Fire 'n Ice NZ'05 pt.5


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member

With the bikes serviced it's back on the road again the next morning, skies a bit leaden, but dry for one of the VERY rare "boring" runs, south towards Taupo. We're lucky to catch the flooding of the Aratiatia Rapids,


a 3-times-a-day-event to stop the dam from overflowing.
It's north on Hwy 1 for a short stretch, then it's east and finally onto the backcounty-roads
Where the hell are we?? Pete getting lost !!...and going for help...


Gotcha, THAT's the place!!


again to Mangakino/ Rotongata and across to Te Awamutu for a coffee. The V-Strom had felt strange for the last 10km into town and we watch the rear go completely flat while sipping a cuppacino. My tooth is playing up as well, need some antibiotics.
With a Suzuki dealer in town we pump the rear to 45psi, by the time I get across to the dealer I'm back on 12psi. They're happy to help (those bike-guys are GOOD around here!!); Goodie gives me a lift to the local Medical Center where the friendly doc can see me 3 minutes later and we have an animated chat about traveling New Zealand...
The others split, deciding to chase a new set of wets for Sasha and a set of Harley (YES...HARLEY!!!) braces for Tim's sliding Draggin-jeans :) in Hamilton, only Sash was successful (Thanks Christ :).
We all meet up at the fantastic cabins of Waitomo Caves Top10- Holiday Park….the best overnight-stay of the whole trip... by a mile! Better book 2 nights then, aye?
Waitomo Caves…another sparkler and having sorted and booked the tour we wanted for the
afternoon, we're exploring town and surrounds on foot.
A mini-adventure park come accommodation promises drive-youself jetboating on a figure-8 water course


and some other unusual overnight stays in an old military aircraft that's been decked out with some windows and small porches...and an outside dunny for the ladies!!



We'd decided to go for the Black Abyss tour with the Original Black Water Rafting Co. and it was AWESOME!!




A full afternoon of abseiling 30-odd meters through a narrow hole in the ground into a cave with an underground Flying fox...which ended at a small landing of an underground river of fairly decent width and water level, jumping a 10ft cliff holding a tyre-tube to your bum in the pitch-dark...arse-first.
Ceilings and walls full of glow-worms, finally climbing/ wriggling THROUGH 3 waterfalls and tight tunnels back to's GREAT that NZ obviously hasn't heard of liability-cases yet (and HOPEFULLY never ever will).
The silence of floating underground on those tyre-tubes is deafening.
GREAT FUN !!!!...and $$ well spent.
Dinner at the pub provides another of the local elders kicking the guts out of the old Trumpy.




Lots of onlookers enjoying the show...



After yesterdays crawling-through-caves it's a later start on our way south...clouds are low and rain threatens.
But it's dry for the start to Te Kuiti, Taumaranui and the town of National Park where we turn off across the High Plains and surprisingly straight roads to Chateau Tongariro and the winter Skifields above. What a weird scenery !!





Not long ago the mountain blew it's top in a fiery eruption leaving an eerie landscape.

South to Raetihi where the rain finally decided to stay around for the rest of the day, the expected humdinger down Hwy 4 to Wanganui became a washout :(( to come back for that one another time ;D
Wanganui visitors:


Dry and fairly warm the next morning it's a fairly boring run down the coast to Wellington to catch the afternoon Lynx Catamaran



across to Picton, South Island again.

Wellington puts on a spectacular "light show" black clouds scraping the road, then very light patches, then drizzle for 300 meters, it finally decides to rain, solid but not hard.
The Guzzi spits the dummy and doesn't want to start anymore, not a peep when hitting the button.
Tim and I have a go and find a broken backing plate of the button mechanism, some strip-rubber and cable-ties get it going again, just as we're ready to board.
Thumbs-up for Picton Top10 Holiday Park for some decent beds, the pub-meal was below average but the ice-creamery on Main Street made up for it :)

Dry and sunny… good stuff for a fantastic piece of road, the Queen Charlotte Drive...the start in Picton is a bit hard to find but after that...WHOW, what a road.







TIGHT, TWISTY ...and THOSE views, it's just about to much to take in. Every bend gives another panorama or cut-out.




It opens up at Havelock before some more real tight stuff 15km out of Nelson.
Through town to the turn-off northwest to Motueka.
Close by Kaiteriteri Beach is one beautiful place, and comes completely unexpected.



Tim is stuffed and stays back in Motueka (great bakery on Main St) as the rest of the bunch tackles the famous Takaka Hill,


which doesn't sound much, but…whoa!!!
30km of the tightest, most twisty stuff we'd seen so far, this is in a class of it's own. Fallen rocks add to the spice, as does the scenery and background.
Collingwood is the end of the line for us, black clouds hanging over the hills we just came from. Time to return.
The cloud above the small General Store looks like the place's on fire.



There's brilliant sunshine for the morning's ride south through the market gardens of the Motueka backcountry. The "Motueka Valley Hwy" to Kohatu is a revelation, very scenic and great for a morning-tootle.



Since we liked it so much, it's back up north towards the coast, through Nelson to Havelock, for a stop at the famous Mussel-Boys Café.



Compared to the morning, the afternoon ride to Blenheim via Renwick is a dull affair, but the little cruise around the outskirts of Blenheim more than makes up for it, some beautiful country between the town and the coast....and choked with vineyards.

Perhaps it was more the setting sun that made it so memorable, everything being painted red and pink with the long, black shadows in between.

The next morning the muck is pretty low, lead-grey and somehow sticky…
It's inland up the Wairau Valley, the road fairly straight, the valley wide...but that's only the start.






50km into it and everything changes, big blue holes appear , the valley gets narrower and climbs, there ARE twisties around here, yeeha :)


Through St. Arnaud and past the lakes, the road to Murchison is a beauty…as is the Rivers Café and their venison pies.


Route 65 south to Springs Junction is another nice one, open sweepers with the occasional tight bit it's more for speed than technique.
Time to head east one final time across the Lewis Pass towards Hanmer Springs, also time for a final "road-shots" session. Nothing like the Arthur's Pass , still well worth it.






We're leap-frogging each other with the digicams all the way towards Hanmer and into some big, black clouds.
The weather has FINALLY caught up with us in Hanmer Springs, the mood is a bit down knowing that our time is nearly over.



A "forced rest-day", we're mailing some of our stuff back to Melbourne, stuff we don't want to carry.
Enjoying some of the many walking tracks proves a different way of "moving" through the drizzle…

The final days:
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