1 février : Riverstone farm glamping - Bistrot The Falls Retreat (by car) – Thames (51km +325m)

The next day, Karyn takes us for a ride to visit the area. We visit her neighbour because she would like to show us what you can do with a place when you stay there for 40 years. There is an amazing forest-orchard there, a beautiful dutch house all wooden and huge in dimensions and old stages dating from the times when they use to hold music and art festivals. You can still imagine by resonance the amazing times that this quiet kaki forest has seen, it is like walking inside a bubble out of this time and out this planet. We are truly impressed.  

Karyn takes us then to visit Bowen and onwards with our bikes and luggage to « The Falls Retreat », a very cute restaurant with a big veggie patch which makes excellent pizzas and food, it has a nice countryside feeling to it and we enjoy very much this last meal with Karyn who then has to rush to get to her appointment to purchase a caravan and enter a new nomadic life. She brought us forward quite a lot this way and we continue onwards along the river on a very nice cycle trail. We go through an amazing tunnel within the moutain and suddenly feel like in a movie, the world outside extinguishes to a little light at the end of the tunnel, the echos of our voices distort our loud singing. We felt like singing in such a cathedral like space. Out the sun blinds us a second and we realise we are crossing an old railway bridge. The rest of the way is very dry, we have near to no water left at some point, but follows an amazing cycle trail on fine gravels that goes through fields and fields full of cows and wild grass. We enjoy this ride very much though we are extremely tired and thirsty when we finally get to Thames.  

2 février : Thames – Doc (14km +157m)

A short ride but quite difficult ride under heavy rain to get to a campsite. Luckily the rain stopped a bit before we set up camp. A beautiful natural area.

3 février : Doc – Pakaraka -Thames (14km) – Whitianga (by bus 63km)

After a quiet night at the campsite, we go back where we came from and on the way turn left onto the unsealed road to Pakaraka. We cross a river and arrive on a hilly land with both forest and pastures. This is where nestled in the middle of a growing orchard we discover Yotam, his family and his gardens. Soon you will learn more about this beautiful encounter and this magical place in a special article HERE.

After this visit, we leave light hearted back to Thames where we hope to catch a bus to carry us over the high hills that are in the middle of the Coromandel peninsula. The bus is actually a mini-bus so we know there is a chance we get denied boarding with our bikes. However, the day started so nicely, nothing can go wrong ! And it doesn't indeed, there are only four passengers in addition to us so we are able to fit our bikes nicely in the back.

Getting to Whitianga, we start to look for accomodation, seeing a little sign « Pop Inn », we think « why not ? Let's pop in ! ». What a nice choice ! A great ending to a perfect day ! Our hosts are really nice, the room is super comfy and the rate is pretty reasonnable. Nice pick !

4février : Whitianga – Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove – Whitianga (40km)

Failing to start early in the morning due to the bed comfiness, we take our bikes across with a short ferry ride to go and visit Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove, two very touristy locations. We enjoy very much Cathedral Cove and find hot water beach a little too much with tourists digging holes everywhere like crazy rabbits, seating in not even warm water just for the sake of it as it requires quite a deep hole a the correct location to get some of this very hot – too hot for seating in comfortably in fact – water from the spring. The idea is to then mix this water to the sea water nearby which requires a bucket and some further efforts to get to a comfortable temperature, which nobody we see is actually doing.

5 février : Whitianga – Coromandel (32km +437m)

We leave the care of the Pop Inn hosts to start on a big cycling day. The 309 is a winding gravel road going across to Coromandel, up we go. Some curves are so steep for the cars that they have been sealed for more security. We have a good time going up except when Tom loses his phone from his pocket and going back has to watch three cars running over it before he can get it back – screen furthermore broken but otherwise still functionning - surprisingly.

Arriving at the top, we decide to stop for a lunch break. Tuna, bread, tomato and an apple, our standard lunch meal when riding. Tom who had had issues with his drone decides to bring it up for a check. No sooner than the drone is out that a stout black dog comes running towards me, barking. As soon as it arrives though it starts licking and looking for a cuddle. Then a guy comes up from his field surrounded by a fence a rifle in his hand and says « you know we shoot those out there ». On the spot i wonder what he is speaking about and then realize he is speaking about the drone and i start to explain that Tom is ont trying it, even though i am pretty sure it is of utter disinterest to him. Anyhow, Tom brings it down and the guy disappears. 

We pack up and start down for our first visit, the Kauri grove. The Kauri are impressively huge and wide trees, the wise people of the forest, we have a great time under their grove, relishing in their shade after the hot ride. The next stop is a beautiful fall and finally a long slope down that refreshes us all the way down. We finish our ride at the home of very nice warmshower hosts who also have bountiful veggie patch and take us for a swim at their favourite beach.

6 février : Coromandel – 996 manaia road (20km +157m)

The next day we have a rest on a little beach, so little it seems nearly private. After this we have to get to our next host, not far, just one the other side of pretty steep hill. After this, we arrive at the end of the slope down to find that our host house is on top a little hill, we have to push the bikes up, bent so low we are nearly parallel to the slope. However the view is pretty incredible up there.

7 février : Manaia – auckland 8,8km (+165)

Before reaching our ferry, we ride to a fish&chips shop at the boarder of the road which is first a fishing company which sells fish and oysters. The oysters are quite milky and expensive but the flounder is an absolute delicacy ! And for some reason it is super cheap. We take the chance to get some more !

In the evening, in Auckland, we are so happy to have a very nice dinner with Jennifer and Francis, friends coming straight from France, on their way to a cultural exchange trip together with the Maoris. What a nice evening and a happy time ! 

8 février : Yoshi Experimental House – Kaiwaka - by bus from Auckland

We start early in the morning with a bus that takes us over to Kaiwaka's area for our next woofing. However as soon as we leave our luggage with them, they drop us at Yoshi Experimental House, 5km away. We spend a very nice day and night there speaking with Yoshi, 81 years old, who dedicated the second half of his life to finding ways of harnessing the power of the sun without solar pannels for all sorts of usage from cooling and heating the house to cooking and baking. He also grows a rice paddy which is rare in New Zealand – for cultural reasons probably because there seems to be no obstacle to growing it in this region. To find out more about this amazing inventor, click HERE. The next day we walk back to Valley Vista and meet our new hosts coming out of there place, they take us for a ride straight to the local market, where we have delicious food to start the day.  

9 février – 16 fevrier : Valley Vista – Kaiwaka

We spend about a week at Valley Vista, working with Beth and Barry. They have a beautiful land which use to be a pasture for cows and that they turned into camping, glamping, self-contained units lodging. Their house is the blue one on top of the hill. When we are here, most of the other temporary residents there are seasonal workers at the nearby nursery and they are mostly all French ! We are quite surprised to find such a community there but it appears that this is because the nursery only wants to employ French people as they've had good experiences with them. Anyhow, that makes for a happy group of about a dozen people and we have a very good time in their company as well as with Beth and Barry who cook delicious food and are very nice and friendly hosts.

We spend our days gardening and bringing the veggie patches back to life through weeding and soil preparation. We sow seeds and are just there long enough to see the first radishes come out of the earth, we hope that the drought won't affect too much the rest. To find out more about this beautiful part of earth where it is nice to simply live, click HERE.  

We also help prepare food for the opening of an exhibition by an artist, Beth and Barry's friend. For an afternoon we experience full on catering, preparing cooked and called appetizers for 30 people. We have a good time about it and Beth and Barry's kichen is perfect for it. After the opening, we escape for a nice dinner in a restaurant seeing it is already Valentine's day. The restaurant is nice though not as exotic as two years ago, in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle where we had found a gastronomic restaurant nestled in a little village surrounded by the moutains.

The days go by really fast and each is full of smiles and happiness. Finally it is time to go and catch our return bus. Euriel and Caro, fast friends, Euriel sharing similar dreams of farming with us, in one car take me and the bikes and Beth and Barry take Tom and the luggage to the bus stop. We say goodbye with as usual the hope to meet again soon in France and to invite them all to our future place. And we wait for the bus. After a while we start to worry as the bus isn't coming. Lucky for us, Beth and Barry return from a quick brunch run and seeing us, stop by, we check our emails on her phone, turns out the bus company said they won't be able to take our bikes today an hour ago. Beth and Barry have the great kindness to take us and our bikes and our luggage then all the way through to Auckland, even stopping for some scenic views of the area. More than an hour ride through a series of steep hills on very busy highways, we are more than grateful to them for helping us out of this predicament !  

16 février – 18 février : Auckland

For our last days in New-Zealand, we stay at Claire and Alex's place. Claire is a friend back from middle school in Japan, we haven't seen each other for 15 years ! Yet when we finally meet again, friendship flows naturally and we have a very nice time catching up and discovering how much our views are close even when we have followed separate paths for so long. We follow them to the big Auckland market where we see such a diversity of vegetables, most of which we wonder how to cook, that we are pretty amazed. During these two days, we also try to sell our bicycles as it is time for us to part. Unfortunately, we are not able to do so and Claire kindly accepts to take the time to sell them for us which is a big burden lift off our shoulders. Feels like we keep saying it but we truly are grateful for their welcome and their help, even giving us a lift to the airport ! New-Zealand seems to be full of helpful and kind people, we are amazed at the kindness given freely all through our trip there, it makes our hearts light and our opinion about the future more optimistic !

Vidéos et articles réalisés durant cette période:

Pakaraka Farm

Planter des betteraves

Intégration Permaculture et maraîchage bio-intensif

Faire pousser sur des pentes

Yoshi Experimental House

Chauffage solaire et air conditionné pour maison passive

Cuiseur et four solaires low tech

Système d'eau fait maison

Faire pousser son riz

Valley Vista Eco-Retreat