New Zealand 2014

Day 04

March 18

  Finally the day I've been thinking about since 2009 has arrived. As is my usual habit, I'm up early which tells me my body has pretty well got where it is sorted out. The lights of the Auckland skyline are quite pretty at this time of the morning from our balcony.  
  Looking out toward the sea, it looks like a thousand torches floating on the water.  
  When we go down for breakfast, we pretty much have the whole place to ourselves.  
  Being a little wiser from my previous 'breakfast experience' here, I follow Alain's wise lead and just pick and chose from the breakfast bar. I manage to find a few tender morsels to stave off starvation for a few hours anyway.  
  With that behind us, we start packing up the ladies and get ready to start on our adventure. I've brought a Bead-Rider seat cushion and an Alaskan Sheep Skin to ease the discomfort I get from the ST1300 stock seat. Since I've never used the Bead-Rider before, I give it first dibs.  
  Before long, Alain gives me his 'happy face' and we're ready to roll.  
  No sooner than we get into traffic, my GPS starts doing funny things. Since traffic is no place to debug it, I radio Alain and ask him to take the lead.  
  That's the nice thing about having bike to bike communication, we can keep rolling and deal with the vulgarities of the road as they come.  
  Once we get a bit out of town and stop at a convenience store, I take a look at my GPS. As it turns out, I had a brain cramp and loaded the wrong route into my unit, which would explain why it kept trying to send me back to the hotel. This is the first trip I have taken without detailed road notes and depending solely on the GPS, so I see that this will be very interesting to say the least.  
  As we make our way northward, the scenery varies from small towns ...  
  to little hotels along the road ...  
  to interesting plant life ...  
  to farmlands.  
  As I travel around the planet, I often see views that look very much like could be from my other travels. This scene reminds me a lot of a run along the road to Coalinga in California back in the States.  
  We pretty much have the roads out here to ourselves, which means we can really enjoy the twisties - and there are plenty of them!  
  Since it looks like we are making great time, we take as little hydraulic break at a roadside park on a river.  
  I've not yet learned to read the New Zealand sky yet, but it sure looks like we are fixing to get wet.  
  But then we are on an island and the weather can shift and change at a moment's notice.  
  The twisties just keep coming and we are the men for the job at hand.  
  As we motor along, we are constantly passing places that have names that I can't pronounce. Somehow my larynx will just not twist to squeeze out all those syllables.  
  One thing I do notice it that there seems to be an abundance of spots where the only thing there is a hotel. I have to guess that these were established early on during the settlement of the islands for the safety and comfort of the travelers. This is the Maungaturoto Hotel, built in 1902.  
  When we stop at our next fuel stop, we encounter this 'interesting' gentleman. I can tell that he is pretty lonely and we are probably the most exciting thing that has happened his way in a while. He keeps talking right up to the point we bid him our fond adieu.  
  This gentleman also decides to flee the premises just before we do ...  
  One thing I find interesting is the many one lane bridges in New Zealand on two way roads. I wonder if it is a traffic slowing device, a funding shortage, or just what. This is the first of many one lane bridges that Alain and I will encounter on both the North Island and the South Island.  
  It's hard to keep in my head that as we travel north we are heading toward the equator, not away from it. So the temps get a bit warmer and the plants start look a little more 'tropical'.  
  And again I see one of those 'strange' trees that I saw from my hotel balcony in Auckland. They look so symmetrical it makes you almost think that someone has been pruning them.  
  We play tag off and on with the ocean as we head further north.  
  I don't know what this feller is selling, but if it makes you look like that, I believe I'll just pass ...  
  The scenery is constantly changing ...  
  which makes the ride even more enjoyable.  
  You can often see the ocean off in the distance ...  
  but you have to be careful as over the next hill will be some more delightful twisties.  
  Soon we are riding in an area where a 'forest' is really a forest!  
  And in the midst of it, is one of many construction zones we will encounter on this trip.  
  Soon the road gets a wee bit narrow, but at least we have it to ourselves.  
  I find the variety of trees that I have seen so far in New Zealand to be really interesting. This one is a lot larger than the picture indicates and the road just sort of goes around the edge of it.  
  This road through the 'real' forest has some really nice twisty bits, but you have to watch the corners as the lanes are bit narrow and you can't see around them due to the dense vegetation.  
  But soon we are out of the forest and into the open again.  
  And we again come to a one lane bridge. There is a 'protocol' for using these bridges as we figure out. Who has the right of way (which direction) is displayed on the signs as you approach so you just have to be paying attention before you arrive.  
  Before we get to the ferry at Rawene (pronounced like raw weenie), we make a stop at a lovely overlook.  

There's a young lady from Canada who rides a Harley 883 back home and is doing a bit of touring down here. She is a bit concerned since she is on a heavier Harley about the road we just came across. I tell her -

"Just take your time and you'll be fine. The road is a little narrow but not a problem unless you're in a hurry."

Alain gives her the same assurances that she will be okay.

  So off she goes into the wild green scenery.  
  The view from where we are is absolutely lovely, but we've got to get moving so we can catch the ferry.  
  But the views are just gorgeous as we continue to make our way northward.  
  And the bends aren't shabby either ...  
  Soon we arrive at the teeming metropolis of Rawene. This is a route that my good Brit friend and world rider Keith had suggested, since he has ridden extensively down here.  
  It's short run down the hill and we are quick to get to the ferry.  
  Our timing is excellent as they are just loading up for the run to the other side. They usher us on board and we are under way shortly.  
  Again we are headed to a place - Kohukohu - that I can't pronounce. But I've already figured out that these town names don't 'sound' anything like what this old country boy thinks they do.  
  It's a pleasant ride over and there happens to be a member of the Ulysses motorcycle club on board. He's from Australia and had to 'car it' due to time constraints. We talk a little bit about riding in the States versus riding in Australia. But riding is good when you can and he sure wishes that he was riding today.  
  Ruby Red is enjoying the rest and sort of likes the shady spot she's parked in. But I tell her not to get used to it, for we have many miles to go before we sleep.  
  Soon we are back to bends and bits and are quite happy with the lot that has been assigned to us today. My Rage GPS keeps fading in and out but I'm pretty familiar with the roads we are to travel, as I have studied them many times over the past few months in preparation.  
  It is such a delight to have nice twisties and nobody on them but us.  
  And along with the great roads, we have great weather and beautiful scenery.  
  Every now and then, we run into construction zones, so we sort of get use to it. We will see this name - 'Fulton Hogan' - on the backs of a lot of construction vehicles all over the islands.  
  Up ahead is a little village church perched on a slight hilltop for all the world to see. I hope that it still shines the Light for those who are searching for Him.  
  Sheep are a big 'crop' down here, and we will see this scene repeated over and over again through the North and South Island.  
  Finally we arrive at our destination for the evening in Paihia - pronounced 'pie here' - (which I've said many times) - at the Kingsgate Autolodge Hotel. We unburden the girls and stow our stuff in the room.  

We've done about 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) today which is not too bad give the roads and the ferry. The power distribution in my tank bag has died and my Rage GPS is losing satellites, so I have a bit of sorting out to do. Fortunately, Alain has an extra power splitter so I can resolve fix that pretty quickly. And I have brought one of my older Peaklife GPS units just in case I had any trouble with the Rage. The Peaklife and the Rage have different cradles, so I swap that out and test the Peaklife. It appears to be working just fine, so the Rage goes in the saddlebag for the rest of the tour. Back in the room, we get the route to Cape Reinga, the northmost point on the North Island sorted out and we are good to go in the morning.

The hotel has a great restaurant in the complex which makes it really nice for us. I get to sample another fresh fish - dory - that I've never had before. And it does taste as good as it looks.

  We decide that a bit of ice cream is in order, so after supper we wander downtown a little bit to see what we can come up with. We both have a nose for the stuff, so we do not come back empty handed or empty stomached.  
  And there's another feller there that also has a nose for stuff. Princess here knows that when she shows up with her human, she will get a biscuit. So she stands there in patient expectation.  
  Finally the goods are delivered and Princess gives her human permission to take her home.  
  It's a pleasant walk back in the cool of the evening as it has been a little warm and much more humid that I expected.  
  As always on a trip, it takes a day or two to get stuff sorted and shaken down. The comm systems are working great so for that we are very thankful. It is not that we yak all the time while on the road, but it's just nice to be able to communicate when we need to. With a full belly and a day full of great riding, I settle down to pursue the roads of dreamland with great vigor.