Monday, 18 September 2017

A Return to the North Island: Auckland to Wellington

Almost a year has past since finishing my favourite cycle tour so far in New Zealand.  I didn't quite finish it as planned though; I eventually returned to Melbourne via Wellington, two weeks early because of visa issues in Australia.  I had planned another two weeks of riding from Wellington to Auckland up the West coast.

On my last trip to New Zealand I covered the South Island fairly extensively over a month and a half (although there are still a few areas I wouldn't mind exploring), but I spent less time in the North Island, just 2 weeks.  So with a full week that I am quiet at work, I thought I'd have a couple of weeks for a bit of an adventure down the West coast, in the reverse direction I had planned previously.

At about 1200Km, this is a fairly ambitious tour to do in 2 weeks.  I had originally planned a more direct route after visiting Taranaki, but I had seen a friend post a few pictures of Cape Palliser and also had a client at work who said nice things about it, so I thought I'd make the trip a bit more of a physical challenge.

Not only does heading to Cape Palliser before finishing in Wellington add distance, it also increases the climbing.  The journey to the Cape actually includes some of the toughest ascents of the trip.  I find I just can't resist the physical challenge; I could do less distance and go a bit slower, but I really enjoy the long days on the bike and a bit of suffering.

That being said, with the weather in New Zealand being somewhat unpredictable, the contingency is to just go with the original plan and head straight to Wellington on a more direct route.  After Whanganui, though, this is a route I cycled last time, so it would be nice to avoid it.

The tour will be marked by a number of waterfalls, but the central highlight will be a hike around - and possibly up - Mount Taranaki.  I was looking forward to this last time, before I had to go back home early.

Mount Taranaki, just visible in the distance from the top of  Mount Tongariro (about 200Km away), taken from my last trip.

The profile reveals that, somewhat unexpectedly, there shouldn't be as much climbing as my last tour in Wales and England.  The tour is about 300Km longer than in Wales, but has the same elevation gain over that distance, which does tell you something about the Welsh coastline, and Wales in general, because all through England there was obviously not that much climbing to be done.

After two shorter tours this year of about a week long each, this will be my longest tour of 2017 and I can't wait to head back to one of my favourite countries.  After Auckland, this tour will pass through mainly small towns and villages, in some of the less populated areas of the North Island.  As well as the natural splendor of the North Island, this part of New Zealand is a bit richer in Maori culture than the South, so I think I will be in contact with the natives a little more than on my last tour, especially as I am not going through many tourist areas this time.

Looking forward to another 2 weeks of adventure and hard work - yet peaceful and relaxing at the same time.  I have just rejuvenated the bike with a service and a new chain and cassette, so she's ready for the challenge as well.  It should be a cracking trip, fingers crossed for the weather!

No comments:

Post a Comment