A Travellerspoint blog

COROMANDEL TOWN to OPOTIKI : 3rd APRIL 2016

Lush green hills and 3 Black Cats !

End of daylight savings meant turning the clock back - and we have a long day ahead. This of course means an early start for us - 7:45am.
Beautiful fresh morning, we stopped at the top looking back down at Coromandel Town and the Hauraki Gulf - a spectacular view.
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Black cows look like ants on the hillside.
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We are now travelling on the West of the Coromandel Peninsula, the winding roads are a motorcyclists dream - rider beware - these roads are still slippery the same as we experienced yesterday.
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Farm sign which I think the Maori term of Ohana means "working together" - quite appropriate for a farm !
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Along a little bit further on that nice winding road we stopped again, I can't believe how vibrant the green grass looks -
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We rolled into the lovely little town of Thames and decided a coffee stop was required.
We found the "Café Melbourne" much to our delight!
The Café owner is homesick for Melbourne so created this café which was quite an experience, we could have sworn we were in Acland Street Melbourne. And the coffee was up to Melbourne standard !

Avoiding the bad weather became the order of the day, we managed to dodge the worst of it, only getting rain for a short time.
We rode through the Kaimai Range, stunning hilly country. At one point we were 10kms from Matamata where Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed. There is a "Hobbiton" village with tours available for fans. Not for us today !

Along the way we were entertained by old cars from the 50's who were on a "run" from Waihi where there is a large congregation this weekend.

Back around Rotorua - and "that smell" and on to Opotiki in glorious sunshine.

Steve having a little lie down overlooking the Bay of Plenty.
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Erosion has caused some serious damage here - trees are barely hanging on!
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Dinner at the Masonic Hotel/Irish Pub/Indian Restaurant - yes all three in one establishment.

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We are in for some seriously good luck - according to Irish folklore black cats are good luck - 3 must be extremely good luck.

This 3 were lazing at the door way just keeping an eye on everybody !
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Posted by MKaye 01:46 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

PICTON/OHAKUNE/ROTORUA/COROMANDEL TOWN - MARCH to 2nd APRIL

Sailing the high seas and looking for geysers

Thursday 31st March -
We started with an early breakfast overlooking Picton Harbour before boarding the Interislander Ferry for the North Island.
It was a lovely clear calm day so our crossing was very smooth.
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Our sister ship - the other Interislander Ferry going North to South.
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On board we enjoyed the company of Linda Michie who is a single female from Scotland riding on her own around New Zealand - very brave.
We arrived at Wellington Harbour about 2pm, ready for a long ride in the afternoon to Ohakune. The first part was rather boring with lots of traffic however when we left the main highway and headed East toward Ohakune the fun began, brilliant winding road, amazing rugged scenery straight out of Lord of the Rings. We arrived at Ohakune quite late so we just checked in and made a dash for the The Cyrprus Tree Restaurant. Dinner exceeded all expectations for a small town. Food was amazing, full stomachs and back home to bed.
Next morning (Friday 1st April) we left Ohakune early in the morning - very chilly riding, our fingers were frozen within the first half hour.
We made a brief stop at Whanaku for fuel and then on to Rotorua for lunch and visit the Whakarewa Valley Thermal Springs on the outskirts of Rotorua. This is an amazing experience. Water in the deeper part of the geothermal system is under great pressure so can reach temperatures of over 300 degrees.
This is the largest active Geyser in the Southern Hemisphere emitting a strong Sulphur smell which is the result of Hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere released as a result of geothermal activity. Believe me you can smell it - very strong !!
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The famous Steam Oven used for steam cooking.
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Pools of water are boiling due to the heat.
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Mud pools are bubbling and popping - sounding rather like a human with a very upset stomach !IMG_9877__1024x683_.jpgIMG_9927a__873x1024_.jpgIMG_9991__1024x683_.jpg
Rotorua is known as the heartland of Maori culture in New Zealand. There is a mini village on display at the Springs.
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Drying Fish
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Wood carvers are working on a project as Memorial to World War 1 victims using 4500 year old Kauri Tree.
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The famous Maori Haka -
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The famous New Zealand Silver Fern (actually green with silver or white underneath)
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Just as the rain started again we made our way to our Motel in time for a walk around Rotorua and prepare ourselves for Dinner.
Tonight we are attending a traditional Maori Hungi and Maori dance performance including the famous Haka !
Aitch was invited up on stage as Chief for the night - a great honour. Very important lesson learnt - 2 touches of the nose equals sharing life breath and now friends - 3 touches and you are married - Aitch was very very careful to only touch twice.
Later he was invited up again with Steve and some Korean visitors to learn the Haka - hilarious!!
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End of a very entertaining day.
Today (Saturday 2nd) we were very glad to be leaving Rotorua - the smell is awful - feels like you are going to choke on it !!
My advice to anybody thinking of visiting is to do that, and stay somewhere else !!
It was raining and looking very gloomy on the horizon - not ideal riding conditions.
We stopped for morning tea at the Katikati bakery, a welcome break from the inclement weather. Fanny was pleased to see us however she never said much.
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Moving on we experienced a truly horrible road, newly laid smooth tar (without gravel) became very slippery in the wet. All riders experienced difficulties and were not happy. Very dangerous conditions. It is shame as the ride would have been spectacular with amazing scenery but we couldn't take our eyes of the road.
Finally the sun came out as we were near Coromandel Town.
The view towards Wyuna Bay and Coromandel Town.
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The road has some serious bends - great riding now its dry.
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The Harbour View Motel - great view.
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We walked into town for a look around and to collect some supplies for dinner on the balcony.
Sailing ship moored in the harbour!
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One of the locals popping into town for a few things.
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Amazing find in the Supermarket - and we are in the heart of Kiwi Fruit country - we were talking to a man this morning at the Bakery and he was telling us the area is thriving due to the Kiwi Fruit Industry !!!
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And the sun sets gracefully as we watch from our balcony sipping a glass of red - another great day on the road.
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Posted by MKaye 01:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

TAKAKA to PICTON - 30th MARCH 2016

Crisp, fresh & Sunny ride back over Takaka Hill

Back up over Harold's favourite road - the Takaka Hill this morning. Great start to the day.
Quotes of the day "better than the Stelvio Pass - Italy" : Meredith
"much more fun" : Jo
"that was twisted fun" : Harold

We stopped at the for Morning Tea at Jellyfish Café at Mapua on the Ruby Coast below the Moutere Hills, where Steve requested the "Steve Special" a Bacon & Egg Ciabatta with Relish - just delicious.
A few yachts where moored in the inlet looking rather majestic -
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Next stop was the Pelorus Bridge - beautiful deep clean water - great for swimming - if you are so inclined !!

Steve looking upstream -
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The "HaroldAitchus" penguin, last seen farther south has emerged from the depth of the river - camera in hand - still taking photos -
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Hitchhikers are a very common sight in NZ - good luck girls !
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Riding on in glorious sunshine along Queen Charlotte Drive - long sweeping bends, some tight corners, more long sweeping bends - fabulous day.
We stopped at a lookout over Marlborough Sound - stunning
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More twisting bends and our next stop was overlooking Picton -
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Picton itself has been a revelation - beautiful little cove with lots of quaint restaurants overlooking the yachts in the harbour.
We spotted our Hitchhiker friends too - they made it !!

Dinner of fresh Gurnard at the Oxley's Hotel washed down with hops & grapes (local brews of course) completed a perfect day.

Steve's quote of the day - "what better way to end the day than with a glass of local Merlot"

Posted by MKaye 00:29 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

PUNAKAIKI to TAKAKA - 29th MARCH 2016

Sunrise, Apples & Orchards, fantastic twisty roads.

Sunrise this morning was a lovely start to the day.
Punakaiki Beach was amazing, pink sky, blue sea and black sand. Nothing like our Aussie Beaches.
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The Tavern and our room - drenched in early morning light.
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It was a crisp start to the day but great riding along the West Coast, its like the Great Ocean Road (Vic - Australia) but better road, no rocks, great views and we were lucky there was very little traffic.
The thing we have noted is how courteous most drivers are, they pull over to the left and give us room to pass with ease - rarely does that happen in Australia.
Our first photo stop was at Kilkenny Lookout on the Buller Pass, great views of the Gorge.
Part of the road has been sculpted out of the cliff edge.
Here comes Harold -
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The other thing we have noted is the Road Kill - Possums - lots of them. This poor little fellow barely made it on to the road this morning, died with a smile on his face - never saw it coming !!
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Next stop was the Old Ghost Road Suspension Bridge at Lyell which leads to New Zealands longest continuous singletrack purpose-built for mountain bikers and trampers. The 85km long Old Ghost Road provides access to wilderness Outdoor lovers dream about. Harold was drooling at the thought of being able to ride it on his Mountain Bike. Not appropriate at all for us in our Motorbike gear though.
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Never trust Jo when on a Suspension Bridge - she loves to rock them !!
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Next stop was at the Buller Gorge Swing Bridge - $10 to walk over and explore the otherside - not for us today in bike gear.
We did find a lovely little 1956 Ford Zephyr called Susie Darlin in the Car Park.
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We stopped a bit further along at Murchison for Lunch at the Beechwoods bakery, Fuel and continued riding.
Before we knew it we were riding through Apple and Pear Orchards - you could literally smell the apples. Lovely sunny day too !

Next stop was a little picnic area where the Autumn leaves were lovely.
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Then on through the Arthur Range toward Takaka, great riding on long sweeping bends, tightening up they became challenging twisties much to our delight. Luckily there was not much traffic to contend with and so we all had a very good time, stopping at the Ngarua Caves turnoff for a break and look out toward the Tasman Sea.
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Back down the range on long sweeping bends into Takaka completed a fantastic day on the road filled with all things Motorcyclists love.

Takaka has been very entertaining, rather Nimbin like with hippies in the street, rather "strange" smells wafting out of a camper van parked in the main street, local park full of zen like people congregating and the supermarket was an experience in itself.

We decided on the Dangerous Kitchen for dinner, rather hippie looking but the Pizza aroma wafting into the street won us over.
It was a great decision, best pizza and free entertainment thrown in Local group of hippie types sharing a joint or two on the bench out front, bare feet, dreadlocks, one guy in a towel with a hole in it worn as a shirt - you had to be there for that one! Hanging out helping themselves to lots of water, finally they shared one pizza. Then collected all their mobiles etc they had been charging and went on their way. Steve thinks they are the local young professionals in disguise......

Posted by MKaye 00:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

FRANZ JOSEF to PUNAKAIKI - 28th MARCH 2016

Stunning Ocean Views, Pancake Rocks & Blowholes

We left Franz Josef in very cool riding conditions. I was not happy as we missed out on our helicopter ride yesterday due to heavy low clouds
The ride started with a stunning view over the paddocks with "the long white cloud" on the horizon
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Hokitika was a very welome stop, fuel for the bikes and Morning Tea for us. Followed by a visit to the Jade Centre, Red Rock Centre (along with a very lengthy chat with Jerry from Holland, now totally obsessed with Red Rock) the Sock Shop and the Hokitika Blow Glass Centre.

Escaping with our wallets intact we left Hoktika.
The West Coast is like the Great Ocean Road without the tourists and a nice wide well maintained road.
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Note the lovely black sand !!!!
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Our accommodation for tonight is the Punakaiki Tavern - very rustic and charming. Big surprise in our rooms was the "Crab" and "Elephant" Towels.
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Quick change, refreshing drink in the Beer Garden and we were off to see the Pancake Rocks & Blowholes.

The cliff edge along the way is fascinating - especially this huge rock - sliced off by the elements and jutting out over the roadway !
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The Ocean is looking very spectacular this afternoon -
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Come on guys - keep up !
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The Pancake rocks are fascinating - its unknown why they have layers of rock !
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The Blowholes are totally amazing - huge roar - and then up gushes gallons of water high in the air -
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Pancake layers

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Blow hole - Stage 1
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Stage 2
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Seaweed - known as Giant Mermaids Hair - clings to the rock even with the massive force of the sea belting against the rock - apparently if you find some seaweed you should check for rock as it s the rock that gives away -not the seaweed.
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Walking back in the late afternoon sun was just lovely.
The rocks look different from the other side - still spectacular
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And finally - the latest in Camper Van spotted in a camp ground
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Dinner at the Tavern completed another great day on the road.

Posted by MKaye 01:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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