____After the difficult time I had getting into Wellington; when not able to use Highway 1 with a bicycle, I take the train out to the west coast town of Paekakariki. At only NZ$ 8.00 for a one-way off-peak ticket; a good move and the bike goes free. It gives me a good start to the north-bound journey on North Island. The same road that I came south, before Christmas; I turn off at Himatangi and go down to camp at the beach of the same name.
____At Bulls, I leave Highway 1 for Highway 3; still much of the same flat pastures but with rain and a headwind it’s a hard slog to Wanganui. The New Zealand Masters Games have just started in town and fearing hiked prices and a shortage of space; I push on along the coast to the Kai Iwi Beach at Mowhanau for a pretty much deserted campsite.
____More rain, but with breaks at Waverley and Patea, the weather finally clears by the time I get to Hawera. For three days, loaded milk tankers have been pouring past me with monotonous regularity, all heading for Fonterra’s Hawera depot. The biggest dairy products plant in the country; taking in over 20% of New Zealand’s milk. Tomorrow, I will have empty tankers coming past as they leave to fetch more milk. There is a good municipal campsite at Hawera but no spare cabins; so the wet tent is erected again, now smelling like a wet dog.
____Dry roads, but still low cloud with no sign of Mount Taranaki putting in an appearance. Highway 45, the Surf Highway, as I take the long way round the mountain. It is flat, but at about two fields back from the shore, it is not as picturesque as it could be. Opunake is the only seaside town in the 90 kilometres before Oakura and a tent site that is the last piece of grass before the black sand of a well used surf beach. But I’m getting used to the sound of breakers as I go to sleep.