A trip cross the Top of the South Island

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Padmei, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    The family was all meeting in Blenheim for Christmas this year so I took the opportunity to make the most of the day riding over from Nelson & taking in the sights of some of the best riding in my lil corner of the world.

    First off was the crossing of the Maungatapu. It was the driest I've ever encountered with the usual muddy bog holes halfway up the track bone dry. Often I've wondered just how deep they would be & with the water dried up out of them it is safe to say they would comfortably swallow a small bike.

    Made it to the saddle without incident.

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    Cruised along enjoying the great riding conditions & took a detour thru the Queen Charlotte Drive. This windy scenic road connects Havelock with Picton where the Interislander ferry spews out campervans & little hire cars by the thousands. As a result this road often becomes a snail trail of vehicles taking up whatever space they feel belongs to them.
    Unfortunately this usually causes some ruthless & dangerous passing manouevres by irresponsible bike riders. Luckily this irresponsible bike rider had a clear passage this day as most people were making the most of the pre- christmas sales at Briscoes.

    It's hard to keep the eyes on the road with the beautiful Marlborough Sounds metres from your front wheel

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    I arrived at Picton far too early which I put down to my bike getting marginally lighter due to the footpegs being ground down a few centimetres, so thought it only fitting I carry on what was becoming the best ride I'd had for ages.

    If you were to continue travelling North east thru Picton & Waikawa bay the Port Underwood road awaits. This little tar sealed beauty has a very very windy incline to the top of a pass then a windy windy downhill to Hakahaka Bay. The road is generally in pretty good condition as part of an agreement to have the logging trucks passing thru from the many forests.


    From Hakahaka Bay you can turn toward Port Underwood proper or travel to Blenheim via Rarangi. The latter is on a marbly gravel road. For those inclined a great place to practise a few power slides out of corners.
    I stopped for a few pics. The first is Oyster Bay.
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    A persistent burning smell hept me looking down at the bike & I worried that the damn KLR curse has hit me - I've got an oil burner!

    However riding over the brow of a hill I spied this...


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    Being the civic minded citizen I am, I stopped to ask if they needed a hand. The fire fighter very tactfully reassured me they didn't need my help no matter how many how many times I asked.

    Oh well, I did have another intention however.

    "Do ya reckon I'd get a ride in the chopper?" I asked polite firefighter.

    "If you had a couple of hundred dollars you probably could..." He replied.



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    I left them to put out the fire which was at that stage thought to be started by some boaties landing in a bay for lunch.

    On the homeward leg to Rarangi the road turned to dust. Following a fire truck crawling up the hills I was suddenly aware that a trip thru Mongolia following trucks along narrow single roads might not be that good fun.
    Either they were contacted by the polite fireman on the radio or finally saw me in their rear view mirror & let me pass.

    The trip was pretty relaxed back to Blenheim & into the arms of my family after platefuls of pavlova I fell.

    I relaxed for a couple of days before Bro-in-law Darryl came over from Wellington for a trip thru the Molesworth & Rainbow.
    #1
  2. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    On Boxing Day Bro-in-law Darryl (woody2) flew from Smellyton to Blenheim. He'd secretly purchased this beauty in Invercargill & ridden 800 bum numbing Ks on the very slimline seat up to Blenheim. It's a nearly new KTM690 Enduro with only about 800kms on the odo.

    Seeing the two of them reuniting after their first brief seperation was quite touching. Young love is such tender thing. Sensing the old three's a crowd I left them to it

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    A little while later Daz had fitted his beloved with a new outfit specially for the trip. Whilst it did hide her slim hips he certainly improved her bust line with that tank bag.

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    Finally after buggering around we were ready to go. It was the 28th of Dec, the day adventure bikers dream of, when the Molesworth Station Rd opens. Our goal was to cruise effortlessly like Charlie & Ewan down to Hamner where we would meet up with the doco crew for lunch then enjoy the scenic splendour of the Rainbow Rd finally finishing up at luxurious accomodation at Lake Rotoiti.


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    We rode out thru the Taylors dam road & even land way up the valley has been converted to grapes. In the old days of grape growing any thought of planting grapes in this frost prone area would have been laughed at. These winters however there are hundreds of choppers on call ready to hover above the vineyards moving the air & stopping the frost settling. I guess the ones laughing now are the chopper owners stuffing a thousand bucks an hour into their pockets.

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    The Morning was cool & cloudy and after having a few days of 30+ degrees in Blenheim it was a welcome change. The Taylors Dam rd was tight quite cambered & very finely graded. Seeing as we had a distance to travel we took it fairly easy.

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    I had a feeling we were getting close to the intersection of Awatere Rd so tried to view it on the GPS. I swear I only had my head down for a split second & when I looked up I crashed into the only signpost for 300Ks. We left wheelspinning and laughing really loudly. Sadly noone was around to marvel at the 2 renegades patrolling the badlands.

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    Finally we hit the Molesworth Station. Now began the arduous job of opening & closing the many many gates.
    Don't let this photo fool you, it was I who had the job of opening the gates as Daz was having a hard time locating his kickstand under the saddlebags. Hmmm after a while I became suspicious.

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    I stopped on a bridge & took a shot of the braided rivers flowing grey & cccold. We hadn't seen any traffic so far however there were periodically single tyre tracks from someone having a very good time on the gravel.

    As soon as we rode into the Molesworth the difference in the grade of road was significant. The surface changed from hardpacked base with small loose stones to roughly graded with small rocks. It was best to stay in the wheel tracks for a mostly predictable ride. Crossing over the loose stuff in the middle at less than fast speed was a bit bum puckering.

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    The first vehicle we overtook, a 4wd stopped us on the other side of the bridge.
    "What cc is that?" The 50 something driver fired at Daz.
    "650"
    "What about that one?" Looking over at mine.
    "The same"

    He looked over the bikes with a envious expression. It was too much to take- we had to leave before he left his passengers to the long dry trip & jumped on the pillion seat. Yes life is good sometimes...

    Anyway to those unfamiliar with the Molesworth Rd, this pic pretty much tells it all. Long dry dusty rocky riding.

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    We came around a corner & came across a fellow Adv rider with his missus on a big 1200GS having lunch. He was sweating like a warthog & we deduced from the conversation it was from crossing the centre line of stones. As we bid farewell another couple of bikes went past from the other way. It was becoming a popular route on it's first day.

    My ipod thing was going thru the Dazed & Confused soundtrack and somewhere into a Ted Nugent number I lost the plot a bit on a corner. I was travelling a tad too fast for the conditions however instead of leaning over & chancing a tight potentially slippery slide on the gravel, I eyed up a nice bank to roll down instead. Without putting a foot down I was able to turn around & ride straight back upto carry on while Daz looked on with tears of admiration in his eyes.

    After that I shuffled along to the Doobies.

    Soon enough we hit the thriving alpine village of Hamner. We had a welcome break & cool drink watching a obviously Austrian tourist look at the underside of Daz's new bike. Funnily enough no Japanese tourists bothered to look at the underside of Gonzo.

    Back up Jacks Pass we hung a left past the nonexistent signpost & onto the Rainbow Rd. The difference in road surface was again apparent.

    The surrounding environment was again very arid with scree slopes coming down onto the road where the road has been cut out of the side of the hills.

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    A short stop at Lake Tennyson to have a drink & photo.

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    The valley closed in more & the scenery became more interesting sadly though I was running out of memory as I anticipated taking a lot more shots the following day.

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    Soon enough we were hitting the fords that mark the beginning of the end

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    Onto tarseal & St Arnaud welcomed us with sandflies & smiling cycling tourists.

    We took up residence at Le Caravan de la lake & gave Gonzo a well earned break.

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    Wait a minute whats that? A beautiful German bikini tourist spraying herself with sunscreen over there? Well little fraulein I'm sorry but the answer is NO. You can not come riding with us dressed like that, we are ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME kind of guys

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    Sadly the rain came in that night, so after about a 3 second team meeting the following morning we decided to can the planned days ride over the Porika, Braeburn & Maruia & head back to Nelson.

    Had bikini girl offered us a day cuddling in the tent we may have been tempted to stay, however funly enough she was packed & gone before we got out of the scratcher. Couldn't have been my snoring could it Daz?

    Daz???
    #2
  3. Mark_S

    Mark_S Fair Weather Faggot

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    good stuff

    did you ride the 690? how does it compare to Gonzo?
    #3
  4. JayBo1

    JayBo1 Long timer

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    Awesome!! I always wanted to ride the Molesworth and the one year I committed to it and rode down from Whangarei, they didn't open due to extreme fire danger. Thanks for sharing the trip with us.:clap
    #4
  5. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    The 690 is a very different beast to Gonzo. When I rode it Daz had changed the mapping to the softest for his first foray onto gravel. With that setting & the motor still being relatively tight I still was impressed with it's responsiveness. It didn't have the pant wetting hysterical laughing factor of the 950/990 nor the bowel loosening vibe of the 640. KTM, I feel, has hit on a very nice practical compromise with that engine.


    The slipper clutch it has, would be great have been on the downhills (had Daz let me ride it some more) where I was chirping the rear wheel following closely behind him down the twisties.

    The riding position was very DR-like, more over the front wheel compared to the Goldwingish style of Gonzo.

    The fuel tank takes 12 litres I think but is pretty frugal with the gas so I think 220Kish on a tank? It's under the seat so is very flickable & light compared to the KLR.

    If I was to own one I would have to have a bigger tank, screen & definitely definitely a proper seat.

    Daz did good with this one!!
    #5
  6. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    Cheers Jaybo I deemed this trip as the start of my training towards the Safari.

    (now how can I drop 50kgs off Gonzo?)
    #6
  7. Mark_S

    Mark_S Fair Weather Faggot

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    cut your legs off
    #7
  8. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    After sitting around for a couple of days I thought I'd enduroise Gonzo & take him out for a blat around the Hira Forest. This is literally just behind our house though we have oto ride up the Maitai Valley ( entrance road to the Maungataputrack) to get access.

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    There were lots of these firebreaks & access tracks. It was a sunny dry cool day & the Mita E07s just love this terrain.

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    #8
  9. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    There's something about forestry roads that I love. A lot of the forests over in Blenheim are closed now due to fire danger & judging by the dry windy summer we're having I'm expecting this one to be closed in a month or so.

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    Hmm if I drop down to the left I may drop straight off into those bee hives. I'll go right. Seems wide enough to me...


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    Ok a bit tight thru there

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    Running stock 15 front tooth I had to leave a few of the steep ones til I either came back with better gearing or a few burly local riders to help lift the heavy beast off me.
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    Finally at the top of Kaka Hill for a podium finish. Pity the crowds had dispersed by then.

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    The home town of Nelson getting ready for News Year eve. I got the feeling someone or something was watching me

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    I'm finally able to appreciate the Ricor intimators. On this type of terrain the front wheel stuck really well to the ground. Crossing ruts was a breeze rather than a lottery.

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    I looked long & hard at this one before launching into it however lost rear wheel traction half way up & had to lay it down.

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    From here it was back along the roads home.
    #9
  10. innathyzit

    innathyzit AKA Woodman

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    Good work, yes we are lucky having all that cool riding so close, don't do many miles but have a lot of fun.
    #10
  11. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    Warewolf & I went out for a father of young families ride or FOYFR. Since we only had an hour or so we shot back up the Hira forest for some rock flinging good times. He's just got the mighty KTM back on the road & as well as looking ridiculously clean it went pretty bloody well.

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    Didn't scope this one out very well. Could just see the bike & rider come to all kinds of grief. Note the bee hives. Colin kindly let me know he was allergic to bee stings after I kindly led him thru a few swarms.

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    I love this shot.


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    Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt...


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    After a bit of fooling around we rode off into the dustance

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    Thanks Colin for a good quick ride
    #11
  12. Mark_S

    Mark_S Fair Weather Faggot

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    more good stuff....

    and more questions....

    what did the headlight indicator unit cost you and does the bike 'feel' lighter with it on in place of the screen etc?

    I might do something similar with mine - do you have a link to your original post on this conversion?

    cheers


    Mark
    #12
  13. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    The headlite thing came from the Nordieboy emporium. They were really popular years ago but none of the bike shops could remember who carried them.
    I adapted a bit of angle ali to it so it screws to the same mountings on dash. They originally came with rubber straps to attach to the forks. I also put some big connectors to the indicators for ease of change over from the big fairing.
    The only probs with it is that the only (cheap) lamp I could get to fit into it properly shows a huge black shadow in the middle of the road where there should be lite:lol3 . Also the lamps in the indicators make the flasher flash too fast so a resistor will have to be put in there somewhere.
    So to conclude that as a working device it is pretty lame however just keeps ol Smoky off my back as I cruise to forest rides.

    I also took the luggage rack off the back & made up some lifting loops out of cable (hey I'm a sparky - what else am I supposed to use)

    The bike certainly is better to ride offroad stuff without the big screen & stuff as it feels more trail bike (cos off course the KLR is purely a road bike that can just about mange a bit of gravel :puke1 :rofl )

    I have to admit though I love having my big screen on when on the road. Riding a naked bike buggers me after a while.

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    #13
  14. Veny

    Veny Casual Rider

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    Loosing weight and going naked is a good idea. But really..., if you want a more dirt oriented bike then the KLR is the wrong choice.

    Personally, I'm finding the KLR to be a shocker on shingle roads at the moment and may have to go for a darker underpants colour. I'm hoping that's because of the stock tyres. Especially up front. (It's nearly time for new ones).
    What is that knobby tire on yours?

    KLR owners occasionally need to be reminded that it's a road then dirt bike.
    Push it further towards either end of the scale and things start to get silly.

    ADV Post #1 :rofl
    #14
  15. Mark_S

    Mark_S Fair Weather Faggot

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    back tire is irrelevant on gravel (except for braking). Put a Dunlop D606 on the front and it will feel like someone has glued your front wheel to the gravel.

    I've been finding that standing up (leaning forward) and leaning the bike into corners while I stay upright makes the whole process much more confidence inspiring
    #15
  16. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    Yep the 606 is wot I've got.
    I find it pretty good on the dirt - cos I don't have another bike:evil

    On gravel it gives me the shits but I think any bike would - I find technical stuff not as scary as going into a blind corner on gravel - It's a head thing I haven't got my head around. I hardly ever use my back brake on gravel unless I'm feeling really confident, the back locks up real quick. Some days I can ride like the best in the world (in my head) & other days my riding sucks big time


    That dualsport DVD is a great help to getting technique right.

    I could buy another playbike but think my money would be better spent paying off the mortgage quicker to allow me to maybe ride overseas somewhere exotic - Like Morocco:eek1
    #16
  17. innathyzit

    innathyzit AKA Woodman

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    We klr guys are all too well aware that our bikes are not dirt bikes, but that just adds to the challenge for me, and gives you a bloody good excuse when things go pear shaped.

    Give yourself a bit of time and some practice they can be ridden pretty hard off the beaten track.

    Back to Padmeis very good pic thread.
    #17
  18. Veny

    Veny Casual Rider

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    Thanks for the tips. The D606 looks like the one to get.

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    Awesome photo!
    kazakhstan? :)

    How long does it actually take to ride between Blenheim <-> Hanmer and Hanmer <-> St Arnaud?
    Assuming we're not all Casteu's on the Dakar ;)
    #18
  19. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    Took us 3hrs from Blenheim to Hamner via taylors rd & another couple from Hamner to St Arnaud. Our ridng time was just over 5 hrs & our stopped time was about 1 hour something.

    That was cruising & stopping for a quick 5min stop every now & then.

    As for the KLR's capabilities I don't buy into that more road bike image thing. Sure enough I find it excellent on the road (ok I'm a noob & I've never had a modern road bike to compare it to) & off road I just have a look at something & give it a try.

    The technology is supposedly 20years old & 20 years ago the difference between these bikes & purpose built trailbikes wasn't as much as it is now.

    So therefore whenever someone gives me crap about it not being for off road I just picture myself back in the 80's, remember what we rode cos we weren't so stuck up, close my eyes, let out the clutch & hang on.
    #19
  20. Padmei

    Padmei enamoured

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    I awoke to a beautiful blue sky, cool temps & no wind so took the opportunity to resume the trip previously planned with Woody2.
    I got to St Arnaud & Lake Rotoiti without much effort for the obligatory lakefront tourist shot. There weren't as many families here as the other day so I guess people are starting back at work.


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    The start of the track is approx 15mins ride from the Lake. Turning off the main rd onto the gravel access road I was pleased how grippy the surface was. There had been a bit of rain lately that had sealed the top quite well keeping the dust down.


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    I had to do a small job in the morning & was feeling a bit down about the prospect of getting back into the routine of work & the responsibilities attached. Those feelings soon melted away when I rode into this...

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    There were some 4wds parked up so I guess a few diggers were tempted into a bit of gold fossicking. I tried my hand at gold panning out in the bush down the west coast for a day many years ago & all I got was a bad back & a vial of fools gold.

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    The following pics show why the Porika track is a favourite amongst the many adv riders that travel through here. The track is in really good nick.


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    I seem to recall helping to lift a BMW1150GS back up onto the track somewhere around here. It had gone off during the Dusty Butt 1K last year. The Dusty Butt, for those from overseas, is an informal 1000km adv bike ride either over 2 days for the sane social riders or 24hrs for those crazies not wanting to stop their bikes for toileting.

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    As the track starts to descend it opens up to spectacular views across Lake Rotoroa.

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    The benefits of adv riding are the incredible photo opportunites from spots such as this. Over looking Lake Rotoroa. The tramping or hiking tracks around these lakes are some of the best in the world & are popular summer & winter.

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    As the track starts to descend more steeply the condition of the track deteriorates with loose rocks strewn across the road & ruts opening up from the high rainfall these hills attract.

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    Evidence of 4wds thru here in the form of rocks pushed up by wheels on tight turns make a bit of careful front wheel negotiating necessary.
    Jeez did I really write that? That sounds like a direct Japanese translation of a driving manual. I wonder if anyone changed their accents halfway thru reading that???
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    Eventually made it down to the lakeshore for another pic.
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    Carrying along the lakefront road the Braeburn track links Lake Rotoroa with the highway to Murchison. Whereas the Porika is strictly 4wd & bikes, the Braeburn is pretty flat & easy riding.

    Tootling along about 2 mins up the road I hear a whine from my bike - oh no the KLR curse- the jet turbines are packing up!! Next thing flashing lites & sirens so being the law abiding citizen I pull over to let the police car pass me & chase down that bank robbing gun toting P- addicted gangster.

    Weeelll he gets out of the car & walks towards me

    Me- " you gonna draw that thing or whistle Dixie"
    Him- "Oh ok nup not you, you've got a license plate thanks for stopping"
    Me- "You feeling lucky - well are ya punk?"
    Him- " I'm after a bike that keeps riding up & down along here without plates & warrant, he thinks it's ok "
    Me- "Stripsearch? Over my dead ....oooohh"

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    The Braeburn Track was very similar to the start of the Porika with dappled sunlite filtering thru the peaceful beech forest canopy & a lazy easy 4wd road to follow. A few stream crossings washed the dust from the bashplate & had my ipod not run out of batteries some kind of new age cloud watching music would have been the go.

    The real purpose of my adventure ride was however to have a chunky gooey toasted cheese sandwich & good strong coffee at the Rock Snot cafe. The Braeburn turned gravel road, then a couple of turns saw me heading into Murchison. Comng up to the Campground i noticed they had changed the rocksnots name to "Riverview Cafe" & it is now licensed...hmmm... Unbelievably it was closed "due to stock not turning up" WTF???

    I waited in line for about 5mins at Rivers cafe until I got fed up & headed to the Murchison tearooms. Ah yes this is the place- no fancy panini & smoked salmon here!! I got a pie that had been in the warmer for 5hours followed by a homemade apple thing that crumbled apart in my hands finally washed down with the absolutely worst cup of coffee I've ever had. I should have known it wasn't the best when I put my helmet down under a table dodging the broken bottle & next to the partial remains of a squashed sparrow. How the hell do you get roadkill in a cafe courtyard???

    Feeling full & slightly undecided whether or not to make use of the wonderfully elaborate stainless steel pudding size bowl the Murchison ratepayers benevolently supply for the poor tourists that spend a fortune in their town, I turned off down the Matukituki Rd toward the Maruia Saddle.

    The entrance into this valley is superb. Mostly because there's virtually nil traffic & the first 10 kms have the best flat 90 degree corners where Rossi & Corsa hone their skills during the off season. Fast, flat, predictable, no surprises. Gonzo was begging for reprieve by the time we hit the gravel.

    The deeper into the valley I headed the better it got. Gradually the farms became less & less organised until they were nothing more than a few bits of fencing with the cows wandering along the road by themselves to the milking sheds.

    Abstract formations, heavy native cover, heaps of Mana

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    The first picture stop is the Horse Terrace bridge. The high concrete bridge itself is simple enough, however it belies the power of the river it straddles. The water gushing beneath it is intense. The granite cliffs struggle to contain the fierce force of the rapidly dropping water. Unfortunately my pitiful efforts with the camera cannot capture it's majesty.

    Local legend is that the original name was Whores Terrace & if a kindly gold prospector was so inclined, upon returning a lady of ill repute safe & dry back to the other side of the river (after she'd made a good nites earnings from the prospectors camp), he would be offered her services for free.


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    This bridge is at the start of the Maruia Saddle road. There had been a lot of heavy rainfall by the looks of it as most of the stream crossings were reasonably high.


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    OK the Maruia is a very special ride for me. It, as with all the roads I'd ridden today, was in excellent shape. Someone had even filled in all the potholes. Your average family sedan could get thru if you enjoyed stream crossings.

    Beech & Kahikatea lined the road, overhanging banks, shady mossy grottos, crystal clear sparkling streams.


    The first time I went thru it with the Dusty butt I was trying to catch up with the front runners of the 2day & knew I'd missed something special. On the return trip I slowed right down & just looked.

    I feel I must apologise for the poor photography in this thread. I have ridden with some great photohogs - Bart, Nordieboy & Eddie B to name a few. They could & have done this road justice with a lens.

    Anyway this is pretty much what i saw.

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    All too soon I reached Frog Flat intersection where the roads carry on to other beautiful places. Time however was ticking on. I stopped & changed my fuel mapping from softc**k to aggressive for a flying return trip. I'm glad I made the decisions to stop ever now & then on the way down for a pic cos I wanted to just keep the hammer down on the way back. Wahoo!! As Woodman says "Scenery what scenery???"

    Getting a bit complacent as you do when you go a bit quick I had forgotten about the water crossings on the Braeburn. A piece of poo went shooting out of my bum when I unexpectedly came hastily over a rise to greet a nasty looking washed out edge of concrete ford filled knee high with New Zealands aqua purest. I thought it was curtains.
    Luckily the new intimators in the front forks made the edge a mere dimple as a wall of water exploded in front of me drenching everything & happiily running down to fill my left boot.

    Ahhhh.....




    The only shot on the way home -I call it White Line Fever


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