Spooners Tunnel to Riwaka: lots of shuttling - To and fro along the The Great Taste Trail - CycleBlaze

November 22, 2021

Spooners Tunnel to Riwaka: lots of shuttling

It's all about the dog

Today starts earlier than expected. Logging contractors are due to fell trees this week at the golf club and at 6.30am the advance guard arrives with metal stanchions, hazard tape and a big hammer. He says we're fine where we are, the sole occupants of the carpark, but we take the hint anyway.

Rural humour
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Dawn HunterHaha! Typical and funny!
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7 months ago

Bruce starts the day's first segment by biking anticlockwise on the trail back to the southern portal of Spooners Tunnel. Scout and I follow in the RV where we swap roles. From here, he drives to Taparewa then cycles back along the trail to meet us. And it's our turn to start the trail.

Bruce is riding his Specialized cross-country mtb on the trail. Scout is just posing.
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. . . but I love my Giant e-mtn bike, with its big knobbly tyres and power-assist pedalling! And, yep, posing again...
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Steve Miller/GrampiesLove that orange detail on bike and shoes.
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7 months ago
Robyn RichardsTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHi Steve. I love pimping my bikes ! I discovered you can buy a range of different coloured, grippy, hard plastic mtb pedals online at a fraction of the price of regular metal ones.
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7 months ago

From Spooners, the trail is wide, with a good surface, and is mostly well off the road. Scout loves running with our bikes so she starts off by trotting along with me at a suitable pace for a puppy. All is well until we reach the Norris Gully reserve and happen upon a flock of surprised chooks, who'd clearly been living happy, sheltered lives in this quiet green space up until now.

I will draw a veil over the Great Chicken Incident.  I can report that there is no need to escalate the event to the Great Chicken McNugget Debacle, thankfully, but the disgraced dog is bundled into her trailer forthwith . . . and I am able to increase the pace. 

We join the Motueka River at Kohatu and it's a leisurely ride amongst acres and acres of hops until we meet up with Bruce. Taparewa, where the RV is parked, is not too far up the trail.

It's also around morning coffee time. I do realise that rural Tasman is not rural France but still hope for a café to materialise. It doesn't.  And we have a decision to make. The next stretch of trail, 18 kilometers from Tapawera to Woodstock, doesn't exist. Many Great Trail tourists take a shuttle along the highway, experiencing this lovely valley at high speed. But we have our own vehicle. How will we do it? 

Hops as far as the eye can see
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I'm keen to cycle it but the highway is no place for a dog trailer.  Bruce is keen too. So we both ride the road, one after the other, while the dog stays in the RV to supervise the shuttling operation. Before doing the return drive, I chat to a passing dog-walking local, asking why this section of the trail was never completed. "Run out of money, I reckon." Maybe it's as simple as that. But what a shame.

Woodstock turns out to be not much more than a name on the map. But the trail restarts, turning off the main highway and onto a sealed rural road. Bruce takes off first, asking to be picked up in 30 minutes. So I resort to home-made filter coffee and a quiet online read of the news. By the time we overtake him, Tour Leader has clocked up 14km,  almost halfway to our destination,  Riwaka. We head back to Woodstock for my stint with the trailer, though a green space alongside the Pokororo hall entices us to stop for lunch.

Scout and I begin our post-lunch ride while Bruce drives to Riwaka and eventually pedals back to meet us. We continue along the western bank of the Motueka River, with hops giving way to berry fruit, apple orchards and massive under-cover horticultural operations.

This has long been a renowned horticultural region. I remember as a teenager coming to Brightwater, not too far away from here, for a summer of picking boysenberries. I also remember not being very good at it: too slow and too much tasting. . .

There's more of a wind now and I can really feel the weight of the loaded trailer. On previous trips, Scout has spent more time running alongside but today's route on country roads makes this impossible. (Not to mention the chance of stumbling upon another innocent flock of chickens.) As a result, my bike is chewing through its battery.

As Riwaka nears, the red warning light on the handlebars begins to flash. I switch off and manfully soldier on, until Bruce offers to swap bikes for the final kilometre. Woohoo, I'm flying along! 

It's after 4pm when we pull up at the RV, we need supermarket supplies and neither of us is keen to carry on cycling on the one remaining bike. So we detour to Motueka, the biggest town we've seen all day, restock and drive to the golden sands of Kaiteriteri in the stunning Abel Tasman national park. But not to worry  - we will make up the missing kilometres in the days to come. For now, it's time to sit in the late afternoon sun with a cold one and watch the dog tangle her long lead around every possible obstacle. It's not a bad life.

Kaiteriteri beach on a previous visit
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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 65 km (40 miles)

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Dawn HunterThis had me laughing out loud! You write so well Robyn I can picture it all! ♥️
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7 months ago
Robyn RichardsTo Dawn HunterIt's funny in hindsight... but felt v sorry for those chooks, just trying to live their best lives!
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7 months ago