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Hauraki Rail Trail

A little revolution every now and then is a healthy thing.

When I got on the bicycle this morning I was going to ride 46 miles to Waihi Beach and camp there, I am writing this from the balcony of the hotel I’m sleeping at in Paeroa. This is how a day can turn around.

Well I meant to go and have a look around Mount Maunganui which I had only seen from a distance from the beach across the road last night.

Mount Maunganui in the distnce.

Mount Maunganui is a small town on the bay of plenty near “The Mount” which is how people refer to the spent vulcanic cone that towers over the town.

If you did not know you were in the Bay of Plenty you surely would suspect by seeing the properties on the beach front in Mount Mounganui. The people too are just, well, how should I put it? affluent looking.

The view from the bottom of The Mount over to the Pacific.
And looking at the not so busy people watching the world go by.

I took a few pictures and then I rode throught the town centre before emerging onto the Turanga side of the promontory. On this side, sheltered from the worst of the Pacific, and, as an aside, it must have been pretty grim up here six weeks ago when Pam made land fall, there is the port where a large number of boats as well as a cruise ship were docked or anchored.

Some of the boats anchored in the shadow of The Mount.

As I got further away from Mount Mounganui and closer to Touranga the port morphed from a mainly recreational boat harbour to a busy container port.

On one side of the road there were the usual fuel tank tower you can find in any commercial port and on the other side the most enourmus wood shipping operation I hav seen since the one in Picton. Stu told me that the large majority of the wood produced in New Zealand leaves for the far east unprocessed, I guess this is where a large part of it does so from.

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Navigating through Tauranga was the challenge of the day, there is a cycle path but there are so many flyover and junctions that one cannot but get disoriented. I managed so and at the last junction I even saw a sign I had been told about but I had never seen in the moulded aluminium, so to speak.

The legendary merge like a zip sign introduced in the 70s to help kiwi make sense of slip roads.


After that the road become a bit monotonous for around 30 miles and the only things that kept me awake were the music and the occasional animal encounter.

I saw one of these in Spain and her’s another one.
Turning to get to the safety of the ditch.

Two people told me this story independently from one another so it’s either true or it is a well known joke played at the expenses of foreigners. Anyway her it goes.

Apparently in the south island they go deer stalking with helicopters. The shooters are so good to be able to shoot a moving target from a moving vehicle. Also they used helicopters when they first captured the deers from which the deer farming started.

Now, I have serious misgivings about the truthfulness of these stories, they were told by kiwi after all, same people that told me New Zealand was mostly flat, so, with that caveat, I’ll leave them with you.


I know now why there is abundance of venison on the menus here.


By the time I had got here I had decided to abandon the Waihi Beach idea in favour of a different pursuit of which I become aware last night. I discovered that starting or ending in Waihi there was one of the Trails featured in NGA Herenga, the Hauraki Rail Trail.

The trail is not very long and goes across the Coramandel peninsula neck landing me in two days where I would have been after the Coramandel peninsula exploration, but it was an unmissable opportunity to experience a bit of truck free wilderness, so I went for it.

Start, for me at least, from the Waihi Rail Station


Like the Otago Central Rail Trail this has been built on the path of a preexisting rail line. Unlike the OCRT the bridges in this trail have mainly been rebuilt as, I suspect, the line has been out of use for much longer.

This bridge actually wobbled, but as it was not very high, I felt quite brave about it. Only concern was for the bike that is always liable to topple over.
Smashing scenery with little waterfals.


Like all rail trails it seems to be the done thing to scatter a bit of railwayana along the paths, in this case the nature of the debris tells me that there has not been a train in the vicinity vor quite some time.

Did they expect snow?
Also half way down the route to Paeroa there was what remained of a large steel work plant.

The last cool thing of this first part of the trail was the very long tunnel that I went trough at the top of the Karangahake Gorge. This one had some lights and I took a GoPro video of me going through it so we’ll see how it comes out when I do a bit of editing. For sure the people I met at the other side of it looked well surprised to meet a guy with a GoPro riding towards them.

From the other side of the tunnel it was just nice riding all the way to paeroa where the new plan had me stopping for the night, 63 miles in, at a $5.00 camp somewhere in town.

The campsite.

When I got there I was surprised to find that: not only the camp was actually a car park, not only it was just off the main town drag, but also it was already full of camper vans.

I was not in the mood for hiking it or getting somewhere out of town to find a camping spot so I just got into the Hotel across the road and for $40.00 managed to get a double bedroom and breakfast.

Not the classiest of establishments but at this price who would complain.

Downstairs there is a pub and a betting shop with all the TV screen tuned on all sort of races.  The clientele does not really look like they have been to finishing school in Geneva, but I’m sure the beer is good and, if you manage to avoid the fight and the Ok Coral duel in the street, that I’m sure is a daily feature of the place, I’m convinced it would be a place where  good time could be had.

As it turns out I am not in the mood for good time and I’ll just stay and read or research the next few days routes now that I have so dramatically altered the direction of travel.

Took little walk into town and the only memorable thing in the place is the war memorial.

Another 6 riding days and I’ll be back with Adam just shy of the 10 weeks I had told Aroha (Adam’s elder daughter) I’d be away for, good going or what?

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