Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails – Days 5 & 6

Recently we went to Hawke’s Bay for a few days’ riding the wonderful cycling trails in the region. This post is about day 5. You can check out days 1& 2 here, day 3 here, and day 4 here.

Day 5 – Monday 2 December
The Puketapu Loop, and a drive to Waimarama

In the previous three days of cycling, we had ridden 120 kms, so on this last day, we decided to take it a bit easier, and bike the Puketapu Loop, which is only 18 kms.

We rode this track last March, when I had only just started biking, and I had such a lot of trouble with the hill by the Puketapu Pub, that John thought that we should do it the other way round this time, and avoid the worst of the hill.

The track starts at the Pettygrew Green Arena, from where we headed onto the stopbank, turned right, and crossed the bridge.

This is a really lovely trail. The landscape is quite varied, from river, to corn fields, to crops of various kinds; orchards of apricots, cherries, and kiwifruit; vineyards; and also trees and bush.

It was not very windy, just breezy enough to stop it getting too hot. In some places, clumps of trees near the track looked very inviting, and I thought that we should have brought a picnic rug, some lunch and our books. It would have been nice to lounge and read under the trees for a while …

It would have been nice to lie in the shade of these trees, with a good book … (photo by John)

Other bushy areas were just very pleasant to ride through, even if we had to negotiate a fallen tree.

The track ran under lovely trees (photo by John)

I wonder if this tree came down in Saturday’s galeforce winds (photo by John)

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Puketapu – a small settlement with a pub and a store – the half-way mark of the Puketapu Loop. John suggested we stop at the pub for a coffee, but I remembered the definitely mediocre coffee (and very so-so lunch) we’d had there in March, so we opted for an icecream cone from the shop instead. 

Icecream cones in front of the Puketapu Store (photo by John, with his camera fixed on his bike!)

We sat on the seat in the shade in front of the shop, and enjoyed our icecreams. I looked at the gradient of the road in front of us, that had caused me so much trouble last March. It now didn’t seem to be so terrible. I have definitely progressed!

Quite soon after Puketapu, we came to a beautiful park with a small lake, with a jetty and several small islands, and grazing sheep. It looked so lovely we crossed over the cattle stop and went in for a look. We thought we might be able to ride around the lake. There was a picturesque stone bridge, but as we rode over it, and headed up the track beyond it, we suddenly became aware that this was probably not a public park, but a private property. There had been nothing to say so at the entrance, but we thought we had better not go any further.

Such a pretty little stone bridge (photo by John)

Oh, to own such a beautiful property! (photo by John)

We have just used Google Maps on “streetview” to look at the entrance, and we discovered that the property is called “Bridgewater”. The name is on the fence by the entrance, but we didn’t notice it at the time. Isn’t Google amazing?

So back on the track, which soon crossed the road, and went back onto the stopbank, past vineyards and orchards, and into more lovely shady lanes.

Beautiful gum trees … (photo by John)

… and shady lanes (photo by John)

It was an easy 18km ride, very enjoyable, and by 12:30 we were back at the car. We went into Havelock North for lunch, and then had a walk and window-shop around Havelock. It really is a very pleasant small town.

With the afternoon ahead of us and no biking to do, we drove up to Te Mata Peak. Driving up the section of Waimarama Road that was part of the Tukituki Loop which we had biked two days earlier, it actually looked worse than when we were riding it. Perhaps it was just as well that I hadn’t been up there by car before biking it, because I am sure I would have told John to “forget it!”.

From Te Mata Peak, the highest point of the Craggy Range, the view is spectacular, over the river and the hills and the sea beyond. We looked down onto the Tukituki River, and much of the Tukituki Loop that we biked. Actually, I felt quite impressed with what we had done. That trail sure was a challenge, but seeing it from the top, it seemed quite amazing that I actually did it. We identified the hills where the road wriggled in and out of gullies that were such hard work.

The Craggy Range seen from its highest point, Te Mata Peak

From Te Mata Peak, we could see the Tukituki River, and beyond the hills to the sea. Craggy Range Winery is at bottom right of the picture (photo by John)

Red Bridge, from where the Tukituki Loop returns back down the valley (photo by John)

While we were at the top of Te Mata Peak, we talked to a retired Swedish couple who had walked up (wow!). They told us that they come to enjoy Hawke’s Bay’s summer for five months every year, to escape the Swedish winter. Rather nice!

We then carried on up Waimarama Road, and drove to Ocean Beach, where we took a walk along the water's edge. We are not really swimmers, and I certainly don’t like swimming in the sea (I hate the thought of being touched by creepy things floating about). But I took my sandals off and walked in the shallow water, until John noticed that there were jellyfish on the wet sand at that part of the beach. I made a quick retreat onto the dry! They didn’t seem to be everywhere though. It did look like a nice beach for surfing, and there were a few people swimming and playing on the beach.

Coming down the road towards Ocean Beach (photo by John)

Ocean Beach (photo by John)

Then back over the hill to the next beach at Waimarama. There is quite a settlement there, some 1960s or 1970s style houses, and some brand new big ones. Not a terribly attractive place, really, but I believe the beach is a very popular one. However, at the place where we turned around, by the exit of a stream, there was a sign warning that this part of the beach was dangerous for swimming.

Waimarama, but this part of the beach was not suitable for swimming (photo by John)

Bare Island, off the coast near Waimarama (photo by John)

On the way back, another view of Te Mata Peak (photo by John)

It was lovely driving in the countryside. New Zealand really is such a beautiful country. I can understand why overseas visitors rave about it. And aren’t we the lucky ones to be living here!

Day 6 – Tuesday 3 December
Going home

On Tuesday we made an early start on our way home. The trip was uneventful, except for a stop at the Clock Shop in Waipawa. The outside of the shop is very appealing (in a “twee” kind of way), and it caught our eye when we came through here in March. But it was closed that day, so this time we just had to stop and take a look inside.

The Clock Shop in Waipawa (photo by John, March 2013)

Wow, I don’t think I have ever seen such a huge variety of clocks and watches – ranging from very modern and colourful, to the kitschy and gimmicky, to cuckoo clocks of all kinds, to the old and venerable grandfather clocks.

The shop is owned by Jim and Anne Greeff. Jim is a British-trained horologist, and he repairs and restores clocks of all descriptions. He took time to talk to us, and show us around, telling us about some of the clocks. He showed us one grandfather clock of which he had repaired the movement. Sadly, the owners had got the case spraypainted a shiny jet-black, to fit in with their décor. It had once had a beautiful grain which was still visible under the paint, and I could tell from the way he talked that Jim did not approve of what they had done to the clock.

Jim and John got to discussing clock repairs and clock innards, and he told John that he was currently trying to fix a cuckoo clock with an electronic movement. It had fallen off the wall, and he was trying to figure out the mechanism that made the birdie come out, so he could fix it. He took John into his workshop, and the two of them pored over it, with John offering suggestions (he has a lot of experience with things electronic). I wanted to take a picture of them while they were both bent over this clock, but unfortunately Jim looked up at just the wrong moment.

How to fix this cuckoo clock? Jim looked up at just the wrong moment

After an interesting half hour in Waipawa, we headed to Woodville, where we had an early lunch at our favourite lunch stop – the Bridge Café – just before the Manawatu Gorge. Then, home. It had been a great holiday.

The Bridge Café, across the bridge, just before the Manawatu Gorge (photo by John)

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