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Sailor's Grave Beach

Tairua, New Zealand

SAILOR'S GRAVE BEACH (72km, 1268km total) - We woke up early this morning because Stuart needed to run out early to do a job. By 8:30 we were ready to hit the road. our first job was to go into town to check our couchsurfing emails and make sure we had places to stay in Thames and Auckland. Then I had a look at their little gold mining museum. There's still an active gold mine in Waihi that's been producing gold since the late 1800s. I'm glad mining techniques have gotten better. The old mine is a huge hole in the middle of town where a mountain used to be. The new mine is an underground mine that's not much more than an angled shaft into the earth. We get so many things from the material that's pulled out of mines... I wonder what the world would be like without any of it? Is a bit of rock more useful to us than plants and animals?

After the museum we had a breakfast at a place Stuart recommended called Banana Pepper - french toast with bacon and roasted bananas. Then we headed for the phone and the bike shop. I called the rental company and asked what I should do about my busted chain. They said find a chainbreaker and take the offending links out. I've also been having trouble with my front derailleur. They told me how to adjust it. With this knowledge I borrowed the bike shop's chainbreaker and and just pushed in the pins properly that had come out before. I left shortening the chain for if I had further problems. Then I played with the shifters a bit (riding my bike into a wall in the process). While I managed to improve it, I still couldn't get the bike to shift into third gear. I've been without it almost all trip, so I just let it be. After all this we finally set out for Tairua around noon.

I was making pretty slow time at the start. There was a hill and there was wind and I'm just plain getting tired of biking all the time. Shad wants to take the bus from Thames to Auckland instead of biking it. With each day I get a little more keen to agree to it.

We stopped and had lunch in the little surf town of Whangamata. I wanted to stay longer and was not happy to get back on the bike. A few big hills later we finally came into the last stretch to Tairua. We stopped for a bit at a gas station in the middle of nowhere 12km from Tairua. I think every single employee took turns coming out to have a breack and chat with us. We learned about a good spot to camp on the other side of Tairua 2/3 of the way up Pumpkin Hill. We also learned of the ferry between Cook's Beach and Whitianga that would save us over 30km and only cost a couple bucks.

The last 12km to Tairua took forever. The wind was against us and I was moving slow. When we got there we set about trying to find a campsite close to town. Although the Pumpkin Hill spot sounded nice, the idea of climbing up a hill then descending it to the beach, then climbing it again in the morning was not something that sounded too good. There was some bush down by the beach, but when we checked it out we found too little of it on too steep of an incline to be any good. There were too many people around to do anything more out in open (camping being prohibited on that stretch of beach).

So, stuck with no other options, we were forced to climb up Pumpkin Hill. Our turn-off was more like 4/5 of the way up than 2/3, but we made it alright. At our turn there was a sign pointing us dow a horrible steep road to Sailor's Grave beach. The ride down was fun, but I know already that tomorrow morning is going to be horrible. A little trail through the bush then put us out in an isolated cove on the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous, with a little stream feeding down through some rocks into the ocean. I've got my hammock set up in the trees on one bank of the stream and Shad's got his in some trees on the other bank. A group of 4 Germans have a couple tents set up on a solitary grassy patch in the middle of the valley. Shad and I both washed off in the frigidly cold stream and had a dinner of pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and vegetable. It was alright, but lacked a good sauce or a strong flavor. Now the stars are out and the waves are singing me to sleep.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on January 6, 2010 from Tairua, New Zealand
from the travel blog: AeonHunter in New Zealand
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