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Diary 16

17 Oct.

OK so there hasn't been much NZ detail.
That's cos I'm usually writing dairies in a motel as a lonely guy.
I've been in NZ for 8 days and have stayed in a motel for one night.
How do you say to your host "I got to go and spend half an hour writing stuff about you"
It's tricky.
It's actually still the 16th but Ian has gone to bed so I can write rude stuff about him now and he'll never know - until I post this obviously.

I will be staying at a motel after I leave here so more detail should follow.
The other thing that gets me here is the lack of internet access.
In the US every second motel had free wireless - here you have to pay for a crap limited access.

Dropped the BMW off today.

Other than that I did sod all.
Waited for a phone call about the bike.
Got some e-mails from shipping companies about the NZ to UK shipping, but that's about it.
I did hear that the bike has cleared customs and should be mine again tomorrow.

One other thing that comes from the weekend is my riding kit is beginning to suffer.
My Alpine Star gloves have been binned - I wore through the palm of the left glove. Just as well that I bought a new pair in Canada.
The waterproof oversuit has a gap at the top of the zip on the right leg.
I'm sure that it won't be a real problem but I'll replace them when I get home.
Both the gloves and the waterproofs have given me sterling service over many years and many thousands of miles so I can't be too upset.

I got an e-mail from Geoff today (the guy who hosted the weekend in Coromandel).
He was talking about a couple from the UK who had been over here for their honeymoon.
Apparently the guy is on the Blackbird bike list and Geoff knew him from there.
At some point during the weekend someone asked me where I'm from and I said 'Aberdeenshire - but I now live beside Stonehenge'. Geoff responded - but that's where the guy from the Blackbird list is from.
It turns out that he's from the same village in Wiltshire that I live in.
This village has maybe a dozen streets and both the Brits that have stayed in Geoff's summer retreat are live in the same small English village.
It really is a small world and the biker network is world wide.
I'll catch up with them when I get home.

18 Oct.

What no bike.

Well ... no.

No bike.

Started planning the run south from here hoping that the bike will actually turn up soon, and started detailed discussions with shipping companies about shipping the bike home.
Having had responses from a number of places I reckon I'll use Barwil Agencies to put the bike on a Wallenius Wilhemsen boat from Auckland to Southampton.

Got a call at about 3pm saying that Swift had the bike and would deliver it to the shop mid morning tomorrow.
Finally a date and time.
But I am really not impressed with the various companies I've dealt with.
I'll not name & shame them here but there is a shipping review page on HorisonsUnlimited.com that I will complete when I get home.

Karen has been travelling for business and probably expected that I would be gone when she got home - WRONG.
I'm still here.
Given that she lives in a house with three adolescent boys and a barely sane husband I really wasn't sure how she would react to the fact I was still here, so I went for full bribery.
I may not understand women but I know that chocolate can soothe some hurts - or at least distract for long enough to get out of range ...

When she got back she was calm, not upset and seemed genuinely surprised that I had felt the need to provide a sugar based 'thank you'.

I do feel weird here.
The hospitality here is unprecedented.
From a post to KiwiBikers that Ian posted I have about ten offers of bed and beer, to the point that I will probably have to say to some folks "Thanks but I actually can't make it to your place".
The fact that I probably won't be able to take up all the offers is as overwhelming as the roads & the views.

Damn I like this place.

19 Oct.

The keyboard is a little crunchy on the right hand side - I guess that the beer I spilled over the keys in California is having an effect.

I was promised my bike my midmorning.
So it turned up around 1pm.
I had arrived at Motohous at around 11 assuming that midmorning actually meant morning.
Kerry - who is Motohous - is a laid back guy who likes bikes.
I have no idea how he makes a living off bikes but I guess he knows what he's doing.

This truck turned up - and after pointing out to the driver that he was going to reverse into the wrong drive we got him lined up at Kerry's shop. Opening the back of the truck revealed a ten foot crate.
This box would fit two bikes.
And the Carnet wasn't included.

A large amount of brute force followed - The crate had been made to survive an earthquake, and house a family.
We eventually destroyed the crate to get the bike out - a slow and tedious process.

Kerry put the bike up on a lift and I stripped the bodywork.
A quick trip next door and I had a battery and coolant.
Kerry provided the oil and petrol and the bike was almost ready to go.
The tyres were a bit knackered from the long straight roads in the US so I got a set of Avons slapped on and the brake pads replaced.

By the time the battery was cooked it was 5 pm and drizzling.

I headed south out of Auckland. By the time I got to Huntly it was raining and getting dark. The first motel I saw was in Nicaragua (actually it's Ngaruawahia) next to a pub. That's the one for me.

My first NZ bar. It felt a little strange when I walked in as I was the only 'white fella' in the place. Not that there was any nastiness or bad feeling, I just felt out of place for a few seconds.

The locals were great, we drank, chatted, played pool and a good looking girl kept bumming drinks off me.

20 Oct.

Monday and Tuesday had wonderful weather in this area.
By the time I was on the road Wednesday the rain had started and today ...
It drizzled all morning. Stopped at lunchtime for about 10 minutes then it's rained since then.

I'll ride in the rain - it's just more pleasant in the dry - and the views are better.

Got off the major roads this morning and headed south west towards Mount Egmont - the one that looks like Mt. Fuji.
Route 43 looked promising as it is called the 'Forgotten Country Highway' and there was a sign 'No petrol for 150km'. This was not going to be motorway. As the road entered the Tangarakau Gorge there was a sign 'corners for 16 km'. This was going from good to great till a couple of k's later where there was the 'gravel road' sign.
About 20kms of gravel that wandered through what looked like a rain forest.
Beautiful - but wet.

Some of the roads I ran in the US were real quiet.
Quiet for the US - over here I noticed that I hadn't seen a car for a while so I clocked some mileage.
One car in twenty miles.

In Stratford for the night.

It's pissing down. I need food. I need to do a laundry and I would like a beer.

When I asked about a 'guest laundry' I was told 'No worries - dump it in here and I'll do it. If you want to go for food let me know I'll give you a lift into town'. One basket of laundry later I'm in the owners car outside the local Irish pub that does food. There's a pub quiz going on and when they have a question about Europe I tell the guys at the next table the answer. Having joined their team they tell me that they usually win.
Tonight they won by three points and I supplied four answers so I don't feel to bad about the fact that one of them have me a lift back to the motel.
The answers, by the way were - Dorset, Godley & Cream, Sunflowers and Cuba.

21 Oct.

Shite weather.
If I have to put the waterproofs on half way through the day I accept that - but putting them on first thing, before you get on the bike in the morning is depressing.

Two hours down the road and a stop for brunch.
The rain was pelting, the temperature was in single figures and I'd almost been blown off the road twice - not counting the land slip I'd had to dodge where there was about 3 foot of clear road at the side away from the cliff.
I phoned Faye "What's the weather like" - "Overcast warm & dry".
So two hours down the road it was going to be bearable.
I can live with that - two hours of bad until I can get into decent climes ...

It was a tough two hours.
The waterproofs work but my hands were suffering when I pulled in here at around 2 PM

Faye & Andy have a few acres with some sheep, a pond and a 3 car garage next to a house that has a 2 car garage.
Just enough space for Andy to store all his bikes.

Beer, curry, conversation and whisky filled the rest of the evening.

Blessed are the bikers who take care of the other bikers.

I am being well blessed.

22 Oct.

Quiet day with Faye & Andy.

Went into Palmerston North to pick up some waterproof gloves.
The only part of me that gets wet & cold in the rain is my hands so this should cure that - either that or it will ensure that I don't get rained on for the rest of the trip.

Went for a wander into Levin & down to the beach.

Everywhere you go here you can see mountains (unless the clouds are too low)

23 Oct.

Went out for a day on the bike with Andy.

There was a track day at Mansfield - the local circuit so we went to watch the local heroes try and out do each other.

After lunch in a local cafe we headed for Palmerston North to catch up with the start of a BMW rideout.
Having spent so much time cruising and looking at the scenery I was initially taken aback by the pace.
Andy looked like he was out for a Sunday bimble on his R100RS and I'm working hard on a VFR to stay with him.
It wasn't long before I was comfortable running at those kind of speeds - but it did take a few miles.

We stopped at Wimbledon for a drink.
This is basically a bar in the middle of nowhere.
We had taken some real twisty roads over the hills to get to the east coast - loads of fun but not much sightseeing at those speeds.

After a quick stop at the beach we headed home through the Manawatu Gorge.

I got to thinking - why am I having to work so hard to rise at these speeds?
I've spent years riding at those speeds at home.
My best guess is I've been in autopilot mode for quite a while and have been cruising and looking at the scenery that I haven't been using the level of concentration required to run at those speeds.
Just out of practice - not helped by the fact that I haven't previously run at those speeds on this bike.

24 Oct.

A quiet mooch about kind of a day.

Went for a walk - by choice. Not something I've done for a long time.
Looking at the flowers, listening to the birds sing.

It's strange to be in spring at the wrong time of year.
In spring you perk up after the long cold dark winter.
I'm perking up after a long hot summer - very weird.

I also got to experience some traditional New Zealand pastimes.
There was a shout "Mac - can you go out & help Ian"
When I went outside I was handed a lamb.
"If you can hold him I can dock his tail".
Don't think I've ever carried a sheep around with me before.

25 Oct.

The choice of ferry times to the south island is 8:30 or 14:30.
To catch the 8:30 I'd have to be out of Levin at around 5:30.
Somehow I decided to catch the 14:30.

Waited till after the rush hour and wandered down to Wellington.
It is officially a city. Actually it's the capitol city, but it's town sized were it in any other country.
That's not a criticism as it is a lovely place, and it's not often I say that about a city (or town).
Wandered round some of the shopping area and then along the sea front.
There are a number of short poems in concrete in unusual places scattered along the shore.

The ferry left pretty much on time and off to the south island we go.

When I got the bike positioned where the loading guy told be I was surprised to find that there were hooks in the deck to tie the bike down in front of and behind the bike, but not alongside the bike.
I've borrowed one strap and, the same as I do when crossing the English Channel, I was going to strap it over the seat.
There's no where to attach the ends of the strap to to do that.
I used it over the back of the bike - using the givi wingrack to keep the strap in the right place, and had to use the smelly ropes that the ferry folks supply to tie the front down.
That's another thing - crossing the channel a crew member ties your bike down. Here you're on your own.
I got one of the other bikers to help me with the knots.
I really am crap sometimes.

The natural harbour at Wellington is perfect for shipping (well except the ferry that sank in 1962) and the views as you leave the city are spectacular. Having said that, the views going through the sound towards Picton in the south island are better.

20 minutes over the hill from Picton is Blenheim.
That'll do for the night.


Packing - because I know where everything goes to fit into the boxes packing up has become quick and ritualised.
The jeans are in the bag with the long sleeved T-shirts (separate from the other T-shirts) and the pants bag support the laptop - but have I got all the electrical supplies & connecting cables in the 'bag' that sits alongside. I've just done a laundry so the T-shirt bag is huge and the laundry bag (one of two) only has today's clothes so I'll have to put the sock bag in that box so that the weight is distributed, and that box is light coz the camping gear went home with Nick but I have to have the waterproofs and the new gloves accessible in case it rains.

It does mean that I know when something is missing.
"Where's the toothbrush - coz the sponge bag goes here"
Forgetting major items becomes tricky.

And I am so looking forward to being home & not caring.
Don't get me wrong - I'm enjoying this but ...

the bedroom floor will be littered when I get home

26 Oct.

A gentle run down the coast to Christchurch.

It was beautiful in Blenheim this morning, warm with no clouds.

When I got near the coast the land disappeared into cloud.
The entire coast was fog bound.

Anyway - my task for this afternoon is to try & post this lot !

Diary 18