New Zealand 2014

Day 11

March 25

  I'm up early as is my usual habit and looking forward to experiencing the lovely breakfast buffet downstairs. This place is quite a bit fancier than what I'm used to but it hasn't hurt me none.
  Everything is laid out so elegantly from the buffet itself ...  
  to the nicely appointed dining area.  
  But pig meat and hen fruit is still pig meat and hen fruit, regardless of what kind of window dressing they come in.  
  I chose a table near the window so I can enjoy the view along with my delicious food.
  And once again I am the man for job as there are few fragments that remain of the feast that was before me.  
  In the strength of that meat, I should be good to do what needs to be done today.  
  It's time to head out, so Alain and I settle up with Miss Alyssa. She says

'I wish I was going with you instead of having to work. This is so boring compared to what you are doing.'

I tell her 'Well, I don't know about all of that. But let me snap a picture of your and you will be world famous on my website.'

We both laugh at that and she wishes us well as we head on out to the bikes.

  We are back on the road and really looking forward to today's ride. We are headed for the 'Forgotten World Highway', one of the gems on the Northern Island.  
  We look back to see the mountain we 'climbed' yesterday evening.  
  Since gas was not available when we came in, we fuel up at the first spot we come to. Best I can tell, gasoline is between seven and eight dollars a gallon here, pretty consistent with other places in New Zealand.  
  Looks like is is going to be another beautiful day of riding as we head up into the highlands.  
  We see an occasional on coming vehicle, but most of the time we have the road all to ourselves.  
  It is a place of lovely sweepers and beautiful countryside ...  
  constant changes of elevation ....  
  and an occasional construction zone.  
  But one thing is for certain, whenever we get close to civilization, we are comforted that there will be a McDonalds there ...  
  Soon we reach the start of the Forgotten World Highway, home of the 'Capital of the Republic', the 'Hobbit Hole', and the Tangarakau Gorge that has walls almost two hundred feet high passed through via a gravel road.  
  Highway 43, as it is otherwise know, crosses over three passes, or 'saddles' as they call them down here.  
  It's a delightful, deserted run with plenty of twists and turns and changes of elevation.  
  The road just hugs the hillside which makes for a motorcyclist's delight.  
  And the views are delightful as we cross over each 'saddle'.  
  As we would say back home, we are really out in the sticks on this road - and that's just fine with me.  
  I do notice that the way they fence around here is just a bit curious to me. The posts are mighty close to one another so I have to figure it has something to do with keeping sheep in.  
  Alain's ST1300 has been behaving a little strange in the handling department. When we stop for a break, we take a look. His rear tire is low, so I break out my 'doctor bag' which has an air pump in it and get him fixed up. It appears that a loose valve stem is the problem, not a nail in the tire. I always bring my 'doctor bag', even when I rent motorcycles. It has enough stuff in it to deal with most problems that are 'fixable' on the road. I also have one in each of my ST1100s back at the house.  
  It seems the hills just stretch out for miles and miles as far as my eyes can see.  
  Once we get back to business, we are again reminded there have been others before us that have not done so well ...  
  It's a great run and a great day to be riding ...  
  and the clouds in the sky are a lovely white and not a less than lovely black.  
  Son we are approaching the Tangarakau Gorge. We don't know exactly how the gravel will be for the next few miles, but we are afixin' to find out.  
  We proceed a bit cautiously as we don't want to be cooking right along and all of a sudden here comes the gravel.  
  Once we are in the gorge 'proper', it's not bad at all. There's gravel that's deep and there's gravel that's hardpack. This is hardpack and as long as you stay in one of tracks, you can go at a pretty good pace.  
  I keep expecting some dinosaur from Jurassic Park to jump out and roar, but I guess they are all sleeping in today.  
  It's quiet and peaceful in the gorge and a lovely ride to experience.  
  And soon enough we are back the black, solid stuff - no worse for wear.  
  From what I've studied, this sign lets me know we are getting close to the 'Hobbit Hole'.  
  And we are soon notified that we are rapidly approaching the 'Capital of the Republic'.  
  Before we venture much further, we are greeted by the noble citizens of the republic. But they don't see too anxious to extend the right paw of fellowship at this particular moment.  
  And a little further down we meet the not so noble ones ...  
  Soon we come to the 'Hobbit Hole', also know as the Moki Tunnel. It is a single lane tunnel, about six hundred and fifty feet long, all shored up with wood not steel.  
  I kind of wonder how they got all those supports up there but they obviously knew what they were doing.  
  I stop Ruby Red to get a good shot looking backwards.  
  I wonder how far it is to the Capital, but then ...  
  I see an citizen of notable size and demeanor and presume that it must be the governor of the republic. Obviously foreign delegations are not being accepted today, so Alain and I bid the governor a fond adieu and continue on our merry way.  

The Forgotten World Highway crosses three 'saddles' - the Strathmore Saddle, the Whangamomona Saddle and the Tahora Saddle. This is the Tahora Saddle as we climb toward the top.

  There's a lovely view up there ...  
  And a lovely ride down.  
  Finally we near the grand capital - Whangamomona. As I have already learned, I don't even try to pronounce it since names down here do not surrender to the practice of phonetics.  
  Billy Gumboot the Goat served as mayor from 1999 through 2001. There were questions about the ballot process, as he ate his challengers' ballots. Then Tai the Poodle served from 2003 through 2004 but retired from public office due to stress. It appears that the humans that took over after that have not done a good job of keeping the local post office up to spec.  
  And it also rather obvious that the humans have failed miserably in maintaining their public transportation system. Leave it to humans to mess up what good animal administrators have left behind.  
  There also appears to be some sort of conspiracy against those former animal mayors, as the building in the best state of repair happens to be a butcher shop.  
  But St. John's Anglican Church is in good shape so the rascals at least have a place to repent.  
  The main building is the hotel which has a nice restaurant inside.  
  We take a look but decide to move on down the road without sampling their fine wares.  
  Soon we must leave the booming metropolis behind and go back into civilization.  
  The road ahead stretches out before us a like a lazy snake sunning itself on a flat rock.  
  Usually we have the whole road to ourselves ... ...
  but it can get a little tight sometimes when we have company.  
  Soon we are climbing up to Strathmore Saddle and ...  
  then down the other side.  
  Then it's back to the 'flat lands' as we get closer to the end of the Forgotten World Highway. It's been a great day just to kick back, ride, and enjoy the roads and the views.  
  Too soon for us, we reach the other end of this delightful road.  
  And too soon we have to transition back to the 'real' world after riding for the better part of day with practically no traffic.  
  We arrive in New Plymouth on the coast, and it does not take us long to get to the Dawson Motel which is located right in the heart of things.  
  We unload the beasts and take off north to explore a little bit. But as it turns out the road is a good distance from the sea coast with not much for viewing. So we decide to bag it and head back for an early supper.  
  It's nice evening for a walk along the ocean front. There is a lovely monument to those from New Zealand who have paid the ultimate price in times of war. Again, New Zealand does a great job of honoring their service men and women, and for that they should be praised.  
  Picking a restaurant in a different land can be a bit iffy and Alain and I are sometimes more lucky than good at it.  
  This one proves to be outstanding as I have some fresh red snapper for supper. And it is as good as it looks.  
  And following my momma's counsel, I am sure to clean the plate. However, I do refrain from licking the plate in public - but it is that good.  
  The curious 'Wind Wand' sculpture by Len Lye is right across the street, so we take a walk over once we've settle up our tab.  
  He built by hand several smaller versions of this 'kinetic sculpture' and was hoping to one day build one that was close to 150 feet tall. This one fulfills his dream and was built after his death.  
  We take a nice detour along the seashore for a little while. There's just something relaxing about the sound of waves rushing to the shore.  
  When we get back to the motel office, we find out that we can order breakfast in our room. It sounds like a plan to me so we jump on it. Back in the room, it does not take me long to drift off into slumberland with pleasant visions of today's ride floating through my dimming consciousness.