Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 10: Hamilton to Lake Karapiro

Distance: 52.8k
Distance so far: 589.9k
Speed: 17.1k/h

Runkeeper logs: 1 2

Today's ride took me from Hamilton to Lake Karapiro, a little under halfway to Rotorua. Hamilton to Rotorua is a little over 100km, the second half of which is mostly uphill, and I wanted to break that up a bit. Even with the rest, I'm anticipating a fairly tough day tomorrow as I climb the caldera into Rotorua.

I took Lonely Planet's advice and went via the charmingly named Mystery Creek Road, out by the airport, which took me along a route on the other side of the river to State Highway 1 into Cambridge. Following Google Maps' directions to get to the airport took me via a nice path along a lake, too - very pretty early in the morning with mist still clinging to the surface.

The route was pretty flat, with only a couple of hills that required me to gear down - though one of those was pretty intimidatingly steep, coming after a similarly steep downhill and a (thankfully dry) ford. I stopped just outside Cambridge for an excellent breakfast at a rural cafe that also serves as an art gallery for local artists. I got there about 8:30, and although they weren't officially open until 9, they were kind enough to serve me breakfast all the same.

Continuing on through Cambridge, I switched over to the other side of the river and rode the rest of the way, about 20km, on State Highway 1. SH1 was busy, as always, but had a wide shoulder most of the way, as it did yesterday. The ride was fairly short and not particularly unpleasant.

Tonight I'm staying at the Lake Karapiro Lodge, which is somewhat more upscale (and expensive) than the places I've been staying so far. It's very nice, though, with a stunning view of the lake from the top of its hill, which was the only one so far that was so steep I had to get out and push. Accommodation options around here are a bit limited, but one of the reasons I chose to stay here was that the hosts very kindly offered to drop me off at Hobbiton so I could do the tour, and picked me up again afterwards.

Hobbiton is the scene of the movie set used for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. After LOTR, they tore down most of it, but they rebuilt it for The Hobbit movies, this time using permanent materials, and it's been left up as an attraction. The tour was interesting, though a touch expensive, and since the insides of the hobbit holes are all sets built offsite, it's a strictly outdoors-only tour. Nevertheless, it's a pretty convincing location, and if you were surrounded by hobbits rather than other tourists with cameras, you could just about believe you'd been transported to Middle Earth.

I took lots of photos, but they made us sign a confidentiality agreement beforehand agreeing we wouldn't post them publicly anywhere, at least until after the movies come out. So here's just about the only thing I _can_ show you.

Tomorrow, Rotorua. If you don't hear from me again, it's because I died from exhaustion trying to climb the caldera. Tell my family I love them.

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