Slartidbartfast does the South Island (New Zealand)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by slartidbartfast, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. tracyprier

    tracyprier Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Auckland, New Zealand
    Gidday Slarti :)

    I concur with Mileater. On the whole our roads are in good nick BUT super highway-slab they are NOT and sadly too many tourists both 2 and 4 wheel get caught out, especially by the gravel that often lurks on the outside of corners... take that corner just a little too wide and BAM!

    Enjoying the report, I'm back at work in Auckland... so please... carry on ;)

    cheers
    Tracy
    #41
  2. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    Thanks for the advice. I noticed quite quickly that the road condition on the corners tends to be worse than anywhere else and is randomly variable. Rest assured I am watching the road surface carefully and proceeding with appropriate care. :thumb

    Weather improved quite quickly this morning and I am now in Invercargill, enjoying the sun and the Burt Monroe exhibit at the museum. Off to see if I can find Burt's original bike, then will continue around the coast. :ricky

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    #42
  3. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    Well I managed to find the original Burt Monroe Indian, and his speedy Velocette, before I left Invercargill. Traversed some more beautiful scenery and am now at Freestone Backpackers, Near Lake Manapouri. This place is a real treat, and a nice surprise, discovered courtesy of my GPS. :thumb

    Looks like I probably won't be able to post any pictures tonight but I'll catch up as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Some nice pics of other historic bikes and awesome scenery are waiting in my cameras. :D

    Off to cook some dinner.
    #43
  4. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    Milford Sound tomorrow. Looks like rain - Ugh!
    #44
  5. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Does NZ have a "rainy season" ?
    Or, like here in MidWest it can just be anytime.. (It's raining now.)
    Glad you are having a great trip. Looks beautiful.

    Thanks for posting.

    :clap
    #45
  6. PaulGir

    PaulGir Adventurer

    Joined:
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    It can rain anytime.The area north of Auckland was just declared to be in drought conditions,yesterday.
    #46
  7. Mileater

    Mileater Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    South Island, West Coast = rain! Any time of the year. Milford Sound, rainy season = 364 days of any given year :lol3 They are not always consecutive.:deal

    Seriously, Winter is generally wetter than the Summer but it can rain plenty at any time of the year in any part of the country. The land mass of NZ is not large enough to make its own weather but the Eastern side is definitely dryer than the Western side due to the prevailing winds and weather patterns that approach from the West.

    Local weather reports/forcasts are generally good for one day only in advance and even then can be completely wrong. I wouldn't want to be a Meteorologist in this country :lol3 If in doubt, ask a local inhabitant of long standing, they will usually be able to give good advice.

    Hope that helps :rofl

    Cheers :freaky
    Allan
    #47
  8. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    OK, I'm thinking just come any time, right?
    Ha!
    #48
  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I'll get to the whole rain thing... First let me catch up with yesterday's travels. :deal
    #49
  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Leaving Catlins YHA and setting off into the mist was not too disagreeable as the road quickly became delightful. Swooping and twisting over and around one hill after another, through dew-laden trees. Every time the road climbed above 400 feet, I was in the cloud again.
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    Eventually, the Southern Scenic Route reached the coast and the sun broke through. I passed a number of estuaries, coastal marshes and beaches, which would be a bird-watching heaven.
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    I turned off for curio bay, where there is a petrified forest, exposed by wave erosion. The same area is home to the very rare Hoiho or Yellow-eyed Penguin but I did not see any of them.
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    Pretty sure these are Australian Black Swans but they were too far away to identify properly. This picture was taken at maximum zoom:
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    #50
  11. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Arriving in Invercargill, I was directed to the city museum where I was told I'd find the Burt Munro exhibit. I found it but also learned that the real Munro bike is at a hardware store in town. The store, E. Hayes and Sons, was a much better bet for a bike enthusiast. Not only is Burt's Indian there but also his record-setting Velocette single (which I had not previously heard about) and a decent collection of other restored and unrestored bikes, plus a truck and some old chainsaws. Interestingly, the fairing of Burt's Bonneville Salt Flats bike was left in the US at some point and nobody knows where it is.
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    #51
  12. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    The roads in the immediate area of Invercargill are not terribly exciting, although the coastal scenery is still great - and different again, of course - but as I followed the scenic route further West and then North, the landscape changed again. I don't know on which part of the island Lord Of The Rings was filmed but this area certainly made me think of that. The roads got progressively twistier too :clap
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    Approaching Te Anau, near the town of Manapouri, my GPS found me a place to stay at Freestone Backpackers - What a great place! Great view, and run by nice people.
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    #52
  13. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    #53
  14. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    The predicted rain began during the night. In the morning, it was decidedly overcast and if ever you could say "Looks like rain's coming" the sky today said it! During the evening I had heard some really strange bird calls and heard them again this morning. I can't even begin to describe it but think it is one of those unique indigenous species associated with New Zealand. I missed catching a photo of several different species I couldn't readily recognize. This one actually sat still for a picture but appears to be just a pigeon.
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    I stopped in Te Anau, filled the tank (no gasoline to be had in Milford Sound) and got an unexpectedly strong cup of coffee. The sun came out and the day was looking promising. I had put my clear visor on when I got up but put the mirrored one back on and removed a layer of clothing. Last night I cleaned and treated the visors with a rain repellent and there were smears of it in my field of view. With all the caffeine in my system, it was getting me quite irritated and I stopped twice shortly after leaving Te Anau to try and clean it. After a few kilometers, I started encountering the bands of bare tar in the corners that were discussed yesterday. That captured my attention enough to forget about the visor and the awesome riding and magnificent scenery did the rest.
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    After slowly gaining altitude up a broad, flat-bottomed valley, the road began to climb more steeply and as it did so, it brought me back under, and eventually into, the clouds. Light rain and mist made all the trees drip and the wet tar patches needed too much attention with the ever-changing and ever-amazing verdant mountains, steep scree slopes and cliffs all around. A thousand rivulets of water cascaded down the steepest slopes and cliffs. Finally, just a few km from Milford Sound, the road brought me to a dead-end corrie with near-sheer sides. However this is where the Homer Tunnel bores its way through the ridge, sloping downwards in dripping darkness to emerge on the other side of the mountains.
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    Half way through the tunnel it began to get foggy and I burst out on the other side into a wholly different weather - Rain, close mist and strong winds. The road dropped quickly down a series of tight switchbacks with dodgy surfacing, crossing and recrossing a fast-flowing stream. Unbelievably good fun of course! The weather only began to ease up a bit as I began to approach sea level. When I finally reached the Sound, it was still damp, windy and dull but I was at least out of the rain.
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    Watch this space! More coming, including pics of Milford Sound and the scoop on New Zealand rain.
    #54
  15. cockneykestrel

    cockneykestrel n00b

    Joined:
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    :clap Silver Gull; South Island Oyster Catcher and Australian Black Swans - have a Gold Star :lol3 but wot ! no penguins - :eek1
    #55
  16. cockneykestrel

    cockneykestrel n00b

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    :evil Not just any old pigeon but a New Zealnd Pigeon also known as a Kereru - Endemic to New Zealnd - Have two Gold stars :lol3 :clap
    #56
  17. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    This trip is not entirely about riding so I didn't need to think too long and hard before signing up for a boat trip in Milford Sound. I ended up on the same boat as a group of bikers on a guided tour. One, in particular, an older guy from Pennsylvania, was really animated. This was his first time outside N. America and a trip he has been waiting his entire lifetime to take. This place is truly magical and awe-inspiring. My photo's don't even begin to show what it was like on the water (a small selection of the hundred-odd I took are below.) The guy from Pennsylvania told me "If I die right now, I can say I've already been to heaven."
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    #57
  18. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Imbecile

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    Beautiful!
    #58
  19. Babysteps

    Babysteps 102° Rx = + /_\

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Hi Slarti

    I'm glad you're having a good time! I'm stunned by the beauty of the south coast and I live here!

    I can feel a road trip comming on................
    #59
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    The weather had improved greatly while I was on the cruise and the ride back to Te Anau was simply magnificent (I am running short of suitable words to descrbe this place)
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    I considered staying in Te Anau but want to head to the Glaciers tomorrow and that would add a couple of hour's riding so decided to head for Queenstown today. The first few km were marvelous but the weather started to look a bit ominous ahead. Then the heavens opened. I'll save my thoughts on NZ weather patterns for later but I rode for almost 100 miles in pouring rain. Even so, the section of road alongside Lake Wakatipu was spectacularly good fun and quite beautiful (although the previously mentioned tar patches were an ongoing concern, requiring hard concentration on the road surface and picking lines through corners)
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    Arriving at Queenstown Lakefront YHA at 7:30pm, I thought I might have trouble finding a bed but they had one for only NZ$28. I put my gloves and boots in the drying room and had a warm meal. Another great day over - except for posting the ride-report!
    #60