Slartidbartfast does the South Island (New Zealand)

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

  1. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Now the sun is shining, the forecast is great and I'm heading back to the West Coast, to the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers:D
    #61
  2. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    This is great.. Thanks again for taking the time to post this while on the trip!
    I have to get there.. (I like to do a little fly fishing also, I hear they have some pretty good fishing over there..:wink: NZ trout.. ahhhh)
    #62
  3. Aidan1150

    Aidan1150 Call Me The Breeze

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    Hooked. Keep it coming Slarti. :clap
    #63
  4. DewNmoon

    DewNmoon Been here awhile

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    Heck you are making me soooo sorry I didn't go.....but 11 months and maybe I should retire....from this drudgery I'm in

    Keep it coming

    At least we are having a reprieve weather wise at home..
    #64
  5. tommyg

    tommyg Long timer

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    beautiful, I will tour N.Z. before Iam 45.
    #65
  6. tbird649

    tbird649 Been here awhile

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    This is bringing back some good memories, I did the South Island in 2003 in a camper van, I said at the time a bikes the way to go, I will return, and do it properly. :rofl:rofl:rofl
    #66
  7. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I'm getting obsessed with the weather here, so it was my first concern when I got up this morning. Hmmm... not too bad!
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    As it happens, drizzle began almost the instant I left Queenstown. I was steeling myself for another damp ride but it never materialized. In fact, the weather got better and better as the day (and ride) progressed.
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    Not far from Queenstown, I turned off onto a minor road over the Crown Range Pass toward Wanaka. Not a high road by Alpine standards, it nevertheless provided some fast-ascending switchbacks, great views, and generally kept me leaning this way and that for most of the time.
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    Stopping for a coffee in Cardrona, I was immediately engaged in conversation by a nice fella, telling me about a book about touring Australia and the USA by Vstrom. The Historic hotel looks like it has a few interesting features for gearheads.
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    I somehow skirted Wanaka and found myself on another awesome stretch of road, following the coast of Lake Hawea. Once again proving that New Zealand has more different types of scenery packed into a smaller space than anywhere else I have ever been. Leaving the lake, the road zips over a ridge and now I was looking at Lake Wanaka.
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    At the head of the lake, the route began to climb through the Mountains of the Mount Aspiring National Park. This road over Haast Pass was a cornucopia of twisting asphalt with endless variations of grade, dipping and swooping one minute, then tightly winding as it climbed a valley wall or skirted a cliff. I was taking it easy so as to be able to look around a bit while still picking cornering lines and watching for traffic but as I was having too much fun riding to stop anywhere, I didn't get many decent photos. Watching out for traffic was easy - There wasn't any. I saw maybe a couple of dozen vehicles going the other way and encountered not a single vehicle travelling in my direction for over 100km. The last 40 or so Km on the West side of the pass are following the flat valley floor, where a wide, shallow river of purest blue was making its way toward the Tasman Sea.
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    #67
  8. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Meeting the Tasman myself at Haast, I fueled up, noting what good fuel economy the Weestrom gets.
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    Initially paralleling the coast before dodging inland, then back again at Bruce Bay, riding up the West Coast might just have been the best part of the day. It was like riding in a tropical rain forest without the heat. Verdant growth everywhere and the road, often in the trees, coiling back and forth over and around the coastal hills.
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    A reminder why it's best to have a full-face helmet and keep the visor closed. I have seen more beehives here in New Zealand than anywhere else and have had a lot of bug strikes to the faceshield over the last few days.
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    Proof that stupidity is everywhere and you need to be on the lookout. This was on a straight section of road, miles from the nearest side street or anything else that could have given a good reason for this to occur. Fortunately, no serious injuries I was told
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    #68
  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Feeling the cooler air before I saw the first sign, the road brought me past a turn to the Fox glacier. I could not resist of course. Just a few miles inland, this huge glacier descends so fast that the toe is in the rain forest. I spent just a few minutes at Fox Glacier as it was too late to start the trek (which is a lot further than it looks I was told)
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    The few kilometers between Fox and Franz Josef presented yet another treat of rainforest scenery and tightly twisting, climbing, falling road. For the first time, I have arrived at my destination in brilliant sunshine.
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    #69
  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    New Zealand continues to enthrall, excite and enchant me. The multitudes of different scenery, the fabulous roads, even the weather. The riding is tiring out of proportion to the distance covered (by US standards) - but OH it's a good kind of tired! :D
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    #70
  11. littleDONKEY

    littleDONKEY Adventurer

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    Such a BEAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTIFUL country!!!

    Amazing pics...thanks a lot for this "virtual" riding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Keep Riding...
    #71
  12. DewNmoon

    DewNmoon Been here awhile

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    #72
  13. Goss

    Goss LC8 Adventurer

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    While I have not filed an official trip report here yet 4 of us did almost this exact route on the south island in November 2009.

    Tell me you stopped in Christchurch to pay your respects to this icon. My hands were trembling as I approached her.:lol3
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    #73
  14. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Let me see... Mild weather, beautiful sun and cool breezes... or riding through a severe storm-front with tornadoes... Hmmmm :dunno

    How about JOG to Land's end in the rain all day? :lol3
    #74
  15. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I was in Christchurch on a Sunday so didn't get there. Maybe next Friday before I drop the bike off.
    #75
  16. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Today was a very good day! It started out with an easy hike (or tramp as they say here) up to the Franz Josef glacier.
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    It's a lot bigger than it looks
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    Like a primordial forest, the ferns are trees
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    #76
  17. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Back at the Youth Hostel, I packed up to continue up the coast. Decided to give my visor a really good clean with soapy water and discovered the source of the trouble - a coating is flaking off the inside. The more I tried to clean it, the worse it became. I switched to the clear visor and will just have to wear sunglasses underneath.

    Even the locals were excited by the great weather. I opened all the vents in my jacket and was very comfortable. There were no clouds and as the sun here is very intense, I got burned on my head in the few minutes I was loading the bike, without wearing my hat.

    The road North of Franz Josef intersperses some really fabulous twisty bits through the rain forest, following lakes or going over or around the hills, with long straight sections crossing coastal plains that have been cleared for agriculture.
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    This is a monument to monuments (of the surveying kind)
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    After riding for a couple of hours, I stopped in Hokitika for fuel. Then I ducked into a grocery store where I had an ice cream, and some bottles of Monteith's Black Beer found their way into my tucker-sack. Not far from Hokitika I turned inland for Arthur's pass. This is a major road (by South Island standards) and is in good condition with wide, sweeping turns. Biker's heaven I'd say. :thumb For much of the way, the coast-to-coast railway line runs alongside.
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    Near the top of Arthur's Pass, the section known as Otira Pass is quite steep. I stopped here briefly to take some photos and had my first encounter with the bold, mischevious and destructive Kea (New Zealand Mountain Parrot.) In no time at all, I was pulling up at the Arthur's Pass YHA.
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    #77
  18. cockneykestrel

    cockneykestrel n00b

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    :clap Spiky pink roadside flowers are a Prunella vulgaris a plant found across the temperate world. As it's juice causes a quick co-agulation of the blood it is given such names as Self-heal and Carpenter's friend - here's hoping you do not need to use it.:D :D
    #78
  19. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    At the YHA, they informed me that it's not a good idea to park a bike outside as the Kea will damage it. I watched one earlier tearing up a small sapling. Their beaks seem to be like can openers. I was informed that someone left a Ducati parked outside at the YHA and returned to find the seat missing - completely torn off and shredded. At the suggestion of the chap at the hostel, I offloaded my stuff and parked the Weestrom in a garage about five minutes walk away.

    As it was still reasonably early, I decided to take another walk. There are two quite impressive waterfalls within 45 minutes walk from the hostel so I grabbed my camera and a bottle of beer and set off for the closest one: The Devil's Punchbowl falls. A bit more strenuous than the morning's walk, as it includes a couple of hundred wooden steps (I wasn't counting but it was a LOT) up through the trees in a steep gorge to get a close-up view of this 131m high fall (that's around 430 feet for the metrically challenged.)
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    #79
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I didn't really go that far today, although it was quite tiring for some reason - Maybe just the sun exposure this morning.
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    Arthur's Pass is known as a habitat for the endangered Great Spotted Kiwi. They are nocturnal and elusive but I hope I might hear them call during the night.
    #80