Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Shipmates, this is Kawakawa, Northland, New Zealand - Where the Kawakawa to Opua bicycle rail trail begins. When the trains are operating they can be seen troundling down the middle of the main street.
The skipper of the Brompton folding bike. Some say that he shouldn't be steering a conversation let alone a bicycle - but my lips are sealed.

The rail trail sometimes runs parallel to the old tracks but most often (as in the above photo) follows the old rail way lines. Some times the railway lines are buried underneath the track, sometimes they have been completely removed. Railway embankments are usually built quite high giving good views of the  surrounding country.                                                                                              

 On the right is the only rail tunnel on the trail. It was closed because of falling bricks. There was a detour to the left over the hill.
This long section of bridge crossed wetlands that surrounded the picturesque upper reaches of the Kawakawa river.

A team of amateur locomotive restorers run their train from Kawakawa and back to this small station during the holiday season.

In parts the trail runs alongside the upper reaches of the Kawakawa river. This river  leads to Opua at the head waters of the Bay of Islands. 

The first of the two main folds of the Brompton folding bike is useful as a bike stand.

Moored boats began to appear as the river widened and we (Brompty and me) approached Opua.

After a relaxed ride we arrived at Opua. It took an hour of reasonably easy riding to get there. Total return time including a lunch break was 2 1/2 hours. After lunch I hopped back on Brompty and returned to Kawakawa. A great first ride on my new bike. Looking forward to the next trip.

Bike Suitability Review: Although the Brompton took this rail trail ride in its stride and performed well it was obvious that a ride on a bike with bigger wheels (The Brompton has 16 inch wheels) on this rail trail would have been more comfortable. The small wheel diameter means that when riding on anything other than smooth urban streets and pathways any trail irregularities are transmitted directly to the rider. The laws of physics means that bigger wheel diameters absorb shocks better. Although I intend to use the Brompton again from time to time on selected rougher tracks my overall plan is to use the Brompton more as my dedicated city street and city bike path exploring (So easy to fold and pack when going away on trips in the car) and use my big trail bike for the more rural off road rail trail type rides. This of course means mounting the bike rack on my tow bar when using the full size bike and all the faffing around that this involves but it's the horses for courses solution. When holidaying the choice of two types of bikes to use depending on the terrain makes a lot of sense. Having said all that one of my considerations is that my Brompton is brand new, expensive and at this stage I don't want to risk wrecking the bike. When the shine wears off the bike you may find me boulder hopping and ski jumping Brompty all over the place.

And....  you only need to go on UTube to find many dedicated Brompton fans who have ridden the Brompton almost everywhere on all sorts of different surfaces. Many Brompton owners ride all over the UK and Europe and one guy has a Utube video showing his ride from the African coast to Morocco. 

Anyway I have to go - my long awaited book from the Book Depository has finally arrived from the UK - its title? "BROMPTON BICYCLE by David Henshaw 3rd Edition" and I see on page 157 a photograph of someone towing a sailing dinghy (about the same size as my Zephyr yacht) with a Brompton........ hmmmmm.


Paul Mullings said...

An easy and interesting ride, my wife and I rode it coast to coast a couple of years ago and got a lift back to our car at Opua.
We spent the night at a motel in Kaikohe, fascinating experience in it’s self !! Keep it up the multi day Great Rides are awesome, I particularly enjoyed the Otago Rail Trail.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for that information Paul. I want to do the full trail from Opua to the Hokianga myself so it's good to get a heads up from someone who has already ridden it. Is it easier to ride it from one particular end or doesn't it really matter?