Friday, 6 March 2015

The Hauraki Rail Trail: Cycling in New Zealand (Part 2)


For Part 1 of 'The Hauraki Rail Trail: Cycling in New Zealand' click - here


Thames Coastal Path  - 6 kms round trip

The neat little coastal town of Thames, gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula,  has a rich history of gold mining boom and bust together with
a captivating setting on the Firth of Thames. The 3 km cycling/walking path is a very pleasant, flat and easy few kilometres with views out across the Firth.

This is a Sunday afternoon, 'life in the slow lane'  kind of cycle path. Slow down, admire the scenery and soak up the sea air. If you plan to cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail begin at the northern end of the path and you'll join up with the trail as you head south.

We did a round trip, starting from the Toyota car plant just south of town, meandering along past pretty seaside cottages, old gold mining relics and the local croquet club. David has played backyard croquet with friends for years so we stopped for a while to watch the locals battle it out. Played properly Association Croquet  is a diabolical game with sophisticated and uncompromising tactics - a bit like chess, played with a mean streak and on grass. I point blank refuse to have anything to do with it - it is just too brutal for me.


Like so many towns we have visited the gold rush had a huge impact on Thames history.


We stopped for a while to watch  the locals battle it out in a croquet match. This photo is courtesy of  http://rotowhenua2.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/tournament-at-thames.html

I know I have published this photo before - but I couldn't resist it. I just love this guy waiting for the fish to bite.

Thames to Paeroa - 33 kms one way


After our gentle cruise along the coastal path at Thames our plan was to keep cycling past where we had parked the car and continue for 20 kms or so south toward Paeroa. This section of the trail meanders through farmland. It is flat and easy cycling. The sun was out and we expected a leisurely ride with nothing more difficult to negotiate than the occasional cattle grate.

We have had cycling plans defeated in the past by wind, rain, illness and just plain tiredness but never before by hayfever. Within minutes of leaving Thames and crossing the Waihou River David was struck by unrelenting fits of sneezing, coughing and watering eyes: miserable for him and unpleasant for me. The culprit, we think, was a type of grass growing along the edges of the trail. It looked like pampas, a common weed in New Zealand. Whatever it was there was no point in continuing south. We cycle for leisure, fun and fitness not to torture ourselves and one of the advantages of travelling with a car as well as bicycles is we can usually alter our plans without much aggravation.

Having made it back to the car we decided to head toward Karangahake Gorge again and pick up the path from Paeroa to Waihi where we had left off a couple of days ago.



The cycling/walking bridge across the Waihou River or maybe not - I really should label my photos. 

Another mystery photo - I think it's an irrigation canal but who knows?

Waikino to Waihi - 20 kms round trip


We parked the car at Victoria Battery, near the old station at Waikino. Victoria Battery was once New Zealand's largest gold processing plant. Today it is cared for by The Victoria Battery Tramway & Museum Society and a group of dedicated volunteers. It is open to the public a couple of days a week and offers tramway tours,  underground tours and a museum. We didn't go in but it looked well worth a visit. When our boys were young we did quite a few mine tours and they were always a hit.

Tram ride at Victoria Battery


This part of the Rail Trail runs for a while along the banks of the Ohinemuri River. River trails are often pretty and this was no exception.  A few kilometres from Waihi the river disappeared and we hit the only section of the trail which had any hills. They were little hills though, easy to negotiate and quickly behind us.

The Ohinemuri River. We cycled beside this for a while.


About the only hazard on the whole trail was crossing the railway line at Waihi.  Because the trains have long stopped running on most of the world's rail trails it is easy to forget they still run occasionally on a few of them. As we came into Waihi we found ourselves cycling neck and neck with a heritage train heading toward the town. It shows how slowly it was travelling that we were able to keep up with it for a while.

It is easy to forget that Rail Trails sometimes cross still operating railway lines.


The train we saw was operated by the Goldfields Historic Railway. It runs between Waikino and Waihi on weekends and holidays. During the week the service runs if there are sufficient passengers. A sign at Waihi station gave a phone number to ring and check how many passengers planned to use the train on any given day - kind of quaint don't you think!


The station at Waihi.
Fast Facts: - 

Ride -  The Hauraki Rail Trail - Waikino to Waihi
Distance -  20kms round trip If you time it right you can catch the Heritage Train back and make this a one-way cycle.
Terrain - Compacted dirt. Not suitable for road bikes
Difficulty -Very easy
Highlights - The very pretty scenery along the river.
Useful Websites - http://nzbybike.com/hauraki-rail-trail/
http://www.haurakirailtrail.co.nz/
Bike Hire - Bikes are available from Paeroa and Waikino Station  - click here for details
Accommodation - We stayed at Thames and drove to Waikino to begin the ride. There was a cute little cottage right beside the station at  Waihi. I have no idea what it was like inside but it looked lovely from the outside.  Details are available at http://www.waihirail.co.nz/news-events/traxx-accommodation

For a brief summary of other great New Zealand cycle trails go to - http://www.newzealand.com/au/feature/cycle-trails/

Do you have a favourite walk/cycle? Tell us about it so we can add it to our bucket list.


The Hauraki Rail Trail courtesy of http://www.haurakirailtrail.co.nz/


 Paeroa to Te Aroha - 42kms round trip

Sorry guys. We never got to this section - maybe next year!

If anyone has cycled it, leave a comment and tell us about it.




25 comments:

  1. I can't believe we never did any bike trips during the five years we lived in NZ! Something to put n the must do list once we get back there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ellen. New Zealand has made great strides in building bike paths in the last few years. Apparently much of the credit goes to their current Prime Minister - or so we were told.

      Delete
  2. Seems it is a beautiful route with lots of beautiful around for a bicycle ride....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stunning scenery and a great track to do from the looks of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paula. One of the prettiest Rail Trails we have cycled.

      Delete
  4. I am not a bike lover, but I have to say that it's an excellent way of seeing the world. Especially in places like this, where you can enjoy nature and where traffic would not put your life in danger. I didn't realize there was a 'gold rush' in New Zealand. Very beautiful place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anda. I didn't know about the gold rush in NZ either. Australia has lots of gold rush history as has the US of course but the NZ connection was new to me.

      Delete
  5. In the initial stages of planning our (first!) cycling tour now, so especially enjoyed your post! Ours will be an extended trip, through more than one country, so it was good to see you confirm it's more than okay to hop on a train or in a car every once in a while!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melodie. If you are going on an extended trip try not to overload your bikes with too much weight. Plan some rest days - you're going to have days when you just want a break. Make sure you have comfortable saddles and handles. There is some great advice from a blog called 'familyonbikes' (I think that's the one). And if you eat meat have the occasional steak for dinner - the protein is a real pick-up. Where are you going?

      Delete
    2. Italy, France, and Spain. Then, possibly into Portugal. Thanx for the advice, really like the one about "steak" . . . will do our best to follow! ;) About overloading, have been checking out bike bags, noting what they will and will not permit us to carry. Already feeling liberated by the amount of stuff we will NOT be schlepping with us from place to place.

      Delete
    3. It sounds like a long cycle trip. You do know they have hills in Europe - lol. Have a great time and if you blog about it I will follow your travels with admiration.

      Delete
  6. I hate hay fever! I would have loved the little train, though! Sounds like so much fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corinne. David is very susceptible to hay fever. It wasn't a problem for me and probably wouldn't be an issue for most people. The train did look like fun.

      Delete
  7. Looks like a lovely and easy cycle route. The map is very useful:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica. I found the map on the web but we were also able to get a paper copy at the local information place.

      Delete
    2. Wow.. that scenery is stunning. I don't think I'd mind the cycling distance with views like these. That tram ride looks awesome and fun.

      Delete
    3. Hi Mary. When the trail is relatively flat it's easy to cycle a reasonable distance especially with a few stops for coffee, lunch etc - lol. And if that fails there always seems to be a pub nearby to have a beer in (D not me I don't like beer).

      Delete
    4. Hi Mary. When the trail is relatively flat it's easy to cycle a reasonable distance especially with a few stops for coffee, lunch etc - lol. And if that fails there always seems to be a pub nearby to have a beer in (D not me I don't like beer).

      Delete
  8. Such a fab way to see the world, and get a few hours of exercice in too huh!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi SJ. Bikes are great - a lot faster than walking but slow enough to really see the scenery.

      Delete
  9. Sounds like a great bike ride, not too hard for someone like me that's quite lazy when it comes to bikes. Plus, I love heritage trains!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Margherita, It was a great ride. Most Rail Trails are fairly easy it's just a matter of not going too far. There are quite a few around the world where if you time it right you can get a heritage train back. We've just done the Bellarine Rail Trail from Port Fairy to Warrnambool in South Australia which has a heritage train for half it's distance. We never get the timing right though and always end up cycling the whole way - lol.

      Delete