Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 28 - up, up and away.....

As I write this I am in the plane having just taken off from Auckland airport. This was the moment all the planning, preparation and excitement came together.

At the airport....

I arrived in Brisbane and had a clear run through customs. Out the other side and a quick purchase of an Aussie sim card, then on to the train to the gold coast.

My friend picked me up at Nerang and I had a tour of his home then it was off to Jupiters to check in to the room with fab views. I'm pretty buggered now as I have been up since 2.00am ausralia time and it's now 8.00pm so I think I'll head to bed very soon.

Ian has a number of great activities planned for the week. Tomorrow it's off to Brisbane for the day and a movie in the evening. The weather today has been beautiful and in fact have just had an outdoor spa which was very relaxing. So relaxing in fact that I can hardly keep my eyes open and will be snoring very soon.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 27 - Royal Flush

Well, like the song says ... "all my bags are packed and I'm ready to go, because I'm leaving on a jet plane .....

Had a great get together with my mates for a final poker night last night ... I donated my $20 but came in a respectable second even after all the yummy mojitos I drank .... Amazingly my mate Simon pulled out a Royal Flush .... First time ive ever seen one of those ... A fine effort !

Today I cleaned Bertha and tonight will tuck her up under her cover for my return ....

My boss sent me a great photo of our team that I post here as one final work related plug :) ... They're a great team. in a suit as opposed to leathers :)

Have a good one !

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 26 - One bag and me

So, I have been packing (it took about 5 minutes) as I have now shrunk my life down to one bag, the clothes I'm wearing and my passport :)

It is actually quite a freeing exercise. When I look back over the last few hectic weeks, I have gone from a life of working hours, suits, phone calls and modern day stress, to renting my home out, storing my
Iifes worth of stuff (read - lots of useless crap), completing my round New Zealand leg of the journey on Bertha and now down to one bag on my back.

I made the decision yesterday that I would not take Bertha with me - I seriously considered it, but because of her weight and size and concerns over her coping in less developed parts of the world, I had to make the decision. As I travel I will pick up hire bikes as I go when I feel the urge so this will truly be a trip of many parts - just the way I like it.

I have had my rabies and hepatitis shots and something else - I can't remember what. I have one lot of antibiotics from the doctor to take with me in case I am in the middle of nowhere and get sick. I have a small first aid kit, travel and medical insurance. A few pairs of undies and some clothes complete the picture. Of course I'm taking my phone and camera and iPad with me too, but playing devils advocate here, as long as I've got my passport and a few emergency dollars in my sock, everything else is replaceable.

I cannot impress on you enough how incredibly freeing this whole exercise is. I feel like I am rewriting the future roads I will take and have unshackled my wrists from what was fast becoming a bit of a monotonous journey. Okay, so maybe a little melodramatic but you get the picture :)

The real question is - At what point in your life did you go from dancing fully clothed in the pouring rain and not caring about what anyone thinks to not going outside because you don't have an umbrella ?

Life is for living and this is my opportunity to do just that and this time round as opposed to 20 years ago I actually have a bit more money to be able to do it so if I do feel the urge for a decent shower and my own loo I can do it :)

Well, the next post god willing will be from the land of kangaroos and underarm bowlers - Australia :) - not very adventurous I know, but the next leg nonetheless. :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Days 21 - 25 Mr Organiser

I am back in Auckland now after three lovely days with my folks at the end of the road trip which was relaxing and they are always great company.

While in Hamilton we talked (a lot - we are good at that). I tried to keep up with their hectic social life catching up with people as there were friends of my mums who I know who wanted to say hi.

I also did meals on wheels with my mum. She and my stepfather have a huge social conscience and are the most generous kind people I know.

Meals on wheels is a service run by the red cross out of the hospital that provides hot meals for elderly in their homes every day. When I was a kid I used to do it with my mum jumping out of the car, taking in the meals. Knocking on the door and shouting meals on wheel and then trying to politely move on to the next one while they desperately want to have a long conversation as it may be the only interaction for the day. Mum and Peter have been doing meals on wheels all their married life which is about 28 years and mum has been doing it for a good 40 years as she used to put me in the car in my cot and take me with her. In fact, I have to be careful how to say the next bit as I know they read this blog, but they are older than many of the people they deliver to, but look half their ages and lead this wonderful active social life.

I also went car shopping with PQ (my stepfather) and we went and test drove a new car. Very nice it was too. He is the most honest gentleman I know and I had to stop him from showing all his cards to the salesperson straight away. :) .... I think he's made a great choice of new car. I think it's very smart and I love the colour. :)

Of course a visit home wouldn't be the same without some great home cooked meals that just always taste better than anything I could ever make and better than anything you could possibly buy in a Michelin star restaurant in my humble opinion.

I am always staggered when I hear of people who either do not spend a
Lot of time with their parents as adults or are a bit remiss in calling them regularly. It is so important to make that time because they have spent their life making sure that we are happy and well. My family knows what it is like to have lost a family member too soon and trust me, when they are not around any more, it is too late, so if there is one piece of advice I can give - hug your loved ones and tell them you love them - it does not make you a lesser man, in fact it makes you a better man.

So back to Auckland on Wednesday I came with a long list of thing to do - appointments with my accountant, doctor and optometrist, trip to the bank and myriad shops to pick up last minute items. I am staying with my x partner. We were together for eight years and through the process of separation have found peace with each other and actually have got on better since the separation than we have for the last couple of years. We will always care deeply for each other and if there is an emergency or i am needed I will be the first in line to help.

I am so thankful for the support and love that surrounds me on this life journey :)

Until next time .....

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 20 - Trip Review

What an awesome adventure it has been. We really do have a fantastic country. One of the advantages of our country is that you can have a wide variety of scenery to enjoy in relatively shorter distances -

Distance covered - 7350km's
Days on the road - 19
Mishaps - one flat rear tyre
Roads covered - tar seal, gravel, mud, dirt

Highlights -

Central Otago roads
Lewis pass with the snow
Te urewera ranges
Danseys pass for the views
Queenstown to Glenorchy - stunning scenery
Takaka and Motueka.
The serenity of being on the road with just me and Bertha and no one and nothing else.

Good accommodation - basically I found it very easy to find accommodation anywhere I went - in fact I was quite surprised with how quiet it was. I just randomly picked places and I would suggest you do the same. I also suggest that you do not plan ahead because the beauty of being on the road is that you can change your mind and go different easy or end up in different locations. This is the beauty of a road trip.

I put below a couple of my favourite pics.

Mt Ruapehu



Fox Glacier

The West Coast

The West Coast

Central Otago

Danseys Pass

Lewis Pass

The Wild West Coast

All of the roads.....

Takaka Hill

Getting through Te Uruwera National Park in one piece....

Again, thanks for following my adventures. Do check back often as over the next couple of weeks the next leg of my journey continues.

I am being vague because the plans change every day. All I know at the moment is that next Monday I jump on a plane and spend 7 days on the gold coast in Australia then 10 days in Bali - this will be the "r and r" part of my journey as I catch up with old friends and hopefully sit round pools drinking brightly coloured cocktails :)

Until next time, take care.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 19 - On the way home

Taupo - Tirau - Pukekohe - Hamilton

So, I'm just about back in Auckland.

I left Taupo and did a little detour as some of my motorbike mates were meeting in Pukekohe for lunch and a video of the Suzuki boulevard rally from a few weeks ago. If you enjoy to ride then do have a look at .... It costs you nothing to join up or join in and anybody can post a ride. It's a great way to meet fellow bike enthusiasts and get to know a whole lot of thoroughly nice interesting people.

All the bikes are shiny ..... Except one :)

Pea soup fog greeted me as I left Taupo but it progressively improved. It was not an exciting days ride, however, I found myself going very sedately as I reviewed my trip in my head and didn't want the New Zealand leg of the journey to be over yet.

I stayed for lunch in Pukekohe then bid my farewells and headed back down south to Hamilton where I am now.

My regular stop on the way to Hamilton .... The back of Huntly :)

On Wednesday I head back to Auckland where I have lots of planning to do and people to see before jumping on the plane next Monday.

I will fill you in on the details when I am a little further down the track. I will also write a review of some of the highlights of this trip.

YouTube Video

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 18 - Tuhoe country

YouTube Video

So, another beautiful day. I left Napier early and was on the city outskirts by 8.30am. I hadn't decided which way to head up the country as I had done pretty much all the roads from Napier before. I contemplated going around the east cape again or through the gorge from gisborne, or across to the other side of the island, however, I decided to go as far as wairoa and then decide. At wairoa I stopped for a late breakfast and coffee and while reviewing my map I noticed one other route to get to rotorua that I had not taken. This would entail heading to lake waikaremoana and then up and over Te Urewera National Park into the heart of Tuhoe country and popping out at murupara. What it also meant was about 100km of gravel road. I decided to do it.

What the map didn't tell me was that gravel road was a nice way of saying sometimes a little gravel, sometimes shit loads of large thick gravel and often just wet soft mud and no gravel - all surrounded by native bush, mountains and nothing else.

Lake Waikaremoana

Up, over and through Te Urewera National Park.

These were the good bits where i could actually stop - i didnt take many photos because i was worried I might be stuck their forever and have to resort to eating bark.

Now, I do want to put a disclaimer in here for this one - I DO NOT recommend this "road" on a road bike - trail bike or adventure tourer with an experienced rider - yes.

Somehow I made it through by the skin of my teeth without a puncture and by staying upright on the bike. It really is the middle of nowhere with no cell phone coverage, no farm houses, just a few wild horses and pigs on the road as you come around hair pin corners. It makes the other two off road adventures I had look like walks in the park. Somewhere near the end of the gravel I did come across a tiny settlement so stopped to talk to the local on the side of the road with the full face moko (tatoo) - he was bloody interesting.

Honestly, if you want to do it, yes. It's worth it, but go very prepared and ideally with one other rider. Also, make sure it is fine as well because even with the blue sky there were parts of it that never saw the sun and was no more than a muddy track.

Also, if you ride a Harley don't do it because by the end you'll be left with the handle bars and nothing else as the rest of your bike would be rattled off :)

Bertha really felt this one and when I get back to the big smoke will need a huge clean and a huge service to check her out. It was totally worth it though. For the first time on this leg of my adventure I did sigh with a sense of relief when I made it to murupara and tar sealed roads again. :)

Then it was a quick jaunt across to Taupo where I am now.

Sadly, I only have a short ride to Hamilton tomorrow then my nz leg of this journey is mostly complete.

Time now for a nanna nap.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 17 - The North Island

After a late arrival in Wellington last night at about 11.30pm I motored in to the city to find some accommodation. I found some at the Copthorne Oriental Bay and they gave me a fab room that offered nice views of the city. I was asleep in seconds as it had been a huge day.

Good morning Wellington

After a lovely breakfast and a late checkout I headed out of Wellington and immediately noticed how much warmer it was. Off came the long johns, second pair of gloves and socks. I also almost immediately wished to be back in solitude on the south island roads. I decided to head north east and make my way to Napier, art deco capital of NZ. I headed up and over the Rimutaka Hill which was a mess of road works. After a slightly frustrating ride I arrived at masterton and had noticed on the map a road that ran out into the heart of sheep country and ultimately popped out at Waipukarau and back on to SH2. This back road happened to be a favorite of local bikers and meandered it's way through some magical farmland.

Along the way I met Peter a.k.a. Pedro one of the local farmers who zipped along on his quad bike to say hi when he saw I had stopped on the side of the road. Some of his mates were putting some fences up. further along the way i came across another farmer moving a few hundred sheep down the road so iturned the bike off and waited for them to pass.

Oh dear, which way...

I also came across a couple on a couple of adventure bikes. When it looked like there was going to be a bit of gravel road (which there wasn't) the guy said well, you can't ride on the gravel, but we can. I laughed at him and said absolutely I can and explained some of the roads I had taken over the last few weeks - and he rudely said - "on That" - well, that was enough for me as I'm not having Bertha spoken to like that so I bid them farewell and left them in my exhaust fumes :).

I also came across completely by accident the longest place name in the world. Check out the photo and see whether you can pronounce it.

After popping out onto SH2 it was a relatively short ride to Napier where I have found accommodation for the night.

All in all another good day on the bike.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 16 - a huge riding day today

Westport - Murchison - Motueka - Takaka - Motueka - Nelson - Picton
...about 490 km's

I was greeted by a little rain when I woke up. I had nicknamed the room I was staying in "the vomit room" not because I spent the night doing so but because all walls and ceiling were painted vomit orange so I was pleased to vacate.

Once I left it was obvious that the sun was trying valiantly to come out and sure enough after a little while it did. I managed to get some snaps riding between Westport and Murchison.

Riding through this wonderful native bush I couldn't help thinking just how lucky we are in New Zealand. We have such a variety of roads across the country and all in relatively close distance. I thought the photo below simply gives you a great idea as to the general roads that we here ride on.

I stopped in Murchison for a bite to eat. Shortly after i came across this vista

I had been told that the road to Motueka and then to Takaka was something quite special so decided to take the detour to the top left of the South Island Sure enough it was magical and the sun was shining throughout. The road between Motueka and Takaka is essentialy a steep ascent up a gigantic hill and back down the other side. The beauty of this is that it affords some pretty spectacular views.

I popped in to Takaka and took the liberty of having a late lunch shandy and after a relatively short time set off again as i still had a few hours riding if i was to get over to Picton in time for the 6.40pm ferry.

By the time i arrived in Nelson dusk was setting so it was going to be a chilly dark hour or so on the bike to get to Picton. I did contemplate stopping but then decided that even if i missed the ferry i could find accomodation in Picton so then i could sleep in a little tomorrow.

As fate would have it I arrived at 6.40pm on the dot, however, it didnt matter as boarding had closed so i had missed the ferry, however, across the road was the competition who had a boat leaving at 7.00pm - just in time and $15 cheaper. :)

So, as I sit on the ferry I need to find some accommodation for tonight in Wellington.

So, that is the south island leg of this journey completed. Now it's a couple more days travelling up the north island, then three days at my folks catching up, then up to Auckland for 5 days where I have lots to organize and sort out before I fly out to Australia on the 30th.

It's all go, that's for sure !!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

I'm back!

 Somehow I managed to log back in after a mere 8 years away from the site! I have so much to say, and so much to add, however, just logging ...