendly ladies in the garage informed us that these two alternatives were one and the same!
After the pie stop the rain eased a bit – there were actually spells when it was not falling – and the ups and downs were smaller and there was even a 5 km stretch which was pretty much flat.
By the time we arrived at Dargaville the rain had stopped falling and there were even (small) patches of dry road. (The temperature was about 15° so it wasn’t really cold and things would dry pretty quickly once the wet stuff stopped falling.) Taking advantage of the town’s visitor centre we got ourselves booked into a central motel where the rooms are converted rail carriages.
The warm showers were bliss and dry clothes even better (especially socks and shoes after bare feet in sandals)! We rested for a short while to allow the muscles to recover and warm thoroughly before taking the short stroll to the neighbouring restaurant for an excellent mussel fritters, chips and salad meal to satisfy the inner man/woman.