After leaving Hotwater Beach on the Coromandel, today's goal is to ride to the very top of the north island with Russell being a recommended stop for the night.
I found a super cheap place to stay, and set off to have a proper meal. We had fish, chips and beer two nights in a row and now I have a craving for something green!
I sat outside alone and watched the sunset with a New Zealand red wine. (Okay I chose purple instead.. ;-)
And boy, was it ever a sunset!!!
I've checked battery connections, the spark plug is fairly new, not sure what the problem is, however it's Friday. I won't get to Auckland in time for them to do anything, so I'll just travel carefully and slowly and pray that I get it started for the rest of the weekend!
I rode to the famous 90 Mile Beach. This is one thing I missed on my last trip to New Zealand. You are allowed to ride out there, but I'm not so keen taking a bike that is suffering and spinning it through the sand with my gear alone. So I don't go too far.
I'm still wishing I could ride on the beach a bit more so I pull into Ahipara at the southern end of the beach. The sand looked a bit more solid than my last try, but no. I rode out into the sand and stopped for a photo. And wouldn't you know the bike fell over anyway!! I was prepared, I had the sidestand on the plastic square, made sure the angle was good to the left, it wasn't sinking on that side. But then it fell over the opposite way to the right! Bugger! I still don't know how I managed that!
I ripped my bag off and picked up the bike quickly by myself, no problem.
Then I noticed two ladies walking toward me. They came over to give me a hand if I needed which was nice, but I didn't need help. One of the ladies rides a motorcycle as well and she really wanted me to come back to her house for a cup of tea. Sure! Before we left she took a photo for me.. thanks!
Nice cup of tea and Jude shared lots of photos to her friend and me of her motorcycle ride around the south island with her partner a few weeks ago.
I continued riding the west coast.. such pretty slow curves, easy riding.
Eventually arriving another ferry. Noooobody is here but me.. Is the ferry not running today?
Finally a van with 2 retired American couples who are exploring the country for a month pulled up and we had a nice chat to pass the time.
Not much farther and I stopped into Opononi. I just liked the name and decided to stay.. I've got two days until I can see the mechanics in Auckland and I really like it here!
Across the bay are these super size sand dunes! I would normally say the biggest sand dunes I've ever seen, but that award still belongs to Iquique Chile for me. However these are impressive.
Luckily the summer season is over and I found a super place to stay that didn't have a soul there except the owner.. Nice little cheap room and amazing views. The owner was super nice, gave me some great ideas on how to explore those big sand dunes tomorrow. Looks like I'm stayin'!
This is Andrew! His family has lived on this land for generations. The government no longer wants to spend the funds on this area, he tells me. So they are handing the land back to the original owners (Andrew and his family) next year for them to manage as they see fit.
I can tell by meeting Andrew and hearing his passion for this land and the history on it that the change over will be a positive one.
He explains, Hokianga is short for Hokianga-Nui-A-Kupe, which means 'the place of Kupe's great return'. Many iwi (Maori tribes) trace their ancestry back to the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe who, with his crew, voyaged deep into the southern ocean to find New Zealand. They believe that Kupe made his first landfall on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour. He later named New Zealand "Aotearoa" – Land of the Long White Cloud.
Andrew first wants to show me the totem pole, called Niniwa. So we start off by taking a ride to nearly the top. Parked the quad for a long steep sandy hike to the very top, where sits this large totem pole. In my ignorance, I think of totem poles to be mainly of native north Americans. Andrew kept me busy with many stories and legends of his people. This totem pole is of a female elder who looks over the Hokianga Harbour for protection. Not from the Europeans, but from other Maori tribes.
There was a lot of rivalry and fighting amongst local Maori tribes and even though we hear more about the challenges of the European invasion, the Maori's have quite a history of warring with each other!
I spent a good couple of hours riding around with Andrew.. Those sand dunes are so much fun on a four wheeler! He didn't have anyone else booked for the day and I was happy for him to tell me stories as long as he wanted to. It was a really special day.
What a great place in the world to be.... Andrew was the best. His knowledge of the land and history never stops. I highly recommend you look him up if you ride through Hokianga.
He dropped me back to where the water taxi point is and where the weekenders are having fun surfing the sand dunes.
Once I'm back to Opononi I think I could use a sandwich! I walked up to the local, I hear the country music going, and I'm wondering... why are they playing that country music here in New Zealand? For line dancing, of course! It seems so American! Who'da thought!
I got my sandwich, watched a little boot scootin' boogie and wandered down the road a couple kilometers to my little room by the sea.
A super peaceful end to a beautiful day.
Monday morning, the nice lovely north island thoughts go away and I need to get serious again. Let's hope the bike starts! I went outside without my bag, I didn't want to expect too much. It took about 4 tries to get it going, and I just left it running in idle while I finished packing my bag.
On the bike I ride through the famous Kaori Forest.. really famous! I'm not willing to stop the bike though! Here's the main attractions I will be passing by taken from this New Zealand website http://www.newzealand.com/int/waipoua-forest/
"This forest is the home of Tane Mahuta, the country's largest kauri tree, which is approximately 2,000 years old and still growing. Nearly 18 metres to the first branch and 4.4 metres in diameter, Tane Mahuta is rightly called 'The Lord of the Forest'. Another significant tree in Waipoua Forest is Te Matua Ngahere – 'Father of the Forest' – which is estimated to be between 2,500 and 3,000 years old."
Whew! Yep you guys are gooooood looking! But I must get to Auckland. Which I did. My only troubles were when I stopped for fuel, because I didn't stop for anything else! I dropped the bike at the KTM shop and let the guys work on it for another 1 1/2 days. In the meantime I went back to stay at lovely Dick and Diana's house and they're not even there! Mark is though! The Hubbards have gone off to Tasmania to ride a motorcycle on a special tour, so they've left the keys to both Mark and I. Mark is still here working on his shipping so I get to see him again! Cheers!
Gee whiz, we live the rough life in New Zealand, hey? You can mark us both down as S P O I L E D !!!
The KTM mechanics were so nice to fix the bike and didn't even have me come out to the shop. They delivered poor Tony to my door! I don't know what they did, but it starts like it's brand new again. Seriously, there is no guessing or worrying even now to this day several weeks later. It starts on a tick! Thanks to James and Graham at Cyclespot KTM!!
Now, Mark makes it clear that he is here first so his bike gets the parking space and I can find room if I can.. okay I think I can manage that, ha!
No worries Mate.. I'm leaving in the morning! Lets hope that is the final moto worry solved and we can enjoy the rest of this beautiful country!