Whangamata, NZ to Tairua, NZ

21.8 mi / 9.5 mph / 1280 ft. climbing
Home: Tairua Campground – Paradise Coast

With the rain cleared out, we were back on the move again after a week in Whangamata. But now that we were entering a period of “fine” weather (an official NZ term), we also didn’t need to rush our way around the Coromandel Peninsula, and small but relatively-frequent towns will allow us to keep the mileage short and enjoy off-season in this popular vacation spot.

There are a lot of pointys in this Coromandel range.
The combination of cleared timberland, native growth, and invasive pampas grass turned this into a unique and unexpectedly-beautiful hill.
A somewhat less-beautiful logging operation.
All morning I was saying how much the ride felt like we were riding the Oregon coast, and then I went to pee a short distance up a gated forest road, and when I turned back I saw this exact replica of an Oregon scene (even the pee spot was identical!)

Riding was exclusively on SH25 again, and it was moderately-busy, but nothing that felt too scary or dangerous. We had two 600-700 foot “tetons” to climb up and down (with 300 feet of cleavage between them), but at least we completed those before SH25A (the direct route from Auckland) joined us, which doubled the traffic. Still ok though. Our last ride on SH25 had also been on a Saturday, so after a week we still have no idea if the traffic is lighter or heavier on weekends in this tourist-oriented region.

The mountains on the spine of the peninsula are a bit pointier than what we’d see in Oregon.
Some good-quality shoulder from time to time made it easier to enjoy the scenery.
This particular spot of the Coromandel spine is known as “The Pinnacles”. Hmm, I wonder if there is any way to climb up there….?
Yeah, I guess we’re still in New Zealand, not Oregon.

We arrived before noon at the campground, and were promptly but casually greeted by one of the owners. He showed us around, gave us a couple $2 coins for the showers (not sure if that was standard or special treatment), a couple yellow ribbons to tie to Rett’s bags to increase her visibility on the road (how did he just have those in arms-reach?!) and said to pitch our tent anywhere we’d like, with a couple suggestions for good wind protection. As we toured around, Rett remarked about one of the huge semi-permanent caravan+”tent” setups that seem to be standard long-term accommodations at these holiday parks, and he said “want to see inside?” It was where his family had stayed, before they bought this park they had been staying in, a couple years ago. He unzipped the canvas tent side, and showed us the full-on beds in that section, and then the nicely-appointed caravan (aka camper).

Yeah, just the “tent” half of this structure could fit us, our bikes, a couple beds, a refrigerator or two…

I went off to scout the various tent options, and just as I returned to tell Rett my decision, the quickly-darkening clouds began spitting rain on us. “Hey, I’ve got a deal for you”, said our host. “Interested?” Uh, sure, I’m at least interested in hearing the deal. “Take the caravan”. Huh? “Yeah, go ahead, set up inside the caravan, it’ll be a lot nicer than tenting in the rain”. Of course it would be, though I’m not sure you understand that two sides are usually involved in a “deal”! “Really?” “Yeah, you guys are the ones doing the hard stuff out here, you deserve it!” Slightly bewildered, we rushed (with his help) to get our bikes inside the tent half of the caravan setup before they got too wet, and then we were alone in our own multi-room space, for the cheap price of a tent site. Definitely a great and generous “deal”!

Oh, look, sitting on the carpeted floor, there are a couple of refrigerators down there (in addition to the one inside the caravan) along with our bikes, beds for four, a stand-up paddleboard or two…
Inside the caravan half, which had two TVs! (one here and one in the bedroom).

Rain hadn’t really been in the forecast at all, so I figured the free upgrade would feel less worth-it to both parties as the day went on. But lines of showers continued to roll through for most of the afternoon, so the gift actually gained more and more value! It didn’t have a bathroom, so we had to walk outside 10 steps to the shared toilets (boo hoo!), but it had a full private kitchen, power outlets, and a bed we didn’t need to inflate!

While we greatly appreciated the generosity, it wasn’t a complete surprise. When we had made the decision to spend our previous 5 days waiting out the rain, I had first considered coming here to stay in one of their “cabins”, mostly because of the incredibly-good Google reviews, including one from a cyclist who got a similar “upgrade” to the one we got. We ended up taking a much-more-expensive place back in Whangamata for more space and more-exclusive access to the amenities, but the royal treatment we received here really made me re-question that decision!


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