Sunday, 26 June 2016

Cycling in the Waikato

I have a bit of catching up to do. No blogs for four weeks. But that doesn’t mean we have been idle. Not completely, anyway.

A few weekends ago, on Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 3 to 6 June, we travelled to Cambridge for a "dancing-cum-biking" holiday. While I attended a Scottish Country Dancing weekend school, John did some biking around the area. After the weekend school, we stayed a few more days so that we could both bike some sections of the Te Awa River Ride, alongside the Waikato River. I'll write up this trip in several separate posts.

It was a beautiful day when we drove up to Cambridge, and from the Desert Road the views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe were fabulous, as there had been recent snowfalls.

Mount Ruapehu

While waiting at a road works “Stop/Go”, we had this great view of Mount Ngauruhoe

We stopped for a late picnic lunch on the shore of Lake Taupo, at the first spot where the road comes down to lake level - a place called Mission Bay.

Mission Bay - Lake Taupo (photo by John)

It was nearly dark when we arrived at our accommodation – a very nice cottage, just out of Cambridge, overlooking the Waikato River. We woke the next morning to a crisp frost on the lawn, the mist rising from the Waikato below, and the sunrise highlighting a magnificent lonely gum tree on the edge of the drop to the river.

This gum tree was an amazing feature in the garden (photo by John)

While I went off to my SC dancing school in Cambridge, John took a drive to deliver some pots to a gallery on my sister’s behalf, and on the way back he stopped at the Avantidrome. He had a good look around this new sports and leisure centre – walked around the velodrome, where a training session was in progress, checked out the bike shop and had a coffee in the café.

A training session at the Avantidrome (photo by John)

Then he biked from our cottage, off Kaipaki Road, towards Karapiro and back. The next day, Sunday, when I was still occupied with the dancing school, he biked to Cambridge and rode around this town and its suburb Leamington.

On Monday, while waiting for me to finish my last dancing class, John took some photos of Cambridge. It is such a pretty town, with attractive old buildings and beautiful trees, which were glowing with wonderful autumn colours – rather late in the season, as autumn had been so mild.

Cambridge Town Hall, where my Scottish Country Dancing weekend school was held
(photo by John)

The Cambridge Clock Tower was built in 1934, after the original tower was deemed unsafe
following the Napier earthquake (photo by John)

Cambridge is well known for its equine activities – some of the world’s best race horses were bred here. Of course, horses are celebrated in the town’s public art.

Alongside the Town Hall is this lovely sculpture of a mare and her foal by Michelle Farrell
 (photo by John)

Mosaics of famous Cambridge-bred race horses adorn the main street’s pavements
as the Equine Stars Walk of Fame (photo by John)

After my last dancing class, we drove to Hamilton for lunch with our daughter and son-in-law who live in the area. Later in the afternoon, we went for a short (10 km) bike ride on the north (or should that be east?) bank of the river, from the Hamilton Gardens to the Soldiers Memorial Park and back.

The track, which started right from the Hamilton Gardens, was wide and paved with small concrete tiles. I thought that might have made the surface a little bumpy to ride on, but it didn’t. While mostly flat, at times the track undulated from river level to higher up the bank.

The track was paved with small concrete tiles (photo by John)

At times the track came right down to river level (photo by John)

The track came to an end at Soldiers Memorial Park. This park was established as a memorial to WW1 and it is the venue of the annual Anzac commemorations.

At Memorial Park there is a replica of a Spitfire fighter plane (photo by John)

The short bike ride was just the right antidote for my sore leg muscles after having worked them very hard during the dancing weekend school.


  1. My parents moved to Hamilton when I was 13, way back in 1955. We lived at 39 Grey St, which isn't far from where Hamilton Gardens are now. I biked to Hamilton GIrls' High along Grey St, over the Victoria bridge and through the city, up Tristram St etc. I remember that the fog was often so thick that I couldn't see the sides of the bridge, let alone the ends. No bike tracks that I recall in those days.

  2. Yes, the fog was so thick when we came back to the cottage one evening after having dinner with our daughter, that we actually went down the wrong driveway because we couldn't see where to go.