Archive - December 2017

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Tasman Bay to Charleston and Glow Worms!! New Zealand rocks!
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Picton to Tasman Bay, New Zealand day 3
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North South Island, New Zealand that is…
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Adventure in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tasman Bay to Charleston and Glow Worms!! New Zealand rocks!

At the farm B&B in Tasma, we had a room and bathroom with a small fridge and sink in the corner.  The host provided hot and cold cereal, fruit, bagels, toast and jam.  So our breakfast today was an improvement.  Our host also gifted us a bottle of her homemade organic olive oil from their own trees. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and the forecast was sunny and warmer than yesterday. We headed north out of Tasman on The Coastal Hwy, before turning onto the Motuka Valley Highway.  We took this south to Hwy 6 where we made a quick stop at Hope Saddle Lookout, where there was a geographical marker. In NZ they call it a Trig marker.  It had a great view of some of the best named mountain peaks I have heard of:  Mt Fairy Queen, Mt Misery, and Mt Hopeless. Farther down the road, we would parallel the Buller River and the Buller Gorge.  We stopped at a tourist trap of sorts, just past Murchison, the Buller Gorge Swinging Bridge. For the small price of $10NZ I got to torture myself by facing my fear of heights and my fear of falling to my death. I often am very nervous about stuff like this, and will be shaking slightly, or my heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest. But I surprised myself and went all the way across. There is a 15 min hike on the other side if you choose, and then I had to walk back across that bridge.  Frank made sure to bounce up and down to give me my money’s worth. We stopped for a lunch at a small Cafe and Groceries in Inangahua, I dare you to say that 5 times really fast.  It was on a sweeping corner, that suddenly became a hot spot for a big group of other motorcyclists.  It reminded me of the Rock Store back home in California, a place to take a break from riding, get some food, and hang out with friends.  It was time for pie again! I got the steak, and Frank got the chicken and mushroom.  I also order a pineapple ring, which is a pineapple ring deep fried in a light beer batter.  It was really good.  It is such a good thing that I don’t own one of those home deep fry cookers, or I would be deep frying everything. We continued on to the Upper Buller Gorge Road, as it is called on the map, along a cliff edge that was at times only a one lane road. Dinner at the Copper Pot Indian food, in downtown Westport.  I decided to try something different and ordered a Mango Chicken dish, that turned out to be fantastic, while Frank struggled to breath because he ordered a Lamb Vindaloo that he requested to be spicy. We stayed at this really old farm house in Charleston, called Pyramid Farm, which is about[…]

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Picton to Tasman Bay, New Zealand day 3

We stayed at what I loosely call a Bed and Breakfast last night.  I think their kids are all gone, and they rent out rooms. The owners were very nice, but leave for work at 7 am, so we were instructed on where to find the bowls and cereal.  I was a bit surprised because every B&B I have stayed at before, the owner made you a hot breakfast.  There was also another couple staying in the room next to us, but they left early. I know this because for some reason I woke up at 6am and could not go back to sleep. The Queen Charlotte Drive was calling, and we headed out. This time I used the GoPro to capture some video of me pretending to be fast! We have been watching the videos back each night to see if it’s even working or if we need to tilt it differently.  I now know why people put music to all the motorcycle videos I see on YouTube; the sound of the wind noise gets pretty annoying. I am already making plans to try to edit all the videos together with a music soundtrack. After all, riding a motorcycle is like living in your own personal movie. Frank had 2 fun looking roads on his agenda for the day. The first one would take us toward Mahua Sound and Kenapura Sound.  This road feels like it could go on forever, and it did not disappoint.  Turn after turn, with lush trees and ferns, that would open up to get a peek at the aqua water below. It was a beautiful ride, but I was feeling the effects of getting up too early.  Because of the position of the sun, and all the trees, my eyes were getting fatigued from scanning the shade and sun on the tight curvy road. We decided not to go all the way to the end, and returned south to the main road. Cullen Point Outlook was a fun little hike up to a series of steep steps with a nice view of both bays and Havelock to the west.  We stopped for lunch in Havelock, and sat next to the marina at the Slip Inn, where I had some amazing fish and chips Up next was Opuri Rd, which turned into Ronga Rd. that again was a really long one way in and out type of road. Halfway in we stopped at Okiwi Bay, which was so beautiful and peaceful. Lots of families out enjoying the day on a small boat or kayaking.  I was really tired from having woken up too early so I sat down for a break on the beach and took a power nap. After that I caught up on some typing while enjoying the the beautiful bay as my office. Oh, did I mention that people here use their tractors to put their boats in and out of the water?  We stopped in Mapua for dinner and to buy some snacks[…]

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North South Island, New Zealand that is…

I have to admit that I am pretty bummed that we are only doing the South Island of New Zealand because I really wanted to go to Hobbiton, which is on the North Island.  But that just means I will have to come back for another trip! I wanted to come to NZ even before the epic trilogy was made, but seeing all the amazing scenery in the movie just added fuel to the fire. Our first day yesterday was filled with rain, and last night we stayed in Kaikoura.  We walked into town (in the rain) and ate dinner at the local Thai place.  Pretty good food, however I fell in love with our waitress because she actually told a girl to get off her phone, and pointed to the sign that says no wifi, no phones.  Gasp! We should actually talk to each other at dinner! We woke up to everything covered in rain drops, and ducks and cats outside our little cabin. Franks original plan was to take the inland mountain route because he thought that it would be more interesting than just Hwy 1 up the coast.  The forecast was looking like it would stay clear on the coast, and rain inland. I vetoed the all day in the rain route, and we headed out in search of breakfast. We found a place were I got my first order of pancakes and they put the syrup on for you, and don’t leave any syrup on the table.  I should start doing this with my kids, since they pour half the bottle on theirs. Back to the trip. To the North there was going to be road construction. In November of 2016, there was a 7.8 earthquake that hit this area of New Zealand and completely took out the coastal highway.  The road had just recently been reopened, but only during daylight hours, so we would be able to make our way up to our next nighttime stop, Picton. We got some pictures of the landslides and rocks, it took them about a year to reopen the road. A local that we chatted with told us that the seabed rose 8 meters from the earthquake, and the land formation in that area was very different. If you have time checkout internet images of the earthquake. After lunch in Blenheim, we saw a stream train and got to wave at the passengers. Then instead of continuing on Hwy 1, we did our first bit of “Adventure Riding”.  We took the Port Underwood Road, which was a combination of paved and gravel road that took us on a steep and winding road through very lush vegetation and scenic views.  This area reminded me a lot of Kauai in Hawaii.  Very few cars would join us, but the ones that did really knew the road well, and were zipping along pretty fast. The rest of the day was pretty easy and since the sun stays up till around 9pm, we[…]

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Adventure in the Southern Hemisphere.

About 20 years ago, Frank and I almost went to New Zealand.  He was in Australia for work and I joined him for vacation.  Our plan was to do 2 weeks in Australia, then go to NZ.  However, it was winter there at the time, so we decided to go to Fiji instead.  Not a bad substitute at all, but we have talked about going to NZ ever since.  Well we had finally accumulated a lot of frequent flier miles and decided that we could use them on a big trip, and we bit the bullet and made the reservations almost a year ahead of time.  We talked about the possibility of bringing the kids, and maybe even shipping the sidecar over.  But the planning stages of this trip escaped us so quickly that we did as much research as we could but never found anything that would work in terms of shipping our own bikes over. This would also be the longest trip we would go on with out the kids. After lots of research, Frank found Circle NZ, and it’s owner Clive Chapman.  He would set us up on two Suzuki VStrom 650’s.  After a few emails back and forth, they showed us how right everyone is about how friendly Kiwi’s are.  They have a Christmas tradition of going over to a friends house, and when she found out that Clive would be picking up 2 American tourists from the airport on Christmas day she told him to invite them over.  We were just the right amount of curious and crazy and joined over 15 strangers for Christmas! Plus it was perfect timing as we were starving, and they had a feast that all of them contributed to. The other bonus was that Clive and his wife Kasha allowed us to stay in the separate quarters that Kasha’s parents live in as they went on holiday for a few days.  Amazing hospitality and great conversations.  I was already starting to learn a lot of fun new words.  My favorite of the day was “Suckee do”.  That is what our host calls the air vent over the stove that “sucks’ the air out. My VStrom was equipped with 3 hard bags, Frank’s had a hard top box and the soft side bags are SW Motech, and I think I really like the design idea of those bags.  They are waterproof, and the top rolls down just like most dry bags.  This is useful if you need to add stuff to the bags later, like for food or souvenirs or an extra pair of boots… We headed out on Tues Dec 26th, Boxing day in NZ.  very grey and cold morning and about a mile down the road it started raining for real, and we pulled over so that Frank could but on his rain gear.  As we continued I realized that my pants were not covering my boots.  I had brought my water proof ICON Raiden Adventure suit and[…]

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