A Zig and A Zag

Napier is different.

The Spirit of Napier Statue.

Not only because the whole town has been re-build in Art Deco style after a big earthquake flattened most of the city in 1931.


It’s also home of ‘Pania of the Reef’


A mythical figure in Maori culture and her statue has been a symbol of Napier since it was unveiled in 1954.

She has since been shot in the head and stolen. But has the claim to be one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country. I didn’t know this yet when I took yet another…

And it’s my friends Doris favourite place in New Zealand. The town Carl calls home.


Carl lives a little out of town, conveniently on the way to my road. The gentle Annie.

So after showing me around, and going to the chocolate factory 🙂

I rode my bike towards this Annie.

Gentle Annie

And gentle she was not… Probably a little gentler than some years ago when she wasn’t paved yet, but still.

Classed as a grade 4 on the NZ cycle trail website she’s a bit of a tough one.

high point

But well worth the effort, looking at the scenery.

High country Cattle

Back in the high country 🙂 Passing places like “Erewhon Station”. Nowhere spelled backwards. And that pretty much describes it.

I had the absolute perfect campsite halfway along.

My Perfect Camp

You find the DOC-campsites all around the country, often in the most wonderful places.


I ran into Phillip just after a massive long down hill ride that cooled me down severely.

serious downhill...

So I stopped to make a coffee and found out he has been riding around NZ for 12 years! I want to ride around NZ for 12 years too…

Last year I met Brendan on the Cavalcade.


He mentioned he lived in Taihape.

I liked that name and it stuck. It’s claim to fame is to be the ‘gumboot capital of the World’ .

There is an annual event that includes gumboot throwing, gumboot races and decorating gumboots.

The big gumboot

Shame I missed that.

I did manage to catch up with Brendan. After an evening of chatting and watching Cavalcade-DVD’s I was away on the bike again.

Along roads that the Kiwi’s call metalled.Metalled roads.

I call them gravel roads and they come in all sort of conditions. Sometimes smooth and flat, almost like a paved road. Sometimes recently graded which means a lot of soft stuff that’s not easy-going.

The one going down the Turakina valley road wasn’t too bad and I was rather enjoying my surroundings when I called in at Papanui station.

Sam at Tangihou had given me the address of his home farm.

He never actually mentioned anything to Guy & Lisa, who manage the place. But they didn’t mind and seemed happy enough to put me up for a night. Or two.

They got to sons, George & Harry. Who like playing in the mud,

George & Harry

their motorbikes, making masks,

George & Harry

and duck shooting.

The season has just started so when they told me they were off hunting the next day I thought it a good opportunity to stay and see how that works.

All dressed up

First of all we all dressed up. I’ve always liked dress-ups so that was no problem.

Then we were off on the 4wd motorbikes. I like them too.

Off we go

Then the hide-away was set up and we all had to sit very still while dad & uncle tried to call the ducks with a little whistle.

And when they came flying in BANG BANG. The end of their lives.

Harry got a duck

Some were lucky and got away. Some not so. 12 in total.

The sitting still bit was my least favourite part. The boys (aged 6 – 7) agreed on that one and we all got a little cold and hungry. So it was rather handy there were enough dead ducks to keep our hands warm…

For a long time my alarm clock on my phone had sounded like a duck. It did sound a little morbid to me the next morning so I changed that now.

Guy and Lisa knew the area, and the people, well. So they directed me to a farm, just over the otherside of the hills. But nearly 80km along the road. I found Turakina farm. A most beautiful old house with a lovely garden.

Tokorangi Farm

Where I felt like an old friend coming over for a visit.

There’s a few valley’s in this area running parallel to each other. And instead of choosing one I decided to zig-zag up and down 3 of the 5 (the other two had highways running through them). And how lucky I did! Otherwise I would have missed this;

Up the Mangamahu Valley

At the end of the Mangamahu valley I found ‘Burma hill’. Already being warned about the steep gravel I wasn’t too surprised I had to push my bike up a km of road after which I rolled towards Mt Ruapehu. Where I went for a hike about a month ago.

Coming unto Ruapeho

I ended up Camping between the sheep on a parsnip farm,

Ny camp between the sheep

where the Mott’s made sure I was well fed (Parsnip of course 🙂 before setting off in the morning towards the last of my valleys going to Whanganui.

Another view... another road...

I never realised how much I must’ve climbed until that massive and glorious 30km downhill from Reatihi all the way to the Whanganui river,

Whanganui River

and Jerusalem.


Thats right. You find Jerusalem in New Zealand. I never knew that either.

I’ve been told about the convent here.


Where you can stay with the sisters of compassion.

at the convent

Sister Aubert settled here in 1883 and the sisters of Compassion have been in the area ever since.

These days travellers can stay at the old convent.

Convent Camping

The small church has recently been restored and is said to be the most photographed little church in New Zealand.  I helped it along a little.

Church at Jerusalem

Mother Aubert, as she was later known, was the first person to grow marijuana in NZ. Of course strictly for medicinal purpose.

Goats on the road

This day I left Jerusalem and rode through London and Athens within the next couple of hours.


There’s not a lot of places in the world you can do so.

Another Marae

I got a message from Gary Mason. I worked on his farm a few years ago in Australia.

He told me to look up his friend Stewart.


Who worked on the same farm in Australia. About 40 years before me.

These days he lives on his big dairy farm. On the Taranaki coast,


just outside Whanganui.

Dairy Cows

Where he raised a family together with Dale, his wife, who doesn’t like her photo taken. But she did give me ‘pepernoten’. I haven’t had those for years! And got rather excited about that. 

I had a go at milking cows. And got shit on my face (but not a lot)

Me milking

Stewart has a wonderful hobby.

Mount Ruapehu

As you might have guessed.

The day I was there happened to be the most gorgeous clear day. So he showed me the country I’ve just been riding through.

Nice country

It is wonderful to see my roads from a different perspective! We flew around the mountains I’ve rode around and hiked up in the past month or so. ( Ruapehu & Mnt Egmont) And he showed me the largest milk factory in the Southern Hemisphere.


I felt slightly less comfortable when he told me he hasn’t flown this high in 7 years. 

fuelling up

But he got me back on land again safely. A wonderful day with a beautiful end as his Daughter Vicky took us all to the beach to watch the sunset.

Mum & Daughter


12 thoughts on “A Zig and A Zag

  1. Het ziet er weer prachtig uit. Was benieuwd naar de luchtfoto’s en ze zijn mooi!

    pap & mam

  2. If it hadn’t been the fact that you stayed with my daughter Bridget (May 23) I would not have known to look up Facebook and follow your trip – of magnificent photos and stories.. The photos that you took of her family etc were terrific. May I wish you all the best for the rest of your travels and may you meet many more farming families

    Ross Andrew

  3. Je bent op voor ons bekend terrein en we krijgen warempel wat heimwee bij het lezen van je verhalen en het zien van je foto’s. Wij doopten Gentle Annie om tot Tough Daisy of Hilly Hillary.

  4. …oh how I can imagine that sitting still was your least favourite part 😉 haha.
    So you made it to Napier! Funny little town. Looks like an american 30s movie setting, doesn’t it. Weirdly enough I didn’t know this maori-story neither did I ever see that statue in my 4 months there… bad tourist, Doris. Bad tourist 🙂
    So I take it you didn’t make it to Hastings though, did you?
    no worries – next time 😉 Should be possible when u plan on cycling NZ for 12 years haha
    take care, darling!

  5. wow, what a great tour along New Zealand. I’m stucked on this particular page, bacause I really envy you for the pictures of Tongariro from the aircraft. I remember, it was so phantastic even from the ground. When I see your zig zag routh through North Island, it looks like this country is too small for you. I want to show this page to my Ex-girlfriends, who were all too lazy to make a bike tour with me. Even though I didn’t met you on my trips, at least here. How about linking to each other? The sites in english about individual bike trips in New Zealand are so rare, and I didn’t have a link to/from a Dutch site in particular 😉
    Wish you all the best for your bike trips.
    Reinhold from Germany

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