Round Mt Taranaki

The speedsters will do this in 5 hours, and be dead at the end of it. We decided to take our trailers and make it leisurely. It took us 5 days. One of us was recovering from a bout of ill health and we wanted to enjoy the scenery, and regain lost fitness. We cycled in the morning, and read, mixed with locals and wandered round on foot in the afternoons. We did this late in February (last month of summer) and had great weather - except for a couple of hours of fine rain. 180-odd kms all up including the New Plymouth Coastal Bike Path at the end of it all. The mountain was in view most of the way around.

We started from New Plymouth going south along SH45 to the west of the mountain. The road was busy but we stuck left, and with our fluorescent jackets and our flags up, we were OK. The road from New Plymouth to Oakura was much hillier than we had expected and we were also pulling our trailers. We decided to stop early and took an idyllic small cabin on the seafront in Oakura. The following day Oakura to Okato was also hilly but less so. We found a room at the Stony River Hotel, decorated like an inn you would expect to find in the Austrian Tyrol - the personal project of an Austrian couple who fell in love with the mountain and decided to make Okato home.

The route on to Opunake was a dream, no wind, undulating to level with a fascinating stop-off at the Maui Gas Field Visitor Centre at Oaonui with its huge model of an oil-drilling platform, and instructive wall displays. Lots of unusual conical hills on this section - the remnants of extensive lava and mud flows from the mountain. We breezed into Opunake about midday, took a motel and lazed along one of the beach front walks in the afternoon - attractive gardens.

On the following day east to Stratford, through pleasant farmland. This is a secondary road with only a couple of small settlements, so we had the road mostly to ourselves. Mainly straight in the first half, undulating but not taxing, the mountain continually changing its aspect. We coasted along, into light headwinds. We had expected to be overnighting at Eltham, but had enough chuff to get ourselves on to Stratford.

The road turns north around the east side of the mountain at Eltham and becomes busy again.
At Stratford we found a BnB out of the Victorian era, full of generations of memorabilia and gracious gardens - needing restoration.

The following day it was on to Inglewood, including a stop off to wander a few tracks near Inglewood, then on to New Plymouth. The Inglewood-New Plymouth section of the route becomes hilly again, but not difficult. You can get up anything in first gear!! We stopped on this section to wander round historic parks, the Windsor Walkway - and of course Pukekura Park when we got back to New Plymouth. Puke Ariki - the Taranaki Museum - was also well worth the visit, particularly for its geological section.

A good trip.

The coastal bike path was fun to do - wonderful seaviews, delightful sub-tracks to explore along streams and an unusual bridge looking like the skeleton of a beached whale. Main path paved all the way.

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