Coromandel Peninsula and the East Cape!

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Today we want to get out onto the Coromandel Peninsula and are hoping for clear skies to get some Milky Way shots, but it is pretty cloudy.

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Leaving Mangawhai heads we gassed up with 91 and then we took the back roads, but had to get on the Highway 1 after 30 km just before Wellsford.

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There was heavy stop and go traffic here and Dan’s 800 would not stay running. We pulled into a small park and set up the 911, which said there were no fault codes. The fuel pump and the injectors were are functioning correctly.  This has happened a few times in the past as well. Is it bad gas or did he flood the bike at Te Paki!? We limped 600 m to the BP and purchased some octane booster and so far so good
From here and thru Auckland and will stay on the motorway until we exit to get to Clevedon on the small roads. There is a really good pub here called the Corner!

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Again we had a late start and the delay with the bike and by the time we made it to the base of the peninsula at Thames it was after 5. We got some groceries and then headed 20 km to Tapu to  camp on the beach. The road north here has just opened after the damage done by the storm last week and the King tide.

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The camp spot is a huge grass field right on the water. We set the alarm for midnight, but it was totally cloudy and not good for star shots.

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Today we want to explore the Coromandel Peninsula and ultimately make it to stay in Papamoa.

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First we set off on the Tapu-Coroglen cross road. The first 5 km is paved and then the rest of the 22 km is gravel (except the last 2 km which had just been grated and the watered and was now packed mud). We only met 2 vehicles.

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Then we headed up the 25 to Kaimaramara and then after 10 km you are again on the gravel  for 25 k  to Coromandel City. There is a bit more traffic on this road, but it is not too dusty.

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It is 26 km from Coromandel to Colville on the pavement and then 35 km on the gravel to the end of the road at Fletcher Bay.

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The road is pretty curvy and you can get some speed with the good surface, but it was slow going at times as you had to be careful of the tight corners to make sure a local driving at speed was not coming the other way. The road hangs on the beach at times and then passes thru a few small settlements before rising up on the cliffs above the bay. We got caught behind a few cars and it was VERY dusty before they finally let us pass!

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Actually our GPS said the road continued thru, but it lied as beyond Fletcher Bay it is a walking path only. We had our picnic and then blasted back out to the paved road and to Coromandel.

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It is faster to go south to Thames, but we wanted a new route and opted for the much longer way thru Kuaotunu. There is little traffic and we were only held up a few times by a slow moving logging truck or people pulling boats.

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Most of the route the limit is 100 and we could really fly. It was still a long way to go from Coroglen to get to Papamoa on time and we were of course late again. Here we had been invited to the home go Ruth and Roger who have traveled all over by bike. Roger is a friend of our friend Julio in Guatemala. Julio helped him out a lot when he was in hospital 6 weeks after being rear ended on his bike and having surgery.

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We were warmly welcomed to their home on the beach and met their good friends and riders John and Susan. While we were chatting a killer whale was surfacing in the waves 10 m off shore! They had  a comfy room for us, had moved a car from the garage for the bikes, put the laundry in right away, and served us up a feast for dinner! Got to love riders!!

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We had only planned to stay 1 night as we did not want to impose, but they made us feel so at home and comfy we stayed a second! This meant we had a day off here to get some things done. They had an appointment this morning and dropped us in Mount Maunganui. Here we walked the 45 min around the mount and along the beach.

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When they got back we had lunch at their favourite spot and then did the 1 hour hike to the summit. Not difficult, but very hot.

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Roger was kind enough to drive us all over town and to 3 motorbike shops, 2 bike shops, revco, and warehouse so we could get new gloves for Sara, a rear tube for the 800, chain lube, patch kits, and a tire gauge! PHEW. Then back “home” to wash the very dirty bikes, do the laundry from today, and have a beer watching the waves. Again we are sad to leave our new friends, but there is a lot to see here.

The plan today is to get around the east cape.

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First we headed south on the Highway 2 and made for Opotiki (A-pow-te-key) to stop “at the good cafe”. It was packed and had amazing coffee and baked goods. It is a biker stop and we met Richard and Robert who like many have advised us to go to the Burt Monroe rally in Invercargall Feb 8-11.

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We then rode the coast road, which is very windy and slow  going despite the complete lack of cars. We passed maybe 10 all day.

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We had been advised not to stop or stay between  Ruatoria and Tokomaru as “it is rough and we may not be treated well by the locals”. Not sure what people meant it looks the same as everywhere else. It was a very long day for us since we wanted to camp on the beach and this meant getting to Tamarau near Gisborne after 441 km. We popped into town for groceries and then backtracked 10 km to the Tatapouri Motor Camp. We set up shop with a view of the sea, the stars, and the first light of the east cape at sunrise.

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