On Sunday the weather forecasts were all foreboding with tales of strong winds and thunderous rain. This proved to be fairly accurate but over three days we managed to have a little bit of everything weather wise. My friend Fiona on a Suzuki Sportbike came down from Whangarei with her adult daughter Adele as pillion and stayed on Sunday night so we could take off nice and early on Monday morning.
|Fiona and Adele|
The morning began with rain and more rain. Our destination at the end of Day One was New Plymouth. After getting out of Auckland we scooted down the west side of the Waikato River and popped out at Ngaruawahia where a ciggie and coffee stop was in order. Although slightly wet, it was bloody hot. We zipped down the west side of Hamilton through Te Kowhai and missed Hamilton altogether. By Otorohonga the rain was pelting down but I still had a smile from ear to ear. There is someting so incredibly freeing about being on the bike and getting out of the big smoke. In a jiffy it seemed we hit the West Coast and a stop for Whitebait Fritters was in order, however at $15 a fritter fish and chips became the new order of the day. By this stage we were pretty soaked and Adele had a very sore bum, but we were keen to get to New Plymouth and find some accomodation. After navigating our way to the "isite" we found appropriate accomodation and set about drying everything out and organising booze and food for the night. My Teknic wet weather jacket that I have owned for nearly 20 years again proved its weight in gold. My boots were pretty wet as were my pants but my torso was all good :)
After a trip out "on the town" to a bar and then Lone Star for dinner, we made our way back to the Motel. Over dinner we had much discussion about our Route for Day 2 - I was keen to keep to the plan and head down the Forgotten Highway. Fiona wasn't quite so keen and after much discussion we looked at a number of options and decided to take a decision in the morning.
During the evening Fiona spent most of the night coughing and spluttering and by morning was feeling pretty shit. Adding to that the fact that Adele was finding the pillion postion not that comfy I got a sense that maybe they were keen to turn for home. After more discussion it was decided that we would do the forgotten highway in the rain and wind :) as this would then give the guys the option of heading North rather than across to Rotorua as planned if they felt they wanted to. I was having the time of my life and was carrying on the journey regardless. The decision to head to Whangamomona proved to be a good one. We set off early and from New Plymouth to Stratford the rain was the heaviest. Stopping to refuel at Stratford proved interesting as the forecourt seemed to have gale force winds and the rain was pelting down or rather across.
If the weather had been good we would have seen Mt Taranaki as .....
but what we saw was ....
From the turnoff to the forgotten highway the weather gradually improved.
|Big Bertha and me :)|
At first it was just grey and less rain but by the time we made it to the Whangamomona Pub the rain had stopped. We arrived at about 10.00am and the pub was closed but they kindly opened for us and it was a good decision on their part as we bought the overpriced "Ive been to the Whangamomona Pub" tshirt and had a drink. I tried to order a beer just so I could say I had one at the pub but although opening early for us she couldnt serve me alcohol because the liquor license only started at 11.00am so I had a much more sensible flat white instead. (BTW, if you're interested the pub is for sale :)) - apprently they're looking for $900,000 or there abouts - unbelievable!
Setting off after been fed and watered we hit the "gravel" or rather, the mud - Big Bertha loved every second of it and she ate up all the mud and gravel and spat it right back.
|Who said a cruiser coulnt enjoy gravel and mud :)|
Halfway through the unsealed part we stopped at the bridge and Adele jumped on behind me on the back of Bertha to give her bum a rest.
We popped out at Taumaranui in no time and by now it had not just stopped raining but we saw blue sky too! The ladies decided to carry on to Taupo via Turangi and at that point we stopped for a late lunch. I really enjoyed the road across from Taumarunui to Turangi and with the fine weather Bertha opened herself up and we had a bit of fun.
At Taupo after our late lunch the ladies decided to head North and head home. I was still keen to carry on so we bid our farewells and I headed to Rotorua - another great stretch of road. I was really surprised with how little traffic there was through most of the journey.
At Rotorua I remembered my partner and I had stayed at a very nice hotel a few years back when I was their for a conference so I zoomed down Fenton Street and found the "Regal Palms Hotel" - a little pricey but bloody comfortable with parking out the front of my unit for Bertha which was out of visibility of the road, plus a spa bath in the room as well as all the mod cons.
Having spent quite a bit of my childhood in Rotorua I was very content just to relax, unwind and enjoy the quiet time. The only downside was that by the time I added up the drinks and food from the mini bar I ate and drank, it was a nice little money making add on for the hotel, but who cares, life is for living I reckon!
Day 3 dawned to overcast weather, however, again not cold. I set off early and within a few minutes being out of Rotorua the weather turned to summer weather again and stayed beautiful all day. Within a hop and a skip I was bypassing Tauranga and heading up the coast where I planned to have a late breakfaast at the "Flatwhite Beachfront Cafe" at Waihi Beach I had been to before. Again, it proved its weight in gold. Sitting outsde under an umbrella, reading the NZ Herald and listening to the sound of the waves while I ate my big breakfast - fantastic.
|Waihi Beach - my favourite East Coast Beach|
|You gotta love the Coro Loop...|
Then finally, the ride back to the big smoke with a sense of sadness that it was all over, but a sense of excitement that I am off again very soon!
All in all three brilliant days with a little bit of everything in terms of roads, weather and of course some great company. Route Map below -
View Pre Xmas Ride in a larger map
Time now to wash Bertha ready for our trip around the East Cape at New Years - only 9 days away - yay!