We will have to abandon the ride over the next few days we had planned up to Golden bay and Abel Tasman as there has been 15 landslides and the highway 60 is closed. It is raining lightly, but is supposed to be sunny today. The original idea was to ride up the coast to Karamea and then onto St Arnaud. We only did a 50 km ride up the coast to Seddonville, but it was just “mianh” so we turned around, but at least the sun was out now.
The rest of the agenda today is to head thru the Bhueller gorge and then along the 6 to St Arnaud, but the town of Muchison 60 km closer is nicer we have heard and there is a great camp site on the river . We have a riverside site since we arrived at 2 pm. They have a swimming hole, lots of kitchens and lounge spaces, and bikes to borrow. We did borrow 2 and rode into town for a beer and dinner at the local bar.
Today we are headed to the ferry town of Picton.
It was overcast in Murchison, but by the time we made it to St Arnaud it was sunny.
We stopped in Blenheim for some lunch at Coupland’s bakery where the chocolate covered cream filled donuts were insane. Filled with a cup of real whip cream. We back tracked a bit on the road towards Nelson to get to the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive ( the road from there to Nelson is also closed). This may have been the best 40 km of tarmac we have had in NZ. It was curvy and smooth.
Despite the beautiful day the forecast is for very heavy rain tomorrow and so we found a B&B not far from the ferry. They even had a garage downstairs for the bikes. We checked in and were getting cleaned up when there was a knock at the door. It was Roger Arnold from Papamoa! He had just arrived to Picton last night after a 4 day walk over the mountains with a group of 10 friends. He had checked our spot and saw we were headed to Picton and well, and luckily it fired at the B&B and he tracked us there! Such a small world and so great to have friends to hang out with today and on the ferry tomorrow.
Well as advertised it was build an arc pouring at 8 when we got up, but it had let up by at least 1/2 by 1015 when we rode to the ferry dock 800 m away. We did not have to wait long to board luckily. We loaded with Hugo a biker from Argentina, but there were about 12 Kiwi bikes already tied down. They at least have well chocks on the Inter-islander boats unlike the Bleubridge we took on the way over.
Ruth and Roger had saved us some prime seats, which was nice. It was all good until we left the protection of the fjord and then the boat really started rocking and there was a lot of sick people for the next 2 hours. Sara was pretty bad and had to sit in the hall near the center of the boat until we got into Wellington harbor.
It was barely raining now and we headed the 25 km to our buddy Mike’s house. He had the garage open and waiting for us. Dan’s 800 has shown a low charge a few times today WTF! We started with what was the issue one of the times the stator was killed by an overfilled oil system. You can not trust anyone clearly as the guys in Christchurch overfilled both bikes by almost 300 cc!!! Well we had to siphon that off and seems to have fixed the stress on the bike! We shall see…..
For our day here with Mike has planned a ride out on the Moonshine Hill road and then over the Akatarawa pass to Waikanae.
We started out from his place and quickly onto the narrow lane that is the Moonshine Hill road. You have to be careful of the locals who drive at speed and often on your side of the road.
We then made for the Akatarawa road , but found that it was closed yesterday just 1 km from the summit, so we did an up and back. We then made it around to the lookout by the back way.
We woke to drizzle and fog, but the forecast north is better.
We have to endure the ride on the #1 as far as Turakina.
From here we started north on the Turakina Valley road and this is 120 km along the river of which about 2/3 is gravel.
You will ride along and occasionally there is a stretch of 5 km of beautiful pavement out of nowhere. We did not see another vehicle the entire time. The scenery varies form rolling hills, to farm land and is often along the river.
The road ends at the Tar seal on the Highway 49 11 km east of Ohakune. Here we finally got some lunch at nearly 3 and decided to set up in the campground here. We walked into the village for supplies and cooked us a nice bbq dinner. The sites here are along a stream and that was the only sounds soothing us all night.
We woke to clouds, but no rain and we packed up and set out about 10.
First we rode 20 km up the Turoa mountain road. This is a paved road that winds thru the Tongariro national park and up to the ski hill. This is basically a few lifts on the side of a volcano and does not look very appealing.
We back tracked to 1 and then headed north on the 4 to Taumarunui. This is where you turn west on the 43 or the “Forgotten World Highway”.
We stopped in the town for lunch and when at the cafe Franz stopped by to talk. He has ridden his bike all over the world as well and it is currently in Costa Rica. While we were chatting with him a friend of his walked by and this is the same guy we saw riding in Glenorchy and in Te Anau!
The Forgotten World Hwy is actually quite scenic and some of the best riding we have had in NZ overall.
It is sealed except for 12 km of dirt in the middle and there is one narrow dark tunnel.
Driving here you have to stop in the Republic of Whangamomona at the pub for a drink. There is not much else here and we decided at 4 pm to press on to Stratford.
The forecast is for rain and so we opted for a cabin. They are quite nice here and even our “basic” one had linens and a fridge and sink. We walked the 1.5km back to town to top up our food supplies and had an early night.
Well it is not raining. The forecast here is so unreliable it is a bit frustrating, but at least we will have a nice day. The plan it to get up the coast on the main road and then stick to the country roads all the way to Raglan.
It is Friday today and we are also in the midst of trying to get shipping for the bikes organized for next week. This means a number of calls today and we have a booking with GT Logistics to drop the bikes Monday am for a steam clean and then they are supposed to ship on Wednesday to Melbourne.
There a number of issues and most stressful is that the behind the scene of shipping is as Dan says “ a dark art” it is so hard to get a straight answer out of these guys in general. We have had the best luck with GT with good communication and an all in roll on price. They also have steam cleaning services. We will spend the weekend getting them as clean as we can and ready for the bio hazard quarantine in Australia. If you fail this it is 75$ per hour for cleaning.
This is why in the end we only made it part way on the small roads as we needed to get cell coverage and headed to Waitomo for that.
Now it is just another 92 km north and west to Raglan. This is a nice beach/surf town with great camping on the spit. We set up our tent and then were invited next door to the cabin of a family who invited us to share the fish they caught today.
We had the tent set up so we spent some time cleaning it and the pegs and poles. The plan is to back track the 30 km back to the main road and then north to Auckland.
We booked it on the main road and with a stop at BMW for new Oz ready air filters we arrived to Janet and Charlie’s by just after 1. They have a great set up for us with the bikes in the garage and a place to use their pressure washer. We scrubbed and de greased and washed and scrubbed again. The final was a total wipe down with WD40. They are show room clean. We took the mirrors and wind screens off as well.
Today we will leave the house a bit later as they traffic into Auckland can be horrific. It is only 40 km to the airport, but it will take at least an hour. We did run into a bit of stop and go, but it was not too bad overall. Pulling into GT we were happy as 1. They were expecting us 2. They are professional and organized 3. We had a flight even sooner than we wanted and the bikes will go tomorrow!
They say the bikes are some of the cleanest they have seen and that they do not need a steam clean. As a reward we stopped by a famous shop for one last NZ pie!