Kuaotunu, NZ to Coromandel, NZ

17.5 mi / 7.6 mph / 1824 ft. climbing
Home: Coromandel Top 10 Holiday Park

At 5:30am we were awakened with a surprise bit of rain, that wasn’t in anyone’s forecast. Our bikes were uncovered, but rather than wapping all the bags, I just ran them under the gazebo where we had eaten last night. Another advantage to effectively having the campground to ourselves!

I have a sun-tracking app that I frequently use when we arrive at a campground to help find a spot where the sun won’t beat us to death in the afternoon/evening. But I finally recognized that the wet mornings have become a bigger problem in this autumn-time than baking afternoons, so I had remembered for the first time to put the tent in a spot where the sun would be hitting it in the morning! And it worked, mostly drying it by the time I packed it up.

Drivers need to track back out to SH25, which runs immediately away from the coast, but we got to stick with it for a couple miles, thanks to a rockfall-closed “road” (appropriately named Bluff Rd.) that is now open only to bikes and peds. The highway would have been flatter and faster, but not nearly as scenic!

The beachfront road is becoming more and more like a bike path already.
#FindRett riding above a pink-sand beach.
This is approximately the place where Rett was in the previous photo. Um, yeah, I can see why this “road” is closed to cars; getting through on a bike is sort of marginal!

Five miles in, back on the highway, I yelled “Fuck!! The food!!” I don’t even know what made me think of it at that point, but I was immediately sure that I had forgotten to take our refrigerated food out of the kitchen and pack it in my pannier. Dammit, I had never done that before. We stopped, to briefly do a pros-and-cons of me doing a 10-mile round-trip to go back and get it, but once I listed everything that I’d had stored in the two plastic ice cream containers, we determined it wasn’t worth it. It was probably $20 worth of food, but honestly the worst thing was losing those two New Zealand ice cream containers that have worked so well for packing it (and a former-hummus container that seals very well and holds our butter). Half a mile later, still mad at myself, I remembered I’d stuffed one or two of Rett’s Spearmint Leaves candy bags in there too (just because there was space, and to add to the thermal mass), and that almost changed her mind about me going back…

New Zealand.

A couple miles later we definitely reached the point-of-no-return, when an unexpected 200 feet of 11% grade smacked us in the face. Today’s ride was a slight variation from the pattern of our previous three days: it was more than 15 miles (barely), and had the biggest up-and-down hill so far, since we were crossing over the spine of the Coromandel Peninsula from the east to west coast. With that 1200-foot climb looming large in the elevation profile, I hadn’t even paid any attention to the “little” 200 foot bump that came before it!

Another change was direct headwinds of the sort that we haven’t had to deal with in a while, but thankfully the hills and the trees helped mitigate them. The main hill was a beast too, “only” 9%, but the worst part was the complete lack of stopping points! We have never done a hill-climb with zero places to pull off the road. Even on shoulderless climbs, we can always find a little storm-drain/former-construction-staging-site/flattish-patch-of-weeds somewhere to stop and catch our breaths, but on SH25 there was literally nothing but a continuous 5-inch concrete curb(!!) hard up against the white line.

Stopping for a break where we shouldn’t be stopping, but the road left us no choice.

Luckily, traffic was so light (8 cars passed on the way up, zero on the way down) and well-behaved, that it didn’t feel too terribly dangerous to simply stop on the white line in spots where overtaking cars had good visibility. But if traffic had been heavier, it would have been a real nightmare, with the curb and cars forcing our legs to keep pedaling, and the steep grade forcing our lungs to turn inside-out. Even still, Rett managed to pound it out with only two stops.

Shortly after taking this photo we passed a rural business named “Castle Rock Honey” (or whatever), so this is apparently called Castle Rock!
At the top of pass there are another 20 steps up to a viewpoint where you can see the first view of the water to the west (pictured here) while also being able to turn around and still see the water to the east.
Zooming in shows (near to far) Coromandel Town, the end of a really long narrow peninsula wrapping into its bay, and then, the southern outskirts of Auckland!
Flying downhill (more like, braking heavily downhill) to Coromandel Town.
Shortly after taking this photo Rett braked hard for a potholed bit of road, and I bruised my finger panic-squeezing my left brake to avoid rear-ending her, because my phone was in my right hand so the left brake was the only one I could use. Whoops!

Upon arriving into town at the bottom of the hill, we got hand pies from the Four Square, and beers from the liquor store, and imbibed like miscreants in a picnic area in front of a food truck where we weren’t sure if we were allowed.

The Top 10 Holiday Park (back to the corporate chain in a more-popular area) was initially pretty quiet and empty on our early arrival, but unlike our last two nights, it began to fill up more and more. Still not nearly as much of a zoo as Hot Water Beach had been though.

A Star Destroyer exits hyperspace above Coromandel.
Almost tornado-like lighting.
The view from the TV lounge to Rett in the kitchen.


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