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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by djeady, Aug 11, 2019.
I did see Gibbs farm and the entrance to it is next to where the airplane nose down is.
Had a nice sleep and got up to a nice bright morning with a mix of sun and clouds. It was cool, but showing clear signs of warming.
I had my shower and hung my towel up to dry, then went into the camp kitchen and made my coffee.
I packed up and headed out back to the main highway.
I was still hungry so stopped at a little cafe and had a nice bacon and mushroom quiche and another coffee.
I continued up the main highway and turned off just north of Whangarei to head out to the coast.
I stopped to have a look at Whangarei Falls and then continued up the road, stopping at several beaches and lookouts.
I can see I’m going to have a problem with New Zealand - too many places to take pictures!
I stopped at the entrance to one beach and had a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake for lunch from a little takeout place. It was pretty good and no beer root.
Every now and the Google Maps decides I don’t have enough gravel in my diet and leads me up some obscure back road. Today was no exception and I got to find out how the Honda NC700X handles in gravel. The answer is it does quite well.
This road ran for a bit 10 km and connected with a couple of paved roads that took me back to the main highway.
I stopped in Mangamuka to buy groceries, then rode up through the Raetea Forest - quite a spectacular ride - and stopped at the Raetea North Side Camping Area which is a free camping area. I rode in and picked a site next to the river and had a quick walk around to check the place out.
I set up my tent and just afterwards a camping van pulled in a little further up. It turned out to be a young German couple and I wound up spending quite a bit of time talking with them.
I got out my little gasoline stove and started to cook my dinner. The bacon turned out to be sliced so I put half of it in the pan. My neighbors commented on how good it smelled. I asked them what they were having and they said “just some pasta”, so I offered them the rest of the bacon and they accepted and offered beer in return. They were also having trouble getting their propane stove hot enough, so my little gasoline stove got put into service again.
We wound up sitting together having dinner and talking.
Just as we were finishing a group of locals came into the campground and parked their car with music playing loudly. Two of the cane over to look at the bike and I chatted with them for a few minutes.
There were signs as you came into the campground warning about theft, so I put the disc alarm on the bike and in doing so accidentally set it off, so it was pretty obvious there was an alarm.
We wondered how long they would stay, but they packed up after an hour or so and all was quiet.
It was getting cool, so I said goodnight to my neighbours and got into my tent.
If the offer is still open, would love to take you up on it - probably heading your way late tomorrow
Wait till you get to the Alps !
Queenstown to Glenorchy is as good as it gets.
It was a cool night and there was a very heavy dew, so I was happy to see it was going to be a sunny day.
I got up and made coffee and started to get organized. My neighbours got up and I let them use the Kelly kettle to boil water for their coffee - he was quite interested in it.
The campground started to clear out early and it got warm. I decided to walk up the little river and see if there was a place deep enough to have a wash. I found a place where there was about a metre of water and went in and had a quick clean up. It was cold, but refreshing.
I walked back to my tent and my neighbours asked if I had actually gone in. When I said yes, they decided to go up and give it a try.
I packed everything up and was just getting ready to leave when they came back. He had gone in, but she decided it was too cold.
I went in to the Warehouse in Kaitaia and bought a flannel shirt and another pair of jeans as I know it’s going to be cooler as I head south.
I continued up to Cape Reinga which is the northernmost point in New Zealand and parked the bike. The views of too the sides were spectacular and you could see where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The currents were quite strong and there were small fishing boats slowly making their way across.
I did the long walk down to the lighthouse, enjoying the views all around, then I walked back up.
I got on the bike and started back. I noticed a road off to the side leading down to a beach a campground area and decided to have a look. It was several kilometres down a twisty gravel road, but the view at the bottom was worth it. The campground was nice, but it was too early to stop for the day. I parked in the beach access lot and decided to go for a swim. The water was about the same temperature as the river, but the sun was warm.
I got back in the bike and rode back up to the main road and headed back south.
About an hour and a half south there was a small campground at Rarawa beach and I decided to spend the night there. I rode 12 kilometres to the next town to buy food and then back to the campground.
The campground was about 4 kilometres up a gravel road that led to the main beach and I had trouble finding the entrance to the campground, mainly because there was a car with front end damage parked so that it hid the sign.
The campground was another kilometre or so up a narrow dirt track. I put my $13 into the honour box and picked out a campsite that looked like it would have some shelter from the wind.
I set up my tent and and decided to put some extra pegs in. It wasn’t that windy, but somehow it made sense.
I got ready to cook my dinner and discovered that my fuel bottle had leaked in the pannier and there was only a small amount of fuel left. I tried lighting the stove and did get it going for a few minutes, but then it went out and I couldn’t relight it.
I got out my little barbecue and gathered some small sticks and soon had a nice fire going and I cooked my nice piece of local salmon in the frying pan on top to the barbecue. It came out perfectly - crispy skin and just pink in the middle.
I had bought a small bottle of cooking oil to cook the salmon and discovered it wasn’t going to recluse tightly enough to keep in the bike, so I took it over to one of my neighbours and offered it to them.
We wound up chatting for a while, but it got cool fairly quickly and I headed back to my tent to get warm.
we use a msr bottle for our stove but previously a SSteel water bottle on the bicycle holder worked just as good. picked a petro compatible oring from the auto parts store.
thanks for the report , just solidifies the need for an OZ n NZ ride.
It was an MSR bottle that leaked - just hadn’t tightened the lid properly.
The wind got quite fierce around 4 AM and continued until 7:30 or so. I was glad I had out the additional tent pegs in.
I got up and used the Kelly kettle to make my coffee. My neighbour came over to see what it was all about.
I walked out to see the beach, nice walk through some woods and dunes to a beautiful empty stretch of sand. There was a couple there from the campground with there young daughter and he was playing with a drone trying to get pictures of the girl.
I walked back to the campground and decided I would have a shower, even though it was cold water only. It was refreshing. There was no near above the little sink at the washroom, so I started to shave using the mirror in the bike, but quickly realized I couldn’t rinse my razor, so I went back up to the little sink and used the front camera in my phone to shave - worked pretty well even though I inadvertently took a picture of myself.
I packed up the bike and headed back out towards the highway and south again.
I got quite a piece down before I realized I needed gas and when I checked with Google Maps I found that the next gas station was an hour away in the direction I was heading. Fortunately there was one 17 Km back, so I backtracked and filled up.
I rode back through the lovely twisty road in the park and. Then turned right towards the coast.
Every good motorcycle ride includes a ferry and in this case it took me across a long narrow bay to raw energy where the road continued.
My timing was good and it was only a short wait for the ferry and all the vehicles waiting fit aboard. I paid my $5 and was enjoying the ride. A young woman came up to me and asked about paying and I pointed her towards the office, but they waved her away - guess they’d already made their entries for the trip. We chatted for a while and then go on/in our vehicles as we approached the dock.
It was early afternoon and I hadn’t had lunch so when I got off the ferry I turned towards a small cafe and the young woman from the ferry pulled in to the same parking lot, so we sat together for lunch. She is on a 1 year working visa and is hoping to get a job in the tourism industry on the South Island.
We said goodbye and then headed off, except it wasn’t goodbye because every time I stopped at a scenic lookout she would pull in a few minutes later.
One of the places I stopped was Tane Mahuta which is billed as the largest living Kauri tree (rumour is there’s a bigger one deep in the forest that they won’t let you near).
The Kauri are the second largest tree in the world and were heavily harvested in the late 19th and early 30th century, not only for its wood but for its gum which they botched the trees to collect and also dig up massive quantities of fossilized gum. Much of the wood was shipped to Australia, and the gum was used in varnish and linoleum, as well as being carved into decorative objects and jewelry.
The trees are now being attacked by a pathogen which is referred to as Kauri dieback.
To get through the tree you go through a sanitization facility where your boots are scrubbed and then sprayed with a sanitizing solution.
When you turn the corner and see the tree,it’s an absolute wow moment. The sheer size and majesty of the tree is almost overwhelming.
I continued down the very twisty road to Dargaville.
The dealership where I bought the bike had contacted me on Monday and said they had found - the spare keys - nice because these are chipped keys and cost $200+ to replace. Chris had volunteered to pick them up at the dealership and then I would pick them up at his country place about 1/2 hour south of Dargaville. I was also welcome to spend the night if I wanted.
I stopped in to a grocery store in Dargaville to pick up a bottle of wine and some dessert. As I came out of the store Chris came walking up the road and hailed me. He and his wife had come into town to go to the grocery store up the street and had spotted the bike as he drove past.
He said to meet them at the other store and I could follow them back.
Just as I got on the bike to go to the other store, my friend from the ferry came past and waved.
I followed Chris and Louise back to their place which was up on a high ridge overlooking the oyster farms down on the bay. The views were spectacular.
They had a real estate agent coming over as they were thinking of selling this place and buying another closer to town, so I worked on some blog updates while they showed the agent around.
They also went over to another property they own nearby and I went along for the ride.
When we got back their neighbour, Reese came over and we chatted for a while over drinks. The wine I brought was a success. I tried s little bit - very soft Sauvignon Blanc with just a touch of citrus acid in the finish.
We had a late dinner and then called it a night.
David, please post a picture of the famous Kelly kettle we keep hearing about ?
I was up early and worked on my posts for a bit. Chris got up soon after and made coffee and Louise followed about 1/2 hr later.
Louise cooked a nice bacon and egg breakfast and we also had the pastries we hadn’t eaten the night before.
I invited Chris to take the Honda out for a ride and he was also very impressed with it. I’m starting to wish I could bring it home with me.
We chatted for a while and I got ready to head out. I loaded up the bike and headed out only to realize a few kilometres up the road that I’d forgotten the extra keys for my bike - the original reason for my visit. I turned around and Chris met me at the gate with the keys.
I headed out again towards the Kauri Museum.
What a fabulous place an incredible amount of displaces about the Kauri trees and the logging days with a huge amount of the equipment that was used to harvest and process the logs.
The Kauri gum exhibit is worth a visit just by itself. A room filled with samples of raw and polished gum and many elaborate statues and other objects made from the gum.
The museum also has a lot of information about the gum collection, both from living trees and also ancient gum that was dug from the ground and processed.
They also have a huge collection of Kauri planks including some cut from recovered wood that is almost 40,000 years old and is still useable.
The post office, rooming house and school exhibits are just icing on the cake.
Afterwards I went in to the little cafe and had a coffee and a slice of carrot cake in lieu of a full lunc which wasn’t necessary because of the big breakfast.
I headed out and rode out towards the main highway and south to Auckland. Traffic was very heavy in the area before the toll road and it took a while to get through. Once on the expressway things moved fairly quickly. But it took a while wo get through the city. New Zealand has just under 5 million people and almost a third live in Aukland.
I stopped at a service centre just south of the city and chatted with another rider named Damian who was coming back from a fundraising ride in the city and we rode together for a while until he had to stop for fuel.
I continued south - my plan was to spend the night in Rotorua. It was getting late and I was worried it might be too late to check in and I was also concerned about my food options.
I spotted a sign that said “Historic Hot Springs Hotel” and decided to check it out.
I wound up taking a room at the Okoroire Hotel. I was just in time to be able to get dinner and it was a warm evening so I sat out on the verandah and ate my dinner. I chatted for a while with a couple who were already sitting out there. They were from Aukland and were the only other guests in the hotel (insert Shining reference here).
After dinner I decided to go down to the warm springs. They asked me if I was ok with the path behind dark as the lights weren’t working and I said I was fine.
There was a group of young people down there already - locals I assume.
I had a nice soak and then headed back. What I didn’t realize was they had turned the hotel lights off and the path was dark, really really dark and I had to fumble my way along the path by feel. I did make it back to the hotel ok. Fortunately there’s nothing that might bite or attack in New Zealand.
I went back to my room and read for a while before calling it a night.
I got up and made coffee in the room, then had a shower.
My room included a continental breakfast, so I checked the information card in the room to see where it was. I discovered the hotel had laundry facilities and this was something high on my list so I went to investigate.
I found the laundry, but it was locked, so I went back into the hotel to see if I could find someone. There was no one about, and when I open the door to the bar I set off an alarm. I continued to look for someone and finally on my way back to my room I ran into an employee coming to see what the alarm was about. Apparently this happens all the time and it was no big deal. I asked about the laundry and she opened it up for me and said my breakfast would be set up shortly.
I put my laundry in the washer, then ate my breakfast all alone in the dining room. Afterwards I went back to the laundry to move things to the dryer.
I packed up and got the bike all loaded and checked the laundry. It was still not dry, so I sat at the picnic table outside and worked on some updates.
I checked again after a while and things were almost dry so I packed everything up and headed out.
I decided to go over to Hobbiton and have a look.
I decided to go in, even though the admission fee was a hefty $85 NZD for a two hour tour.
I parked the bike and bought my ticket and got in the bus.
It actually turned out to be lovely. The original set was built in 1999 and torn down when filming was finished. When they fined “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in 2010 they decided to rebuild it in a more permanent fashion.
It is truly magical to wander around and imagine that you are part of the film. The set decorations are great and the gardening is absolutely incredible.
The hobbit holes are all facades except for 1 or 2 you can stand in and they are built to various scales to allow the hobbits to look small and Gandalf to look very large next to them.
At the end you visit the Green Dragon Inn and a drink is included in the price of admission. I had a nice dark beer and also a slice of cold pork pie since it was lunchtime.
Afterwards I took the bus back to the welcome centre and poked around the gift shop before getting back on the road.
I headed towards Rotorua and rode through the town. There were a lot of things to see and do in Rotorua, but it all struck me as very commercialized and I stopped at a gas station and had a cold drink while I thought about what to do.
The couple I had talked to at the hotel the night before had told me I really had to do a walk called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and that had appealed to me, but I was concerned about not having enough time to both visit Rotorua and do the walk.
The decision now seemed easy and I headed back through Rotorua and towards Tongariro.
I stopped in a small town before turning towards the park and bought groceries for dinner. I then rode another 1/2 hour to the Discovery Lodge where I booked a campsite for two nights and secured a space in the 6 am shuttle for the walk.
I set up my tent and got ready to cook my dinner. The camp kitchen was nice, but way under equipped for the number of people who were there. I eventually got burner access and cooked and ate my dinner.
My sweater and jeans were still damp from washing them in the morning, so I walked up to the laundry facility which consisted if a single coin operated washer and dryer. There was a German woman using the dryer and complaining her clothes weren’t drying )she was putting too much in) and I had to wait for her to finish 2 twenty minute cycles. Her clothes still weren’t dry so she took them out and stormed off.
One cycle nicely dried my sweater and jeans and they were nice and warm, so when I got back to my tent I stuffed them into the bottom of my sleeping bag between the liner and the bag and had nice warm feet.
I read for a few minutes and then went to sleep getting ready for my early start.
By request, here’s a picture of my Kelly kettle.
I parked next to a KLR at Hobbiton. Interesting opportunity to compare it with the Honda.
Hi, you mentioned on page 1 that you purchased the bike sight unseen and a fellow inmate helped source it for you. Is there a forum here, or trustworthy inmate that might help me with a similar plan for Oz? Cheers, L
You’re in the right place - post when and you’re arriving and what you’re looking for
My KLR is still available if you’re interested.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
I was up at 5 to get ready for my hike - I had to meet the bus at 6.
I finished organizing the things I was going to bring with me and had a quick cup of coffee and a granola bar, then headed up to meet the bus.
The start of the walk was only a 15 minute ride away and we got off the bus with the sun rising behind the mountains in front of us.
I used the washrooms at the start and reread all the warnings about the walk then started out.
The walk is 19.5 kilometres and goes up 1100 meters in altitude from the starting point.
The first part of the walk was easy along gravel paths with short runs of wooden steps.
It got progressively more difficult with warning signs at each stage telling you to consider heading back. Apparently the weather at the top can be quite severe, but the forecast for today was for beautiful weather.
The climb became more difficult and I had to follow steep footpaths up rocky slopes as we went up and up. The views forwards and backwards were spectacular.
I reached the first summit and there was a long walk across a mountain basin before resuming the climb up a slope that was increasing steep and slippery.
At the second summit you were rewarded with a view of the mountain lakes with volcanic vents steaming in the background. Blue Lake was the halfway point of the walk.
To get to the lakes there was a descent down a slope of slippery scree and it was difficult to stay upright.
After the lakes there was a long alpine trek and then a very long winding descent into the valley where the bus would pick us up.
I walked at my own pace and completed the walk in about 6.5 hours. There were a lot of people doing the walk - apparently several thousand a day is not unusual and in addition to locals I talked with people from Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Denmark and Israel. I walked part of the last stage with a girl from Regina who was touring New Zealand on her own.
There were also a lot of school groups ranging from loud teenagers who were trying to get across as quickly as possible to middle school groups with complaining young girls - I gathered they were only doing part of the walk.
I took the bus back to the campground and decided I would head down to the nearest town for lunch, groceries for dinner and a soak in a hot pool.
I stopped at a little bakery and got a pie and a drink and called Michael Greenstein who I used to work with and now lives in Napier. We are planning to ride the Coromandel Loop together at the end of my visit and he will help me sell the bike.
I then went to the grocery store and bought food for dinner.
I rode the short distance to the hot pools and booke a private mineral pool for 1/2 hour at a cost of $12? It felt very nice to soak in the 40 C water.
Afterwards I walked around a trail where you could see the actual hot springs as well as small mud geysers and other features.
I rode back to the campsite and cooked and ate my dinner before heading off to an early sleep.
Had a long and really sound sleep after my walk yesterday. I got up and had a shower, then coffee and a bun before packing up and heading out.
My plan today was to ride the Forgotten World Highway down to Stratford.
I headed towards the top of the highway only to find when I got there that it was closed due to a slip.
Fortunately there was an alternate route that was a nice twisty paved road that crossed over several saddles before meeting up with the highway. I rode for a while, stopping for a stretch in a little town that was halfway to becoming a ghost town.
When I got to the highway I rode for a while before coming to the stretch that runs through Tangarakau Gorge. This is the only unsealed portion of road in the New Zealand State Highway network.
I knew I was going to have to ride about 15 I’m of gravel. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be 15km of fresh, uncompacted gravel.
The Honda really didn’t like it and it was slow going. At one point several bikes went past me that were clearly better equipped for the road, including tires that weren’t 100% street.
Shortly after they passed I literally slid sideways off the crown of the road and went down. No harm to me or the bike and I got it back up and walked it back to a more solid footing.
I got through the rest of the gorge without problems and just outside the gorge I saw the other bikes stopped, so I stopped to talk with them.
They were out on a day trip from Plymouth and Stratford. One of them told me he was surprised by the surface because he had been through the previous week and it was all nicely packed.
They were heading to the pub in Whanganomona. This is an interesting place that declared itself a republic in 1989 after a change in district boundaries forced it out of the district it was previously in.
We headed off to the pub and came to the one lane Hobbit Hole tunnel and I had to stop as soon as I got inside. I generally really like my autodarkening glasses, but unlit tunnels is one place they don’t work. It was like riding into a coal mine at midnight.
I stopped and took my glasses off, Tennessee continued through the tunnel. I put them back on when I stopped to take a picture at a lookout a few km up the road.
I got to the pub and ordered a pie and beer. Had to pay cash as nether of my cards would work - truly is a different country.
I sat with the other bikers and we chatted for a while before heading off in our various directions.
I continued out to Stratford where I stopped and though about where to go. I decided against going up to New Plymouth and riding Around Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont) and decided instead to head south.
I stopped for groceries and then headed towards a Free beachfront campsite where I set up my tent. I walked out to the beach and had a quick swim, then got ready to cook my dinner. The barbecue at the amenities block wouldn’t work and the two wood fired barbecues were in really bad shape, so I set up my little gasoline stove in one of the wood fired barbecues and cooked my dinner. One of the other campers saw me wandering around with my stuff and offered me the use of his bbq, but the little stove worked fine.
I ate my dinner and then watched the sunset before getting in to my tent for what proved to be another very sound sleep.
Had a wonderful sleep.
I got up and boiled water for coffee using the Kelly kettle and walked out to the beach to have my breakfast.
I went for a quick swim - the water was fairly cool.
I walked back to my tent and started to load up. I got everything on the bike and started out across the grass and the bike was all over the place - I had a flat from tire.
I got the bike to the pavement and put it on the center stand and checked the tire thoroughly, but there was no sign of any damage.
I reinflated the tire using a CO2 cartridge from my repair kit. One of the other campers came by and was trying to help, but really wasn’t much use. Kept asking if I had a tire pressure gauge (which I do) for a tire that was obviously flat.
He did tell me I would find a bike shop in the next town which was 30 km away.
The tire was still a bit low, so I kept my speed down and stopped every 10 k to check it and let it cool. I’m afraid I’d I held up traffic a bit. People were afraid to pass me because with the panniers and my hi viz coat and helmet I looked like I was a motorcycle policeman.
I stopped just outside Whanganui at a little motor cycle shop. He said he couldn’t help because he didn’t have the tools to deal with alloy rims. He did properly inflate the tire for me.
I got to Keown Honda and they pulled the wheel off to check. I went next door to the mitre 10 to buy something and when I came back he called me over to the tank to see the problem.
The tire was leaking from the tread area all the way around - it was defective.
I called the dealer where I bought the bike because the tires were new when I picked it up and he agreed to send another tire down.
Since I didn’t want to delay my travels for a day I had the dealer put in a used, but still serviceable Metzeler that had been taken off another bike for $50. I’ll stop on the way back up and have the new tire put on.
I stopped for a sandwich at a little cafe in Whanganui and worked on booking my crossing to the South Island. I tried Bluebridge first but while they had availability in the overnight sailing, they didn’t have any cabins available and they had nothing available the following day. I tried booking online with Interislander, but wasn’t able to complete the booking - their system didn’t like the expiry date on my credit card for some reason. I called them and was able to complete the booking for a 1 pm departure the following day with a morning return on December 11.
I carried on southand stopped for the night at a little campground in Paekakariki. Nice sites on grass separated by hedges and a very nice camp kitchen. I stopped for groceries on the way in and as the little grocery store had a large selection of Indian food, I bought two prepared Indian dishes, a butter chicken, and a vegetable currie.
After setting up my tent I walked out to have a look at the beach, lots of surfers and kayakers in, but I didn’t go for a swim.
I walked back to my campsite and got organized for dinner. I could hear children playing noisily in the background, but didn’t pay a lot of attention.
I had my dinner and then had a look around. The woman next to me asked if the children were still chasing the eels. There is a stream that runs through the campground and at the one bend there were a half dozen or more large eels!
I got into my tent and read for a while before falling asleep.