March 2012 and we are heading to Russell in the bay of Islands for another lap of the country.

Work has been crazy for us both and despite remembering to get both bikes serviced a week in advance, mine needs brakepads but can we get brakepads into town in time…? apparently not – better hope the estimated life is conservative and keep an eye on them as we pass through the major centres… More worrying is that the night before we are due to leave, I give the bikes a quick check over and top up the scottoilers to find that the coolant level ain’t quite where it should be on the Kawasaki, sinking feeling remembering it had also dropped before its last trip…. fast forward 20 hours and instead of heading straight from work to Picton for the morning ferry, we are heading home to dump the leaky coolant bike, repack into different luggage and check tyre pressures on the ZZR, cursing ourselves for putting off replacing the tyres for so long.

The Ferry trip looked innocent enough as we left Picton, but turned into one of the roughest we have experienced. We put a call into Wellington Motorcycles to arrange for a new rear tyre. Desperately trying to remember when it last had an oil change, we realised that might be a wise idea at the same time. Lucky they had such a big range of tyre sizes as the ZZR runs an odd size, in trying to match a new rear to the front tyre it was suddenly obvious a new front tyre was needed too. Hoping for a fast turnaround we were disaapointed to find it was going to be a 2.5 hour wait to get the bike through the workshop queue (we’re from Christchurch, we should be used to slow service at bike shops) at least they got it done that afternoon. Knowing I wasn’t going to function well on a long day with a lot of hanging around in the middle of it, I set off for Taupo to get booked into our accomodation. After a shower and a chat with the receptionist, I was looking forward to a slow evening in the pub killing time whilst Andrew caught up, wandering into Taupo I found most places closing down for the night, a quick check of GPS said Andrew was still a couple of hours away so I traded a pub meal for a Thai takeaway and a 6 pack of beer from the supermarket. Yippee for microwaves so we could still have a hot dinner when Andrew got there.

Friday morning dawned lovely weather, easy breakfast (Friends cafe) on Taupo waterfront, a cruisy run up the backroads to talk about a new fairing for a project bike in Hamilton, a slight miscalculation of fuel range on the ZZR lead to emergency fumbling for the old fashioned fuel tap to reserve on SH1 but we arrived in Wellsford unscathed and took ourselves out to the pub to celebrate a day where nothing went wrong.

The forecast for Saturday was a sever weather warning – gales and flooding – but we had a great run up the back road to Russell, stopping for a late brunch 30 seconds before the rain started, then getting through to Russell in the next break.

The Junction Cafe - old Russell

The Junction Cafe - old Russell


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