Round the Block 2017

Never has a trip been more eagerly awaited than this one. After a long hard slog at work, we were finally on the road. Having sneaked down to Christchurch the previous weekend, we’d put in some hours in our Chch office and were ready to head to the south coast. Along the way we spent a night in Oamaru old town – both the Criterion Hotel and Scott’s Brewery are worth a visit if you’re looking for good beer and, based at Oamaru Backpackers, both were within walking distance. We also did a night in Balclutha which isn’t recommended in its own right, but the riding through Kakanui, Trotters Gorge, over from Blueskin Bay to Sawyers Bay and through Kaitangata was fab. The real reason we were in Balclutha was because it was half an hour from the Tuapeka Mouth Ferry which was long overdue another crossing. 

On to Colac Bay and we got there before the rain started. We were definitely happy to be installed in the bar that afternoon as the rest of the group arrived soaked through… Not a bad bar to hang out in and the 2 litre beer jugs were welcome, as was the good food. Through the night the rain pounding on the roof wasn’t boding well for the coming day… but yay for sunshine when we got up on Monday for a clear run up through Southland, cafe stop in Kingston, an excellent run through Lake Wanaka / Hawea and on to Hokitika. 

Stumpers in Hokitika laid on a great meal as ever, all the better for the cheap, newly refurbished ensuite rooms upstairs. An early start on Tuesday as we needed to get a jump on the unpredictable road works between Murchison and Blenheim due to the Kaikoura Quake traffic. 

We all made it to the ferry in good time and a really smooth crossing followed by a weirdly traffic free run up to Paraparaumu. 


After a sooo calm crossing of Cook Strait, we arrived in Paparaumu that night to be met by Chris who couldn’t make the trip, but still came out for dinner and put up with all of our stories from the road… Leaving town on Wednesday morning, I saw the best sign, but missed getting a pic… If anyone is driving from Kapiti Road onto the Expressway North, I would love a pic of that Expressway sign pointing north if you can please (email to rides@motorbikescape.co.nz)

So Day 3 and we’re heading for Cape Egmont. Brunch at the Mothered Goose in Bulls – if you haven’t been, try it out on the corner of SH3 and SH1. On to the cape and we hung around in the drizzle just in case those who said they’d join us there actually showed up. They didn’t, but the drizzle stopped and it was a nice sunny stop. 

On to Benneydale for the night and the biggest surprise of the tour. All roads do lead to Benneydale – talk to any biker for more than 5 mins and a story about a ride though Benneydale is bound to surface. So now I know where it is, and the understated cafe did us proud for an overnight stay – the roast dinner was in the oven on arrival! So awesome, we’re going back for the Gathering (Queen’s Birthday 2017) . 

Whilst the rest of the country had received a severe drenching all week, we’d only seen a bit of drizzle for half an hour at Cape Egmont, so it was only fair that we got a bit of rain heading out on Thursday morning, but that finished before we stopped for breakfast in Rotorua and sunshine prevailed as we headed out to the East Cape. 

The Hicks Bay motel looked after us that night – starting with beers on the deck overlooking the bay, and we headed off on Friday morning refreshed and with the sun at our back. We chose the Karangahake Gorge route, but the traffic is now crazy on that road, so probably use the Kaimais in future… then on through the early afternoon traffic in Auckland and out to Waipu. If you’re in Waipu, go to Madly Indian – really great curry 🙂 

As an aside, I’d pegged this as the curry and pizza tour as the veggie options at all of the places we were staying seemed to be either one or the other, but as it turned out, I had pizza in Oamaru and curry in Waipu and lots of interesting things in between. 

From Waipu, on Saturday, Andrew’s navigating kicked in again and we found some brilliant back roads to lead us up to Kaitaia and onto Cape Reinga. Well it lead everyone else onto Cape Reinga but I had to admit bloodymindedness had let me down. I’d opted to go touring the back routes instead of taking the sensible option and following the other Street Triple into Whangarei for a new back tyre. In Kaitaia on a Saturday afternoon, I had to admit defeat and head for the motel in Kerikeri to save what rubber I had left for the 400km trip home. But still, I insisted on a photo of the Cape and this is what I’d missed: 

So all that remains is to thank everyone that came along for all or part of it and made our holiday a bit more varied and fun! See you all in Benneydale on Queen’s Birthday and we’ll do a bit more of a social tour in March / April next year – slightly shorter days, slightly more time for catching up at night – make a note in your diary. 

November Quickie 2016

Bonfire night around our place has become a bit of a tradition, but we were also itching to get out on the road, despite struggling to get time away from work and suddenly the November Quickie was underway. Leaving the Waikato on Friday morning, we headed out to the East Cape, which, as you might have gathered, is one of my favourite spots. 

Collecting the rest of the group at Okere Falls over breakfast, we headed off to Waihou Bay for a quick lunch, more fuel and a long gaze at the really picturesque bay, then on round the East Cape to our overnight stop at Tolaga Bay. 

With our big runs, there isn’t much time for sightseeing, so on this trip we made a point of checking out a few bays on the way around – we went up to Lottin Point (apparently the motel is now being renovated so that’s an option for later) and also into Hicks Bay village to check if there is petrol there (no) then on to Tolaga Bay. 
We were keen for a wander along the pier but some quick thinking meant that we checked the meal times at the Tolaga Bay Inn to find we had just 20 mins to get over there and order before they closed for the night. 

Knowing the breakfasts in Tolaga Bay are good, we thought we’d investigate a new option for breakfast and headed out thinking we’d see somewhere on the way. Aside from Gisborne centre (stopping in town wasn’t really in the spirit of the run), we aimed for Matawai, but all closed up there, so rolled into Opotiki with loud rumbling of bellies. 

Back to our place for BBQs and a few more people turned up for the festivities so all bed rolls and tents were spread out and the BBQ and fire lit for a roaring night. 

The Gathering 2016

On Queen’s Birthday we headed down to Mangakino – our first foray into this tiny little town. With Andrew’s route planning and navigational skills up front, we had 2 fabulous short days of riding. On Saturday we waited as long as we could for the fog to clear then set off anyway. A few kms down the road and we were out of the fog and into a brilliant, sunny, clear day. Foggy SaturdayBrilliant Sunday

During the weekend, we found a few roads that can’t have previously existed as I think everyone did a new bit of road at some stage. Great company, great roads, great weather.. love our mid winter rides!

The Colouring In Tour 2016

The Colouring In Tour was born when we were looking at the GPS tracks we had of some of our rides. There are a number of roads that we have ridden but not tracked, and a few roads that we hadn’t yet ridden. Using this as a guide, we plotted a route from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island via as many roads that we hadn’t tracked as possible.  NZ Map 2015

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Day 1: Paihia, Bay of Islands to Warkworth via Matauri Bay and the Rawene Forest

Collecting bikes, ready to set off

 

 

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Day 2: Warkworth to Taupo via Sh16, Highway 22, Pirongia

Some comedy running repairs on the old BMW (see the augmented centrestand?)

 

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Day 3: Taupo to Wellington via Napier and an extended lap of the Wairarapa

(a minor navigational error put us in Pongaroa when we should be much further south by then)

 

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Day 4: Picton to Punakaiki via Motueka and the Moutere Highway

We were glad to get into our motel early and enjoy the storm from a dry vantage point!

 

Day 5: Punakaiki to Wanaka
A couple of flooded roads to navigate, but otherwise a fabulous scenic run on dry roads. Love that run alongside Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea!

 

20160325_140235Day 6: Wanaka to Tuatapere

We planned this as a short day, but the weather was fine, we were all in good spirits and Milford Sound was calling!

The Gathering 2015

A bit of a belated update for The Gathering on Queen’s Birthday 2015. We based the weekend out of Taihape as there are a lot of amazing rides in the area and we heard a rumour the hotel was pretty good. Well the hotel was pretty average actually and the food wasn’t quite that good, but with a good bunch of people turning up for the weekend, we were happy to drink their beer and to overflow into the limited restaurants that Taihape has to offer (including Cafe Telephonique – see glowing review elsewhere on the site).

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With short days and lots of narrow sheltered gorges, the roads were bound to be icy so we planned for a 10am start. As it was, the frost hung around a bit longer so we got on the road around 10.30 and had a steady run through some back roads beyond Rangiwahia and Pahiatua. 20150531_122016

Sunday we did it all again, but this time had a great run through the Wanganui River Road, weaving around live landslides and locals with their own interpretation of the road rules… It was well worth it for the views!

Round the Block 2015

Styled on a ride we have done for many years, we decided to head off to the four corners of NZ. We put the word out, but still weren’t sure how many people might come out with us. But, you can’t plan for what you don’t know so we packed our bags and decided to get out there and take it as it came. We had a couple of dozen nice folk join us along the way, some for the full run, some for the parts they could scratch time off work for…

Cape Egmont (Kinda sorta New Plymouth)
The weather laid it on – thick and wet to get started. We got the heck out of there and things cheered up immediately!
Cape Egmont

A clear run through the Rotorua Lakes and up to the Masonic Hotel in Opotiki – fantastic food as ever and great to have the bikes all locked up for the night

Opotiki food

Opotiki sm

Love, love, love the East Cape…. and yes that is a Harley!
Harley east cape

A long run up to Warkworth that night and just sneaked in before they closed the restaurant. Sorry – too hungry to take photos!

Cape Reinga run in the drizzle. What can I say, except watch out for the wet, raised rail lines that cross SH1 in Kawakawa. Still, a good opportunity to visit the Hunterwassern toilets en route…
Kawakawa

A magical overnight location at Lake Hawea…
Lake Hawea

And onwards to Bluff – Stirling Point is still a magical spot with a very photogenic signpost….
Bluff sign in

the crew

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Christmas 2014 NI Back Country Tour

This Christmas we decided to head for a few roads we hadn’t previously ridden – or roads which had changed since we last visited them. After a busy year at our desks, we opted for days of about 350-400kms

Starting with a night spent under the stars courtesy of Rob in Kaikoura on Christmas day night, we headed to the North Island where we ate, drank and chatted our way around. Boxing day got us across the Cook Straight and as far as Otaki for our overnight stop.
** Note – don’t plan an overnight stay in Otaki….**

Day 2 was a cracker day: Otaki, Apiti, Taihape (hello to new friends Chris and Sandra met over lunch!) then a grinning trip over the Gentle Annie to Napier.

Day 3 – I had been looking forward to this for a long time – we went through Lake Waikaremoana from Wairoa to Murupara and on to an overnight stop in Taupo. We were expecting 30-40kms of gravel, we got about 100kms of VERY rough going – definitely not recommended for anyone without an adventure bike (or an over sized adventurous spirit!).

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!

Day 4 – We left Taupo and headed through Whakamaru (hello to new friends Vicki and Aaron), Te Kuiti then Marokopa for lunch, then down through to Awakino and on to Stratford.

Picton sunrise as we docked at 6am

Day 5 – a day off staying with friends Alistair and Leonie – thanks guys, was great to catch up!

Day 6 – through the Forgotten Highway, coffee with Bob and Annie, and onward to New Year’s Eve in Ohakune.

New Year’s day and we revisited the Whanganui River Road – a little busier now it has been fully sealed but still incredibly pretty. Fordell, Vinegar Hill and onwards to a big and bountiful family BBQ courtesy of Alasdair and Fred before catching the overnight Bluebridge Ferry to Picton.

Breakfast at the Beach House café in Kaikoura which never disappoints, and home before the traffic on SH 1 got too busy.

A VERY Happy New Year!!

…and if you’d like to follow in our footsteps…. 

Southern Cross 2013

The Southern Cross has become a biennial event on our calendar. Checking in at Cape Reinga (Far North), Cape Egmont (Taranaki), East Cape, and Bluff (Deep South) within the week, we normally cover about 5500kms from home to home. The scheduling of this year’s trip couldn’t have been better for me as I already had to be in Hamilton for a work event at the end of the week prior. For Andrew, having just shattered his elbow in an unfortunate event involving stubbing a toe walking across a car park 8 weeks previously, it was his first time back on the bike. So what better way to test the newly healed arm, than in a non stop leg from Christchurch to Hamilton – 960km + 4hour ferry ?

Whilst idly kicking my bike at the trade show, I realised my tyres were far more worn that they should have been for the up coming trip. A quick call into Hamilton Motorcycle Centre on Te Rapa road for excellent service and a good price on an Avon Storm front tyre, I caught sight of this poster – a good mindset to start the trip:

Sorry about the quality – it was quite high up, and I’m pretty short…

So with new shoes on the bike and Andrew’s arm seemingly OK, we headed north for the start of the trip. We had a plan to stay at Mangawhai heads on Sat pm but a stray wasp sting put paid to that idea. Damn that allergy to stings… So an unusual night spent in Wellsford sleeping that off, and a brilliant breakfast in Mangawhai heads instead:

The weather was really fantastic, and it stayed that way for the whole trip. We got to Waitiki Landing where we had arranged to meet a bunch of the other riders and stay overnight at the campground. A bit of a disorganised arrival where our room had already been onsold, we were offered another room, but as Alistair’s name was against that one, and as he was stood right next to me that didn’t come off. Finally they found a spare room to put us in…. The other Alasdair had more fun – his room was available, but they had no key to unlock it… About 10pm one was found. A few swappa crate bottles had been duly swigged by then…

At 12pm the following day – a Monday – we could all be found in various states of undress walking down to the lighthouse in the heat for the pre trip briefing. A big crew this year – well over 100, and a good mix of new people amongst the familiar faces. At the start of the run, we were 1650kms from home.

Leaving Cape Reinga at around 1pm puts us slap bang into Auckland rush hour – not for the faint hearted, but we weathered it OK – UK motorway’s do rather prepare you for that. 518 kms later, we pulled into Te Awamutu for the night. After a tour of the town, we finally found a bar still doing food and settled in for a refreshing beer and the biggest slices of pizza’s we have seen for ages.

Tuesday morning was another cracker and we set out early for the Cape Egmont checkpoint. A quick stop off in New Plymouth for a new bottle of Scottoil – the ZX10 is either consuming a bottle  of chain oil per day, or not working at all at the moment… In Oakura we stopped for a much overdue breakfast and a natter with Ray and Ray and Tony before heading off to find the elusive sign for the Cape Egmont lighthouse. 780kms from Cape Reinga.

A quick scribble in the book when it arrived at 12pm to prove we had made it, and we were off to retrace our steps up SH3, across to Benneydale and cross country to Opotiki. An incredibly hot day meant any hold ups had me off the bike and hiding in the shade…

The night in the Opotiki Masonic Hotel was fantastic. Most of the tour were either staying or eating here and the pub was packed out. We were staying and had the luxury of having the bikes locked away off the street overnight. The food was great, the staff didn’t bat an eyelid at the sudden influx of tired and hungry bikers having ridden 700 kms that day. A good place!

The East cape must be one of the most picturesque places to ride. It is a firm favourite so we extracted our bikes and were on the road at 8am. A quick fuel stop at Omaio bay to make sure we could make it round the Cape and we pulled into the cafe next to the campground in Te Kaha for the best coffee on the cape and a great breakfast – better then the instant coffee and fried chicken now on sale at the Omaio bay store…

Somehow the gravel out to the East Cape lighthouse didn’t seem too bad, even though we had spent longer than planned over breakfast and were now racing to get to the end of the road before 100 bikes started heading back out towards us. 1410kms since Cape Reinga.

With an extra day in the schedule, we could afford to spend an hour hanging out at the checkpoint catching up with others whilst  most riders headed off. The road is a great playground, but better when not vying for space with 100 others as well as logging trucks and the inevitable road work crews. One thing we really didn’t expect to see on our way out was Fibre being laid. The most remote community – getting super fast broad band internet first??!

Back on the road and we stopped at Te Puia springs for fuel and found their brilliantly named food stand KFC, or “Kai for Coasties”

By the time we pulled into Wairoa for our next fuel stop, I was starting to feel the kms, so a drink, some chocolate and a natter break got us back on the road. The last leg of the day from Napier to Dannevirke seemed almost endless… a reminder that splitting a riding day up with lots of breaks, just makes the day seem longer than it actually needs to. We pulled into Dannevirke to stay at the newly renovated Valhallez hotel. They were still sorting out the final upgrades, but well worth stopping here if you are passing through, and hopefully they’ll have upgraded the beer selection to match the top quality food next time too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was our most cruisy day on the bikes ever – we had a total of 200 kms to ride. We filled the bikes up (again! – oh for a 400km tank range instead of the 240 range of our bikes) and stopped for breakfast on the high street of Dannevirke. Spotting a R1200GS we introduced ourselves and found we had rediscovered a chap we had briefly shared a coffee with in Christchurch 3 years earlier. Next for a quiet run down to the Wellington ferry, a flat crossing, and a quiet night in Picton.

Heading out through Renwick, and a fab breakfast at the 3 bears cafe, we stopped at Murchison for fuel, and a coffee with Cheryl – wife of our sometime riding partner who is currently holed up overseas. Onwards down the sunny and dry west coast roads weaving in and out and revelling in the (world’s greatest?) road between Makarora and Lake Hawea, to stay at Wanaka 800 kms later.

From there it was an easy run into Bluff 260kms south. Stopping for Breakfast at Lazybones in Athol, we shared our coffee with the Blydes and John M and cruised in for the final book signing 4838kms from home…. just as the rain started..

A quick bit of re-organising and we were rewarded back at the New Eagle Tavern with the best feed ever seen in Bluff laid on by a few hastily scrambled bikers / wives and Rusty’s – credit to them, we were all very full, and I’m not sure how much business our usual dinner stop at the Anchorage actually got. Another great run, thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed it… and thanks to Luke for reminding me to get my blog up to date.

The Gathering

Queens Birthday Weekend and we are planning to head north to Taupo. We sneaked an extra day off work and headed out to Martinbororugh for a quiet night before the festivities in Taupo began.

Martinborough Hotel The weather was awesomely sunny and warmer than we had expected as we sat in the sun eating breakfast in full thermals!

We decided to avoid the main roads and head up through the back roads, ducking through Mauriceville, Alfredton, Ekatahuna, Pahiatua track and Vinegar Hill to get to Taupo and apart from a few shaded/wet/algae/slidy corners we had a ball. We checked into Blackcurrant Backpackers and found Brian and Evan had already arrived. Andrew B wasn’t far behind and a few average beers in the Irish Bar preceded a meal in @Siam where many tall tales were told by us all.

The following day we headed out following Brian – the master of all routes – and ended up along the Forgotten highway at Backcountry Accomodation for a coffee with Bob and Annie

Forgotten Highway coffee stop at Backcountry Accomodation

The Aucklanders had mostly arrived by the time we got back into Taupo so a quiet night on the town preceded a couple of rides out the following day. With the weather closing in, we headed for Wellington taking a detour south of Waiouru when the threatening rain lifted. We soon discovered the road through Mataroa and Rongoiti has 15kms of slidy mud alternating with deep gravel. The Street Triple and ZX10R coped remarkably well…. it might have been a better ride on a drier day but probably even better on adventure bikes…