The Christmas craziness was looming – on the roads, but more so at work and I had a hankering to go to the East Cape – although this hankering is nothing new! We’d heard that there was some fair accommodation at the Tokomaru Bay pub where I hadn’t stayed for 16 years so we looked to head that way. We’ve recently discovered Villa 9 café in Te Aroha so headed there for brunch to give me a whole weekend out of the kitchen. The lovely people behind the counter asked where we were going – expecting (I think) that we might potter to Paeroa and back to Morrinsville. They were a bit taken aback when we told them where we were heading – brilliant!!
were blessed with cracking weather and had a good run through the Rotorua lakes,
via the Santa Parade in Kawarau and out along the BoP coastline. A mini detour
around Ohiwa and around the back of Waiotahi and I’m chuckling in anticipation –
the sun is shining, the back roads are brill and we’re heading to my happy
The East Cape road was in really good condition, the corners, the views and the wind flowing straight through my airflow jacket made for a truly awesome day out. I needed some new photos so we stopped at Omaio Bay to get some background scenery shots – its so unusual for us to stop except for fuel or coffee it was nice just to hang out on the beach for a few minutes. Through Lottin Point, the updated sign suggests that the motel has now been renovated – this was validated by Neil later that night – so expect a trip out there sometime soon too.
Stopping to take more photos on the point above Hicks Bay, we spotted Neil passing through and we caught him at Te Puia Springs where we all stopped for a petrol top up and a smoothie to take some heat out of the day. On to Tokomaru Bay and the driveway to the Backpackers initially looked a bit daunting up a steep gravel drive but was actually fine – we’d shunned the fairly pricey / large apartments at the pub for some nifty, affordable, quirky cabins at the backpackers with super rewarding views and a lovely landlady. Here we found Ray who we hadn’t seen for 9 years and had decided to join us at the last minute. We happily helped Ray finish his fish and chips and headed for the pub. I made a beeline for the sea to wade up through the surf – camera and shoes in hand. The boys started ambling up the road but had barely gone 10 paces when a local bundled them into his ute to give them a lift to the pub.
couple of beers in and one of the local logging contractors was holding
Christmas drinks at the pub – nice guy, turns out his dad rode with the Rusty
Nuts back in the day and Neil knew him… small world.
The return trip on Sunday was just as awesome – breakfast at Aunty’s cafe within the Tolaga Bay Inn, coffee and complementary slices (left over from a party the previous night) at the Tiniroto Tavern and an awesome run down the Tiniroto road, through Wairoa and on to Whirinaki. The slow traffic on the Napier Taupo was sent as penance for the fun we had been having and we grabbed a fairly average, but much needed dinner on Taupo lakefront before a clear run home through Waipapa and up Old Taupo Road. We rolled in home as the rain started; within an hour it was a fully fledged storm and the power and internet died and finally got restored the following afternoon… We timed that just perfectly.
Our annual “it’s been too long since we had a decent holiday and let us go ride our bikes” weekend rocked around none too early this year. The Awakino hotel had been calling out to me as I passed every couple of months over the last year and this was the perfect opportunity to check it out.
Given the day job was fairly frantic, we had to give up on our preferred route via Marokopa and the coast and instead took the direct route down SH3. With all the press about the work on the Awakino tunnel bypass, you could be forgiven for thinking that the current road would be in OK shape. As it turns out, the road is slipping off the side of the hill towards the river, so to add to the roadworks to build the new road, there are the roadworks to pin the current road to the hillside so that it survives until the new road is built. With ample opportunity to ogle the scenery whilst waiting at stop/go boards and traffic lights, we were reminded how pretty it is through here.
Awakino pub is a real gem. It’s a proper locals’ pub and also appears to be an
outpost clubroom of at least one motorcycle club, but not on this particular
Friday night. The guest rooms have been spruced up and there is even a
residents’ lounge with tea and coffee etc. The beer flowed freely – we’re were
stoked to discover Speights Old Dark on tap – and dinner was steak / whitebait
fritter / veggie burger (ahem, that’d be me) topped off with some great
conversation with the bar lady who came over to join us when her shift ended.
is often the case, most, but not all, who had said they were coming actually
arrived, but as we were in a cell phone black hole, we were super happy to
relax with good beer and good conversation and leave those who stayed at home to
dawned fine and clear, as the saying goes. We fought our way back through the
roadworks in the Awakino Gorge to breakfast in Piopio. Despite mixed
experiences here recently, the brunch was yummy and after a couple of coffees
we were ready to follow Andrew down a set of flowing back roads to Waitomo and
back through to Morrinsville touching State Highways for only a few hundred
metres at a time.
BBQ prep was a quick frenzy in our kitchen, then we kicked back to enjoy the
evening, culminating in lighting 5 bonfires which were sun-tan-worthy at 50
to everyone who came and made the weekend; I think we can survive work until
the Christmas break now….
We must have pleased the weather gods for this one. Saturday was a much better day than predicted as we headed south out of Rotorua, looped east heading for Murapara then north to Whakatane, then back through a tiny-but-sealed back road to the lakes and back over the top of the lake round Hamurana. It was only as we started the last little loop that the winter weather hit and there was a distinct possibility of snow for a wee while there. Having avoided drizzle all day, we got back to the accommodation freezing and made a bee line for the hot showers, followed in fairly short order by a sprint to the nearest warm pub.
Five of us stayed at the Funky Green Voyager in Rotorua and were very well looked after. The owners are both really friendly and Mr owner was a keen admirer of motorbikes and also very well travelled so great to chat to. He turned out to be one of those rare breed who will willingly lend tools, for which we were really grateful on Sunday morning when we had to extract and replace a dead battery from the bowels of the frame recess of one of the bikes.
Rotorua laid on a great selection of culinary options – tapas on Friday night, a pancake cafe on Saturday morning, a welcome warm pub with craft beer on Saturday night, a brilliant Italian on Sunday night and a couple of good cafes on Sunday and Monday mornings.
Sunday, after the frustrating battery debacle, Merv joined us for a day ride down in the general direction of Taumarunui. We stopped at the Waituhi lookout on the way through to enjoy the scenery – amazingly I got a pic of the bikes that wasn’t at a petrol station OR a cafe!
Due to the delayed start – we cut out part of the route coming home to make sure that we were home before dark – I really love our small group rides where we flex according to the needs of the day. We were all happier waiting / helping sort the battery so we could ride the day together, then cut the route to suit in the afternoon and had a great natter about it all in the restaurant that night.
This trip had it all – Southern Hospitality, Northern temperatures, riders that did the whole trip, riders that did one island or the other, old friends and new friends that joined us for lunch or dinner or a night along the way, road closures, torrential rain, and very nearly, some dancing on the tables!
The ride down to the start was part adventure, part teeth baring grins. Andrew’s ZX-12R had a little hissy-fit as we were about to leave so a quick change saw him back on his ZZR250 and fingers crossed it was going to be as reliable as it used to be! We high tailed it to Wellington, for a curry with Alasdair, poor compensation for him not being able to come with us, but the curry was good – cheers Al! Onto the overnight Bluebridge which seems to board later and later every time we use it. But still arriving in Picton at 6am is good way to start the day and the Kaikoura coast is still beautiful in the sunrise, even if the road is still stop-go-board-bumpy. Brekky in Kaikoura with Rob, and a roadside catch up with Hicky who just happened to be passing through and we tootled into Chch. Fast forward over the few days we spent working in Chch and we grabbed a new tyre from Don @ Pitlane in Glentunnel (thanks Don!) and spent the night in Oamaru – the new owner at Oamaru Backpackers is bike friendly and Scott’s Brewery a few steps down the road has fab beer and pizza and we got lucky that the jazz festival was in town too
So on down to Owaka in the Catlins. We stayed at Thomas’s Catlins Lodge – an old hospital which is a brilliant place to stay. A side trip to Bluff and we found the Curio Bay road is now sealed and very pretty, but perhaps watch out for the causeway if you try it at high tide? Folker and Graham met us that night in Owaka, setting off the following morning onto the first of Andrew’s carefully plotted back routes. We rode some fab roads out the back of Tapanui and Clyde before the rain started and we skated into Glenorchy for lunch and to collect Hicky again. Hello to John and Jane who met us there and yay as the road had dried out on the way out! On to Makarora knowing the weather was a bit glum on the West Coast but I was so excited as we passed through Hawea and it was still dry, we had about 50kms to go and I was hoping we’d get 5-10 dry kms as that is THE BEST ROAD in the country as far as I’m concerned. Jumping jacks!! It was dry all the way and oh did we make the most of that stretch of road. We checked into those A-frame cabins that put Makarora on the map and headed into the pub – hello to Neil and his mates, fresh from the Vincent meet. First priorities; I ordered a jug of Monteith’s Black – welcome to the West Coast as I was presented with a 2 litre glass pitcher of beer, when I was expecting a one litre plastic jug, cripes those big pitchers are heavy when you’re not used to them! As we washed down dinner, Neil took a call on the house phone – the weather forecast had got much worse for the trip up the West Coast planned for the following day. Much hand wringing ensued – had the forecasters got it wrong (hoping so…) and we’d have a glorious run, or was it actually going to be as dire as predicted? We couldn’t agree, so delayed making a decision until morning. Morning dawned and there was already a slip blocking the road between Fox and Franz Josef glaciers so the decision was made for us and we headed back East to breakfast at the Tarras café – those ladies were awesome, we just about flooded their floor with our wet gear and they just kept smiling and delivered us coffee and their yum food – thanks lovely ladies – we appreciated it!!
From there it was a bit ho hum, because really, who wants to ride through Canterbury twice in a week? We found Rawhiti House – another ex hospital hostel to stay in Geraldine which was also fab (spotting a theme here?). Onwards up the inland road via an unexpected find in a 50’s themed diner in Oxford to Amberley, Culverden and overnight in Kaikoura. Next, we shared the ferry to Wellington with a bike gang which made for some interesting eavesdropping, before meeting Roger & Bee who were joining us for the North Island leg and Chris A who came out to tea in Plimmterton. So with a couple of not-as-interesting-as-we’d-planned days, but not as interesting as it could have been if we’d been on the Waiho bridge at Franz Josef when it got washed away, we headed north through the back roads of the Hawkes Bay (good routes Andrew!). We collected Derek and the bubbly Vicky in Bayview for the run up to Mahia. If you haven’t been, you must go here, it’s pretty, it’s relaxing and the pub is instantly your local as you walk in. So one thing led to another and suddenly Folker is being taught to play pool, everyone is dancing and the drinks keep coming! Sad to leave the next day for sure!
More back roads and we found our way onto the Waioeka Gorge without touching Gisborne which was nice, then double bonus, the Hard Drive café was open on Matawai and they agreed to cook us up some brekky which was one of those how-is this-going-to-work-out experiences which was quirky and tasty – definitely added a certain something to our day! I think every time I’ve travelled along the Whakatane coast it has been sunny and this was no exception (love my airflow jacket!) it is sooo pretty along there – it almost made up for not doing the East Cape on this trip! It felt like a downhill drift into Waihi Beach for the last night such an easy run. It was just brill to catch up with John M and David here and the pub laid on good food and beer and a band that held much promise, but would have left my ears ringing for weeks if the boys hadn’t dragged me home when they did!
Thanks all, these trips are a real break from the day job and everyone that comes along adds to our fun. We’re looking forward to the next one – and hope you can make it too!
The route we rode – slightly different to the planned route up the West Coast and into Takaka, but the weather gods will involve themselves in route planning!
Corinne had to work in Napier on Saturday morning, so we decided that was a good excuse for a ride and a tiki tour back. The plan was to meet her outside Napier Boys High around lunch time, head around the East Coast to Hicks Bay Motel and Lodge for the night and then do some more tiki touring home.
It started off well enough, with a great ride, in brilliant weather, via Horahora Rd, the full length of Old Taupo Rd (hadn’t done the end bit past the Kinleith Paper Mill before) and then Tirohanga Rd and Poihipi Rd into Taupo. Tirohanga Rd was another new road for me with lots of gentle curves and a good surface.
I had breakfast in Taupo and set off down the Taupo-Napier road (SH 5) which is always good value. I met Corinne outside Napier Boys High, after a few missed turns in Napier and we headed off to Wairoa after gassing up at the Bayview BP. The Napier to Wairoa road is one of my favourites and I was enjoying having to work the 250 to keep momentum up, compared to the practically unlimited grunt I’ve had on tap in the past with the ZX-10R and ZX-12R.
The fun began in Wairoa, when I happened to look at the ignition and wondered where the keys were. Years ago, like a dummy, I’d parked the bike in Auckland, immobilised it with a grip lock and left the keys in. Some loser stole the keys, but the grip lock stopped them from stealing the bike. I put a second hand ignition in to make sure they couldn’t steal it. I’d done tens of thousands of kms since.
Next, the dance with the AA began. Corinne and I have AA Plus and I highly recommend it as “Plus” gets your bike transported wherever you want, not just the closest local storage. I could also have had a rental car. The trouble was that there isn’t much in Wairoa, so I needed to get to Napier.
The people in Wairoa were amazing. The ladies in the Hammer Hardware that we’d stopped outside, kept asking if there was anything that they could do and gave us key blanks on the off chance that we could fluke something with the lock. The AA contractor (Barry from Wairoa Autobodies) turned up not long after to transport the bike, but quickly came up with a solution.
He knew an automotive locksmith in Napier and one quick phone call later to check that he could do the job, we had organised transporting the bike into him on Sunday. With nothing else that we could do, I pillioned on the back of Corinne’s Street Triple and we went to Mahia for the night.
Neither of us had been to Mahia before and we really enjoyed it. We had a cabin at the campground and went to the pub for dinner. The food was great, the prices were very reasonable and we had fun yakking to the staff.
We’d organised to meet Barry in Wairoa at 8am so that I could catch a lift with him in the truck instead of pillioning back to Napier with Corinne. Clive from Johnston Locksmiths was a legend. 20 minutes after getting there he had the ignition and petrol cap locks out, created the new keys (+ spare copies), put the locks back in and I was good to go. I was also pleasantly surprised by the cost given that he’d come into work on a Sunday.
Barry and Clive were brilliant to deal with and couldn’t do enough to help. If you ever need automotive services in the area I can’t recommend them enough. Corinne and I had breakfast in Napier and high-tailed it home. The riding was excellent (too good to stop for photos), but I could have done without the stress.
Talk about a quickie – 1.5 hours from home and we’d arrived – Welcome to Tairua!
But, it was a good choice given that all except us had been on the road for 6-8 hours from the lower North Island. After the usual kerfuffle with rooms that is rapidly becoming part of the adventure, given our penchant for small town NZ, we headed off in search of food and drink.
We got lucky at the Flock Kitchen & Bar with Good George beers on tap and a yummy selection of nibbles, followed by mains. For a group that does so many roads, and so many back roads, we’d managed to assemble a collection of riders (including us) who hadn’t ridden around the Coromandel for several years – Andrew and I think we last did it on the 10k in 10 days ride back in 2010…
A cruisy run up the coast on Sat am saw us in Whitianga for breakfast. My Triumph suddenly decided to show its age and refused to start, but threatening it with an AA call out and some added support from Alasdair and the Bridgestone guy, seemed to do the trick. Entering Whitianga is a completely new experience – its become quite the place to build, but the coast is still really pretty. So pretty that I forgot to take any pics until we were almost back down the other side to Thames.We were lucky to have a relatively clear run, and that the rain held off until we got off the Coromandel, but at that stage, we abandoned the tikki tour we had planned and headed for home where BBQ preparation began in earnest with a bit of shed shuffling for an indoor feast for about 25 people. Then the rain cleared so the bonfire went ahead too: Happy days!
Time to stretch our legs a little, so we headed to Europe.
There was quite a bit of planning went into this trip as we wanted to combine a scenic route with scoping options for future trips – finding out what worked for us and what didn’t when riding overseas.
We know that if we’re riding, we’re happy. If you dump us in town for a couple of days and tell us to amuse ourselves we’re completely at a loss. So this was a tour of the alps with a bit of a tangent thrown in.
It wasn’t planned as a gastronomic tour, but what little we knew about the areas we were headed to involved beer in Germany, coffee and pizza in Italy, cheese in Switzerland, Black Forest Gateau in the Black Forest and as many luge tracks as I could find.
First, we needed to find hire bikes because, whilst expensive, it was the only option that made sense with only a week on the ground. The cheapest bikes I could find were in Slovenia, but we couldn’t fly direct from NZ and the time and cost to transfer from an international airport made it a non starter. Next up, was a hire co in Frankfurt. I’d started planning a route from Frankfurt to the Alps and picking possible overnight stops when the same co opened a branch in Munich. Bingo! We could fly direct to Munich and it was much nearer the Alps.
Normal trips in NZ would see us planning 400 – 600kms per day. With the unfamiliar sights and roads, we decided to dial this back to 200 – 300kms per day. It turns out this was a great plan as travel times are much slower in Europe unless you want to burn up your annual leave sitting on an autobahn (we didn’t). Google maps gave us the heads up with expected travel times but we were sceptical until we arrived and started riding – villages are so close together (less than 1km between in many places) that average travel speeds were little more than 50kph all day. Our longest day was just over 400kms and took us 10.5 hours with (relaxed) stops only for coffee and meals.
We got 2 x BMW F700GS. Mine was a “low” my initial concerns that even the “low” model could be too high for me were unfounded when I found that I could reach the floor with both feet – at the same time. This is unheard of and a bit weird but it turns out that bikes are much easier to manoeuvre when you can easily reach the floor – who knew? Exciting they were not, but these bikes chugged along all day without needing any real riding ability which meant we could focus on sightseeing and navigating. If the roads had been more conducive to “playing” these bikes would have been sadly lacking, but as a sightseeing steed, they were oddly well suited.
The bikes came with hard luggage, a first for both of us. I’m sure the car behind got a giggle when we pulled up at the first set of lights to chat and I nearly got punted into the kerb when the wider-than-we’re-used-to back ends collided! But, that aside, hard luggage bolted to the bikes made the trip easy – we had our stuff in a couple of soft bags each and these slotted into the boxes each morning and were easy to grab at night, leaving the bulky boxes on the bikes. Top boxes are brilliant as a secure helmet stash when stopping, e.g. for an impromptu luge track escapade…
We’re not there yet with using GPS for navigating, so all of our routes were planned in advance and printed to go in a tank bag (we have magnetic tank bags that can also strap on for a plastic tank like the GS). Nope, Google isn’t right all of the time but it’s good enough to sort directions, and adding town references and general notes make this a very doable way of getting around, if you have the patience to plot the routes in advance.
We had planned to fly into Munich on Friday to collect the bikes on Saturday. We sacked the travel agent that recommended flying in Saturday morning because a) jumping on a strange motorbike and riding down a strange street on the wrong side of the road is a stupid thing to do after 25 hours flying and b) paying to rent a motorbike that spends the first 15 hours in a hotel car park is a complete waste of money. So land Friday, hotel booked, and the hotel also arranged a shuttle to collect us from the airport.
Walk into town from the hotel for dinner (peanut butter jelly jam burger!!) and bier (Erdinger Weissbrau as we were in Erding) then a decent sleep and the same shuttle people came back to take us over to the rental depot on Sat am. We got there half an hour early – to sort paperwork and final payment + pack the bikes up. We could leave our flight bags at the depot
You’ve got to have a theme for a trip and I wanted to ride as many luge tracks as we could find, so the first stop was Mieders, Austria. Accommodation courtesy of the village website was a home stay for EUR40 including breakfast. However, we’d spent too long talking before getting on the road and with the added rain, it took us 4.5 hours to travel 200kms and the luge was closed when we got there. Our hostess told us it had been closed for a couple of weeks due to either rain or frost so we would have missed out anyway. That night I realised I didn’t have my passport or driver’s license. We had to wait until Monday morning to be able to ring the bike depot and confirm they were still in his photocopier…. Fortunately there are no border controls in Europe as I didn’t get them back until we left the following weekend.
Next day was a 350km day, planned to take 7 hours, which it did. We took the SS44 mountain road because it looked scenic, despite Google being adamant we should take the longer route around the hill, and as we climbed up into snow it was comforting to have seen some bikes heading the other way. I didn’t think until later that they might have turned around… but a light dusting of snow was fine and we had the most amazing lunch at a roadside guest house, and were also pleased to find these Italians spoke German so we could order and converse using my rusty schoolgirl German ? We bypassed the famous Stelvio Pass in favour of going via St Moritz and the Maloja Pass which seemed a good choice followed by a night at an Air BnB in Chiavenna – a stunning little town for scenery and quaint town-ness.
A chance find of another Air BnB convinced us to head away from the Alps for a day and to see a bit more of Italy. I lost the plot a bit this day. Our Air Bnb in Chiavenna didn’t do breakfast so we happily planned to grab something on the road – but saw nothing roadside and eventually went off route to find food. Italy doesn’t seem to do breakfast as a café meal, and with no Italian language, we couldn’t ask about options. We ended up with coffee and pastries from a bakery on lake Como (purely because we could order by pointing and smiling!) but then couldn’t get back on the road we had left. At this stage our printed directions were useless and I quickly got hungry and consequently couldn’t navigate.
Suffice to say we did a couple of laps of outer Milan trying to get back on track… But the Air BnB at the end of the day was worth it all for a slice of pure Italy. Andrew had fab spaghetti at a local’s restaurant and I had a sloppy Margherita Pizza to top off my crap food day.
The next day was our big 400km 10.5 hour run back over the Alps, through the Simplon Pass (like Arthur’s Pass in NZ’s South Island but much, much bigger and peppered with cows wearing cow bells). It was a beautiful trip,
a bit farcical being tailgated by the police on the Italian motorway when we were doing the speed limit, which didn’t seem to be fast enough for them… Switzerland opened up before us as lots of small villages with big wooden chalets. Looking ahead, we saw rain clouds gathering on the Grimsel pass so stopped to don wet weather gear. The snow was so thick at the top, my visor was fogged up and the wind was getting pretty gusty – so much so that I stopped to consider checking into the conveniently located hotel. Andrew was keen to continue, despite the obvious perils of heading downhill in snow and I returned to my bike to find I’d parked the front wheel in a snow drift I hadn’t seen. I set off to follow Andrew with a massive fishtail slide and some wide eyed stares from the road crew who, it turns out, were just closing the road, but sent the snow plough out in front of us to clear a track. 500m later, the snow was gone and we just had rain to accompany us into Lucerne city. Thanks to lots and lots of Googling, I had found an affordable hotel in Lucerne with secure underground parking for the bikes (yep, that was extra, but worth it) so the following day we could walk to the train station. This was a day off riding and we played tourist up a cogwheel railway onto Mount Pilatus, then a gondola down to…the Luge track, then another gondola home. So, two nights in Lucerne, which isn’t the cheapest place to loiter, but better pizza than the previous Italian experience (and a fried egg and chilli oil to go on my pizza!!)
and the second night we headed for the old town and watched the city go by over Pretzel sandwiches (worth the trip just for them!!), bier and something else to eat, can’t remember what it was, but nice, and also, expensive!
Thursday we headed into South Germany for a ride around the Black Forest and found the first open roads with sweeping bends of the trip. Whilst quite short lived, it was a nice interlude. Another luge track on the way was heaps of fun, despite the massive school group that arrived at the same time. A link from google maps gave us our accommodation that night in Schiltach at a wonderful B&B with a restaurant on site and a place in the owner’s garage for our bikes.
Friday, I thought it would be nice to ride along the shore of Lake Constance. It’s pretty famous, and it turns out everyone heads there, so we sat in nose to tail traffic for its approx. 60km length, but at the end of the day, no luge track, but Neuschwanstein Castle. Our host (a Wotif find this time) showed us the locals’ walking track to avoid the crowds which we didn’t know we were about to hit, took us to the best view of the castle, and on to find a restaurant (avoiding the beer hall with schoolchildren Oompa Loompa band…) for dinner.
Saturday morning was a quick run along the autobahn – the first autobahn of the trip, and I think we upped the average travel time for the whole week. It was a bit weird to travel at 140kph after a week of meandering, but it served the purpose of waking up in the country, but still having the bikes back by the agreed 11am return time.
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 [at] motorbikescape [dot] co [dot] 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.
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.
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.
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!