1. eNewsletter Sign Up

NZ's East Cape - 3 day get away

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by acertainalias, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    So it was coming to the end of the school holidays. Those back to work blues were building in only the way that they can for teachers after an extended summer break. My family had chosen a staycation this year, nobody had been keen on going camping (teenage children, no internet = no fun), we'd looked after a friend's dog for almost 3 weeks, we hadn't got our arses in gear and done anything about getting a pet-sitter organised for our dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits etc., and I needed some 'away' time before I went back to work.

    I mentioned the thought of a three day ride to my wife and because she's lovely she agreed straight away.

    A few years ago I'd bought Mike Hyde's excellent book Twisting Throttle NZ, and had combined several of the suggested Central North Island routes into a three day trip. I was keen to do the same again. Note to Mike - I actually bought your book, i.e. paid money for it from a book shop. I didn't borrow it from a library and I recommend it to anyone who wants to ride NZ, North or South. In fact I recommend to everyone full stop.

    So on Saturday night I went to bed with Mike's book and re-read a few of the North Island routes. I was particularly taken with the East Cape and decided that was where I was going. The next day I checked the weather forecast and was very happy to see that the best three days of the entire summer were predicited Monday to Wednesday that week. Next minute I'm $200 lighter because I've booked a motel for two nights in Opotiki and the plan is hatched.

    Day 1 - Pukekohe to Opotoki via Waihi
    Day 2 - Opotoki to Opotoki via the East Cape
    Day 3 - Opotoki to Pukekoe via Rotorua

    This is the bike:
    photo 2.JPG
    It's a leftover 2014 (bought new in 2016) Honda CB500x onto which I have slapped the Rally Raid level 3 kit. I bought the bike because I'd read about the kit and wanted something road and trail friendly to replace my aged-but-nothing-wrong-with-it XT600e which was just a bit too unrefined for my middle aged, susceptible-to-numbing-very-quickly-on-a-vinyl-plank bottom. Quick verdict on the bike and the kit - love it, it's awesome. Buy one.

    I'd also bought some Giant Loop kit which shall be for ever known in my household as Dad's-very-expensive-motobike-luggage. There is a short story behind the puchase of this too, but that is for another day.

    Monday Morning rolls around and it's departure day. Opotoki is only really a 3.5 hour ride from home so I wasn't rushing. Which is just as well because my wife needed to take one of my daughters to the cinema at the mall, wait (shop) until the film finished, then bring her home. She asked if I could wait until she got back before I left. I dutifully said yes and off they went. I was ready in about an hour, all the usual pre-ride checks done, bag packed and loaded, riding pants on, boots on, visor cleaned, jacket ready, hi viz vest over the jacket, all good. 11 am and ready to roll. 12 noon and still ready. 1pm and very ready. 1.30pm and I might as well have lunch at home instead of on the road. 2.00pm and I get my jacket on to go anyway. Then I discover that the velcro that is supposed to hold the vi-viz together at the front has parted compay with the fabric. Ok - minor set back, there is a work-safety shop 10 mins away so I jump in the ute and go and fetch another one. I bought a 4XL to fit over my 2XL jacket which turned out to be like wearing a marquee, but never mind. Straight back home and they're back from the mall so it's kisses all round and off I go.

    I always spend the first few kilometers of a long ride running mental checks that I have done everything I should have done, packed everything I intended to, strapped the luggage on, shut the garage, that kind of thing. I ticked everything off in my mind, all present and correct and began to relax. By the time I got to Paeroa a feeling of sheer joy was beginning to creep in. I love that transition that occurs in my thinking, in fact it's almost like I stop thinking and start just doing. Everything becomes fluid and I am completely in the moment, and I can picture the point in the road when I became aware of that.
    #1
    neppi, Oaters, Shaggie and 1 other person like this.
  2. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    Now I'm new to this taking pictures as you ride kind of thing and I've got my crappy old Iphone 4s and a cheap Fuji point and shoot digital camera with me. The iphone is in my jacket pocket and the Fuji is in the tank bag and I can't use either of them without stopping. And I didn't stop unti I got to Waihi beach. Although I've been to the gold mine in Waihi before, I hadn't been to Waihi beach.

    Here it is - just like lots of other lovely beaches.
    015.JPG

    And here is the bike at the beach, totally unique and not like any other lovely bikes (in NZ at least I believe).
    016.JPG
    Ten mins to stetch my legs, embarass myself by using a selfie stick in public, and then off again. Next stop not yet determined.

    This was the next stop, and here is another bike-at-the-beach shot. Can't remember exactly where but I was creating a GPS track as I travelled using an ancient Garmin etrex. I do this so that when i get back home I can upload it into google Earth and see my track. It's equally amazing how much detail it captures and how wrong it gets my location at times. This shot is actually at Ohope beach.
    019.JPG

    And this is the part of the GPS track that told me that. As I rode off I remember making that left turn, then realising that it was a no-exit street and aborting the turn.
    Beach.JPG

    I didn't stop again until I reached the motel in Opotiki. A person I used to work with moved to Opotoki a few years ago, and along the way I was thinking wouldn't it be funny if I bumped into this person when I got there. I won't name this person, but sure enough, as I entered the town, I saw this person on board a bicycle, coming the other way. This person has an unmistakable physical frame, and therefore I knew I was not mistaken when I saw this person. What are the chances of that? The first person I see in Opotiki is the only person I know in Opotiki.
    #2
    Shaggie likes this.
  3. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    I checked into the motel and checked out my room. It looked like the usual NZ affair, dated but functional, worn but clean. Three beds, two singles and a double. It was the last room available when I booked, and the cheapest I could find in Opotiki.
    020.JPG

    I unpacked my stuff from the bike, changed into shorts and a fresh tee shirt and texted my wife to report a safe journey.
    021.JPG

    The motel owner's husband (I think) came over to ask me where i was going to park the bike over night. I had planned to leave it right outside the sliding door with the curtains open but he offered me a space in the locked garage with his new lawnmower so I snapped that up pretty quick.

    Then it was food time. I hoofed the 200m or so to New World and got some breakfast stuff, some wraps, salad and a piece of salmon to make dinner tonight and lunch for the next day. But before I committed to eating pauper wraps for tea I wanted to see if there was anything better on offer in Opotiki. 45 mins later and I had decided that wraps were indeed the best I was going to get that night. And they weren't that bad either.

    I channel hopped the three channels with a reasonable picture and watched Mythbusters attempt to recreate a prison break using only water and indigestion tablets. As I lay in bed later I could hear the high pitched whine of mosquitos (I had left the door open and the lights on well after dark). Once I had got over over the pleasant realisation that I hadn't quite lost enough high-freqency hearing to be deaf to the little biting bastards (I didn't always wear ear plugs when riding), I set about killing as many as I could. That done, I went to sleep with the fridge for company.

    Here are the GPS stats for the day.
    019b.JPG

    Tomorrow I leave Opotiki to ride for Opotiki.
    #3
    young1 and Shaggie like this.
  4. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    I awoke unbitten and set about showering and making breakfast. The fridge, microwave and jug all shared a double powerpoint so I could use any two at a time but not all three. The fridge lost out for 5 mins while I made tea and porridge. In a short while I was packed and ready to go. I retrieved the bike from the garage, locked up the room and set off to get coffee from The Diner 500m up the road.
    028.JPG
    This friendly little chap was my breakfast companion and his enthusiasm for my coffee certainly out did the enthusiasm of the barista who made it.
    026.JPG
    I was entertained by the staff of the Bridgestone tyre centre opposite who seemed to be having an early break at 8.45am. Coffee downed, it was time for fuel. I had collected a 25c off per litre fuel voucher from the New World supermarket the night before so another 300m down the road I filled up. A quick calculation would later reveal that the bike had consumed 3.75 L/100km, or in old money had done 75 mpg (UK) on the run to Opotiki yesterday.

    The deep joy is almost instant as I leave town on SH35 and I see the road laid out in front of me and the hills in the distance but as soon as I am moving I see this sign and stop for a picture. But really only because the same picture is in the Twisting Throttle NZ book.
    031.JPG

    And here's me in my marquee hi-viz trying to be artistic with the sun and a selfie stick.
    030a.JPG
    #4
    Shaggie likes this.
  5. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    The views are spectacular as the road climbs and sweeps and follows the coast.
    033.JPG

    I stop frequently and just gaze and try to take it all in. Vision is our primary sensory input but this is too rich in scent and sound to be overlooked.
    034.JPG

    The Motu river. Remember this is the end of January and it has been dry for weeks. I would love to see this in full flood.
    037.JPG

    038.JPG
    #5
    Shaggie likes this.
  6. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    I stop on the bridge and look down. The water is crystal clear and the bush thick and green. The contrast is stunning in the glorious light.
    044.JPG

    I follow the road as it follows the coast, occasionally deviating inland to bridge a river before returning to the coast. At Raukokore I stop right at the water's edge to stretch and attempt an artistic photo again.
    048.JPG

    I'm very taken by the rivers and can only marvel at what it must be like when the channel is full.
    051.JPG

    I reach a junction. The first significant road (other than the one I am on) I have seen in 4 hours. The road heads inland towards the dark peaks. I have time so I decide to ride 10km up the road and see where it goes. This is the 10km point. I haven't seen another vehicle since I left SH35. The hills on the far bank of the river have some enormous slips evident.
    055.JPG
    #6
    Shaggie likes this.
  7. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    At Cape Runaway the road leaves the immediate coast and parallels the ocean slightly inland, rejoining the sea at Hicks Bay. I stop for a break again and see children on horseback playing in the street with a small pack of dogs following along.

    The batteries in the Fuji are almost dead and along with the wraps I made for lunch the night before, the spare batteries are safely in my room in the motel. Oh well, I have my phone I suppose.

    As I leave Hicks Bay I have rounded the cape and the road turns south. I next stop at Tokomaru Bay and detour to the wharf which I discover is dangerous and awaiting funds to be restored.
    063.JPG

    There are information signs describing the significant history of the town and the remains of industrial buildings look curiously out of place.
    064.JPG

    066.JPG

    I take one final picture as the camera dies.
    067.JPG

    Opposite the former New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd. there are signs for The Ruins Cabins. I think this would be a fantastic place to spend a night on another trip.
    #7
    Shaggie, KLRalph and GutsyGibbon like this.
  8. advNZer?

    advNZer? Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,612
    Location:
    Wellington,New Zealand
    good stuff,entertaining and interesting.I have been round the cape twice recently but its always refreshing to see what other people see too!
    #8
    acertainalias likes this.
  9. sailorconnor

    sailorconnor Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2017
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    London, UK
    Absolutely beautiful scenery mate.

    Seeing them photos has made the british winter feel that little bit colder today
    #9
    acertainalias likes this.
  10. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    Haven't had a British winter since I left in Dec 2011, and I'm in no hurry to go back either!
    #10
  11. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    I set off again, still heading south towards my planned stop in Tologa Bay. This place also features in Mike Hydes book and just like Tokomaru, has a long concrete wharf from the industrial yesteryear of this area. I'm also pretty hungry by now because remember, I left my lovingly prepared wraps in the motel.

    I arrive in Tologa at about 3pm and stop at the filling station. Petrol here is about 20c per litre more expensive than in Opotoki, which made it about 45c a litre more than I paid that morning (good old fuel voucher from New World). I take my helmet off to go in and pay but don't remove my ear plugs. There then follows a short comedy sketch where I have to say pardon after everything the cashier says to me. The really funny bit is that I know I tend to shout when wearing ear plugs and I am aware of that so I reduce the volume of my speech down to what I think is a normal level. Only it turns out the cashier is pretty deaf too, and I am whispering and wearing ear plugs. I pay for the fuel and leave. My fuel calculations later show usage of 3.94 L/100km or 72 mpg (UK), slightly higher consumption than yesterday which isn't surprising given the very undulating and stop-start nature of the ride so far.

    I ride over the road to the nearest cafe and find the one staff member shutting and locking the place up. Luckily there are about 3 more in a row so I move on to the next. I still haven't taken out my ear plugs so I point to an egg salad roll in a chiller cabinet and ask for it. The young staff member reaches over the counter, slides open the glass and hands it to me. How silly do I feel now! I successfully open the fridge myself and buy a 1.5L bottle of the most gloriously chilled water ever.

    Outside I drink about half the water and pour the rest into my empty camelbak bottle. I stuff the egg salad roll into the tank bag and ride off to find the famous-because-it-is-in-Mike-Hyde's-book Tologa concrete wharf.

    I ride into the carpark and notice that the entrance to the caravan park has a shop. I walk in (ear plugs out first) and buy the most expensive cheap AA batteries ever and get the camera operating again.
    068.JPG

    I then sat and ate my late lunch while pondering the remainder of the ride. I was 300km in with about another 200km to go.

    There was an interesting information board describing the innovative way in which the concrete piles of the wharf were repaired during its restoration some years earlier. This involved removing the damaged, crumbling concrete to leave the steel reinforcing, sheathing what remained of the old piles with cylindrical steel formwork and then pouring in new concrete through holes cut in the concrete deck of the wharf. Clever stuff. There were also photographs taken right up to the 1960s of boats loading cargo from rail trucks on the wharf.

    This is the beach looking left away from the wharf. Fairly busy (for NZ) with people from the caravan park and other visitors.
    069.JPG

    Before long I'm back in the saddle and heading for Gisborne. This is another city I've never to before and I get just a flavour as I pass through. I pause twice, once when the harbour catches my eye, and again in the town centre just because as towns go, it looked like a very pleasant and clean one.
    072.JPG

    074.JPG

    Two things stay in my mind about Gisborne. Firstly that row of palms continues for miles out of town. I don't know how many palms that is, but let's say they are 10m apart, that's a lot of palms. And secondly, that I rode off with my left turn indicator still on like a total noob.
    #11
    Shaggie likes this.
  12. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    I leave Gisborne on SH2 which will take me back to Opotiki through the Waioeka gorge. But first the road out of town passes through wine country as it gently climbs and sweeps.
    076.JPG

    I follow a logging truck up the climb to Matawai, only it is empty, carrying its own trailer and absolutely tanking it. I am reluctant to overtake because the truck is doing close to 100kph and the road is just too twisty so I hang back and enjoy the rolling ride. Suddenly I am aware of a smell of burning rubber in the air and I round a blind bend to see this bloody logging truck with its rear wheels locked and smoking, barely juddering to a halt behind a tractor preparing to turn right. I am happy that Honda sent the ABS version of the CB500x to New Zealand.

    I slow down as I ride past the turn for the old coach road (the gravel route) back to Opotiki but time is not on my side so I decide to stick to the sealed highway. As I enter the gorge I see a sign that warns of falling rocks for the next 50km. I turn around to get a picture for the best road signs forum but the expensive cheap batteries are dead in the camera. I don't stop to change them again.

    The gorge is another spectacular example that geological time is now, just as the quote from Aaron Ralston in 127 hours. There have been some huge slips recently and in one part the tar seal on the road is scuffed and damaged by the tightly turning trucks which have dumped the cleared debris in huge mounds by the road side.

    I soon decide to stop and change the batteries in the camera to get a few pictures on the way through the gorge but the sun is quite low by now and I am not a skilled photographer.
    080.JPG

    I cross this bridge to get a look into the river. Once again I wonder what this peaceful river would be like in full flood ...
    083.JPG

    The gorge abruptly delivers me out and onto a long straight flat which takes me back to Opotoki. I park the bike next to the lawnmower again and return to my room to eat my wraps that I made for lunch the night before. I then head back to New World and very responsibly choose the 6% beer instead of the 9% one that I haven't tried before. I collect another 25c off fuel voucher and head back to enjoy poor TV reception and no internet again. After a quick mosquito killing frenzy I am ready for bed.

    Stats for the day below. It's pure coincidence that my max speed for the day was 111kph, exactly the same as the day before.
    086a.JPG
    #12
    Shaggie likes this.
  13. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    The next morning I am up, breakfasted and out by 8.30am. It what now seems like a routine, even though I have only done it once before, I head straight to The Diner for coffee. I don't take any photos today but I am entertained again by the Bridgestone Tyres guys team washing a car. Seriously, 4 of them were washing one car. It's then my turn to entertain them by lubing my chain in the carpark. The bike has no centre stand and there is nothing immediately to hand to prop up the swing arm so I adopt the lube-a-bit and move-a-bit method.

    Here is the GPS track of my chain lubing antics in the car park (very zoomed).
    Chain lubing.JPG

    I should have just gone and asked the Bridgestone guys for the very quick use of one of their trolley jacks, but they were very busy washing that car still.

    After fuelling up again (3.87 L/100km or 73 mpg) I head for home. I am going to ride via Rotorua using SH30 just to avoid reversing the same route that I took two days earlier. I enjoy the faster, more open roads compared to yesterday and become more liberal with the throttle as I go. Rotorua is about 280m above sea level which in the grand scale of things is hardly what you'd call altitude, but as I climb I feel the temperature drop and start to consider putting on another layer under my jacket.

    I stop for a very brief photo at Lake Rotoma where what I assume to be just a marked out boat ramp zone turns out to be some kind of weed cordon. I also remark to myself how low the water level is.
    088.JPG

    I have stayed in Rotorua several times and saw no reason to stop. I continued along now familiar roads to Tirau, home of the corrugated iron dog and where every second shop is a cafe. That's handy because I stood in the first one for about 5 mins while the lone waitress hurried about behind the counter without once acknowledging me or the lady standing in front of me. I walked two doors down to the next cafe and was in and out with a short black in about 2 minutes. Result.

    I attempted art once again with the camera as I sat infront of the first cafe drinking my coffee from the second. Ha ha.
    089.JPG
    It was while I was having my coffee that I discovered the foam ear pad in my helmet was sitting over the top of the main liner instead of underneath. I had noticed all day that the top of my right ear felt like it was being compressed and had become quite annoying. I refitted the liner and ear foam properly and it felt a bit better.

    The coffee was so good that was tempted to go and get a second one but I resisted. This was the final leg of the journey and there would be as much coffee as I wanted at home. I set off again and pointed the front wheel in the direction of home.
    #13
    Shaggie likes this.
  14. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    Final stats for the ride home show that I was a little lax in limiting my speed. It crept a little above the 111kph max I had set for the previous two days. Fuel consumption was also the worst of the trip at 4.10 L/100km or 69 mpg.
    089a.JPG

    The downloaded GPS track for the three days.
    East Cape GPS track.jpg

    Where to next? I think maybe Cape Reinga and the Bay of Islands would make a pleasant 3-day ride for April. Maybe camping next time too.
    #14
    Shaggie, glitch_oz and GutsyGibbon like this.
  15. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,459
    Location:
    AUS
    #15
    Oaters and acertainalias like this.
  16. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,459
    Location:
    AUS

    You just wanna ride this on your Grom! :clap
    #16
  17. acertainalias

    acertainalias Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    Pukekohe, New Zealand
    #17
  18. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,483
    Location:
    Russell, New Zealand
    [QUOTE="acertainalias, post: 31597111, member: 151897]

    Where to next? I think maybe Cape Reinga and the Bay of Islands would make a pleasant 3-day ride for April. Maybe camping next time too.[/QUOTE]

    Give me a yell. I'm in Russell, and depending on when, you mightn't even need to pitch your tent on the lawn.

    Nothing really much like the Motu road up here. My BMW Mystic misses it...
    #18
  19. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,459
    Location:
    AUS

    The Kaipara is nothing to sweep under the carpet :-)
    Some nice riding and stunning scenery.
    Then the whole square boxed in by SH 12+14+1 with Pipiwai at its center...it's a cracker!
    North and South shores of the Hokianga Harbour (the north has got some good single-track stuff, too...Rangi Point etc).
    You've got some excellent riding country up there (if one doesn't mind the gravel and backroads).
    #19
  20. PJay

    PJay Any bike, anywhere

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,483
    Location:
    Russell, New Zealand
    Don't disagree with you for a second. Just that there's no tough riding at all, and the only magnificent scenery is sandhills.

    There are certainly enough interesting roads and places to keep me occupied of a weekend (once I've done my fishing).
    #20