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It was sunny in Pukekohe when we got off the train. Sunny and cold. Cold enough to put a layer of ice crystals on the handrails at the station, and for puddles to have frozen over. As Emilio and I rode off in the direction of Tuakau, I could hear him shivering behind me and cursing his own foolishness in not bringing any gloves. I wasn’t quite so cold inside my Buffalo jacket, but still keen to get moving and warm up a bit.

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The road to Tuakau is a little too busy on a Saturday morning, but as soon as we got over the bridge, things were quieter. And mistier, and more mysterious and beautiful.
There was no wind and mist was sitting like polyester fill over the countryside.
We rode up the hill and then down another hill and across the river to Mercer. To the cheese shop. While we coasted down, the fog condensed in to droplets on my eyelashes.
The Mercer cheese shop is my favourite cheese shop. I like the modest signage, the obscure location, the honest staff (sample conversation – me: “Is the wasabi cheese nice?”, staff member: “Not really.”) and of course, the excellent cheese. As the character Della says in the TV series ‘Raised By Wolves’ – “In my book, if you can’t handle cheese, you can’t handle life.”
With the cheese purchased and stuffed in to my front bag, we went for a little ride down the road next to the river. I love the way the landscape looks in fog – things in the distance disappear, and things close up look like they’ve been clear cut. We saw some horses.
Some toilets made from concrete watertanks, marked “Wahine” and “Tane” looked beautiful.
So did this hill with a tall flagpole/cross on it.Then we rode up and over the highway toward Maramarua. The road rose taking us out of the mist, and the sun first pushed through gaps in the trees and then came out completely.It was a lovely day for riding up the Paparimu valley, through the Hunuas and on to Papakura. Where we caught the train back to town.And what kind of cheese did I buy? Mature Gouda, Nettle, and Goat Supreme. All of which were brilliant.Route here.
More pictures here.