16&17/12/15. We are making our way back towards Auckland to spend Christmas with Jay and Tim, friends from Ewell, who are doing a house swap with a family who live in the north of the city, and with Eleri of course. As the city is only just over 100 km south of Matakohe this means that we have the luxury of taking things a little easy and can take a less direct route.
We therefore headed towards Mangawhai on the east coast on Wednesday and enjoyed a tailwind pretty much all day. This was a very welcome assistance as the climbing had started again as we were in the Brynderwynn Hills. Although the road was not particularly busy we were frequently buffeted by the strong draught created by milk tankers heading past us at a rate of knots. Thankfully they generally gave us a reasonable amount of room but there did seem to be rather a lot of them – at least 20 in the space of a couple of hours. After a coffee/chocolate/cake stop in a town we saw the reason – the local milk processing plant was just outside.
After a few more km and another couple of hills we came to the bit that Christine had been dreading. We had to join the main road in NZ, State Highway 1, which is the subject if a number of horror stories for cyclists. Luckily it was only two km until our turn off and that was all downhill with a wide shoulder in which we could cower as the traffic went bombing past.
The road we joined was much quieter and overall we heading downwards to the coast although there were a few ups to test Stephen’s legs and to help Christine’s walking regime!
Entering Mangawhai we initially went past the campsite which is largely made up of cabins/static caravans and is not well signed. However, when we did get to check in we were pleasantly surprised to find it cost $20 (about £9) in total rather than the normal $15-20 per head.
With time not pressing, we decided that Thursday would be another “rest day” although it wasn’t particularly restful as we walked to the neighbouring town of Mangawhai Heads (5 km each way) which it is more accurate to say is on the coast while Mangawhai itself is at the far end of a narrow inlet.
The two towns appear to be more prosperous than most places we have been to with a lot of building work going on (residential) and house prices in estate agent’s windows reflecting the proximity to Auckland.