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Bruce Nelson and Axel Kunzmann recently explored the North Island on a leisurely Pedaltours cycle tour. Here are some of their thoughts and photos. You can take the same tour at North Island Highlights 15 Day Inn Trip
Bruce and Axel took the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway (and bikeway -- unpaved, but with a good solid fine-gravel surface) along the Ohinemuri River on the bed of an old mining railroad, avoiding the traffic on Hwy. 2. On the way we saw the remains of two major gold mining works which used to extract gold and silver, and rode through a tunnel over 1 km in length.
We are having a 'farm stay' tonight with our hosts Ian and Anne. This farm is a real working enterprise with sheep and cattle, and an extensive vegetable garden. After an excellent dinner of farm-raised lamb and multiple side dishes, we were all ready to turn in early after our long ride.
After breakfast Ian gave us a brief demonstration of his sheepdogs mustering sheep. One of his dogs is experienced, but the other is a six-month-old puppy in training, and eager to please.
From there on it was rolling country on mostly quiet side roads to the famous Waitomo Caves. There are several large limestone caves in the area, but their fame rests on the presence of innumerable luminous insect larvae (Arachnocampa luminosa, or 'glowworm') on the roof of one of the caves. The larvae produce light to attract other insects to be entrapped on sticky filaments that they produce, and are then eaten.
Visitors board a boat and drift through part of the cave in the darkness, with the 'glowworms' above them on the ceiling. The effect is rather like seeing the Milky Way through a greenish diffusing filter.
Back in Auckland, Alex picked us up for a farewell dinner in a Spanish-themed restaurant in the nearby bayside suburb of St. Heliers. Not only was it an excellent dinner, with wine courtesy of Pedaltours, but we also got to meet our guide Alex's wife Anne and exchange stories about the tour with her.
After a good night's sleep, we had breakfast together with Pedaltours owner Richard Oddy, who cycled in from his home in suburban Auckland to debrief us and award us with souvenir Pedaltours caps. And so the delightful adventure ended. We took the bus to the airport and were off to Australia for a non-biking coda.
NZ Pedaltours since 1985, great biking, on and off road. Fabulous scenery, quality inns, excellent value. From October - April, 3 - 19 days.
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