Southern Epic...er - New Zealand South Island on Honda Groms

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by victay, Dec 21, 2019.

  1. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    Hello again. Its been a while since our last ride report. We are planning a little jaunt around our backyard (the South Island of New Zealand) and thought you might like to follow along.

    Aiming to leave early tomorrow morning (Monday 23 Dec).

    Link to spot tracker here:
    http://kiwigrom.com/tracker/

    Cell signal likely to be spotty at our proposed campsites, so updates may be a little sporadic. Will post when we can.

    THE ROUTE
    We did a South Island Xmas trip about two years ago (no ride report, but video is linked below). The previous trip was a good mix of scenic road and easy gravel plus an off-road misadventure that resulted in a dislocated thumb.

    We are planning on revisiting some of the same locations (Skippers, Milford etc...), but will be adding on some more gravel roads and 4x4 tracks this time around. We also intend to challenge ourselves and our trusty adventure groms by seeing how far we can make it up some of the gnarlier tracks that require multiple river crossings.

    We are planning to be out anywhere from 5-10 days on the road. It’s all going to depend on the weather really and how deep some of the rivers are. Weather in New Zealand tends to be quite changeable and you can have 4 seasons in a day. We have had some pretty bad floods in the last couple of weeks and it snowed up in the hills just the other day. Did I mention it is the middle of summer here?



    BIKE PREP

    Very little bike prep needed since the TAT. We have put the OEM springs back on for this trip as we know they are bombproof. An oil change and we are good to go. Groms got new Mobber rear tyres put on last month to pass their Warrant of Fitness (WOF) but we are still rocking the Maxis front tyres we put on in Trinidad Colorado.

    We will be taking along some primus fuel bottles on this trip too. No fuel bladders for us. We don’t expect to have to use the extra fuel too much, but it helps not to have fuel anxiety and some of the stretches are just that little bit too long for my peace of mind.

    Riding gear is almost the same as the TAT, but sans the vented gear. Temperatures vary too much here. Maximums in upper 20 degrees C, minimums in single digits almost zero in some places. We are packing our down sleeping bags and some extra thermals. It feels like we are packing more crap on this 10 day trip than we took on our 45 day trip across the US.

    Reindeer Groms.jpg
    Necessary Xmas themed farkles
    #1
  2. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    No one-millisecond nude garage shot to kick things off? FAIL! :D
    #2
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  3. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    We have both put on some weight since the last one. Don't want to scare people away :)
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  4. MotoPet

    MotoPet Been here awhile

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    Another Groom-Adventure! :clap
    Looking forward to the report.:lurk
    #4
  5. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 1 – Monday 23 December 2019
    Christchurch to Ranfurley
    468km (290 mi) travelled


    Early start at 7am and off to Fairlie for the compulsory pie stop about three and a half hours later. Coincidentally that's when the sun decided to try half heartedly to peek out from behind the clouds.

    20191223_110339.jpg
    classic kiwi steak and cheese for Simon

    After Fairlie we finally hit our first bit of gravel for the day. Hakataramea Pass Road. Fast hard packed gravel through scenic hills. Lots of sheep about. Dont know if it's the knobblier mobber rear tyre or if we are just a little out of practice, but we both felt a little skittish on the gravel. Will see how we feel in a day or two.

    IMG-20191223-WA0001.jpg
    ominous clouds

    As we dropped down into Kurow, we hit a wall of warm air and some blue sky, but it didn't stick around for too long as we climbed up Danseys Pass. Danseys Pass is a favourite of ours, just lovely easy gravel road through the hills. I think we saw maybe two cars the entire time.

    20191223_164241.jpg
    usually a bit more scenic than this

    We arrived in Naseby around 5pm. So 10 ish hours since leaving home to cover a mere 430km (267mi). We had intended to push on for another 40 km along a 4x4 track to overnight at a backcountry hut, but I was completely pooped, so we made the call to spend the night in relative luxury at a campsite in Ranfurley instead. Unusual for us, we also decided to go out to dinner at a local pub. Usually we are the type to rock up at a campsite, eat a basic meal then straight to bed. We are glad we ate out at the Waipiata Hotel. Their burgers are both large and tasty.

    IMG-20191223-WA0000.jpg
    when the barman offers you the option of a jug or a bottle, turns out the bottle option is NOT the regular size little ones you get everywhere else. 750ml of Speights.

    Screenshot_20191223-221804_OsmAnd+.jpg
    todays route-screenshot from OSMand
    #5
  6. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 2 – Tuesday 24 December 2019
    Ranfurley to Ranfurly
    113km (70 mi) travelled

    Aaaand we are back at Ranfurley. It took us about 7 hours to complete a mere 113km(70mi) and maybe 50 ish (30 is miles) of those were on sealed roads. That gives a hint at how hard today was.
    We left Ranfurly this morning thinking we would do the loop around Mt Buster and then head onwards. Felt a little disorganized this am. Normal second day of a trip pfaffing. How does everything seem to expand and not pack the same way on the second day?

    Headed back towards Naseby and turned onto the Mt Buster track. Was easy 4x4 track until it wasn't. Lots of steep rocky climbs. The kind where you need to keep up your momentum and make sure you avoid the larger rocks. Then it wound it's way down to a valley with a couple of shallow river crossings.

    I detest getting my feet wet and so does Simon
    On the third or fourth crossing which Simon made it through cleanly, I of course got stuck... on a rock...in the middle of the river...just where the water was knee height. Waterproof goretex boots are great until you fill them with icy cold water from the top. Of course Simon then had to walk back to help me off my rock and got similarly waterlogged. I will be hearing about this for the rest of the trip. Of course this was not to be the end of our watery adventures.

    It was close to mid day when we reached the Otematata River, the last river crossing. It wasn't terribly wide or deep. Simon even went for a recce across it. What we failed to recognise was just how fast it was flowing in the middle and what that does when you try ride across it. Ideally we would have tried to cross it at an angle with the flow, but the available line to avoid the boulders and the deeper holes, didn't allow for that. Simon's poor grom got pushed over and the engine cut out. I think the enduristan saddle bags acted like water wings as thankfully it didn't get completely submerged and the water didn't come above the air intake. We managed to manhandle it the rest of the way across after taking the tank bag and top bag off.

    IMG-20191224-WA0005.jpg
    Simon checking out the Otematata River
    On the other side of the river, Simon checked his oil. It was a watery white mess. Not good. The ignition wouldn't even turn on initially but we gave it a few minutes and the grom started right up. Not much of a choice from here, we could either try going back the way we had come, across multiple streams or carry on, which seemed the shortest way back to Ranfurly. We chose to head on.

    First we had to get my bike across the river though. We took the luggage and phone off of mine before Simon walked it across, with me helping to support it and stop it getting pushed over. Still had to do a bit of pushing and shoving to get it over some sneaky underwater rocks, but it wasn't too hard. We spent some time having an early lunch on the river bank and wringing out our socks.

    Steep switchbacks led us out of the river valley and we finally reached the Ida Railway Hut, a backcountry hut managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC). If it had been later in the day it would have made an excellent ovenight stay. Clean and tidy, bunks with mattresses and a wood burning stove.

    IMG-20191224-WA0003.jpg
    backcountry hut

    Then came the rocks, the loose thick stuff on top of more loose rock. It was challenging when it was flat, but as soon as the grade increased and you were forced to keep up your momentum, it became something completely detestable. It felt like you were barely in control, the front wheel bouncing around and finding it's own route while you encourage it to not hit anything too big. It was exhausting.

    IMG-20191224-WA0002.jpg
    Simon playing dead

    We were too pooped to even notice we had reached the top of our ascent, just glad we were finally descending to what we hoped would be some easier tracks. Parts of the descent was so steep and loose that at times we had to resort to a combination of braking and semi sliding/paddling. It was terrifying. One wrong move and the bikes would have been over the edge into oblivion.it was like scree running with bikes.

    IMG-20191224-WA0001.jpg
    somewhere near the top

    We were mentally and physically exhausted by the time we reached Ranfurly. At the local petrol station, we stocked up on a couple of litres of oil to deal with the aftermath of the Otematata incident. When I mentioned to the bloke at the till that we had drowned a bike in the river I was told we weren't the first and certainly wouldn't be the last.

    IMG-20191224-WA0004.jpg
    mmmm milky

    Simon spent a good wee while flushing and filling oil at our campsite. I had to pop back out for more oil as it took three flushes to finally get something that was mostly oil draining out.

    This little loop we did today has been the most challenging thing we have ever attempted on the Groms. It almost kicked our buts completely and could easily have turned out poorly for us but we are glad we did it anyway. It is an adventure after all. Less challenging stuff in store for us tomorrow we hope.

    Screenshot_20191224-182214_OsmAnd+.jpg
    screenshot of today
    #6
  7. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 3 – Wednesday 25 December 2019
    Ranfurly to Millers Flat
    171km (106mi) travelled


    Everything hurts. Backs, arms, necks even our hands.

    Overcast and chilly today, never getting above 10 deg C. Off to a great start down some easy gravel roads and onto a bit of the Old Dunstan Trail. A local classic route that runs through beautiful Central Otago scenery. Hills with rocky outcrops, occasional flocks of sheep and cows.not a single car to be seen.

    IMG-20191225-WA0002.jpg
    bit overcast

    Popped off of the Old Dunstan and on to Long Valley Ridge Road for some of my favourite kind of riding. Hard packed dirt road with ruts, potholes and occasional surprise rocks. You spend most of the time in second gear weaving and dodging obstacles. So much fun.

    IMG-20191225-WA0007.jpg
    still overcast

    As we climbed, the muddy puddles got progressively larger. We reached the end of the track at Serpentine Church. One of the few remaining buildings from a bit of a gold rush in this area in the late 1800s.

    From there, the track changed dramatically. The mud puddles that had been getting larger were ow as wide as the trail and full of sticky, sucky mud as Simon and I found out very early on.

    IMG-20191225-WA0008.jpg
    stuck in the mud

    Parts of the trail were eroded so badly they could swallow a 4x4 never mind our tiny groms. We spent the afternoon painstakingly avoiding being bogged down and finally reached Roxburgh broken and completely covered in mud.

    IMG-20191225-WA0010.jpg
    picture makes it look better than it was

    IMG-20191225-WA0011.jpg
    lots of this

    We had intended to be doing a lot more basic camping on this trip, but the lure of holiday camps with their hot shower and flushing toilets has been too strong. We have camped for the night at Miller flat.

    IMG-20191225-WA0005.jpg
    tonights camp

    Screenshot_20191225-203440_OsmAnd+.jpg
    todays route

    Weather outlook not looking great over the next few days, may have to find some where to hole up on Friday if the metservice is to be believed.
    #7
  8. Daniel3640

    Daniel3640 Moto_Dans

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    Awesome! I was down doing the dunstan just over a month ago. Was going to try the mt buster track but wussed out. Looks like it gave you guys a kicking! Well done for completing it though! I'm impressed.
    #8
  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    So nice to see green grass and leaves on trees. Minus 10c here Christmas morning. Could be worse.
    #9
  10. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 4 – Thursday 26 December 2019
    Millers Flat to Alexandra
    190km (118mi) travelled


    Whew, another epic day for us. Left camp at around 8:45 and it was a few hours of easy backcountry roads. Nice and cruisy, though not great for the fuel consumption.

    IMG-20191226-WA0006.jpg
    gravesite with a sweet but fake folk story associated with it
    IMG-20191226-WA0005.jpg
    clyde river

    From Piano Flat it was lovely hard packed dirt roads through the forrest, winding up and down. Traction in the rear isn't great on these kinds of roads, we think the rear suspension is struggling.
    At the start of Waikaia Bush Road there is a sign that says "it's harder than it looks" they werent kidding. If it had been raining, we would have turned round. Straight off the bat we had some very steep dirt to climb. Probably the steepest we have encountered. If at any time we had stalled or stopped the bikes, we would have had to turn around, go back down and try again. Fortunately we didn't have to do that, maybe its skill, but most likely we are just lucky.

    IMG-20191226-WA0007.jpg
    scary steep

    After the steep climb, the trail meandered upwards, occasionally boggy, eroded in places to rock steps and deeply ruted in others.

    IMG-20191226-WA0010.jpg
    tough but fun

    We came across a couple of dirt bikers, a guy on a quad and his 10 year old son on the tiniest dirt bike we have ever seen. That made it look easy. Kudos to the little guy, this track was tough and his dad had to lift him and his bike out of some of boggy mud holes that were as big as his bike.
    By the time we made it to Potters Hut ( another remain from another mini gold rush) we were getting pretty fatigued. When I get fatigued, I tend to get stuck more often, and we both get a bit snippy with each other. A short break, and some food usually sorts us both out.

    IMG-20191226-WA0003.jpg
    potters hut

    Our main objective today was to reach Old Man Obelisk. A large rock formation at the top of a ridgeline. To get there though we had to slowly climb to a higher altitude. Unsurprisingly this meant that we encountered some snowy patches along the trail. Snow is lovely except when it masks the muddy ruts. We made it through the first one with a bit of extra pushing and shoving. A group of 4x4s came through and made the remaining patches easier by carving a path through them.

    IMG-20191226-WA0002.jpg
    snow

    Our 4x4 escort turned off and we finished the remainder of the track in thick mist with visibility dropping to less than 20m in some parts. After taking some photos at the big rock, it started to hail. We figured we needed to get down to a lower elevation and hurried down what was now a maintained dirt access road to the valley below.

    IMG-20191226-WA0000.jpg
    old man obelisk
    We rolled into Alexander on fumes. Groms still had half a litre of fuel in them and we still have not had to use the extra fuel we have lugged along with us.

    Screenshot_20191226-191421_OsmAnd+.jpg
    todays track
    #10
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  11. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 5 – Friday 27 December 2019
    Alexandra to Cromwell
    81km (50mi) travelled


    The sun finally came came out today and we actually had some blue sky too. Weather report for the Nevis Road wasn't looking great, so we selected to have an easy short day.

    Popped up to nearby Fraser dam for quick look then back down again. Next up was Hawksburn Road. We did this road two years ago and distinctly remember some steep rocky bits and some heavily eroded parts on top, but someone has come along and fixed it since then and it was fairly smooth gravel all the way. Heaps of cyclists out on it too.

    IMG-20191227-WA0001.jpg
    scenic view

    IMG-20191227-WA0005.jpg
    Fraser dam

    IMG-20191227-WA0002.jpg
    looking down on clyde

    We arrived in Cromwell at lunchtime. After a bacon sandwich we rechecked the met service. Looking a lot better for this afternoon and tomorrow, but the wind was howling. We didn't fancy getting pushed around on the bikes and feel like we need a bit of a rest day, so an early camp at Cromwell.

    Screenshot_20191227-183650_OsmAnd+.jpg
    todays tracks
    #11
  12. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Well done and as epic as ever. You two are legends. I'll be interested to see the river crossings on the Nevis. I hope you're going to film them all:-)

    Btw i think you came over the Hawksburn Road from Clyde...much easier since the grader went through earlier this year.
    #12
  13. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    Woops. Edited my post with the correct name now.
    #13
  14. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    DAY 6 – Saturday 28 December 2019
    Cromwell to Christchurch
    450km (279mi) traveled


    What a stunning day. The sun was out and we had blue skies. It was windy too, but you can't have everything. We should have done Carricktown track and the Nevis today but decided that heading south would put us further from home and we felt like our reserves were starting to fade...did we mention that everything seems to hurt at the moment. Either this trip was way harder than anything we have previously done, or we have aged significantly in the last year or so. Think its a bit of both.

    Cromwell will be a great point to pick up our original planned route at another time, possibly on our T700s that are arriving in late January.

    We headed home on the main roads. Not a lot of roads in New Zealand, so not a lot of choices in getting back to Christchurch. Heaps of tourists and holiday makers on the road, and I'm sure we pissed off a few of them with our extra slow speeds. We had a bit of a headwind for the first half and the Groms were pinned at full throttle but not going terribly fast. We tried to be courteous and pulled over quite frequently. Had a couple of friendly toots and only one angry one. Seemed to be more vehicles going in the opposite direction, fortunately, I counted 23 vehicles in one long train. Once we got past Geraldine, the traffic dissipated completely until Christchurch.

    Although it is the main road home, it is a stunning one. With sunny clear skies, we got particularly good views of Aoraki/Mt Cook with lake Pukaki in the foreground.

    20191228_111822 DSC02257.jpg
    the only photo stop of the day

    Screenshot_20191229-102233_OsmAnd+.jpg
    screenshot from the gps app. Looks like it had a brain fart in a couple of places.

    Looking out the window today, we are thinking we probably should have started our trip this week instead of last week. Weather looking much better, but hey that how things work out. We really challenged ourselves on this trip, and are quite pleased we got as far as we did even though it was only about a third of the route that we had originally planned. We need to plan these things better. We hope to pick up where we left off and complete some more legs. It will give us something to look forward to doing over the rest of the year.

    STATS

    Total Distance Traveled - 1473 km (915 mi)
    Highest elevation - 1686m (xx ft)
    Max Speed - 119km/h (74 mi/hr)
    Avg Speed - 29km/hr (18 mi/hr)
    Fuel Consumption - Varied between 31 km/l (73 mi/US gallon) and 46 km/l (108 mi/gallon)
    #14
  15. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Good to listen to those little voices when they say "I've had enough".

    You two don't have anything to prove and it would be a shame to rush what will be great rides.

    I understand the Carricktown track is up there in gnarly-ness. Might not be the best for the first sortie with the new T7s?? @nzrian would have done it a few times i guess?
    #15
  16. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Ps that might be the only photo of the day but its definitely a photo of the day photo. Should be on the pics thread imho.
    #16
  17. victay

    victay Enthusiastic Noob

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    Agreed. Did Carricktown on the groms 2 years ago. New big bike on gnarly track will only end in tears I think.
    #17
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  18. simi.d

    simi.d Enthusiastic Noob

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    Part 1 of our little misadventure is up on YouTube. Could be good for a laugh :jack

    #18
  19. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Wowsers. Its making the TAT look like a bit of a doddle.
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  20. MotoPet

    MotoPet Been here awhile

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    Brilliant Video as usual from you 2. Thanks for taking the time to share.
    #20
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