New Zealand 2014

Day 06

March 20

  Today we head back down south to a place called Orewa. My friend Keith also mentioned we should visit Russell, so we've put it on our route. We plan on running 'diversions' out to the coast as it will be a short day if we went directly. We get the girls all loaded up and ready to go.  
  But I notice strange spider webs every where - like there has been an attack of the alien spiders during the night.  
  They're not just on one car, but several and always on the outside mirrors. I guess it's just one of those strange things ...  
  I help myself to another killer breakfast like yesterday. Give me this kind of fuel in the morning and I am good to go all day long.  
  Alain decides he will try some Vegemite on his toast. It looks a bit too much like wheel bearing grease to me, but I commend him for his adventurous spirit.  
  But then an adventurous spirit can only take a feller so far when confronted with reality...  
  With breakfast behind us, we check out and we're off for another wonderful day of exploration.  
  It's nice run along the coast to catch the short ferry to Russell. This tree reminds of a gigantic pineapple. One thing I have already noticed is that New Zealand is home to many strange and different looking trees.  
  One thing is for sure - New Zealand takes their highway safety very seriously.  
  And again and again we will see signs like these warning us of sections of highway that have seen a lot of accidents.  
  The roads are a little slick from the rain but the bends are calling our name so we proceed with vigor and caution.  
  It's a bit wet, so we are really careful going onto the Russell ferry. Steel ferry decks and water are not my favorite combination of riding surfaces!  
  It's an interesting small harbor where the ferry is located ...  
  with what looks like the NZ version of a coast guard ship standing guard.  
  It's a very short ferry run but it sure saves quite a few miles when you consider riding all the way around and then back.  

Russell is an interesting place with quite a reputation. It was the first European seaport in New Zealand. The Maori name - Kororareka - "How sweet is the penguin" was soon forgotten as the area became known as the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific'. It was a community without laws and full of prostitution and serious fighting often occurred. Now it's just another quaint tourist place.

  This morning it is very quiet along the main drag.  
  Along the beach in this harbor, an interesting battle occurred in 1830 call the Girls War all over the love of a man from what I can tell.  
  I see this car and at first think it is an old Rambler, but Alain tells me it is a Holden. Holden is the branch of General Motors in Australasia.  
  And this is what car thieves get in Russell!  
  But at least they have some compassion on those with short legs ...  
  Here's another strange tree we encounter then ...  
  another ...  
  then another. As I pass under this particular tree, I learn that figs on the road are very slippery since this is a huge fig tree.  
  In fact, this tree - a Morton Bay fig tree - has its own sign and occupies a place in history, planted in the late 1800's by the first custom's collector, E.B. Laing.  
  But it's time to get going, so we make our way out of Russell proper and back out to the lovely roads around us.  
  New Zealand so far is a delightful mix of ocean views and ...  
  and mountain roads which are a joy to ride on two wheels.  
  Here we pass Wapiro Bay - Maori for 'putrid waters' - denoting the sulfuric properties of the water. At it's peak, the community had over 10,000 people. Now it is down to less than 1,000.  
  The surrounding area is good farmland but is much less used for that than it was in it's heyday.  
  As we move along, I see more of those terraces that have caught my eye before. I certainly plan on asking somebody along the way as to what are their origins.  
  I can see already that one of the challenges of riding down here is staying safely focused on the roadway. The views are amazing ...  
  and ever changing ...  
  as the road plays hide and seek with the ocean.  
  Then you head inland for a while on some great twisties ...  
  only pop out again to areas like beautiful Taupiri Bay.  
  It reminds once again of Highway 1 as it runs down the California coast.  
  But then then we are taken inland where it seems that the ocean must be hundreds of miles away.  
  Most of New Zealand's roads are two lanes and traffic for the most part is just nonexistent - which makes it a motorcyclist's wonderland.  
  Once again I see more of those strange terraces and by this point I am really scratching my head. Could they be old farming terraces to prevent erosion, battle defenses to stop an enemy from coming up the hill, or a natural occurring rock formation just beneath the soil?  
  But the twisty roads beckon, so I figure I'd best be focused on what's in front instead of what's off to the side.  
  Alain and I swap the lead back and forth as the day suits us, since we 'sync' our GPS systems every night before we ride. And with radios, it makes it even nicer if one of us gets an urge to run a little hotter. We have the utmost trust in each other's riding skills, knowing that neither one of us is prone to doing stupid things while mounted on two wheels.  
  The giant ferns along the roadside make me wonder if that T-Rex is just waiting to jump out.  
  But unless he can run really fast, I should be just fine!  
  It feels just right to take a break and this is as lovely a spot as any.  
  Alain wanders out to get some great shots of the waves rolling in.  
  It's the sort of place you'd like to just break out a beach chair and spend the day.  
  Across the road is another rather strangely shaped tree that catches my eye. It almost looks like a full sized Bonsai tree to me.  
  Soon we are back at the task at hand - exploring the great roads of New Zealand.  
  We take another stop to sample the view from the Frying Pan Corner Lookout. The bend gets it's name from the fact that it looks very much like a frying pan from the air.  
  From here, you can see Tutukaka Harbor on one side ...  
  and where the Ngunguru River runs into the ocean on the other. And sometimes ...  
  I've been told you can see a scofflaw and hooligan ....  
  We make our way down off the mountain and past the lovely bay.  
  We see the sign, and decide we'll check out the Whagarei Falls.  
  It's short walk and it sure looks like a good swimming hole.  
  While we are there, we strike up a conversation with some kids who have been observing our motorcycles a little too intently. A couple of them have had some raising and are pretty pleasant. But two of the boys are not as the conversation heads south real quick like. (Offending digits have been photoshopped out). We figure we'll be better served to move on along and move along we do.  
  The temps are up but not too bad as long as we keep moving.  
  But then you hit a construction zone which warms you right back up.  
  Fortunately, most of the construction zones are pretty short so you get the air flowing again. It is actually warmer and more humid than I expected for the fall time of the year.  
  One thing I have noticed is that in New Zealand, they really pack the houses onto the hill sides. If there's a hill in a city, it looks like the houses are built right on top of each other - at least to me it does.  
  We decide to take a short break at Waipu, where they have the Highland games every year. In the 1850s, Rev. Norman McLeod led his people from the Scottish Highlands by way of Canada and Australia to settle here.  

It's another lovely place with a really nice beach to enjoy.


While I'm here enjoying the view and the shade, I strike up a conversation with an older lady walking her dog. I ask her -

"I still don't have a clue as to how to pronounce most of the places down here."

She says "Don't worry about that. I've lived down here all my life and I can't either".

So at least now I feel like I'm in good company ...

  I move Ruby Red up so I can get another good calendar shot, and then we're off like a rocket to see what else we can see.  
  Soon we leave the coast line behind for a little while ...  
  and venture back up into the lovely hills.  
  All of a sudden we encounter some traffic which is fortunately out of the ordinary so far on this trip.  
  But we clear by it pretty quickly and are out in the open once again.  
  I notice off to the left more different strange trees. It reminds me of an enchanted forest sometimes.  

We pull into Orewa and have no trouble finding our 'home' for the evening. Once again, Te Waipounamu has knocked our socks off on setting us up in another excellent place to stay. The Waves is very close to the beach and very nicely appointed. I tell Alain,

"You know, I could really enjoy being a rich kid I believe!"

  We decide after a great day of riding, a good walk to stretch our legs is order as we forage for our evening meal. After checking out several venues, the Ship and Anchor wins the day.  
  It reminds me a lot of some of the English and Scottish pubs I've been to on my UK tours.  
  And I really love their plaque hanging just above their wood fireplace. It's good advice for now and for later.  
  Alain goes for the 'heart attack on a plate' - one really serious burger and a large patch of taters to go with it.  

I notice the menu has scallops - my favorite sea food - so I ask the lady saddled with serving us -

"Now I'm from Tennessee and back home 'fresh' seafood means it was fresh at one time. And scallops are about the size of your little finger if you can dig through the coating to taste them. How are your scallops?"

She assures me with a smile - "Ours are fresh today and a nice size."

"Well, sign me up for the cruise then" I tell her.

And as you can see, I am not disappointed. They are probably some the best scallops I have ever had in all of my scalloping.

  I would lick the plate when I finish, but I don't want to embarrass Alain. And besides, there's not much left to lick anyway.  
  Alain finished off his meal with some sort of fancy coffee deal, but I've got my mind on something different.  
  There's a gelato shop nearby so when we settle up our freight, we head in that direction after we stop by a nearby shop to pick up some supplies for tomorrow.  
  Since we came down the sidewalk, we decide to walk along the beach back to motel. It's a lovely evening out and the waves quietly wash ashore, singing what sounds like a lullaby to me.  
  It's been another excellent day of riding and with my full and happy belly, it does not take me long to drift into the land of happy thoughts and dreams.