After two nights spent in National Park Village where we relaxed, dried our gear and worked on sorting videos and photographs we headed North. Our first leg heading to the well known Timber Trail leads through Fisher’s Track to Taumarunui.
For a first time we were really happy for the direction we choose. National Park was build on plateu and Taumarunui should be somewhere lower. Therefore we expected that our first day leading to Timber Trail should have more descents than climbs. And it was down! We rode 20km long downhill of grade two. We couldn’t get any better except one fall. After few days of rain there were puddles of mud on the trail and one of them was too deep for Dasha to bike through. Once she got her front wheel in it she lost her ballance and unfortunatelly I was just next to her. When she fell she took me with her. She ended up with shoes full of mud and water and I in a bank bellow the track. Nothing serious happened, no injuries and no damage to the bikes. We carried forward with a lot of laughs about our fall. Falls Score is 1:2 for me now.
When we reached Taumarunui, we quickly cruised through the town to find a supermarket, bought something to eat and then headed to a campground four kilometers away from the town. Next morning was dedicated to shoping. First of all we had to find a bicycle shop. We were navigated to a Honda quadbikes and motorbikes dealer. Apperantely the owner found a blank spot on market in Tuamarunui and built a cycleshop and whorkshop in the end of his showroom. We bought a new chain for my bicycle, a new cycle computer for Dasha’s bike and dry lube for both of our bikes. Dasha went to buy a food supplies for next three days while I was replacing the chain and cycle computer right in front of the Honda shop. The chain was replaced, cycle computer as well and food stuffed up in our bags. Then it was time to leave for Ongarue, where we planned to stay in Flashpackers Lodge.
It was Thursday November 2nd just befor 10 am when we said Good Bye to Remi, who runs the Flashpackers. We left to bike the Timber Trail, an 87km long trail. Half of it is following old railway used for timber delivery from nearby woods. That morning was very cruisy and we really enjoyed the winding trail through pine forrest and mild gradiend climb suitable for railway. When we had a lunch at Camp No. 10 we were reached by young English guy named Gary. He is biking whole Tour Aotearoa in the same direction as we do. Our rigs compared to Gary’s were heavy as. Gary had only handle bar roll, saddle bag and two bottle cages with drinks. We talked a little and after snacks we left the camp at our own paces.
During afternoon of our first day on Timber Trail we were excited of green tunnels made of trees and bushes around the trail. Also we were amazed how the Nature takes back what humans have taken before. Later that afternoon I got tired. It was for a very first time I felt so weak on the trail. So I ate something, played some tunes and continued to pedal. I had no other option anyway. After about 30 minutes later I felt better so biking was more enjoyable again. In the end we stood on the highest point of the first half of the trail and there was nothing better than downhill to the third biggest suspention bridge in New Zealand and then a beautiful single trail almost to the campground. In Piropiro campground we met Gary again. We talked more about food, bikes and running. When we finished our dinner, evening tea and sweet dot we crawled into our sleeping bags and felt to sleep.
Second day on the Timber Trail we were woken up by rain. When it stopped we quickly cooked a breakfast and then packed ourselves before it started raining again. Gary didn’t bother with having a warm breakfast and left the camp a good hour ahead of us. We said Good Bye to Gary and continued at our pace. A beginning of the second day wasn’t very interesting, mainly because the trail followed a gravel road. But when we hit the single trail again everything was much better except I had troubles with my gears. In steep climbs the chain started slipping from my biggest cog. Firstly I didn’t want to bother to look what could cause such troubles but when I ran out of my patience and when I roughly knew where the problem could be I hopped down from my bike, grabbed tools and tuned the chain tensioning. And I knew that I will have to have a proper look on it again tomorrow.
With gained elevation the trail changed its look and we forgot to look at time and distance. We were fascinated how whole forest and surroundings of the gritty trail were covered by mist and clouds. Twentysixth kilometer is the highest point of the trail and also the highest point of our journey so far (980 m asl.) It took us four hours to get here from the Piropiro camp. We didn’t stay there very long, we just took a photograph and started our 14 km long descent to a camp in Pureora. After an hour and fifteen minutes we are at the end of the trail. Hooray! We had pins and needles in our cold fingers and we didn’t feel warm either.
When we reached Pureora we were a little disapointed. The Information centre which should stand here didn’t exist, cabins, where we wanted to accommodate, had to be booked beforehand via phone or email and when we wanted to call, there were no cellphone reception. So we had no other option than go the Pureora campground where we pitched our tent in the weather breaks. After our dinner we had a lot of time to enjoy the comfort of our tent and sleeping bags except my sleeping mat. When I had to blow it up again for the third time I noticed a little hole which wasn’t there yesterday. So I went outside to the rain and found my repair kit in my bag and fixed my mat. Luckily it stayed inflated until next morning.
The day after we finished Timber Trail was still raining. We had a swimming pool just under our tent and few wet items inside. Some seams of our tent let the water go inside but not too much. Compared to what happened outside we were still dry. When the rain took a smoko I ran outside to boil some water for our breakfast but I didn’t have enought of time to finish the tea. When rain eased again I went outside to have a look on my gears. After quick examination I realised my chain was still a little longer than it was supposed to be. So I shortened it by another 1.5 link and reseted a derailuer. When Dasha prompted me to finish my service I was soaking wet. We packed ourselves and waited when the heaviest falls stopped so we could pack our tent eventually. We left the camp after 11 am and we decided to bike the shortest and quickest way to Mangakino. We took a road. When we reached Mangakino we had to get some food, so we walked into first café we saw, then we were lucky enough to get a room in booked out town and eventually the weather turned into lovely sunny afternoon. We dried out our tent and camping gear and I finally fixed my gearing properly. For the next day we decided to do our longest bike ride so far.
We biked 98km from Mangakino to Matamata. Because of the distance we couldn’t talk about trail madness. We biked paved and gravel roads skipping most of the Waikato River Trail. Winding roads and changing sufaces were really fun to bike and with joy we biked 50 km in the morning. After a lunch we did last 11 kilometers of Waikato River Trail so we kind of biked it.
And then we biked last 37 km mostly on main roads which wasn’t enjoyable at all. We were in place where the traffic flowed to the three biggest cities around, to Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua. It didn’t matter if it was a truck or a personal car, most of the drivers didn’t care to give us a little bit more space on the road, even if we biked straight on the road side line. Luckily we finished our bike ride without any harm in Opal Hot Springs Campground where we spent two nights.