The day started early as it was too hot to sleep and the first thing I noticed was that two of my room mates had disappeared, It turns out it was too hot for them in our little sauna and they headed for the kitchen block to spend the night. I am not sure what the group of kiwi blokes that were up here for a fishing trip thought when they headed to the kitchen for a good bacon and egg fry up. Anyway the morning took quite a while to pass and I was the last one to leave the accommodation just after 12pm for the start at Cape Reinga at 2.30pm. Once at the Cape we all, well only 30 of us lingered around and checked out bikes and gear etc. We all had to take a photo down at the light house and I do wonder what all the tourists thought of us all.
Cape Reinga is generally considered the separation marker between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east., the two seas clash to create unsettled waters just off the coast. The Māori refer to this as the meeting of Te Moana-a-Rehua, 'the sea of Rehua' with Te Tai-o-Whitirea, 'the sea of Whitirea', Rehua and Whitirea being a male and a female respectively. Māori belief that the cape is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld.
Entering onto Ninety Mile Beach
For me I had come to the realisation in the last two weeks that the third wave was rather unfavourable in regards to the ferry crossing timetables and as I was treating this as a challenge and a race I was going to have to work pretty hard to make up for lost time due to this. It was now three days and two and half hours since the first wave of 117 riders left here and also 76 riders the day before us. The first wave was now over 900km into the Tour Aotearoa and that was quite hard to get my head around. anyway 2.30 was now looming and we were at the starting point of this journey. I think there was a gun start but I actually don't remember, we ambled off except for Chris on his Cyclocross bike who took off trying to take advantage of the sealed road for the next 17km, right from the start I found myself in no mans land riding by myself and as it turned out this was to be a typical scenario throughout the TA. We turned onto Tepaki Stream Road heading to Ninety Mile Beach and I soon caught and passed Chris who I think would have struggled quite a bit down this sandy stream as did the ca that was stuck half way down. We continuously crossed the stream, well we were basically riding down the stream and I thought to my self that I was very glad that I was carrying a brand new chain to put on at the end of the day.
Thanks for the photo Sven Martin
I was the first rider onto the beach and I was alone and of course it was a reasonably stiff head wind, my speed varied between 18 and 25km/hr but thankfully the sand was truly like concrete which I had read in the Kennett Brothers latest edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails. It was about three hours into this wind then the beach starts to arc around to the west which was too my relief in regards to the wind, Finally off the beach and into Ahipara, I quickly rode through Ahipara and stopped about three kilometers down the road to clean my chain and have something to eat, then thankfully I realised that I had no water left so I had to head back to Ahipara to get some water. Both shops I went to said they had no tap drinking water??? Maybe they were sick of the 200 odd riders before me over the last few days doing the same. So this was the first time I think I have ever bought water in New Zealand oh and I think I consumed my first Almond magnum of the trip. From here it was an undulating ride to Kohukohu, firstly on a sealed road for about 30km and then onto a gravel road at Broadwood. It was now dark and I was on a gravel road and coming the other way was a police car, I wondered what on earth he was doing here and he probably thought the same. I got down to the ferry loading point and I instantly tried calling for an after hours ferry service which apparently they would do for $150 and people in the other waves had done this. For me though they would not have a bar of this, it was disappointing but it did save me $150. I now had close to 10 hours before the first ferry in the morning at 7.15 this was 4 hours lost cycling time as far as I was concerned. One of the rules stated that we had to stop a minimum of 6 hours between 9am and 9am the next day. I was ready for bed now and a few other riders rolled in, Steve Crackle, Andy Ross and Hayden all of whom I knew so we had a quick chat and off to bed it was. Up at bright and early, well not bright as it was 6am and still dark, it was also wet and misty on the banks of the Hokianga. I packed up my damp tent and ordered a bacon and Egg roll from the food caravan that had turned up just after 6am especially for all of the TA riders, awesome and thanks to who ever arranged that one. I put my new chain on the bike and tight fisted me kept the old one to send home at Dargeville. I enjoyed my coffee and warm Breakfast and chatting to the others about 7 in total now. Hayden Key had a funny story where he had kept some hot chips from his dinner in Ahipara just in case he got hungry. Well someone got hungry through the night but not Hayden, it would appear that a at had got up on his bike and gnawed a whole in the bottom of the paper and eaten all of the chips. The Very arrived and it was a quick 10 minute trip to Rawene.