It’s 18th October and we left Ron’s house in Lower Hutt and heading East and then North. Our second intended bike trail was Rimutaka Rail Trail. This trail follows old railway. We felt well rested after Queen Charlotte therefore we looked forward to our next adventure.

Ron with his improvised bikepacking setup

We did the Rimutaka Trail on our first day of two day trip with Ron. Main attraction of this great ride are old train tunnels. They are short, long, straight even curved. We hit first of the tunnels short time after entering the trail. Afterward we climbed gently to the Rimutaka summit. We got a little bit of rain on the top but it didn’t bother us. We had a lunch and a short rest. From Maori legend the Rimutaka had a name Remutaka, which means “to sit down.” So we sit, rested and then enjoyed downhill to a station Cross Creek, where we spent the night. Next day we followed a wine trail to Martinborough, world famous for its Pinot Noir, and then towards Masterton. That day we made our personal best traveled distance of 88km. Fairly tired we arrived in Ron’s off grid bach where I got inspired by a little hydropower station made up from an old bicycle and an old washingmachine electromotor. We enjoyed silence and warmth of bach while resting and saving energy for next days.

Ron’s bach

On Friday 20th October we compensated yesterday’s distance and moved on just for 18km to Masterton campground. Now it’s just two of us. Bittersweet taste of saying bye to Ron was melted in next few kilometers when we imagined our next days…

Fun in Masterton campground

On Saturday we headed to Pahiatua. It was a beautiful morning, sun was shining but later in the day it got cloudy and windy. In the begining we enjoyed surroundings which we were passing through but with distance we were gaining, the landscape became monotonous. Cows, cows and cows. Large dairy farms dominate on South of the North Island. In the evening we arrived in Pahiatua where we tried to find some reasonable accomodation. From all three options we passed the first, the second had no vacancy and because we were soaked by rain and cold by wind we accepted the third possible option. We took a staff room for $70 because $100 for a hotel room was way too much for our budget. We paid, ate leftovers from a lunch, had a warm shower and went to sleep.

After breakfast in Pahiatua

It was drizzling following morning. We bought some food from a supermarket and ate our breakfast by a local memorial, then we were back on track. The breakfast reminded me my climbing beginings when we didn’t care anything but eat, sleep, climb, repeat. Our goal for today was to cross North part of Tararuas and get to Ashhurst via Palmerston North. We started our climb right beyond Pahiatua and our effort was peppered by headwinds. We are not giving up! We are keep pedaling! In Palmerston North suburb we stopped for a lunch. From vegetarian menu (chips and Cheese and Onion Sandwich) in café we ordered the chips and coffee. We are not sure what causes that the further North from Wellington we are, the lower the quality of coffee. We have two explanations: a) we take the closest cafés to our route, b) the cafés quality decreases evenly with the growing population. After lunch we had to replenish our food supplies. It would be our first two full days without any chance to buy something. After shopping we packed ourselves, somehow, and we were off for our last 20kms to Ashhurst. We cycled against Manawatu River flow, but with a tailwind! For a first time since we had left to this journey! What a joy!

On the way to Ashhurst

Monday was a public holiday and not many businesses were open. After a suprisingly quick morning routine of packing we left for Apiti. The township which promises a pub and a campground. We enjoyed a hilly terrain and neverending views of paddocks with sheep and cows, and beautiful weather. However the climbs and distance took its toll on energy levels. After more than thousand altitude meters Dasha got HANGRY and last ten kilometers were very hard for her. The pub in Apiti was closed and remained closed until Wednesday. And Apiti is not even a village whatsover a township. Few houses, huge farms and more stock than residents, that’s Apiti. After few minutes of founding ourselves we reached Apiti Domain which is currently used as sheep paddock not a campground. We were hungry, tired and not able to think. We kicked away some sheep poo on a side to make a platform to pitch our tent, then boiled drinking water and then cooked a dinner. Sun just started to set. All today’s suffering, all the fatigue were sudennly gone. Everything can be ballanced by experience like this sunset.

Apiti Sunset

Our bodies are getting used biking day by day. The hardest thing is to get up to start to move and then first few kilometers until our bodies get into their rythm. After breakfast we decided to not boil drinking water and go without fresh water to the next village after 23km. Thank this experience I realised how farming pollutes our environment. We continuously pass small streams and creeks, I am thirsty but none of them is safe to drink. I remembered how it was down in Wanaka, where we could drink pretty much from every sidestreem on the tracks. Farms and kattle are everywhere you look, drink this water without filterring and boiling is not safe. It is fascinating that our human race forgot how the fresh water is precious and how we are spoiled by waterpipes leading to our homes.

Gravel and green hills

After long contemplation about fresh water we reached a campground near Vinegar Hill. We set our camp pretty soon so we had enough time for a 5 O’clock tea. Tomorrow we are going to Whanganui but before we get there we will stop in Hunterville for propper meal and propper coffee.

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