New Zealand 2014

Day 05

March 19

  Today, this hotel has one killer breakfast buffet - lots of pig meat and hen fruit of which I shall mightily avail myself. It is based on a 'fully cooked New Zealand' breakfast which is based on a 'fully cooked English breakfast' which is just like a 'fully cooked Scottish breakfast' which is just like a 'fully cooked Irish breakfast' ...  
  I figure I should be able to go in the strength of this meal for days and days ...  
  And not to mention the lovely view from our table.  
  Being the man for the job, I do my due diligence and leave very little for the clean up crew but some empty dishes.  
  Since we will be staying here for tonight also, we will have the pleasure of traveling light on our run up to Cape Reinga.  
  Out in the parking lot, we run into Frank Kewley. The Kewley name is well know on the Isle Of Man and he was born and raised there. In his early years, Frank campaigned Harleys and Kawasakis in the island competitions. But in an industrial accident, he fell 37 feet and ended up with both hips replaced. He now lives in Canada and rides a Ducati. We have a great time talking about his adventures and our adventures. He is also so kind as to give us a video of races on the Isle for us to take with us.  
  Soon we are on the road, enjoying the sights before us but keeping an eye out as the darkening skies don't look to be in our favor.  
  But there are worse things than having to ride in the rain, so we enjoy the undulating landscape as only a rider on a motorcycle can.  
  It is a pretty patchwork of fields and forests that stretch out before us as we head northward.  
  And we see cattle, cattle everywhere we turn ...  
  and every now and then some construction zones. But this is a small one and we soon leave it behind.  
  The skies seem to be clearing now so the rain suits stay in their storage places.  
  And the vegetation keeps reminding me that we are in a near tropical zone approaching closer to the equator.  
  In New Zealand, I will come to appreciate the frequency that we get an ocean view as we motor along.  
  I figure this is a good place to get a 'calendar' shot for Ruby Red.  
  This reminds me a lot of highway 1 as it gets close to San Luis Obispo.  
  And the unusual trees still pique my interest and imagination.  
  We see this sign and decide we'll do a little investigation. You would think there might be some pretty views out on the point of a peninsula.  
  It's nice ride in with some great pavement ...  
  and some more ocean views.  
  Then we come to a gate with not many options.  
  There's a sand road off the the left, so we figure 'Why not?'  
  We are not disappointed by the view. It's a lovely place and appears to be only frequented by the locals.  
  The ride back is a little dicey like the ride in, but still worth the time that it has taken us.  
  The gravel is hard packed, so that is not a problem if you are paying attention. These birds are out for their morning stroll so we try to be careful not to disturb them.  
  In the distance, I notice what appears to be a large estate of some sort that I missed on the way in.  
  It is a something that you could only imagine in a story book with a perfectly manicured mansion sitting above incredibly well kept gardens and fields.  
  It turns out to be the Karkari Estates, a leading winery and holiday destination for folks of that persuasion.  
  But the curvy roads beckon us and on we head with great delight.  
  Soon we are back on the main road headed toward 'the top of New Zealand - 90 miles of paradise'.  
  And for the motorcyclist, I would not disagree with their assessment.  
  I will see this plants growing profusely here and other places on the island, but back home folks struggle to grow a similar variant.  
  As we make our way further north, the ocean is always a companion to us.  
  But once again the sky does not look to be a companion of the friendly sort today.  
  But soon the dark makes way for the pretty blue so we keep rolling onward.  
  One rise after another gives us beautiful vistas in the distance.  
  But the skies keep vacillating between scowling black ...  
  and lovely blue as we twist and turn our way northward.  
  The lazy sweepers we are on now are great for the ST1300s to stretch out their legs.  
  I find the fencing interesting with the short distances between the posts. I'll find out the reason later on in the trip.  
  Far too soon, the scowling skies are back and it is about time for a fuel and de-fuel break.  
  Fortunately for us, we choose gas which happens to include good shelter at just the right time. The bottom falls out but we are in a nice dry place as it passes over.  
  The road to 'the end of the road' is a nice twisty bit that runs along the backbone of a ridge.  
  It gains elevation as it goes ...  
  which makes for some excellent ocean views when you reach near the top.  
  It's just a few more twisties before we arrive, but we sure don't mind!  
  I get another great calendar shot of Ruby Red once we are at Cape Reinga.  
  It is also a nature reserve with lots of walking trails. To the Maori, they called it 'Te Rerenga Wairua' - 'the leaping-off place of spirits'. To them, this is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld.  
  At any rate, there sure are some pretty views from up here.  
  From the lighthouse on a good day, you can see the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come crashing together, creating a treacherous place for the ocean goer.  
  It's been a good day, but now it's time to head back. On the way out, the road 'arrangement' gives me pause to consider which way is which. But then I remember I'm supposed to be on the 'proper' side of the road and all is well again.  
  The skies look dark off to our right, so we decide to hurry along as best we can.  
  But it sure looks like we are headed straight into it from this vantage point.  
  But the clouds hold off so we just keep moving right along.  

Before long, we figure it's time for a break. We are going back a way different than we came, so it will be a little longer. But when you love to ride, planned 'longer' is good.

  Soon we are back at having to enjoy the lovely scenery ...  
  and the twisty roads. It's mighty tough duty ...  
  but I think we bear up pretty well under the 'strain'.  
  As we head a bit inland, the roads seem to get much more narrow.  
  And I begin to see these strange terraces on the hillsides. I can't figure out if they are natural, man-made, or animal-made.  
  But I have to be careful, as the road is unforgiving and does not ask my permission whether I am ready for the next bend or not.  
  It appears that the clouds are back and once again we are headed toward them.  
  And this time I am correct - we are back into the rain.  
  But soon we are back out of the rain, but we keep our gear on just in case.  
  Fortunately, when we hit this construction zone the rain has stopped. It's slick enough as it is without extra 'lubricant' coming down from the sky.  
  But before we know it, it's back to the liquid sunshine.  
  Another fuel stop is in order as our beasts are thirsty and so are we. I've never figured out why the rain makes me thirsty, but it certainly does.  
  As we make our final run back to Paihia, the skies clear up again and we get to see that lovely sunshine.  
  We have now 'officially' reached the northern most point in New Zealand. Hopefully before the trip is done, we will also reach the southern most point of New Zealand. I decide that a nice steak is on order to celebrate this milestone and the hotel restaurant is up to the task. It is a lovely filet with all the fixins and I do it just proud.  
  It's been another great day riding with my friend, Alain. We have ridden the Canadian Maritimes and the roads in Alaska with great joy together. In fact, we talked about this very trip while we were riding in Alaska. And now here we are riding the ride that many speak of and few ever do. Tonight, I have a very full stomach and a very full heart. The full stomach wins out and pulls the skin down over my eyes as I drift off in to a lovely slumber.