19-04-14 Auckland to Waipiro bay 595km
I left from home at 7am and headed off down the North Western motorway and then on to state highway one heading south. It’s a pretty boring piece of road although it’s nice to check out the yachts in the marina as you go by.
I'd entered a custom route into the gps to cover the whole trip, I was feeling pretty happy with my self being so organized. Half way down the north western the gps was telling me to turn around and go back home, so I ignored it and kept going. A bit more fine tuning required on the mapping front. The weather was overcast and around 17 degrees c
I rode through Miranda, which has hot springs, through Paeroa where they have the annual battle of the street motorcycle race, many antique shops and world famous for its lemon flavoured fizzy drink. Then off through Waihi, Whakatane, Opotiki and around the coast to Hicks Bay.
The East coast has some great twisting roads with good sea and hill country views. It had been raining heavily recently and there were plenty of slips with various sized rocks strewn around many of the corners. Time for caution.
This is the first time I have had the bike fully loaded and the difference is noticeable. I had the camping gear strapped to the rear seat in a weather proof roll bag and panniers laden with all the things I plan to take on the round the world trip. I think it needs a session or two at Jennie Craig’s.
I set up camp at Waipiro bay for the night. I timed this to perfection as the sun faded the tent and gear were set up. All that could be heard was the pounding of the waves on the sea shore 20 metres away.
20-04-14 Waipiro bay to Wairoa 250 km
I awoke to a nice day. The waves’ were quietly lapping on the shore and the sea was glistening like tin foil under a spotlight which reflected into my squinting eyes. I sat by the beach overlooking this calm peaceful world while supping my tea.
I was waiting for the sun to rid my tent of the morning dew so I could pack up and get the next part of the day underway. As I left Waipiro bay and rode through the village I noticed some domestic pigs plodding around in someone’s garden. This is not something you normally see in your neighbour’s garden in Auckland. I wondered if they had chickens around the back. As I rode away all I could think of was a bacon and egg breakfast.
On the way there were some very nice dry winding roads. I could feel my throttle hand twisting and before long I was in a rhythmic frenzy through the corners. The road and the miles quickly disappeared. Before I knew it I was at Tolaga bay. The beaches were strewn with drift wood. I’ve never seen so much.
From there it was time to head off to Gisborne and down to Wairoa
21-04-14 Wairoa to Napier 240km
I stayed the night at the camping ground in Wairoa. The owners were really friendly and the place was
immaculate. A big thumbs up. I pitched the tent again, I’m starting get into the routine now and it is getting quicker. As it was dark and there wasn’t much to do I went to bed at 7. In the middle of the night (I had been a sleep for a while) an air raid siren went off and I heard emergency vehicle sirens going crazy. Was this a tsunami? Not much hustle and bustle from the locals, can’t be that I thought. I was starting to feel a bit annoyed now that I was woken in the middle of the night. I checked my watch to verify my annoyance and found it was 9; 30pm, I felt like a right plonker!!!
The next morning I woke to a fine day and headed straight to the kitchen. As usual I was starving so proceeded to have a mega cook up, filled my flask with the leftovers and would have this later for lunch..
I rode to Lake Waikaremoana a great stretch of tar seal road that twisted through the undulating countryside. The last 20k’ s were gravel with many pot holes. The view of the lake was stunning.
I headed back to Wairoa and down state highway 2 to Napier, another great twisting undulating road with plenty of 35 km/h corners.
At Lake Tutira I stopped for lunch. A guy approached me and starting asking about the bike. He told me he had a Moto Guzzi and that had been working in a profession. He had enough one day and decided to throw it all in and moved to Clarks beach in the Coramandel, with that he proceeded to write his name and address on a piece of paper and said if I was ever in the area I was free to crash there the night. With that he gave me a beer and bid me farewell. You meet the nicest people while travelling.
22-04-14 Napier to Stratford 541km
I headed off down the Napier to Taihape highway, I think this is called the gentle Annie. This was the best piece of road to date. I stopped at Waouru for a bite to eat. It was cold, 10 degrees so on went the jacket layers and headed off to Ohakune, the place with the big carrot. I passed through Ohakune and then off to the National park. The heated grips were set at 75%. If my hands were chickens they would be nicely roasted. No need to worry about lunch.
From there I headed up to Wakapapa ski field and checked out the view. There was a bit of snow on the peak.
The next stop was Whangamomona. The locals classify their town as a republic and celebrate the
fact regularly. To get there you have to ride the forgotten highway. There are some steep drop offs from the road and with the corners still wet due to the shade you have to be pretty careful. This road has more 35km to 15km sign posted corners than you could poke a stick at.
A section of the road is gravel and stretches for about 20km or so. It had started to rain quiet heavily,
I felt a lot more confident riding the gravel rather than the tar seal in these conditions. The road passes through a tunnel which is carved through the side of one of the hills. Entering through the tunnel it was difficult to see as you go from daylight to darkness. I hit a 10 metre section of clay / dirt that was about 70mm high. This was enough to make the front wheel slide out instinctively I wrestled the snaking Tiger into line.
Tiger lived to fight another day.
23-04-14 Stratford to home 541km
The final day saw a good mix of riding, from twisting tar seal to tight twisting gravel roads with huge
drops, to flat sweeping gravel sections.
This was a long days riding. I wanted to test how the bike and I performed fully loaded on single,
steep, slippery twisting gravel roads. Most of these roads were ridden heading directly into the lowering sun making visibility very difficult. Along the way there was stunning scenery to be viewed. I was beginning to feel tired so my main focus was to make sure I made no mistakes.
Overall impression from this trip
- The bike is well suited to this type of trip. It was smooth, comfortable and handled well.
- Standard tyres were better than I expected on the gravel.
- I need to lose some gear and have extra space in the panniers.
- The bike is heavy with the luggage and gear. If I drop it I wont be able to pick it up fully loaded.
- The heavier spring I fitted to the rear shock gave me the correct sag.
- The rear shock needs re valving for stiffer compression damping.
- Can’t wait to do the round the world trip.