…and so to Kimbolton NZ
From Auckland my journey has taken me through the largely pastoral landscapes of central N. Island, through the land of hot springs, geysers and mudbaths, and in the last couple of days through the volcanic heartland where the landscapes betray both its recent eruptive past, as well as its current role as a winter playground for skiers and snowboarders.
Today’s 120km route took me over the ominously named Desert Road, a road that crosses the 65km expanse of the volcanic plateau, with no services or watering holes its entire length. This gave me much food for thought, and much thought about food (and drink, of course).
Leaving Turangi, a town on the southern shore of NZ’s biggest lake (Taupo), 10km into the ride had me climbing persistently to over 1100 metres (3500ft) for about 90mins. When the downhill eventually came, it was elusive at first. Cyclists sometimes find themselves in a visual and physical conundrum. Visually, they are convinced they are going downhill, but their legs tell a different story. There is nothing more frustrating than pedalling laboriously down an apparent incline.
But, then the real descent happened, along with tail wind, and it was scarily fast and went on for 12km. I found myself having to apply the brakes at the unsteadiness of 65kph (40mph) especially with luggage spurring on the downhill speed.
When I finally pulled into the first cafe in 65km at Waiouru, I was beset by 2 donors giving me $10 & $20 respectively. The latter was given by the young waitress who said she had never heard of anyone cycling the Desert Road, and I deserved every cent.
I am typing this post on my phone (using the one-fingered method) sitting in my tent after dusk in a remote campsite within earshot of a swift tumbling river, the very one I was bathing in a couple of hours ago. The campsite is so simple that the caretaker may come in the morning to collect my $7 fee. So simple, in fact, that there was no food to buy for an evening meal. Prospect? Go hungry until the morning. Result? A nearby couple, David and Maggie (both ex-pat Brits) took pity on me and included an extra portion in their evening meal. I continue to be astounded at the kindness showed to me in so many ways.
Tomorrow will bring me to Kimbolton NZ, where I am to meet the Headmistress of Kimbolton School. This encounter will be a story for a future post, but I have in my saddlebag some official letters of greeting from the Chair and Clerk to the Parish Council to present to the people of Kimbolton NZ, who are largely unaware this is going to happen. And it will all start with a cup of tea and piece of cake at the only cafe in the village.
Watch this space!