After the Wwoofing was done we picked up the bike trail in Rotorua close to where we left off.
We stayed around Rotorua for a few days to relax and to get a few things sorted out on the bikes. We upgraded our tires to puncture proof ones. I got myself a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and Jasmin got some Continental Touring Pluses. We did this because we knew some tougher terrain lay ahead of us and we wanted to be prepared. The town was nice and seemed to have a lot going on especially to do with mountain biking and other extreme sports. The weather was pretty bad while we were there but the hostel we stayed at was attached to a nice climbing wall so that kept us entertained. The one down side to Rotorua though is its proximity to the sulphur pools which makes the place smell like rotten eggs.
We started off from Rotorua in the direction of Taupo and planned to take the Thermal By Bike trail. We took the turn off too early though and ended up on a grade 3 mountain bike trail for the first 2 kms. This track was way too difficult for us on the touring bikes but it made for a little adventure. We found our way back to the highway and picked up the Thermal By Bike trail. This was a pretty uninspiring concrete path that ran parallel to the highway but at least it kept us out of the traffic. The trail turned into a mountain bike track again towards the end but this time it was easier and we managed to get through it intact.
We camped half way to Taupo in the Waikite Vally. It was really beautiful there. They had thermal pools where the water was 39 degrees. It was the perfect cure for our fatigued muscles. Don’t leave your bike against the fence over night though. When we woke up and started packing our stuff we found our bikes and panniers covered in cockroaches that had crawled out of the wood over night. The dirty rotten buggers were everywhere. I found one in the folds of my pannier when I unrolled it and another one had somehow found its way into the food bag.
After the mornings nastiness we made our way down the highway towards Taupo. We were joined this day by a french cyclist named Boris who rode with us. After 25 kms we stopped for lunch at the Mihi café. It turns out that Jasmin didn’t check her helmet properly that morning. When she took it off she found a cockroach hiding under the foam that she had transported all the way from the campsite. At that time Boris and I were inside ordering the coffee and we heard the almighty screech of disgust from outside.
We stayed another few days in Taupo. Like Rotorua the place is very extreme sports orientated. You can do it all here, sky diving, bungee jumping, jet boating, river rafting, helicopter flights- you name it. We didn’t do any of that because we are not millionaires. Mountain biking was free though so I hit the tracks with my bike, free from luggage, which was a lot of fun.
From Taupo we cycled to Turangi and from Turangi we started our up hill cycle to National Park village. The cycle took us up into the mountains first passing Mt Tongariro, then Mt Ngauruhoe (also known as Mt Doom) and finally Mt Ruapehu. A few days earlier, while we were staying in Turangi, we did the Tongariro Crossing. This is probably New Zealand’s most famous one day walk and it was the highlight of my time in NZ, so far. I don’t have any picture of the crossing here because I’m going to dedicate the next post to it.