Waiheke weekend adventures

For the latest installment of the dynamic duos downunder adventures read on…

Last weekend Tony and I decided to tackle Waiheke island on a unicycle. Waiheke is about a 25km long island situated in the middle of Auckland harbour. It is very picturesque, extremely hilly and home to lots of vinyards.

Getting to the island itself was a bit of a mission. We ended up cycling through down town Auckland with massive packs on our backs and me carrying a guitar case in one hand. The girls at the ferry terminal were most amused when we cycled all the way through the winding metal fences laying out where to queue.

After an uneventfull boat trip it was a short 15 minute ride up a steep hill with out packs and guitar to reach the house we were staying at. After dumping all our gear we hopped on our 28s and headed off to explore the island. The entire island is extremely hilly with virtually no flat roads anywhere.

It was inorganic rubbish collection month which meant every household had a pile of junk outside it waiting to be carted off. Every pile of junk was a trials obstacle begging to be built. With a trailer and a couple of hours we could have had all the materials for a unicyclists dream trials course. There were pipes, ladders, beams, fridges, beds, pallets and all manner of interesting bits and pieces. Next inorganic rubbish collection in Auckland I’m grabbing a trailer and going in search of good junk.

Once you get out of the main Waiheke settlement it is like being in the middle of the country. There are no shops and you have to carry all your water and food. It got very isolated very quickly. There were no cars or houses, just the sounds of native birds and views over the bays on either side.

At this point we realised it might have been a good idea to bring a bit more in the way of supplies. Especially when it hit dinner time and we were a couple of hours away from a possible food source. I have now taken to making sure my Camel back is always well stocked with power bars and the like. You never know when that “little ride” is goind to turn into a day long excursion (I’m not kidding either - I have had 1 hour rides turn into 6 hour rides because we just decided to keep going).

The rolling hills wandered on for a long time and the road became a red clay track. At around 7pm Tony pointed out we had reached the “sensible turning around point”. If we didn’t turn around at this point darkness was going to descend on us on the return journey. After consulting the poor excuse for a map we’d got off the back of a travel brochure I persuaded Tony we needed to ride to the very end of the island to something labeled “Stoney Batter”.

After another 45 minutes of cycling up hills we finally made it to Stoney Batter and wished for the first time we had a torch. Stoney Batter turned out to be a huge network of old tunnels dating back to the 1940s. The fortifications had been built for defence of the harbour during world war two and went an incredible 9 stories underground. Unable to explore the tunnels due to lack of light we set off on the return trip into the setting sun.

The sun set, the wind got colder and the riding got tougher as fatigue started setting in. Around 9pm we were rewarded with a fantastic fire works display half way up the steepest hill on the island. We took it as a good excuse to rest and watched the pretty colours for a few minutes before continuing.

The last hour was thrilling - riding in the complete darkness. We could not see the road and were tearing down the hills at around 24 km/h. The sensation was somewhat akin to flying.

Our little explore ended up being a 50km long ride taking around 5 hours from start to finish.

We capped it off with drinks and a fantastic burger dinner at the “Lazy lounge” Tony got offered a free beer for hopping up the steps to the restaurant. (I don’t know where he found the energy!) It was a great end to a fairly epic ride, probably the last one on our 28s - the Coker parts have arrived!

The next plan is to explore Great Barrier Island which is much bigger, even less populated and further away. We are saving that one for the christening of our Cokers.

Happy riding,

Re: Waiheke weekend adventures

Peter, sounds like a great adventure. I envy your long days right now as we
have nice weather during the work day, but it’s always dark before riding
home. It sounds like you guys could benefit from Cokers! Keep up the
exploring and keep the reports coming.


“peter.bier” <peter.bier.e4oyy@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in message
> For the latest installment of the dynamic duos downunder adventures read
> on…
[great stuff snipped]

Re: Waiheke weekend adventures

Woohoo! Got them in time for next years Karapoti Classic race huh? Glad to see you’re training already :smiley:



What a fantastic write-up. Thanks for taking us there. Too bad about the tunnels. That sounds like hours of fun all by itself. Did Tony get to use any stone-age tools on his uni on this trip?

After several unfortunate incidences of resorting to stone age crank tools we now carry a handy crank/pedal wrench on every ride. To date Tony and I have used rocks, logs, branches, dirt, tree stumps, park benches and other handy surfaces to mount cranks. A crank wrench is much nicer :slight_smile:

The last straw for me was bashing my Kooka cranks on with a lump of rotten log, in the absolute middle of the bush, realising I had a 4 hour walk out if I couldn’t get the dratted things to sit tightly on.

Kookas are great cranks but they do have a tendency to work loose. On our more intrepid rides with multiple 3+ foot drops they tend to need tightening every 15 to 20 minutes. I would complain except the cranks never bend, which is more than I can say for any other crank I’ve used.

Pulls out his Heinemann’s Atlas of New Zealand

Never did make it to Waiheke. I do remember going for a dive off of Great Barrier. The water was so rough on the way out that the skipper took to the couch for a while and asked me to watch the horizon! I also was on some dives off of another harbor island assisting Marine Biology students from U of Auckland. We didn’t land though. I think it was a wildlife refuge, could it have been Rakino?

I bet the trails around Mt. Taranaki would be interesting to ride. How about Urewera National Park? My ex and I did the hike round Lake Waikaremoana.

The movie had me wishing for more time in beautiful Enn Zed. Some of the plants there, like the tree ferns, are truly stone-age looking.

Sounds like a “Most Excellent Adventure”!

Have you taken them off to see how the aluminum looks on the inside of the tapers? I have wondered if aluminum cranks on steel tapered axles continue to flow, especially when subjected to the abuse of MUni.