Fire 'n Ice NZ'05 pt.4


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member

It was quiet in the morning...hearts were heavy as we realized that we'd be losing Jimbo today...he had to split off to return home. Then again...NZ's most scenic road was waiting for us, Mt. Cook Rd. along Lake Pukaki.
The views are absolutely STUMPING!!!





The road itself is dangerous due to the views; it's oh-so-easy to just run off the edge while still gawking into the distance. Needless to say that the Digicams started to smoke…






Ultimately we had to double back and enjoy more-of-the-same while passing Lake Tekapo



before getting into Fairlie,


then Geraldine for lunch. Route 72 is a Christchurch Bypass and cuts through the Canterbury Plains, straight and boring….but heads and hearts were still in overdrive from the morning's intake. The waters at Rakaia Gorge were murky instead of the usual deep-emerald

...Sheffield Bakery was the end of the line for Jimbo and it was real hard to suppress emotions when we saw his yellow jacket disappear towards Christchurch…
Some other time, some other place we'll ride together again!!! It's a promise!! MATE!!

Nobody wanted another break on the way past Oxford and Ashley Gorge to Amberley. The Holiday Park at Waipara had some unique Railway-Carriages as cabins ...and an old station as Camp-kitchen.



Dinner at the pub was a quite affair.

More sun the next morning through the twisties north to Culverden and Waiau, followed by some magic 80km of tight-twisty stuff mixed with sweepers, single-lane bridges with tricky approaches...this one had the lot, glad to have given the coastal hwy a miss.
Kaikoura on the coast showed it's best side,




blue skies over nice beaches, a great seafood-chowder at a café on the Promenade, yeeha, spirits had lifted somewhat.
It's up the coast past the seal-rocks to "The Store" for a drink, the rolling hills on the left windswept and ugly-brown, the road along the coast surprisingly traffic-free. Sunshine all the way brought us to Blenheim… the place is bustling.
Off to Picton then for the night, it's an EARLY rise to catch the ferry at 5.30 am.
Having grown from grubby-little-ferry-town into a wannabe-resort-town over the past 10 years or so, the hills of the narrow valley are plastered with new houses, many precariously glued to the hillside. A disappointing dinner at some bistro is made up for by a leisurely stroll through town , aye? :)
Off to the North Island tomorrow…. and what's in store for us there?

To keep the other campers happy, we pushed the bikes out of the front gate just before 5am.
Thoughts of Jimbo and Nigel crept up again...boy, they would've liked this.


A calm crossing finished with a wall of low, blacks clouds over Wellington harbour. Again 2 weather fronts were fighting for territory, a street café in Upper Hutt served a decent breakfast.
Hwy 2 north-east across the Rimutaka-Ranges is…whowww !!!
GREAT fun, no surprise that this is where the locals go ballistic on the weekends.
Too busy to stop and take pics of… :)
Turning off the main Hwy in Masterton, it was east for a few km, then north via the backroads to Alfredton….and I missed a turnoff somewhere which landed us on a gravel road a bit too far east. We decided to not backtrack, but take "those few" kms of gravel, which turned out 28km of single-lane stuff crossing 2 ridges. Steep, slippery and deep, coarse gravel everywhere. On the last downhill section Sasha had 2 VERY close shaves within 10meters.
Being behind, I saw the whole thing and how she kept from dumping the bike each time is still a puzzle…

Back on the sealed road the going got quicker, past a myriad of road-slips/ land slips where either the banks had buried the road or half of the road had vanished. Tim upfront got a bruised wrist out of a major tankslapper, hitting deeep gravel, again, being behind at the time, I was already counting the pain and $$ of that spill as the rear-end of the GSXR1000 gyrated wildly.


He'd ploughed a path for me, but Sasha behind me went in a bit lower and buried the front end of the Guzzi. Third time big damage to either rider or bike.
Weber turned out to be 3 buildings and a church, we turned towards the coast again before the tack north at Wimbledon, past NZ's Longest Place name
(you should see the postcode ;D ;D ;D)

to Waipukurau. Great countryside, great road, but no easy riding. North through Hastings to Clive, halfway to Napier.
A few days earlier we'd met a couple in Middlemarch who owns a Holiday Park in Clive, they'd given us their business card and a hand-written note for their son. Moving into 2 brandnew cabins was a pleasant change from the usual abode we were used to by now.
The Chinese Take-away we got from Hastings was pretty good too.

When can one stop to be stumped when again and again the next stretch of road turns out to be yet another mega-version of the Black/ Reefton Spurs? When does one stop gawking at the incredible scenery/ backdrops?

SH 2 from Napier to Wairoa was another one of those, followed by the same again via the back-country Tiniroto Road from Wairoa to Gisborne... once more, HIGHLY recommendable (but not a relaxed ride).






Gisborne showed itself in bright sunshine, the surrounding orchards and vineyards giving the place a certain feel.


Time to ring ahead for the next few night's accommodation and also to find a bike-shop in Rotorua that can help out with 4 oil-changes and a new rear-hoop for the Guzzi, the OEM Pirelli is certainly "quitting the game " unexpectedly early. We're in luck with Bike Force in Rotorua, they'll order a tyre for us and will also re-arrange their Monday morning schedule to do the oil/ filter changes.

Grey skies lifting,

it's up the coast to round the East Cape of the North Island, only a shortish ride to Tokomaru Bay,


then we'll try to find the thermal pool at Te Puia Springs a few minutes up the road.
As luck has it, the booked cabins at the Holiday Park threaten to "beat" those of Karamea… :(( the "Blue Marlin" Motels opposite offer themselves and we're glad to be at the right spot at the right time.

Incongruously a biiig, old, double-storey pub resides next to a handful of old weatherboard houses...welcome to Te Puia Springs...where are the springs?
Asking around, it turns out to be a small shed at the back of the pub with a sort-of-a-huge, tiled bathtub
in the floor…we get the key from the publican and go for a dip.


30 mins later it's either get-out-quick or burst like a ripe tomato...the sulphur-fumes are overpowering and the rest of the foul smelling "juice" drives rivers of sweat.
We get out with shaky knees and slowly wobble back the 14km of twisties...time for a snooze!

It's a damp, drizzly morning for the 300km around the East Cape.

A sharp, blind lefthander followed by a right which climbs a blind crest, the Strom's in the middle of the road positioned to go any which way after the crest...and the asphalt stops suddenly, juuust after the top of the crest. Being in the lead, I drop both feet as a warning to Sasha who follows…then hit the anchors hard before letting go again as the front gets onto the dirt...and there's a loud bang as the front-end of the Guzzi rams the V-Strom from behind. Feet still down I roll downhill, the mirror shows the Guzzi down on its crash bars and panniers. Thankfully the next one was a bit further back and realized what happened, rather than ploughing into it. Sash's fine, the Guzzi's headlight and indicator were busted when they hit the V-Stroms Staintunes… 20km further on the skies crack open into bright-blues...
The Road cuts inland then joins the coast, before it's inland and across yet another mountain range or saddle, small towns,

an incredibly white church against the green of the paddocks and the emerald-aqua of the sea, it all seems like a daydream. 1000s of twists and turns, from Oruaiti Beach it's along the beach only, nearly 100km to Opotiki.




The Holiday Park near Ohiwa sits on a spit crowded by a cliff, very picturesque and great cabins.

Yet another sunny morning, we're off early, down south on the SH2 for about 70km through the Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve and what a ride it is :))



We turn around back to Opotiki for fuel and the run into Rotorua, skies now solid blue as we get into the 40km of twisties past the cluster of lakes on the right, Nigel and Jimbo would go spastic here and whittle some fishing rods on the spot :)
The volcanic area of Hells Gates is only one of many similar spots around here, most of them long since commercialised.





Trying to escape the sulphur-stink that wafts around Rotorua we're lucky by picking a place at Blue Lake, about 12km out of town and hidden by a small range of hills.
Apart from being very pretty, it's way quieter and the air is clean.
Not really wanting to front up at the workshop with the bikes the way they look, we find some degreaser and a carwash, the bikes are getting their first clean after about 6000km.


As agreed, we fronted up early with oil filters in hand (recommendable to bring them along), the tyre for the Guzzi was still at the local courier's office.

No fuss here with customers entering the workshop, the guys were friendly, quick and happy to listen, a real refreshing change compared to the usual workshops in AUS.

The rear Metzeler for the Guzzi appeared ...and changing that proved to be the biggest job of all, the swing arm opening being so narrow that it's next to impossible to get the wheel in and out.
Things were made even harder due to the Metzelers slightly wider sidewall profile. The battle lasted an hour but the mechanic won!! :))
We take a stroll through Rotorua

and find a great street-café still serving late bacon 'n eggs, Sash's off to the medical centre to see a doc for her asthma-related coughing-attacks. The park in the city is yet another thermal area,

steam crawling out of gutters and inspection-shafts everywhere, looks like the place is about to blow any second. WEIRD!!
The afternoon is spent around the place, a very scenic ride through the twisties to Lake Tarawera,


some re-packing, some calls and SMS, contact with home, Vodafone NZ showing that it actually can work…IF everything comes together…
Another chance meeting with some other guys on bikes, last time we saw each other was around Queenstown and it's great to swap stories.

Next: Into the caves....Blackwater rafting...and more
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