Archive for » February, 2010 «

We found the Forgotten World Highway, luckily we stumbled across it. No-one could tell us where it started…….they’d forgotten!

And….we’re back!

We stayed overnight at the Alexander Spa Motel – a lovely welcome, comfortable beds and a quick trip to the small spa on site which is always gorgeous after a long bike ride!

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Luckily there were no fires that night, so the Fire Station opposite was quiet! There are plenty of restaurants around the motel, but we headed for the RSA (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association) for what turned out to be a lovely meal. When one of the girls returned for the dishes at the end of the meal, Louise stared down at her empty plate and with a dead-pan face said “That was awful, I couldn’t eat a thing!” The look on the girl’s face was priceless – total confusion! We all three started laughing as the joke sunk in and we had a great chat about the world in general while finishing our drinks…………

We started at the Northern end of the Forgotten World Highway (the area was originally settled by many people until the area was bypassed to the North and South by other main roads and the population dwindled steadily until it was designated in 1990 as being “Forgotten” ) at Taumaranui, which was a bit confusing when following the trail map we’d downloaded from the Windwand website as it starts at the other end!


After leaving the outskirts of town at about 8 am, the road headed out by a river with layered hills showing the various stone/earth/shale of years gone by but soon heads into vast areas of complete quiet, solitude and beautiful views.

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We meandered through this wonderful landscape until we came to the Tangarakau Gorge, where the road is still un-metalled (ie. gravel). This shows the difficulties early settlers had breaking trail through the native bush – astounding really!

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We stopped at Whangamomana Hotel (Whangamomana is the capital of the Whanga Republic – set up as an independent state as the government of New Zealand didn’t seem to care about them – the clue is the Forgotten bit) for a coffee, and to watch the world go by for a while. We chatted to some bikers that turned up here, including one couple who rode Suzuki V-Stroms (him a 1000cc like mine, and her a 650cc with a lowered suspension). It seemed to be quite an easy fix, so should Louise ever want a bigger bike, we’ll be able to sort it easy!

While we were chatting an “older lady” turned up on a pushbike. She turned out to be in her late seventies and had just cycled “over the hill” – this is a typical Kiwi understatement! The hill turned out to be bad enough with a motorbike, let alone a bicycle! More power to her elbow! Well, I suppose it was more her legs, lungs and heart I suspect………….

We finished off the Forgotten Road Highway at Stratford some 150km of superb motorbiking road from the other end. What a great experience!

We rode on down to Hawera on the cost and found a lovely park to have a rest and a drink of water (we’d learned to carry our own).

Bike Ride 28Feb10

The park had all the usual rules …. no smoking, no bike riding, no horses, no dogs, no canoodling, no fun, no flying (not quite that bad, but you get the idea) …. and we were very good, not partaking of or doing anything to offend anyone. We didn’t even have any food for the ducks you can see on the pond (and there were quite a few flying/sitting/swimming would-be eiderdowns and pillows around).

Imagine our surprise then, when just after taking the picture above …. a Kawasaki superbike was ridden down the left-hand side of the lake and off onto the main road behind us. Everybody in the park, us included, just stopped and stared in disbelief! I can’t speak for everyone else of course, but I was willing him to slip on the grass and take his bike for a quick paddle in the water!!

We turned east here, leaving the Surf Highway towards the west for another trip. Back down to Wanganui and off home. Our first “holiday weekend” trip, and what a lovely weekend’s worth of riding too!!

Bike trip today then! Up, packed and out early this morning on the the way to Taumarunui.

Rather than detour for better roads from Levin, we pushed on up the SH1 to Bulls (memora-bull place) stopping at Foxton on the way for coffee at the Cafe on Route66/SH1 – just for you Fitz!

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We carried on up to Bulls and took the SH3 to Wanganui where we stopped for a refill – petrol and coffee!

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We then took the SH4 up to Taumarunui and were looking forward to it as we hadn’t done this stretch before.

We stopped at the Raukawa Falls and chatted to a couple of fashion designers/deliverers from the UK who had taken a year off during the recession to travel around the world. They’d done 2 months in Australia and were well into their trip around New Zealand – however, going stir crazy in the small camper van!

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Off and riding again, we headed for the Station cafe in National Park – not the National Park, but National Park the town…….

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We headed off for the last bit of the trip felling suitably refreshed, with Mt Ruapeho on our right.

We arrived at Taumarunui in time to book in, walk around to the local RSA (Returned Servicemans Association) for a lovely dinner and then, after a little walk for dinner to go down, into a spa pool before bed – bliss!

Distance travelled 313km (approx 196 miles)

Quick update – I managed to get all the online courses with Skillsoft opened to me! Roll on MCSE, MCTIP and CCNA training!!

Am catching up on the blog for the last week. My bad!

However, we’re off to the start of the Forgotten Highway tomorrow, stopping at a motel in Taumarunui tomorrow night.

On Sunday we’ll be travelling down the Forgotten Highway – here is an extract:

Built on colonial bridle paths formed in the late 19th century, the highway is remote and mysterious to the extreme. “A bit upsy downsy” is how one local resident puts it – a classic New Zealand understatement to describe a road that hugs the rugged contours of the land to provide a natural roller coaster experience.

We decided that it might not be such a good idea for Louise to ride this time, we’re going two-up on mine instead!!

If you want to check it out while we’re there, you can see a few titbits at the windwands website.

If nothing is heard from us by Sunday evening (Sunday morning, UK), you’ll have an idea of where to send the search parties to start looking!

BRB Wink

Ah. the jobs are drying up a little again………..perhaps there’ll be more next week!

I have been thinking about ways to get my IT brain back into gear after the soaking sun, and maybe the odd alcoholic drink, has fried the edges of my knowledge a little…..

I’ve found a good online training site, hopefully I can squeeze a few more courses out of them – they’re looking to the end of the day tomorrow to fill their “quota” of customers. You never know!

A really blowy night last night!

However, the sky had cleared, giving us this gorgeous sunrise looking from the deck!

Sunrise 24Feb

We had a visit from another Kiwi lifeform today. This one had been disguised as a mop on the deck. Imagine my surprise when it didn’t appreciate being used to clear the leaves from the night before!!

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We named this one “Fluffy”, for reasons which should be obvious!!

Lots of job hunting over the last couple of days, looks like the job market is picking up a little bit! Here’s hoping there aren’t enough Kiwis to fill all the posts!!

After a couple more job applications this morning, off to Kaitoke National Park on a bike trip today.

Another trip over Paekakariki Hill to stop over for a latte at Ground Up in Pauatahanui. The wind was a bit strong on the second bit going up the Hutt Valley today, Louise got blown all over the place!

We’ve stayed away from Kaitoke up until now, because she couldn’t face the thought of having to leave New Zealand and a bit more of her heart at Kaitoke – and there wouldn’t be much left to take back to the UK!

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We came back down the Hutt Valley again – the Akatarawa Rd is closed for repairs for 3 days! I pulled away to cross over to Pauatahanui first, to stretch the bike’s legs a bit……..

Unfortunately, I got the comms a bit wrong……….as Louise never turned up!!

She didn’t have her mobile this time – the last time that’s gonna happen!! – so I had no idea where she was. I did go around the lake to Paremata both ways, but couldn’t find her, so was getting just a little bit worried!!

I drove like a devil over to the Hutt Vallley and back, checking the sides of the road for a wrecked bike and rider…………..

In the end, I gave up and hot-footed over the Paekakariki Hill in record time to find Louise waiting on the veranda bench wondering where I was! Phew!

Smattering of rain early this morning, so off to Wellington motorcycles about 10.30am – petrol stop first though. Start of the longest bike ride so far for Louise – not planned at all though!

After a couple of coffees, picked up Louise’s bike with a fixed clutch lever – unfortunately the original lever broke, I thought it might and we were ready forĀ  being slightly more expensive than originally quoted.

Up to Mount Victoria (on the easier route) to have a panoramic view of Wellington.

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The Wellington Artillery Volunteer Corps must have been a very fit outfit indeed!

19Feb Wellington Stitch

Chatted to Louise and thought we’d ride up to Petone, via Newtown this time, for another coffee. Our normal cafe seemed closed, with no tables and chairs outside, even though the sign said it was open. We gave it a miss and went into town on a search for a different one. The Screaming Turtle looked like a nice cafe – I don’t usually get to make that sort of choice when we’re two up! It was nice to have a break from the wind and watch the world go by while having a strong cup of latte – well the world of Petone anyway!

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Louise was obviously in a mood to go riding so we chatted over our options. It seemed like we were going over to the Waiarapa, so I made sure she realised that it could be a long round trip. Up and over the Rimutuka again – all good experience!

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Up to Masterton for a petrol stop at about 5.30pm, before the stations were likely to be closing – also gave us enough fuel to either go on or back.

Rode out a little further for a break at a picnic spot (and a quick game of hide in the trees or bushes from the traffic) where we decided that rather than just return the way we had come, or indeed even that direction over the back roads, that we’d continue on and do a loop around Palmerston North. The Manawatu Gorge was going to put about an extra 30 mins on the trip, so I suggested we cut across the Tararua Range at Pahiatua.

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As we got to Pahiatua it was getting a bit colder, and we were going to gain some altitude we stopped so that Louise could don my warm inner (we’d not planned ahead enough to put Louise’s new quilt liner in the top box) and to change gloves to a warmer pair.

With hindsight, this might have been a bit much for Louise on only her 7th trip out. We got halfway up the Tararua Range and it was obvious that louise was struggling, so I pulled over into a slow vehicle lane to sort it out. She didn’t seem to be riding as well as normal and was riding a little slowly (comparatively speaking that is!). Her winter gloves were proving too much of a change in riding style – I know exactly what she meant! So we changed back over to her normal gloves and I put on my grip warmers, planning to stop for a surprise coffee on the other side and let her warm her hands up.

We stopped at Summerhill and I went for the coffees which gave Louise a chance to calm back down after having her confidence levels severely dented. A lovely coffee it was too!!

However, we now needed to get moving as learners have a curfew of 10pm, and Louise hasn’t had experience riding in the dark. However, as the sun was going down there was the worry of sunstrike too,Louise donned her sunglasses. The wind had been quite strong all day too, at least I had a fairing to help me…bless!

Sunstrike there was! I kept close in front so that Louise could see me rather than try to see the road – always difficult even for an experienced rider! We stopped after the sun went down so she could take the sunglasses off.

We stopped again at Otaki well after dusk, to make sure Louise was coping. She was, but by now was looking forward to getting home!

We finally arrived about 9.40pm after a really nice ride, if a pretty long one!

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Total distance 354km (about 221 miles)!

Up and online for 8pm UK time, I’d sorted the bin and recycling out last night so no early early rise.

Played RPG again on Skype. I’d updated my character and after clearing it with Dave, thoroughly enjoyed playing – even if I nearly died (my character that is)!

During RPG, Keith rang on Skype for a chat. We managed it for a while before we had some connection issues.

Louise started to wash her bike but threatening clouds turned to rain and she had to give up on it just before finishing and starting to polish. I’d just finished looking at jobs, slow today again today, and was taking a coffee out to Louise when the rain started, so I couldn’t do mine either…..

We both felt like a lazy afternoon in, so we did!

I was staying up late again anyway to chat with Kez, but we got to see a little more evening tv than we normally do!

After a late night, slept in til about 10am today. Louise had already told me that she had to go out this morning, although she was very tight-lipped about why.

After checking out jobs, Mitch came on Skype and we had a lovely chat. Wrote some mails to Kez, then Adie came online with MSN and we sorted out Skype with him so we could have a chat. As he’d been down South when we moved over and didn’t have access to a cam, I took him on a tour.

When Louise came back home I found out why it was that she was out until 2pm! She’d made an appointment in Porirua with a tattoo parlour, both to touch up some colouring and make some additions to her leg tattoo.


Busy morning this morning!

Talked to Niki on Skype, talked to Kez and Mitch on the phone and Adie on MSN….phew, lots to talk and think about!

We also got a ring from Wellington Motorcycles to say that Louise’s trip knob was in – sweet as! So off we went to Wellington on the bikes.

Picked up the trip knob and fitted it, had a coffee then we went over to Lyall Bay. What a lovely place, good for surfing too as there were some lovely swells coming off the Cook Strait. Came across the Taputeranga Marine Reserve just before the road turned into 4×4 beach country, looks interesting and worth a re-visit.

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On the way back around the coast we stopped to see the aircraft taking off across the bay from the airport and found a strange piece of sculpture – for here that is. A quick look at a nearby plaque cleared the strangeness up though!

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We started heading home, but the traffic was quite busy on the SH1, so I pulled off and we stopped in Porirua for a KFC.

We thought we’d go back over Battle Hill, and I thought I’d try and get ahead at the top to take some action pics of Louise as she pulled into the car park – I obviously didn’t pull far enough ahead to have the time though.

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I suggested we try turning left at the bottom of Battle Hill, and pulling into the garage forecourt right next to the junction. The junction off Battle Hill by Paekakariki is pretty dicey at the best of times – by turning into the garage it reduces the traffic flow from four directions at once to just one! I tried again to catch Louise at the bottom – a bit better this time, but still not good LOL!

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I think I’ll stick to riding, I don’t think action photography is a particular forte!


Total mileage 132 km (about 83 miles)