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Diary 19

16 Nov.

Strange kind of a day.

I feel tired and homesick.
I've had enough of this and am ready to go home.
I'm sure I'll perk up in a day or so but for the moment it's a bit of a down.
It's probably a mix of the weather and the fact that I'm having some hassles sorting out the NZ -> UK bike shipping.
I've been trying for a week to get the Carnet from Kerry in Auckland to the Customs Agent but the courier keeps failing to deliver it so I might have to nip up to Auckland and do it myself.
Bit of a bummer if I do have to but it needs to be done.

I've got the bike booked on the Tarago out of Auckland in early December and arriving in Southampton on the 16th Feb. provisionally. There are a few shipping details still so sort out but this one seems reasonably straight forward - and way cheaper than flying the bike. 1100NZD.

My arms were getting tired today as well.
I don't think I've had to muscle the bike about as much as I did today.
First over Takaka Hill out of Golden bay, then the Queen Charlotte Drive over to Picton, both of which are steep and endlessly curved. First gear at times from hairpin to hairpin.

I've booked a ferry for 10 tomorrow morning back to the north island.

17 Nov.

Caught the 10 am ferry back to Wellington in the north island.

Damn the roads are busy here - nothing like the south of England - but a lot more folks than the south island.

The damned Carnet has still not been delivered to the customs agent so I'll go to Auckland and do it myself on Monday.

Stopped in past Faye & Andy's to return the strap I used on the ferries and ended up staying the night.
It's good to be back in some sense of normality (for some value of 'normal' when you're on a six month bike tour on the other side of the world).

Lots of discussion of roads, routes & times.

18 Nov.

Headed north following Andy's route - worried about his advice till Kimbolton then the fun started.
Damn that's a good road - from Feilding, the 54 just don't turn left at Cheltenham. Up to that point it's dull and straight, stay with it - it gets real fun.
Andy told me about a cafe in a plane just behind be when I hit SH1.
I bottled out at the sign that said SH1 via sealed route so I hit the main road a few k before the DC3 and stopped for a bite.

Onto the Desert road
And I believe that this area exists coz one of the volcanos went 'bang'.
Up this part of the island are three volcanic sites.
The southern most is a big wide cone.
The second is a classic 'Fiji' type steep & snow covered.
The third is remains. It was the biggest till it blew.
Now it is a mess of outcrops.

Enough geography.
Either you know the area or you don't really understand what it looks like.

Female bikers - There's a change of subject.
There's a WIMA rally here this weekend.
(Think that's what it's called - Woman's International Motorbike Association is my guess).
So quite by accident I find myself in Taupo.

There are some hundred female bikers at a camp site just out of town.
Might have to drop in past tomorrow and say hello.

I'm not exactly sure how attractive a proposition I make.
"Mid 40's bloke
own hair & bike
sense of humour
drinks & smokes"

19 Nov.

Today is good.

The only downside is that the free internet connection is in the corner of the room so I'm sitting on the floor writing this & drinking good coffee.

After breakfast and waiting for the Internet cafe to open I headed for the WIMA rally site.
Everyone had headed out to play on the roads ...

Headed south east towards the coast & Hawke's Bay.
This place just astounds me - the scenery, the roads, everything.

Headed north on the coast & took the inland route from Wairoa (I'll do the coast next week).
Following river valleys from idyllic scene to the next beauty of bucolic living.
Hard work on the bike and very split between having fun on the road & looking at the views.

It got warm too.
The fleece came off before leaving Taupo at 10:30.
High 20s on the coast and getting hot in the leathers.

Near Gisborne I again headed inland.
Dull road for the first few miles then into the Wairata Gorge.
More classic NZ corners to carve.
This is my first three tank day for a while.
Tired and happy.

Into Whakatane for the night at about 7pm.
I'm going to be staying with some folks here next week - but this night wasn't planned so I hope they aren't upset...

Irish bar for a couple of Guinness's, and back to the 'Tuscany Villas' (the most expensive place I've stayed in NZ at 115 a night but I've stayed in places at 100 that were nowhere as nice - I'd stay here again).
Good free filter coffee, a bath I can lie down in, free Internet

I suppose I should go do the domestic stuff.
Clean my visor, check the gear, check the bike.

Off to Auckland tomorrow for two nights.
The plan is to sort out the customs stuff Monday then back here to stay with 'family'.
Thursday & Friday nights in Hamilton - the bike is booked in for a service Friday.

20 Nov.

Up late.

Rode to Auckland

Found a motel beside the Auckland Domain.

21 Nov.

Went to see Kerry and picked up the Carnet, rode to Anzac Av and spoke to Les at J.W.Grieve and got all the bike shipping stuff sorted out.

Did a laundry.

Back to Kerry's and picked up a set of helmet side pods that he'd ordered that morning (so much for a 6 week delivery time).

22 Nov.

Headed back down to Whakatane to continue my tour of the East.

Stopped in Katikati for lunch and a guy pulled into the cafe car park and came straight over and sat at my table.
This was kinda odd ... but he explained that he had spent 12 years riding round the world and when he spotted my registration plate had to stop. It's a little odd meeting someone like that cold - it's not as if I had known about him and arranged to meet. He was just there. And I'm glad he was otherwise I would have been on the bike when the hail stones started.

I drank coffee till the storm passed.

In Whakatane I headed for John's place.
A few months ago I placed a rather cheeky post in the McIntosh web site.
"Travelling in NZ would like to meet family - OK lets be honest, looking for free accommodation"
I really didn't expect anyone to answer.
John did.

After a bit of 'Scotland' conversation we got onto local history.
I learned that one of the seven wakas that arrived in NZ carrying the Maori landed here.
(waka = canoe)
This one was Mataatua.
When they arrived the men folks got off and they didn't notice that the waka started floating out to sea.
The women folks weren't supposed to touch the paddles but Wairaka convinced the women folks to paddle the waka back to shore.
Whakatane means "To act like a man".

It's lovely to hear such history. It does really give you a better understanding of the where and what of the things around you and a better understanding of the Maori culture.

I must go and take a photograph of the statue of Wairaka at the harbour entrance tomorrow morning.

23 Nov.

Strangely mixed day.

I started off all happy & bouncy.
Went past the harbour and took the photos then headed off round the east cape.

Everything was wonderful until, about a third of the way round I got a bee in the throat.
I know it was a bee as the impact didn't kill it. It managed to get it's arse round and extract it's revenge on my throat.

After I stopped and plucked the sting out it took a while for that to stop bothering me.

That was about when the road works started.

Almost all the way down the eastern side of the cape there were patches where they had removed the tar and replaced it with gravel. After a couple of dozen of these I was getting tired.
That's when the big stuff started.
The two mile of gravel and the three inch deep stuff that they'd just dumped and I was the second vehicle over it (even before their grading machine) I paddled my way through about 100 yards of that stuff.
Then there was the cement dust section.

I got to Gisborne at about 3:30 and am knackered.
The concentration and effort to keep the bike upright have taken their toll.

The bike has just been washed - I didn't want the cement to set!

Shower for me and an early night.

24 Nov.

What is it with construction on the west coast.

From Gisborne almost all the way through the Wairata Gorge there was construction dotted along the road.
Some of it new seal but a lot of it gravel, mud, stop / go signs and trucks.

I hadn't realised how far it was from Gisborne to Hamilton so I got my head down and clocked up the miles.
Some of the roads were great travelling roads - fast sweeping curves.
The 30 from Whakatane to Rotorua comes to mind. (Well it was good apart from the bloody construction).

There is a cold front crossing NZ at the moment (it might be below 20 degrees soon) and I picked my route to stay ahead of it for as long as possible. It caught me around Rotorua and bucketed for an hour or so, then the sun came back out as I approached Hamilton.

Booked in here for two nights as the bike is booked for a service tomorrow.

Been out for a beer and on the way home I noticed that that there is a real 'drag strip' thing going on here.
The jap imports with dustbins for exhausts race down the main street.
Not planned races just 'you're not getting in front of me' jobs.

Another thing that I have been avoiding mentioning as I know it will turn some folks off but NZ has seriously embraced the pun.
And it's not just some businesses, it's official.
The information centres in each town (which are wonderful and helpful - I ask for a cheap motel in walking distance from the bars and I'm booked) Anyway - they are called "i site".

There is a guy who sells lawn mowers in town here - "Mow Town"

I have seen so many just not thought to record them.

I heard about a plumber who had on the side of his van "Don't sleep with a drip"
And there is a firm that hires small camper vans that are all individually painted.
I've seen a couple of 'Simpson' ones and many other comic characters including a "Buck Fuch" one.

Diary 21