Great news folks … Frank and Bean have been found! Despite some initial confusion and much head scratching by Air NZ staff, it turns out the boys were simply shipped out on a later flight than ours due to luggage space availability issues.
Exploring Muriwai Beach
The boys’ late arrival got us off to a bit of slow start in Kiwi land setting off a chain reaction of transportation booking hiccups and difficulties. As a result we found ourselves stuck in Auckland for two days longer than initially planned. While unexpected, the extra days in the City of Sails have proved themselves a blessing by giving us a chance to explore the countryside and seascape flanking the city’s western limits.
After working out a few kinks the boys picked up on the flight over, the four of us decided to hop a train for the small town of Waitakere – some 40 minutes outside Auckland – for a day ride out to Muriwai Beach. Our route (largely based on our NZ LP cycling guide’s route) would wheel us some 60 km through a rolling landscape of fertile pastures and lush grassland.
Along the way we were greeted by my first of NZ furry friends, including Sam (of no hobbit relation), a beautiful horse who kept me captivated on the roadside for a good 15 minutes with requests for ear scratches and LOTS of photo snapping. The ride also gave me my first glimpse of real, non-petting zoo sheep. Something I suspect I’ll be seeing plenty of in the weeks to come.
A fairly easy ride for the most part, with only the odd steep climb to contend with, the first half of our journey ended with a spiralling 2.5km descent of free wheelin’ bliss to Muriwai’s famed black sandy shores.
After an hour of refuelling and beach lounging we switched our route back to Waitakere up slightly taking the quieter Foster Road for a large portion of our ride. A more scenic and less trafficked route than our way in (via Muriwai Road), the ride along Foster Rd presented many roadside photops of the sunkissed and sheep filled fields that flanked the road for most of the way back. Our ride back also offered our first taste of the Kiwi Christmas in the form of a Santa costumed fireman tossing candy at us from his passing firetruck.
Escape from Aucklatraz. Hello Rotovegas!
After a nearmiss that nearly kept us stuck in Auckland for another several days, Hubs, the boys and I finally made it onto a bus bound for Rotorua. Located some 6hrs SE of Auckland and touted the ‘adventure capital’ of NZ for its wide range of thrill seeking offerings, Rotorua was the exact anecdote we were looking for after the last four days of urban dwelling.
Besides being an adrenaline junkie’s dream, Rotorua is also well known for being positioned on a site of active geothermal activity drawing tourists the world over for glimpses of the town’s geysers, pools and thermal springs. Rotorua is also known for its distinct sulphuric smell, which lingers in the air almost to announce to all visitors the great earthly activity they are about to witness.
As we would be celebrating Christmas day in Rotorua, Hubs and I decided to spend the day exploring the thermal sites first hand via a 60km tour of the town and surrounding countryside. Starting along the town’s salt flats, our ride took us past numerous geysers and pools before making way for the very Squamish like forest and farmland beyond the town’s limits.