Today the forecast is supposed to be good and we planned the cross road route back north west to Rotorua past Lake Waikaremoana on as the sign warns “ Caution 105 km of curvy un-surfaced road”. You never know though as the weather changes here every few hours and the forecast is very unreliable.
The sky began to look ominous as we made our way south to Wairoa, but we only had a few sprinkles. Stopping here for a coffee the sun was actually out. We rode north west “to the lake”.
There is little traffic, but on the first 70 km off road the curves are tight and the route is very narrow. This means despite the good surface it was hard to get up any speed for fear of meeting a local coming at you at 80 km/h and likely towing a boat. The road hangs on the cliff above the lake and then drops down and widens after Ruatahuna. There are just a few scattered homes on this route and no services.
Just 7 km before we made the sealed road Dan had a rear flat. This would not have been so bad as we did get a new tube this week, but then it started to pour.
We had the wheel off and the bead broken when the rain started in earnest. We got the gear hidden under a tree and we hid under the tarp. The rain settled a bit and we got back to work. We found the nail hole in the tube, but could not see a hole in the tire. It must have been an in and out and the hole was small enough to take a while to flatten. After the problem we had in Iceland and Greece with the metal shards buried in the rubber we were worried. Interesting none of the 10 or so cars that drove by slowed or stopped to offer help.
We got the tire inflated and it was holding air. We had just packed up the tarp when it started bucketing. Getting our suits and rain gear on was a comedy as was finishing up the mounting of the wheel. We set off for the last few km of gravel that was now muddy puddles and by the time we made it to the pavement it was only showers. Murupara is 20 km on the paved road and by then it was sunny, our rain gear was dry and we disrobed to air dry the suits.
We also managed to get cell coverage finally to message Ash in Lake Okareka 70 km away that we were intact finally coming. He was kind enough to message us off HU and offer us a place to stay. He has motorbiked and biked all over the world. We enjoyed a nice hot dinner and some wine as well as lots of travel stories.
The weather forecast really sucks for the Rotarua area and all points south and west! This messes with our plans, but we are used to change. So we will stay here another night and then head south and east to Napier where the sun is supposed to be shining.
Today in Lake Okareka it was raining on and off and heavy at times until about 1 pm. This gave us some down time for “office hour” and we got caught up on emails and blogs. Dan’s 800 is still having on and off issues with idle and it did not sound great this morning, but by the time we got 10 km it was running perfectly. We made a break for it to town for lunch at a typical NZ cafe. This means good strong coffee (long black or flat white) and self service hot display cases full of yummy things like pot pies. The price may be premium here where the minimum wage is $17, but the quality is first rate.
Fortified we headed to the Kuirau Park in the centre, which is full of thermal jets and bubbling mud pots (along wth the sulphur stench as well). Then we did a tour of the lake front with intermittent drizzle. We stopped by KTM to price out tires and check out the options, but we will order them in Wellington. Next we made for the Pack n’Save to get fixings for dinner for Ash and some of his riding friends tonight. We had another great evening exchanging travel and riding stories.
With some better weather forecast we will head south to Napier. We made one small detour to the mud pots in the Waiotapu Thermal area just south of Rotarua.
The weather turned cold and wet as we headed over the mountains on the highway 5, but 20 km before the turn off for the Taihape-Napier road we could see blue sky to the east.
This recently paved cross road may be closed in winter and of the 134 km we did not pass a car until the last 40.
We did meet quite a few sheep however.
We have been so lucky to be hosted almost every night since we arrived, but we booked into a hotel in the art deco city of Napier. We were warmly greeted by the manager who came right out when we arrived to tell us where the best spot to park was. At check in he said that we had been upgraded as well. Dan was confused when they asked “what kind of fresh milk” he wanted. This was of course for “our tea”! only in NZ!!
For our rest day we lazed about in the morning and then did a 5 km walk around the city.
Our room had a full kitchen so it was nice to have all our meals at home!