Slartidbartfast does the South Island (New Zealand)

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

  1. Mileater

    Mileater Been here awhile

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    Slarti, I am thrilled that you got to see The Coast on a fine day as it is spectacular when the sun shines. Interesting that Milford had 26ºC the day after you visited :deal

    We, over on the "warmer and dryer" East Coast haven't seen any sun worth mentioning in days, so take your time (if you can) up in the highlands and enjoy!

    Thanks for your reports and wonderful pictures. :clap:clap

    Cheers :freaky
    Allan
    #81
  2. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I slept very soundly last night and never heard a Kiwi - Not that I would have recognized a kiwi's cry if I had heard it. Today was almost exclusively spent on the road and close to 600km of blissful riding passed behind me. When I got underway, the sky was grey but bright, the air was warm and the roads dry - Perfect biking conditions in other words. I continued over the pass, Eastwards towards Christchurch but took the Inland Scenic Route, avoiding going too near the city and much of Hwy 1. The road is absolutely fabulous. It has mostly fast sweeping bends until it reaches the coastal plain when there are a lot of long straight sections. The scenery was as great as ever, with the road working its way over and around numerous hills, which changed from the dark greens of the rain forest to an infinte variety of browns, tans and lighter greens.
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    #82
  3. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    As I got nearer to the coast, the wind began to feel colder and damper and the sky looked a little ominous, with rain pouring from a band of clouds ahead.
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    Being a Sunday, there was quite a lot of traffic and I saw more bikes on the road today than any other day. A couple of flocks of Ducks and a few Geese passed me at high speed, headed for the pass. At one point traffic got so bad I had to wait for nearly 30 seconds at an intersection. There also seemed to be a lot of old American cars and hot rods on the road - eventually I found out what was going on.
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    Somehow, my route avoided the rain and after a few unavoidable miles on Hwy 1, my route turned back West, re-crossing the Central Alps via Lewis Pass, which was even better than Arthur's Pass (from a biker's perspective.) As I got away from the East coast, the weather promptly warmed up again.
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    At Spring Junction, I stopped for a late lunch and chatted with a nice couple of Guzzi riders from Nelson, heading home from a weekend ride. He was on an 1100 California and she was on an 1100 Sport. From Spring Junction, I headed North along another great road with ever-changing vistas and fast roads through woods and valleys until it met the Buller Gorge, which I followed Westwards all the way to the Tasman Sea once again. The Buller Gorge generally has tighter corners, virtually no straights at all, and a couple of short single-lane cliff-hugging sections. It rained lightly for a while - enough to put my camera away but not enough to dampen the fun.

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    #83
  4. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Heading south at the coast, toward Punakaiki, I detoured to Cape Foulwind and the seal colony there (anyone who has ever visited a seal colony will understand the place name,) where I also saw some flightless Weka. Then I detoured back North to Westport for fuel.
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    On the way to Punakaiki, it rained again for a while but I didn't care. Fog was beginning to blow in from the cooler water but I didn't care. The road has some tight, twisty sections over headlands and along short sections of beach. It was here that I was passed by the first vehicle of the entire trip that I did not care to try and keep up with - a milk tanker!! It's no wonder the roads are so torn up - I was told the tankers are largely to blame - this vehicle was absolutely flying round tight, blind corners and there was no way I could safely stay ahead of his front bumper while still enjoying the view so I pulled over and he shot past in a cloud of diesel fumes.
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    The Punakaiki YHA is a unique place indeed. I am staying in a small house in a grove of tree ferns, with Weka wandering around.

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    #84
  5. JustPlainDave

    JustPlainDave ...just a monkey with features Supporter

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    I've always wanted to go to (or live in) NZ. Now, thanks to Slarti, I want to go even more. There sure is a lot of beauty packed into that small island.
    Keep the reports coming and I hope the remainder of your trip is just as fun and safe.
    BTW...what are the accompdations like in the YSA's?
    #85
  6. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Thanks! One of the biggest attractions here is the hugely varied scenery.

    The YHA's have been great. They are all different but have high standards: Sheets are clean, all have good kitchens, showers, etc. and all have wi-fi and internet access terminals.
    #86
  7. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

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    Great report! A fine run up the West Coast is truly something to be savoured. We're heading down gain in a few weeks, reading this doesn't make the waiting easy. Enjoy the rest of your trip.:D

    Cheers
    Clint
    #87
  8. DewNmoon

    DewNmoon Been here awhile

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    News from home!

    The Saints actually won! Goin to the SB


    Great pics/story.......BTW
    #88
  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I am reminded of that Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke about Hell freezing over :oscar
    #89
  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    #90
  11. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Last night, at midnight, I walked down to the beach in hope of seeing some Small Blue penguins. I have now failed to see both Yellow-eyed and Small Blue species. Still it was an interesting walk with hardly any natural light. After a while of standing on the cliffs with my headlamp off, I could just about make out the white line of surf.

    This morning, after spending a while trying to help an Israeli girl who had locked the keys in her hire car, I headed south a few km to see the famous Punakaiki pancake rocks and the blowhole. The tide was out so the blowhole didn't. On to Greymouth, the road being mostly long straight bits along the narrow agricultural plain between the mountains and Tasman Sea. Where cold water meets warm air, fog is inevitable and could be seen developing right at the water's edge all along the coast - Amazing!
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    #91
  12. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    At Greymouth, I visited the post office to return the room key to Arthur's Pass YHA (Oops!) then bade farewell to the West Coast for the last time and headed inland toward Reefton. This road and the section from Reefton to Inangahua passed through mostly flat farmland with many long straight sections. For some reason the road crosses and recrosses the same railway tracks over and over and over again. I must be getting spoiled because anywhere else this would be a really nice ride but I was waiting for the road to get back to the bendy bits and hills. Several of the large double tanker milk trucks passed in the opposite direction. They ALL drive like absolute bloody maniacs!
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    I hit the Upper Buller Gorge road at Ianangahua and stopped for a bite of lunch. A sparrow was picking up my crumbs and feeding them to it's fledglings - They looked almost fully grown and I wondered why they weren't picking up their own crumbs.
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    The Upper Buller Gorge is one of the few sections of road I have ridden twice (there are none that I have ridden in the same direction twice.) It has all the twistY bits and hills but the view of the gorge itself is mostly obscured by trees. When I stopped in Murchison for fuel I chatted with a driver who said the gorge used to be much more scenic when he rode it 30 or 40 years ago. From Murchison the scenery improved and the road stayed great - Another fine New Zealand riding route, although as if to prove a point, approaching Nelson, I stopped at a signposted "Scenic Overlook" only to find that you couldn't see any of the view because some numbskull had planted tall pine trees in front of the overlook (before someone else points it out, I'm sure they weren't tall when they were planted!)
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    #92
  13. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    The area around Nelson has numerous vineyards, orchards and fruit farms. It also has a large shallow estuary, half of which was dry as the tide was out. I saw quite a few waterbirds in the distance and will try to stop with my camera for a better look on the way back.
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    It was still fairly early so I decided to press on to Golden Bay. Several people mentioned that I should do Takaka Hill on the way to Golden Bay. In fact there's no choice. What a road!!! It's not very steep and there are very few switchbacks but mile after mile of tight turns, coming fast one upon another as you climb over 600m (2000') over the hill. It reminded me of the Hana Highway or the Tail of The Dragon (yawn!) only more intense than either and going up the side of a steep hill. The hearty little Weestrom was spinning the back tire powering out of some of the tighter bends :D

    There were no easy oportunities for good photos on the way up although I got a few looking back from the top and some coming down on the Golden Bay side. Now at the Takaka YHA on Golden Bay and planning to go to Cape Farewell, the farthest Northeast point of the island, in the morning.
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    #93
  14. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    #94
  15. Mezo

    Mezo Banned

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    "Hey Bro,any objections for us having a go on your bike?"

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    Mezo. :thumb
    #95
  16. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Yeah, you're not wearing helmets :lol3
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  17. Mileater

    Mileater Been here awhile

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    Yeah! Don't you just love those guys? :puke1

    Recently I had cause to pass a couple on SH1, using the passing lanes. I was two-up at the time but had to crack "The Ton" just to get by and get out of the dirty air and crap kicked up by the trailers as they swung to and fro' into the gravel at the edge of the road :huh

    Take care,
    Allan
    #97
  18. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Had a fun day up at Farewell Spit and riding back over Takaka Hill. Now in Nelson. Will post RR later - lots of pics as usual
    #98
  19. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    New Zealand is a nature-lovers paradise. Not only do you have large-scale natural beauty and wonder such as glaciers and fijords but also native wildlife. Today was a nature day! I rode out along Golden Bay to cape farewell, intially just for the ride, but when I got there found out it is a nature preserve.
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    While drinking tea at the visitor centre, walking up the beach and through the woods, took my time, had a good look around and played with the camera. Saw a lot of different bird species I have not noted before and some new plants and other animals.

    This is the way to bird-watch! Shame the tide is so far out all the seabirds are miles away.
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    New Zealand Pigeons, caught in the act!
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    You see a lot of warning signs about this invasive species - makes you appreciate the reasons for the biosecurity at the airport.
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    #99
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Heading for Nelson, I had to cross Takaka Hill again of course - Whoopee! A fun ride for sure.
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    The weather turned perfect here today (after weeks of the cool, clammy weather I noted upon arrival) and I was treated with great views of Golden Bay from the top of Takaka Hill. The ride along the bay was also fun but I saw more traffic than I have seen for days. Approaching Nelson town centre was the first divided highway I have seen in New Zealand.
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    Had a great evening chatting biking and caving in a local pub with @Warewolf. Gave me some good information for tomorrow's ride to Picton and some great ideas for my next visit - whenever that may be.