Category New Zealand

Auckland to Perth

We’ll do a New Zealand wrap-up post at some point, maybe. For some reason the change from Latin America to NZ was the only time in nearly two years we’ve come off our ‘high’. I’m not clear about why this was. When I have some insight, I’ll post about it.

The day’s route
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There was a little difficulty in arranging to fly to Perth. This would be the first time we’ve flown Lucinda on a Carnet De Passages (a bonded bike passport really) and with no exit stamp from Canada, Australian customs had to pre-approve entry this way, which took a few days. Also I wanted to use TNL again to ship and receive but they had difficulty with the crating requirements. Shipping to NZ on an LAN flight was a breeze. Strap her to a pallet, wrap her, and go. Not so easy on a fancy western airline. So I shopped around for a new forwarder/receiver and settled on Go! Logistics at both ends. The downside was they weren’t the super-fast partnership that Dakar/TNL were, only because they hadn’t handled bikes on Carnets.

So on the day Lucinda was due for crating, we took her off to be cleaned at a roadside car service in Auckland. Non-riders will find this boring, but for riders this is gripping stuff

Pretty fancy, it had a pressure washer with various types of action. Like de-grease, soap, rinse, etc. We were going to take a risk and see if we could get through quarantine without the toothbrush-level clean for NZ quarantine. I had a reason for thinking it would be easier this time. Mainly because of the crate.


Then off to Go! Logistics for crating and shipping. This is Alistair who’s going to supervise crating. After disconnecting the battery and assuring them there was virtually no fuel in the tank, I left her, my clothes, boots and helmet. Fingers crossed. It’s never good leaving her, but this time was particularly difficult. I was sad.

I flew the day before her, got the train down to Fremantle (nice, I heard) to wait. So this is what Aussies look like, random sampling


And my first Aussie town photo, Fremantle. Not a good pic, but the first. Touristy on a few central streets, but very nice. Better shots later

Just a block way, on our first day, we struck gold

Tons of maps and very helpful staff

As it turns out the Aussie are keen mapmakers and there’s every level of detail available at multiple scales in various formats. Some tracks are complete with GPS coordinates at frequent key locations. Impressive.

I’ve written my list of most ignorant questions on the plane and start interrogating the most compliant looking staffer, about my many concerns in order of importance. Wolf Creek-type serial killers, snakes, spiders, crocodiles, etc. That went pretty well, then on to the maps and gas/water/shower frequency, etc.

Lucinda flew the next day and I’d been warned that customs and quarantine might take a few days.

I’d been told of a BMW riders meeting at a cafe and head off there for a chat. The first thing I see is a 2006 megamoto, a cousin to Lucinda. I’ve never seen one before and it’s immaculate

I was very bummed not to be able to show off Lucinda, who stands up well to the scrutiny of the most hard-core rider, regardless of preference. But anyway.

It was a talented group. Some of them (obviously not on these street BMW’s) had done Australia’s hardest routes including the Canning Stock which I’ve heard many tales about. They were very friendly and had no problem with me pulling out a map and asking questions. I was very aware that asking questions about Australia as is rediculous as pulling out a map of South America and expecting to learn much. It’s just too big. So I kept my questions to getting some validation of my overall idea and sorting out big picture stuff like weather, road surfaces, and an idea about the difficulty of various goals. But this was there club meeting so I tried to keep it brief and keep out of their way, despite wanting to spend hours with them. But I’ll meet others riders on the road, as always.

At this point I notice my attitude towards the immediate future has shifted back into the good (not aggressive, but something like it) place it has been all along, but for some reason suffered a big set-back in NZ.

I didn’t get a good pic of the group. Busy concentrating

Lucinda arrived in Perth on Wednesday and wasn’t through customs and out of quarantine until the following Tuesday. We got a call saying she was ready for pick up. Up we go to Perth and there she is, in a crate.

The good news is that with her battery disconnected she is in a coma state, so isn’t aware of anything and hasn’t been freaking out.

The crate is so well built I comment to the receivers about the wood quality and joinery and they make some Kiwi joke. This is interesting so I ask so do the Kiwis make unusually good crates? They say yes, and chuckle.

So time to unpack Lucinda and wake her up

Nearly there

And off we go

Next stop is a bit more complicated. As I’ve said before, there’s no bigger pain in the ass than travelling in developed countries. We have to call the Department of Transport and arrange a transit permit, specifically saying where we are going to go for our Vehicle Inspection approval and when. But you need to arrange an inspection appointment in advance, and you can’t do this until you know Lucinda is through customs. Anyway, you get the drift. After all this was untangled but without accelerating bribe possibilities we have our transit permit number and head off here

We wait beside an ancient but clean Rolls

A Unimog also

And a truck with this fancy version of a bull bars, they’re everywhere, but not this decorative usually . I ask the owner if it’s for Kangaroos (more on this soon) and he says it’s for anything that jumps out in front of you. On that list as far as I know, so far, are kanagaroos and emus

The guy does a thorough job. It takes him 20 minutes. Lucinda has no problem with this as she knows she’s going to pass with honours, and does

Next day, off to the tire shop

On the main website thread for HP2 geeks, of which I’m one, there’s this South African guy who pushes a tire Lucinda hasn’t tried before (not available in Latin America). The problem: the rear TKC wears too fast, the K60 is crap on wet, and practically, those are the only two 50/50 or more tires that are worth considering, until now. So let’s see how this does

The Mitas MT09 Dakar, with the signature yellow stripe. We’re staying with the TKC front since it is holy, and put a new one on. I’ll report back a month from now.

More key Aussie beta at the bike shop


While all this was happening we also kicked around Fremantle a bit and will put up some pics when we return. We’re going to do a loop first, waiting for a shipment to get here from YVR which hasn’t arrived yet.

But we’re getting on with the Aussies just fine. Lots of strange things they say though, for instance sunglasses are sunnies

NZ – Mangonui to Auckland

We stayed in Mangonui for a week. It was a great week. We immediately met some locals to hang out with and found a great cabin which was a short stagger from the pub

A fishing village with a good waterfront for walking

And after a couple of days there was a hunting/fishing competition for the locals.

The rules were two guys take off in a 4X4 with two dogs for two days. The trucks were loaded up with rifles, fishing rods, ammo, booze and a couple of things I probably shouldn’t blog about.

The object is to come back with the biggest pig, the biggest snapper and the pheasant with the longest tail feathers. There’s a formula combining these somehow arriving at a cumulative score.

Kiwis are really big pig hunters. They have multiple magazines devoted to it. Here’s one, not bad for a first pig.

Bye the way, that’s the correct way to carry a pig. You see Kiwis carrying pigs like this all the time.

And another, sometimes you just get lucky

The trucks they set off in, with the dogs

The hunters all wear wellies. Everyone in NZ wears wellies. Or flip flops

The professionals

Give them another twenty years

Then two days later they all come back. They’ve gutted the pigs in the field but they get sliced up further here to check for cheat-rocks before the weigh-in.

I’ll spare you the fun gory stuff. Here are the winningest pigs

And the winningest snappers

And the pheasantDSC03372

The guys who didn’t make the finals with their smaller trophies at their feet

It all looked like this. The measurers and judges wore orange Hawaiian shirts

Later, at the pub, they gave out prizes and got drunk. It was awesome. My new friend Philip and I entertain the local ladies

A few days later we head up to 90 mile beach.

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Actually it’s 56 miles though according to the GPS and the odometer on my bike. The reason they says it’s 90 miles is because it takes a horse, which can walk 30 miles in a day, 3 days to walk it, but the horses go slower in sand. This has been explained to me numerous times. OK then, 90 miles it is
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The Google Earth. This is the northern tip of NZ
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G Earth of the beach
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The start of the ride is about 40 minutes from Mangonui, down a short sand road

Dunes to the right

Surf to the left. Heaven

Off up the beach. pics from video.

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2/3rds the way up is the only course change, rounding a small point. Riding through the surf here in places
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You have to ride it at low tide. But since high tide was at 11:30 am, that wasn’t happening. So we started at 2:30 pm with the ebb.

It was pretty firm and in places, where it was flatter, wet. So we pressure washed Lucinda afterwards to get the salt off.

You could go as fast as you liked so we settled in at a relaxed 60 mph and stopped for photos and to watch and listen to the surf.

At the northern end the idea is to ride a stream bed east to the main highway, about 4K away. But with all the rain it wasn’t a stream bed, it was a river. The banks were soft and slow going to we stayed mid-channel, but it got deep and fast flowing after maybe 500 yards. Looking ahead I could see higher dunes and wondered if the river narrowed to Lucinda drowning depth. With sunset only a couple of hours away, we did an exciting 180 mid-river and rode back to the beach, then did the 56 90 56 miles of sand again. It was dark by the time we rode into Magonui.

Going upstream, from video
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A vanity shot coming back, with a storm cloud coming in

After a couple more days in Mangonui we rode back to Auckland.

NZ – Whangarei to Mangonui

On our second try getting north, Whangarei to Paihia
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Which included a ferry ride. You can see the coastline is missing here on Garmin’s map. Only a bit of this is over the water
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Google version, approx.
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So we’ve decided to take the coast road around the flooding and it’s perfect. The washouts have either been filled with gravel or are no problem to ride through

These trees are full of what looks to be (but can’t be) a Bromeliad


We’re riding the coast but only see it 1/2 the time. But the road is twisty and fun
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A remote beach

You can see the huge surf top right

Lots of this

The town of Russell

The ferry from Russell to Paihia

Very modern

Then a fast ride to Mangonui
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Which turns out to be a great stop

But that night, tragedy in Buenos Aires

NZ – Tauranga to Whangarei

It’s probably worth mentioning now that it’s been raining hard, most of the time. The photos have been mostly sunny. We haven’t been riding in the rain much. We only had 24 destination towns in NZ, which meant we rode less than 1/2 of the time. A record low.

The day’s route, Tauranga to Orewa
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An uneventful ride up and through Auckland

Cold and wet

In fact north NZ has had the worst rain and storms in 20 years. We’ve been told most of the roads are closed

The next day’s attempt, which includes a reversal to Whangarei
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The further north we got, the more the landscape was under water

It was like a JG Ballard book

Some of the locals were enjoying themselves, waving as they passed me taking photos

Coming back for a second wave

The water here is flooding hard from right to left, as you can see at the overflow

Houses underwater

And cattle marooned and in distress

It was quiet

The occasional local, but not many. No idea where everyone was

Back on the highway, they’re saying it’s all closed

A news crew is out and we chat. They have good information. They say that the roads through the centre are flooded badly, and may not be possible on a moto, and the roads on the coast have been washed out but should be possible, or even repaired soon.

Closed for cars

A few more locals, loving the drama

This was no problem, but the water was running very fast

This was more committing

Back through flooding

Then to a stopper. At least 2 feet deep and flowing like a fast river for a couple of hundred yards. It looked not so bad until I started walking it, and stopped to laugh after only 50 feet or so

The police had cordoned off the other road, so I had to reverse back for an hour or two and think about another way. A fun day, not so much for the residents
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NZ – Picton to Tauranga

The boat ride back, and up to Masterton
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The Cook straight is calm again

There’s another interesting thing that happens in a river and we’re off through the forest 25 miles north of Masterton to see it.

Its starts here

No-one’s around. I ask a lady about the eels that live in the rivers here. She asks me if I’d like to feed them and goes off for a few minutes and comes back with some fishing waders, a bucket and a kitchen spoon. In the bucket are kitchen scraps, some raw chicken bits and on top, dead mice.

I can’t imagine how this is going to work, but we head off through the forest and she tells me a story. Later on that

If the seals playing in the river down south were the bright side of life, this may be the dark side. They’re in this river somewhere

There they are. Dark eels, really big. Up to 6 feet long. Their fat bodies move against the current effortlessly.

These eels are not to be messed with. She says that one of Captain Cook’s journals graphically describe a sailor getting attacked by these eels. They latched onto him and went into a frenzy, ripping chunks off him until he was bones. People have been very careful since, she says.

She says they can’t smell me through the waders so in I wade and start doling out a spoonful each as they gather around me. The dog shaped mouths are lined with bright white teeth that look like the shiny tips of scalpel blades against a bright red background.

They can age the eels accurately because of bony rings in the head and the oldest found so far was 160 years old. They cross the ocean 6000 miles to breed in Tonga and the larvae drift back this way with the current. The young grow to a certain size in the river estuaries befire going upstream. The photo below is from video she took
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To Napier, Deco capital of NZ
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There are tons of sheep on this section

Fast twisties

Sheep everywhere

And if you stop, they all stare at you. Every one

A typical and beautiful Kiwi farmhouse

I’m told all these river are stuffed with trout. They’re heavy in biomass, but I guess because it’s winter not a lot of bugs in the air

Into Napier, which is proud of its aesthetic. The town was levelled by a massive earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt when Deco was going off in Europe. They have festivals celebrating it, all the towns brochures emphasize it, everywhere you look its Deco. Deco-ish.

One of the pretty avenues through the center of town

Typical fascade

Some nice interiors

Details in the street, modern

Inland to Taupo
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Largely like this

Then on to Rotorua

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A good time to mention that nearly all the country road bridges are single lane. Very nice

We took a route that was 50/50 dirt since it hadn’t rained in a day or two

Through Hobbit-land. Not dissimilar to the green hills east of Medellin


The lakefront. Very cold

This day first goes backwards to hot springs. But I parked in the parking lot beside the road and decided not to leave Lucinda alone for the hour walk, and bailed
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Dense forests here

Back to Tauranga to get the suspension re-built after nearly two years. I was in this shop back at the beginning getting new tires. They had 4 HP2 posters on the walls and all raced. Rhys on the right here races superbikes. Ray, on the left also races, but I can’t remember what. I’ve pre-ordered a new Garmin wiring harness for the GPS (which being Garmin) has failed somewhere and I’ve been running on batteries for a while. It turns out the pins in the mount have worn down. But the courier has lost it, so I head off for a few days.

Test riding the re-built suspension outside of town

The view of town from the highest point

Then on to do a loop of the Coromandel peninsula, first stop WhitiangaScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 4.40.30 PM


We were trying to find a hot spring on a beach. This turned out to be the wrong one

Here’s another close-to-the-ground Kiwi bird

This peninsula is a Kiwi highlight

Some kind of shrubby Potentilla I think


Rode along this ridge for a couple of hours

Down to the sea again. The water is clear

Walk along here

There’s a group of people digging in the sand and sitting in sand pits

We go to investigate. The water is hot, very hot, and seeping out of the holes they’ve dug

Then north to a dirt road I hear is special
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A slick and slimy start

Lower tree ferns here

A fishing village

Then up a perfect waterfront dirt road

Fast and packed


To a fantastic look-out

The road doesn’t go around the top and back, so we reversed

We hung out in the town of Coromandel for a day or two, then headed back down the other side
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Where Rhys replaced the Garmin harness. A tank-off job of course. So now Lucinda is completely ready for new adventures.

NZ – Nelson to Picton

The day’s short track
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Over to the South Island. The Cook Straight can be a fierce stretch of water so actually it’s more of a ship than a ferry, despite the short hop.

Snubbelrisk. Your guess is as good as mine. Hobbit?

The other side, Picton

Typical lush coastline

Tree palms mixed in with both deciduous and conifer

Very beautiful small villages

It’s very quiet

Nelson’s a pretty town

Huge tree palms with the conifers again


I got a cold, my third or fourth of the ride and hunkered down here to recover, then we were off to Hamner Springs
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Each day it seemed to get colder. When we left again there was a decent frost and the roads were dicey

If I haven’t said it’s peaceful yet, it’s peaceful

Miles of this

There are rivers everywhere

Lunch stop. Pastries are the thing here. Everywhere.

These mountains are maybe 5 or 6000 feet.

Another beautiful river valley

Hamner Spring is as still as a tomb

We pushed on to Christchurch
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A river every few miles

And that was as far south as we got. There were icy patches in the shadows of the trees. Our next destination was Tekapo and it just wasn’t going to warm up. The last thing we needed was to go for a slide
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So we headed north up the coast to Kaikoura
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This is the first time on the east coast and I look for differences

We take a detour at one point

Does this look like winter?

I only include this bull because it’s the biggest I’ve ever seen. Maybe 3′ high at the shoulder on the ground here. Massive

It looks like a small island in the southern Ocean here

Massive kelp. My boot for reference, at least a foot across

Although it’s hard to see here but this species of gull is short and fat

Then back to Picton, but there’s a treat in store for us
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Freezing when we wake up

We’re headed up the coast road along this

Nothing better

Then we get to this creek we’re told about. There’s a small gravel parking lot and we miss it the first time. Without spoiling the surprise too much, large sea mammals crawl out of the sea here

And head up this

We walk up this beside the creek

A typical mountain creek. Pools, boulders, small sluices. A difficult climb for any animal

Then, ten minutes of climbing up through the forest, up the side of this mountain, there’s a seal by the path

A few minutes later we’re at this waterfall with a deep pool maybe 20′ across at the base.

And it’s stuffed with baby seals. They’re diving, jumping and playing with each other with as much joy as you’ve ever see. Pure animal bliss. Click and enlarge the video to the left.

Maybe hundreds, or thousands, of years ago a mother seal came up the creek and had her pup here. Now hundreds do. The adults come up to feed them periodically, and when the pups are grown they return to the sea. There are no adults here today, just maybe 100 pups.


An almost perfect ride up the coast from there

A vineyard against a river

Cruised by black swans

Our first sheep. Staring

Then into Picton. So not so much of the famed South Island

Picton waterfront

We’ve been trying to see the Southern Cross using our StarWalk app on the iPad but it’s parked in the middle of the Milky Way, so hasn’t been clear. The constellation’s name is Crux and you can vaguely see it here.

NZ – Auckland to Wellington

A very brief series of NZ blogs to catch up

It’s winter here and we didn’t make much southerly progress due to ice, but we’ll get to that. It’s very cold. We’re going to hit a few countries off-season and this is one of them.

The first stop is Tuaranga to get new tires. TKC 80’s since we’re not concerned with tire wear here
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Once free of Auckland it’s a dash across vividly green countryside

Then to Hamilton
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The leaves are off the trees. It feels like winter.

Our first view of the hills that characterize NZ. Choppy, like the southern ocean on a bad day

Rivers everywhere

Stocked with Rainbow trout from BC decades ago, now the dominant fresh water game fish

Then to New Plymouth
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Our first ocean view

A black-sand beach. It’s soft like mud

The air is sparkling clear, always

Mount Taranaki

And around the coast to Wellington
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Back to the ocean

My youngest daughter is visiting on her way through. We travel together for a while. Yes, there’s a broken leg in here somewhere

This is what Wellington looks like when you ride/drive in. Normally this is a windy city, but today it’s stillDSC02966

We decide to check it out by air. We charter the smallest helicopter I’ve ever been in, but it has the benefit of being quiet. My daughter’s in the front, I’m crammed into what passes for a back seat

Downtown Wellington

Head north

Over hills

Beautiful little valleys

Along the coastline

To a small peninsula, covered in seals

Down there

Toy helicopter. In bike terms, this is a scooter


And back again

Auckland viaduct

This is a post for sailors, mostly.

Lucinda has trouble coming to terms with the number of boats I sailed with in my past. And no, I don’t remember all their names.

So, while we’ve been waiting for Lucinda to be processed into NZ, we head off to Auckland harbour. It’s a nice harbor, but nothing special. Small, it’s hard to get a great shot

But as you’d expect there’s a lot of carbon, more than a few maxis, and lots to see, including a couple of AC45’s and dismantled Cup boats, which is a bit sad

Fays’ AC epic boat, KZ1, which Connor dealt with in the worst AC of all timeDSC02683

Then into a fantastic boat museum, which is right behind the viaduct events centre

Inside there are some amazing things. First a cold-moulded International 14. Not only World Champion in 1958, when I was 1, but one of the first cold-moulded hulls ever built. The hull shape is so full up front she must have been like a hobby horse. Imagine being the first guy to say to himself hey, why don’t we make that narrower and see what happens

This sexy R class 13 footer was built by Macintosh in 1981

She’s a dream of clean inside

Then there was a boat that I was so focused on getting detail shots of I forgot to take a photo of the whole boat, a clinker built X class from 1965, but I got this picture off the web
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Then there was the tuning stuff.

Nice vertical rudder housing, cool for 50 years ago

Simple and powerful shroud tensioner. Not sure where the fine tune is. This is antique

Then they had slot control, for a wooden mast. Here is the deck fixture at the lower shroud. The bullet is hand made, click for detail

And it was tightened/loosened off this by the driver, on the floor. All great stuff for 50 years ago.

Then we went to see the Kiwi prize, one of the greatest boats ever built, NZL32, Black Magic. She was better to look at than I had imagined

And this was stunning. I could imagine Butterworth and Coutts at work here

They had a few small but well-done exhibits about the team and crew: Peter Blake, Coutts, Butterworth, Schnachenberg, Daubney, Fluery, household names now. It’s like King Peter and Knights of the Round Table and this weapon of a machine.

It was also nice seeing her among the dinghies, seeing as she was the revenge of frustrated trickle-up theory.