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Daily Diary 2 (Day 11 to Day 15)

Page entries run from the bottom.

Day 15

8 December 2010

Opotiki to Te Kaha

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 74.97
Metres climbed: 773

Rain. It was drizzling off and on when we woke up and all through breakfast but subsided as we were leaving - long enough for us to say goodbye to Nghaire and Julian and head back into town to get some supplies.

We headed out to the East Cape, something we had been looking forward to for a long time. The views were stunning and the mist loomed over the hills that stood waiting for us to climb them. Peering over sheer drop-offs from the hillside roads, which separated long beaches of black sand and neglected houses, we were aware that we were in a different kind of New Zealand. The few vehicles we see are either locals or logging trucks and they all smile or wave as we greet them, but the signs warning trespassers to stay off the predominantly Maori land are not so friendly. Evidence perhaps of some less-than-respectful visitors in the past.

The rain continued to visit us throughout the day, making for some creaky knees in the cold and some slightly slower cycling as our bodies tried to warm themselves at the same time. We stopped for lunch under some pine trees and were very grateful for the rest and a warm meal.

We enjoyed more beautiful scenery and a break in the rain as we made our way to Te Kaha campground. Here we met a couple who often do cycle touring but at the moment are driving around with kayaks and mountain bikes, They were getting bored of eating fish and kindly gave us two snapper fillets they had just caught an hour before, coated in flour and fried, we couldn't believe our luck. It turned out that Brian and Andrea Stitson have done a lot of cycling, including riding right through Passau, Germany, where Xaver studies. Brian was a charter member of Rotary Club of Taradale so commended what we were doing. We had a very nice conversation over dinner before everyone went to bed, trying to get into the tent without getting wet and hoping like anything the bottom stays dry through the night.

Tomorrow will be a big day to Hicks Bay or maybe further so it is time to get some sleep.

Ollie and Xaver


Day 14

7 December 2010

Whakatane to Opotiki

Stats for the day...
426m climbed


We didn't have far to travel today, but it sure took us a while to do it. After another late start with Ollie adjusting his shoes and Xaver looking for his cycling computer we finally head off - only to stop around the corner so that Ollie could adjust his shoes again. It is important to get it right to avoid injury but it is hard to convince yourself that having a break after the first 50 metres is a good idea.

We finally got going over the hill and found a road running along the beach as an alternative to the main road. The trouble with that was that we missed the turnoff for Opotiki and it wasn't until we noticed the water on our right-side too that we figured out that we were on a peninsula that wasn't going to take us anywhere. We quickly backtracked and found our way again to the other side of the harbour.

After we got back on track we noticed that Xaver's wheel wasn't running smoothly. It took us a while to realise that one of the spokes was broken and needed replacing. Thankfully we had brought some with us and had the right tools to change it over and strighten the wheel as best we could. As if that wasn't enough, Ollie's rack came unscrewed on the home straight so a screw was taken from Xaver's to replace it. A day of mishaps indeed and a few Rotarians in Opotiki left wondering what was going on.

We got there in the end and Don Murray took us for a bite to eat, organised an interview with the local paper and showed us the local bike shop. Headley down at Hickey's Sports Store sure knows his bikes and he did a much better job on our wheel and stocked us up again with spare spokes and screws. That's a huge relief considering our plans to cycle around the East Cape tomorrow, and they only charged us for the spokes in support of our cause.

We are staying with Ngaire and Julian from Opotiki Rotary Club and before dinner we were treated to a tour of their kiwifruit orchard. We are both fascinated by how it all works and are thankful for another opportunity to learn about it from a local. During dinner the dark rain-clouds crept across the sky and as enormous drops of rain fell sporadically on the conservatory we heard the WOOF of hail guns sending vibrations into the atmosphere to break up the hail and protect the kiwifruit from damage. It was a surreal experience which we didn't expect in an orchard - but the learning continues.

We may not have reception for a while around the Cape but we look forward to a different kind of adventure for a few days and will tell you all about it when we get to Gisborne if not sooner.

Xaver and Ollie


Day 13

6 December 2010


Te Puke to Whakatane,

What a day! We woke up to scrambled eggs and made our way into town to check out the raffle for the trailer of groceries. We just had to buy a few tickets as the proceeds are going to PolioPlus and the prize is amazing. We'll have to cycle back up and tow the trailer to Wellington if we win.

We also had a chat with a woman from the Bay of Plenty Times who is going to run an article about our journey, so by the time we left it was 9.15.

We knew we had 66 kms to cycle by 12 as Whakatane West were expecting us so we put our heads down and went for it. Taking it in turns to face the wind and with long flat straights we trundled along at 25kph and were glad to see how our fitness could deal with the on-going pressure.

We were met by Mark and daughter Rachel as well as Ses in her red dress with her dog in the front basket. We looked a sight as we all rode into town and into Civic Square where the mayor of Whakatane Tony Bonne met us, along with other Rotarians.

By chance we bumped into a woman who had had polio when she was 23 and working as a nurse when polio was an epidemic in New Zealand. She was very supportive of our efforts to make sure that doesn't happen to others. When put into historical context like that it is hard to believe that there is still polio in the world. We feel like it should be old news in this modern time.

We had a radio interview on Radio 1XX and lunch with Rotarians including President Karen and then went for a body-surf at Ohope beach. Craig at the Whakatane bike shop replaced Ollie's brake pads for free after hearing what we are doing, which we really appreciated. It is people like that who make our trip so much easier so that we can focus on the charity and cycling aspects.

We were fortunate enough to be in Whakatane on the evening of Whakatane West's Rotary meeting. Another fantastic dinner was followed by an opportunity to give a short talk and even show some photos from our trip. They held a dedicated sergeants session, which raised $165 for PolioPlus, and they will hold a mystery auction next week at their final meeting for the year, with all proceeds going to PolioPlus as well. Naturally we think this is great and look forward to hearing the final result.

Another brief tour of town and a trip to the lookout to see the way the river winds its way towards the sea and how the town is nestled in between the river bend and the rock face of the hill. We were both so impressed by Whakatane's landscape, community spirit and of course the people we met today and we both want to come back, although this will certainly be easier for Ollie as Xaver must return to Germany after our trip to resume his studies.

Blogging from bed after a relaxing spa, we want to make a special mention to Maree Wills,who has welcomed us into her home with such warmth and hospitality but who also ferried us around town to sights, bikeshops and the meeting. She has helped make this a really special time in Whakatane and The Rotary Club's enthusiasm and involvement has been wonderful.

Time for sleep and to dream about our trip around the East Cape. But first, on to Opotiki tomorrow.

Xaver and Ollie


Day 12

5 December 2010

Stats for today...
Kms travelled: 65.17
Metres climbed: 485

Katikati to Te Puke
We had a much needed lazy morning this morning. Up at 7, but this promising start was followed by many cups of coffee and chatting with the Stevens family, followed by bacon and eggs and porridge. We just loved staying at their house in Katikati and feeling like part of the family for a brief moment and we were reluctant to leave. Perhaps they were sending us a subtle hint to overcome our hesitation when the entire family got their bikes out and waited for us to get our things together and head outside. We think there eagerness was more likely in support of our ride and we really enjoyed having a family convoy escort us to the corner, where they waved us goodbye, after one last photo under the kiwifruit canopy.


Xaver is very enthusiastic about this New Zealand icon and both of us enjoy hearing about the latest issues in kiwifruit growing from a local perspective without the media hype.
Along the road we met a really nice guy from the Basque Lands in Spain, whose trip around the world certainly puts ours into perspective. He said that in the beginning he had planned to cycle for a year, from Egypt to Bangkok along the Silk Road, and then to do South East Asia. He ended up cycling through India, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia as well and when he got to the end he decided to keep going. Deep down he wanted to do something big but had never admitted it to himself until he was there doing it. Not only does this put our trip into perspective but it spurs us on as well. Inspirational trips like that will be good to keep in mind in the tough times and we love to see people following their seemingly impossible dreams. He was very friendly too and as we cycled together we passed a German couple with lots of fancy equipment and sombre expressions. They seemed to be late for something and weren't interested in pleasantries. We thought this was a bit sad and hope they don't leave New Zealand having not enjoyed their time. It was very interesting to compare the different ways people approach this great sport, and I was fascinated by everyone's gear as well. We could learn a lot from our Spanish friend (Aitor) but we're not sure he needs to carry 5 litres of water with him all the time in New Zealand, we manage with 1.5 at any one time.

After lunch in Tauranga we had a cruisy ride over the bridge past Mt Maunganui and into Te Puke in time for the inaugural potato growing competition to raise funds for the club.

This was great and gave us the opportunity to meet about 75 members from Te Puke, Papamoa and Mt Maunganui, who had all come together to help raise more funds and to boost fellowship between the clubs in this newly formed cluster. We had the chance to talk face to face with many people who were interested in our mission for polio and we even had the chance to get up and say a few words.

It was very fortunate timing that we could be there for this event and see Rotarians in action and really enjoying themselves. We enjoyed an enormous dinner too and no-one was happy if we weren't eating because they wanted us to have lots of energy. We are not living up to the predictions by many that we would come back from our trip a lot skinnier.

Tonight we are hosted by John and Lois from Te Puke Rotary Club. We look forward to breakfast and a quick trip into town with them in the morning to see the trailer (full of groceries and a BBQ) that RC Maketu and Te Puke Rotary Clubs have organised with a raffle to raise funds for PolioPlus.

They are selling 7000 tickets at $2 each which means more than $10k for PolioPlus. We bought a book of tickets.  It might be a bit of a problem going to Te Puke on the bike to tow the trailer home though if we win - maybe selling it in an auction with the proceeds to PolioPlus would be a good solution.

This is, of course, right up our ally and we want to be there and take part before going to Whakatane, where similar fundraising events will take place. It will be a small day for cycling but a big day for polio.
Xaver and Ollie

Day 11

4 December 2010

Stats for today...
Kms travelled: 102.6
Metres climbed: 1,296
Average speed: 18.3

Tairua to Katikati,
We woke up to a breakfast of similar proportions to last nights dinner, followed by a walk to the waterfall and a freezing swim. After all that galivanting we didn't head off till 10:45, but it was definitely worth it to see the best part of the property. We knew we had a huge day ahead of us and time pressure to meet the Rotary Club in Waihi before finishing in Katikati. With this in mind we didn't stop long for lunch but instead powered our way up and down the big hills; some of which just seemed to wind up forever. As the afternoon sun bore down on us we wondered why we didn't leave earlier, and as our heads pounded away in the heat we wondered why we weren't sitting in the shade somewhere, waiting for the coolness of the early evening.

But we didn't stop. We made Waihi in reasonably good time and a few members of the club came to meet us with subway sandwiches in hand. The energy was greatly appreciated and after a bite to eat and a cup of coffee with cake we went up to see the enormous open-caste mine. There was supposed to be a mountain bike event there today but it was postponed out of respect for the Pike River tragedy.

Ian Stevens from Katikati Rotary Club also met us in Waihi and rode with us back to his house via the scenic route. This added 5 kms to our already demanding day but again it was worth it to see Waihi beach and the islands in the harbour. We were particularly impressed by Matakana Island, which spreads from Waihi beach to Mt Maunganui, with cattle and kiwifruit all the way along.

We got to the Steven's house in time for a beer in the late afternoon sun, followed by a shower and another great dinner. After cycling for most of the day it is these simple pleasures that we appreciate the most and we are always amazed by people's generous hospitality and warmth. One aspect of Rotary is of connecting people, and through this connection our experience of the country has been greatly enriched.

We have said it before but today was our biggest day yet. We were on par with our biggest distance and on par with our highest climb, but we have never put the two together. Time for bed and quietly glad not to be in our tiny tent.
Xaver and Ollie


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