One of the great aspects of this expedition has been meeting such a varied range of kind and talented people along the way. Everyday, folk come up to me and start talking about their lives and why they enjoy living where they do. I am pleased to report a strong community spirit exists wherever I go. Many have either visited Oamaru, or know of it’s where-abouts. Pushing the wheel out of Hamilton, and I must confess my opinion on the fine city had changed. Not only had I the opportunity to visit some historic buildings, view some fantastic vintage vehicles, and eat some great food, but I met such a diverse range of individuals, each offering hospitality in so many ways. Meals, accommodation, help with repairs, whatever it was, it was given with no questions asked, no charge, and in the most genuine of ways.
Day 1 out of the city had me travelling through Ngaruawahia with it’s long history of Maori settlement. The towns name, which means “open the food pits”, derives from a feast held hundreds of years ago to celebrate the coming together of two tribes through marriage. Increasing European settlement in the 1800s resulted in pressure on Maori to sell land to the settlers. Maori responded by establishing the Kingitanga ( the Maori King Movement ) to unite the tribes and to protect their lands. The King was based at Ngaruawahia.In 1863 British Troops advanced from the north. King Tawhiao knew he could not defend Ngaruawahia against the gunboats and fell back to the south into what became known as the King Country.The British military occupied the site and a new European town was quickly established. Kingitanga returned to Ngaruawahia when Turangawaewae Marae was established in 1921. The town has a most informative Heritage Trail for visitors.
Staying on the back roads, and it was on to Huntly for the evening. The power station is massive, and the main street has had a very tasteful make-over promoting a pedestrian friendly environment. Pokeno became a most unexpected stop over the following night. On dusk, and readying to find a campsite, and a kind local couple hosted me for the evening.
Refreshed, I was on the road sharp and ready to tackle the Bombay Hills. Very steep, but a relatively smooth surface and cool light head breeze had me at the summit in good time. Following the Great South Road into Manakau City and the Auckland traffic is now very heavy, at some stages four lanes. I am using all my knowledge of the bike to maneouver between lanes, judge traffic lights and skirt round abouts.
After a day of complete rest, I set to contacting television, radio and papers. the first interview is in the morning with a TV 3 crew.