Rotorua - Day 4 - Rotata to Taupo
- Distance 65km
- Max Elevation 576m
Rotorua - Rotata to Taupo Ride Profile
We were reluctant to leave this beautifully tranquil site and before we
did so we said goodbye to the other folk (there were only four of them)
on the site.
The first six kilometers were on gravel roads and mostly up hill. It
was very hot and the sweat dripped off our chins. When we finally got
back onto tarmac it was such a relief and from that point on, the riding
was much easier. We turned south onto highway 5 and immediately took
the turning to Ohaaki Marae which would take us across the Waikato Rover
to take what we expected would be a quieter and more level route.
Although we had only been on SH5 for a few hundred meters we were glad
to turn off as it was very busy. The smooth tarmac track stopped after
about 2km and turned into a rough gravel lane which we continued along
for another 600m past what was obviously a Mauri Marae and the hot
springs in the valley. The track ended abruptly due to a number of fir
trees that had fallen across it.
Fortunately at this point a solitary mauri buy came along and he
confirmed that we couldn't get through the way we had planned to go. He
asked us if we had seen the Marae and if we would like to know a little
more about it. When we said yes, he was overjoyed and started to tell
us all about the history of his tribe and the Marae. He was 11th
generation Mauri and was learning to recite his geneology. His
knowledge was a little patchy in places, but it was very interesting
After a half hour's tour, we said our goodbyes and went back the way we
had come onto SH5 and further along the road to the correct turning to
The road passed the geothermal power station which gathered super heated
steam from various "fumers" around the area and piped it back to the
central generation station. We followed the Waikato valley which is
dotted throughout its length with steam vents. It was a long rolling
ride and was very hot. The "quiet" road turned out to be just as busy
as SH5 due to lots of logging lorries and other heavy transport. The
highlight of the day was seeing the snow covered peak of the volcano
Mount Ruapehu at 2,800m at the far end of Lake Taupo.
Today was the hottest so far with temperatures about 30C, we had to
avoid the melted tar on the roads. We ran out of water about 10k from
Taupo. As we rode down the hill into town Karen screamed at Steve to
stop at a garage top buy water. Refreshed we cycled the last 4km into
town and a well earned Monteith's Original.
Our 'couchsurfing.com' accomodation was about 3km out of town, up a
final hill on the road to Huka Falls. It was an almost new house in a
nice quiet location. Raewyn, Kevin, Peter, Erin and Clair made us feel
like part of the family and looked after us well.
That evening Raewyn and Clair took us down to the lake front and we ate fish and chips whilst we watched the sun go down.
The next day we had a day off riding and walked first to Huka Falls,
about 3km further up the road. The wide and fast flowing Waikito river
is funnelled into a narrow, rocky gorge...
.....and tumbles over a spectacular waterfall as it bursts out at the other end.
If you have plenty of money to spare you can ride on a jet boat up the
river to the base of the waterfall. It you're a poor traveller like us
you have to be content to watch the action from the bank.
Today we had arranged to meet Jesse and Olive James, good friends of
Karen's parents who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1967. Despite both
being in their 80's they were amazingly spritely and took us out for a
lovely lunch while we caught up on all the events of the last 43 years.
It was also time for some housekeeping. Namely a haircut for each of us,
(NZ$12 for Steve NZ$45 for Karen) and a visit to various bike shops to
look into replacing our tyres. Not surprisingly, none of the shops
stocked decent touring tyres, so in the end we decided to risk ours for a
bit longer and ordered replacement Schwalbe Marathon Extreme from
Wiggle in the UK, who deliver to New Zealand for free, We saved over
NZ$100 buying them from the UK as opposed to buying through a local bike
shop. They will be delivered to our accommodation in Golden Bay that we
have pre-booked for Christmas. Fingers crossed we have no major
problems until then.
We took smoked salmon, cream cheese, biscuits and sparkling wine back to
supplement the dinner that Raewyn was cooking for all of us.
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