The plan of this trip is to stay off the road as much as possible, but we still have to ride pavement to link the trails. This time we are going from the Hairakai rail trail to Te Ara Ari thermal trail we had to ride on road from Te Aroha to Rotorua. The road out of Te Aroha is quiet and scenic, maximum speed of 100km with no shoulder, but almost no one on it. We are still in farm country and still talk to cows and sheep, but waterfalls, mountains and greenery make it very enjoyable. We stopped in Matamata to play tourists and visit The Hobbit movie set and enjoy a night at an awesome cockroach infested campground 🙁 and the start the not so much fun ride to Rotorua.
For one of the rare times Google Maps’ shortcuts off the highway turned out to be awesome! We managed to shorten the ride and avoid 30km of busy highway. It was a good fun climb until we had to get on Highway 5 which is very scenic, but busy with not very courteous drivers and a narrow shoulder. To make the ride even tougher, the grey day turned into downpour, so we the last 30km of downhill weren’t enjoyable at all!
We have been staying at Holiday parks since we got here, and we hope to do so as much as we can. They are usually clean campgrounds with tent sites or cabin accommodations. Like a KOA campground, but for less then $20. In Rotorua our campsite is close to town and offers rooms with heat 🙂 So no tenting, time to warm up and relax!
I am quite happy to get in a bigger city and enjoy meals that do not come out of a bag! We actually sat down at a very good restaurant (Terrace Kitchen) where we were served exquisite local food and wine. There are lots of coffee shops here, but none serving a cup as good as the one I tried in the smaller towns.
It is awesome to be surrounded by do much volcanic activity. The geyser, bubbling lava pools, smelly sulfur vapour coming out of the ground, lakes and rivers. You wouldn’t want a scratch and smell picture from here!
I wouldn’t recommend the road from Matamata to Rotorua for any level of cyclist, it isn’t safe at all! Most cars will not give you any extra room and they will absolutely not slow down. But there was no way I was going to avoid going to Rotorua, I can’t wait to ride these world famous trails!
Sadly, my daughter leaves tomorrow, it was awesome to share with her my passion for cyclotourism.
Anne-Marie is the owner of Liv Vancouver, the first female focused bicycle boutique of its kind in Canada. An avid cyclist & bike packer, she has ridden down the coast from Vancouver to San Francisco twice, among other exciting two-wheeled expeditions. She is now on a bicycle tour through New Zealand with her daughter Frederique & colleague Kelsey. Visit Anne-Marie’s personal blog here.