Familiar Faces in New Places

How lucky was I to run into Tony & Margaret last year (twice!) on some South Island backtracks, not only did they give me some useful pointers down that way, we also parted with the words; “If you ever get to Auckland….


So here I find myself, in Tony’s spare room while getting ready for the next stage.


Tony & Margaret

I try to stay away from cities, but Auckland with its many bicycle trails, hills and parks is a very pleasant place to be. Even more if you have a guide who knows how to get around and where to find good coffee, and the best bike shop in town.

Apparently you must grease some parts, especially after pushing a bicycle through dust and rivers for years. I just thought the creaking was the bike talking to me…

Navigating out of Auckland was easy with the wonderful directions I got from both.

Tony & Margaret are active members of the Auckland Cycle Touring Association, so loaded up with maps, ideas & routes I rode of towards the wild west coast.

The sun was shining, my bike rolled smoothly and my legs felt surprisingly good, after sitting still for a rather long period of time.


This part of the country has some hills, a few small quiet villages and lots of cows and sheep… Actually, the whole country does.


Last year with easter I met Rob & Jo at Fox Glacier, where they had ridden the Triumph and treated Harry & me on a wonderful feed.

This year they happened to be at home, not too far from where I was riding. So when John came along to say G’day we went for a ride and had a great kiwi-BBQ at their place.

Rob preparing a great Kiwi-BBQ

John and I worked together, 4 years ago, at Top Springs.


Now he’s back in his home country climbing trees for a living. He happened to have a few days up his sleeve so took me down to inspect some caves.


We saw a heap of glowworms, they’re actually maggots, but I guess ‘glow-maggot‘ hasn’t got the same ring to it..

Glowworm catch bugs

And a stroll through the woods.

Nice woods

We weren’t far off Harry’s new place. I met Harry last year, when we flew to Anchor Island to check out some Kakapo’s.

Harry & Anja

A lot can change in a year. He now lives in Middle Earth with his (Dutch) girlfriend Anja and spend his time building fences, driving tractors and feeding sheep.

Feeding Sheep

When I called ’round he took me for a ride on the tractor straight into Hobbiton.

Maybe it’s about time I check out that movie…

After easter, with the roads quiet again,  I continued my way further south along the coast. I ran into Kerry.

Kerry on the Road

We had already met. But only online 🙂

And made  a small detour to see a tunnel to the beach at Waikawau. The tunnel was built in 1911 by three men with only picks and shovels because it was easier to drive cattle along the beach than through the hills.

Tunnel to the beach

These days it makes for a nice spot to have lunch.The Beach

I have been told along this road you come through the longest continues bend in southern hemisphere, I hadn’t noticed. And how do you find out about such things anyway?

View along the coast

I was very much enjoying the lovely quiet roads until I brutally got disturbed by a highway.

The nr.3 runs all the way to New Plymouth, and so did I. It rained. I  put on my Ipod, block out the noise, and ride.

I never saw the mountain on my way in.

“When you see the mountain, it’s going to rain. When you don’t see it it’s raining” 
Is what Greame, Neil’s brother, told me. He lives  in New Plymouth with Lynne and happened to be expecting me.
I stayed with Neill in Nelson where he took me kayaking and mountain biking.

This year he had a surf-ski race in Auckland and was going to stay with his brother in New Plymouth on the way up. Dinner in NPSeemed like a great excuse to catch up. I’m sure it won’t be the last time 🙂

In the morning Mount Taranaki, showed itself.


Being one of the most symmetrical volcano’s in the world it’s a spectacular sight. I’d love to walk up that hill…

That’s when I got an email; “If you’re ever in Taranaki and you want to climb the mountain, give me a call”

I met Dan when he stayed at the hostel in Derry back in 2006… don’t you just love Facebook? 😉

So a day later he picked me up and we walked up the mountain.

Going There!

On the Top of the Big Hill

That sounds a whole lot easier than it was.

View from Taranaki

I could hardly walk for three days. lucky I had no trouble cycling. The next day I took Dan for a bike ride around the mountain. We almost made it too…

But the wind had other plans and tried to blow us straight back where we came from. So when the sun started setting and we twice rejected the offer of a ride, (by the same guy!) We had to face the fact we were not gonna make it to Stratford. Only about 15km short we stopped at Kaponga hotel.

Kaponga Hotel

So the next day it was a short leisurely ride through beautiful autumn colours


towards Stratford.


Stratford has the only glockenspiel in NZ and how lucky were we to just catch it.

Tacky? nah..

And not tacky at all at all. It plays a scene from Romeo & Juliet 4 times a day. Stratford is named after the birthplace of Shakespeare, a lot of the roads have names of characters.

Sheila & John, friends of Dan, are in the middle of a move. Still they had a spare room for me to stay in. The house hadn’t always been in this spot though, it was moved in one go from a different location!
Moved in one go.

Hard to imagine. It’s pretty big.

I just can’t believe my luck with the weather! There has been a drought for months. It’s no good for the farmers. But it’s perfect for anybody riding a bicycle out here.

Lunch time

Happy and well rested I headed off towards the forgotten world highway.

Not too busy

Not a very busy highway.

Local Traffic

But a lovely ride through the odd little town of Whongamomona.


In 1989, when the district boundaries where set to change by government, they declared themselves independent and have since been known as “The Republic of Whongamomona”. With a population of 40 that increases to about 4000 on their annual independence-day.

In 1999 they made the news when Billy the Goat won the votes, by partially eating the opponents ballots. He was president for 18 months before dying. and since there’s been Tai the poodle, and Murt ‘Murtle the Turtle‘ Kennard, a local garage owner who won from the old president and a cross-dresser called Miriam…

A funny place indeed.


13 thoughts on “Familiar Faces in New Places

  1. Super interesting post. One of my favourites. Certainly some of your best photos. Hope you enjoyed it as much as it seems you did. Nice to have you back on the bike and travelling new routes. Saves me the bother!

  2. Lekker bezig!! Mooi daar, leuk zoveel bekenden te treffen. Hier ook alles goed, knuffel van ons en geniet lekker verder!
    Liefs Karin

  3. Hey talentvolle Mirjam, Super gedaan weer, complimenten hoor! Leuk om je eindelijk ontmoet te hebben en best raar om tijdens het lezen van jouw blog ‘ons’ tegen te komen. Mooie foto’s, as always 🙂 lukt het je om bijv. per wetransfer via email naar ons te sturen? Deze Hobbits zijn je dan zeer dankbaar. Succes met het vervolg van je trip en blijf vooral zo doorgaan! Veel groetjes uit Middle Earth, Harry & Anja

  4. Hoi Mirjam,
    Terug in Nieuw-Zeeland. We zijn erg benieuwd naar je verhalen.
    Vorig jaar hebben we je ontmoet op een camping in Te Anau. We hopen in jou verhalen erkenningspunten terug te zien. Over 2 jaar gaan we weer, maar dan voor 3 maanden. Wij hebben genoten van ons verblijf in Nw- Zeeland. En ondanks dat het aan “de andere kant” van de wereld ligt en het totaal anders is, hebben we eigenlijk nooit het gevoel gehad ver van huis te zijn.
    Veel geluk en vreugde,

    groet, Jans en Ankie

    P.s. Frans Harleman was trouwens een broer van onze helaas veel te vroeg overleden zwager.

  5. Hoi Mirjam!

    Zoals je al had verteld heb je weer tijd gehad om een nieuw bericht te schrijven. Leuk om ook nu weer de foto’s er bij te zien, ook van de ‘oude bekenden’. En mooie foto’s ook weer (en interessante verhalen).

    Geniet er van en hopelijk werkt het weer mee…


    pap & mam.

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