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New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand; 19th February 2008.

   We took Ruta 5 north from Talca towards Chile’s capital, Santiago with the mountain range on our right, and to our left, somewhere in the distance, the sea. We had now left the smaller roads and we making good progress on a big Autopista, a multi-lane highway, but it wasn’t a totally uneventful ride! As we slowed down while passing some road works I spied a dog running towards us from our left. I just had time to shout, “Hold tight” as we hit it and the bike’s handlebars shook violently. I looked in the mirrors only to see it lying seemingly lifeless on the road behind us; I felt terrible. I'd never hit a dog before. Come to think of it, I’d never hit anything bigger than a rabbit and that made me sad. Even after the hundreds of dogs we've been chased by and even been bitten by a couple, I still felt bad. Trying hard to put this upset behind us we pushed on to Santiago. We had renewed vigour and a distinct spring in our step as we had yet another continent to explore, New Zealand was waiting for us and we both felt it was time to move on.

In Santiago we found the Hotel Paris close to the city centre. We were given a beautiful big bedroom with en-suite for 18000 pesos and breakfast for another 1000 pesos, about £20 a night. We felt we had landed on our feet once again. The bike was securely parked across the road in an undercover car park for another 2000pesos so all was well.

The following day we rode to the International Airport a few miles away which was clearly signed off the excellent road network from the city centre. With information gleaned from the ‘Horizons Unlimited’ website we went to the ‘Lan Cargo’ offices at the International Cargo area. With our limited Spanish we understood that the bike came under the term “Dangerous Cargo” category and there wouldn't be a flight available for a few days but at least we knew where to go now.

At the reception they took our hotel details and would phone us with more information. True to their word that afternoon I got a phone call from ‘Lan Cargo’ and an English-speaking staff member asked for our Email address and promised to send more details to us as soon as they become available.

Prior to our arrival in Santiago, and in anticipation of shipping difficulties, I had already been in touch with Roberto Thomson, the Horizons Unlimited community liaison man and arranged a meeting the next day in our hotel. He had also arranged to be interviewed here by local TV - a busy man indeed, check out his web site,

Roberto lives and breathes motorcycling and spends a lot of his time running guided tours around his beautiful country and renting out bikes to travellers. He spoke perfect English and I quickly realised that we couldn't have found a better person to guide us through the shipping procedure.

Next day we were invited to and asado, (BBQ) at Roberto’s in the pleasant company of other motorcyclists! We had a great time meeting some of Roberto’s friends at his lovely home set at the base of a big hill on the outskirts of Santiago. What an idyllic spot, we had it all, a small plunge pool, BBQ pit, plenty of shade from the trees, good company, good food and the beer and wine flowed freely.

On Monday I'd arranged to meet Roberto at the airport to find out more about the shipping. I had heard some horror stories about how clean the New Zealand Customs required bikes to be when imported. Some people had even gone to the trouble of stripping them down and painting the frames! So with that in mind, I spent the day armed with some cleaning materials and giving the bike its best wash and polish of the trip so far. I had initially thought that we would be arranging for the bike to go in the next couple of weeks and that I’d have the opportunity to give it another good clean, I had no idea that the bike would be going so soon!

I met Roberto outside the ‘Lan Cargo, Teisa Warehouse’ in the international cargo area of the airport and then things just went crazy! We were given a phone to make a reservation as Roberto asks me, “The bike is going tonight, is that all right”? After a sharp intake of breath I reply, “Great”, Or something like that!!!

Armed with a flight reference number for the bike Roberto then asks me, “When do you want to fly”? “As soon as possible”, I reply. With that he’s on the phone to his travel agent friend and arranges that we fly tonight as well!!

I phone Les to give her the good news and ask her to go and buy some holdalls for our remaining stuff.

We arrive at Gate 22 of the Teisa warehouse, (Teisa are the cargo handlers and Lan have an office inside their building). A pallet is constructed for the bike and an official watches me disconnect the battery, tape the wires and siphon the fuel from the tank and he eventually sign the ‘Dangerous Goods’ certificate. As I remove the screen and mirrors I'm told that it’s OK to leave some of our belongings in the panniers and top box so I leave the camping equipment, sleeping bags, bed mat, stove and pot and pans.

The panniers were next to come off and were strapped down under and beside the bike on the pallet.

The secret is to make the package as small as possible as the price is worked out not only on weight but on volume. The price can be reduced further if you take the wheels out and strap them to the side of the bike with the sump resting on the pallet therefore reducing the height and therefore the volume even further. The bike was then strapped to the pallet and covered in cling film and taken by a fork lift into the warehouse. There, now that went well I thought, but things were to get more confusing and complicated as the person who issues the ‘Dangerous Goods’ certificate isn’t in yet so we have to ride over to the domestic ‘Lan Cargo’ terminal. The guy there doesn’t appear to know what to do as we get a fist full of papers which need signing by the ‘Dangerous Goods’ man who witnessed me disconnect the battery and drain the fuel, but no one can find him now!

We are bounced around several offices getting stamps on various forms. All the while I'm asking questions as Roberto deals with the various people, but as time goes on I stop as Roberto’s is clearly getting frustrated as it would appear people here at ‘Lan’ didn't know what to do! As an example, we have a form requiring a stamp from the Airport Security. We find their office after a walk in the intense heat of the day; the Security challenges the need for this stamp but gives it anyway. We take the form back to the original office only to be told that it has to be stamped on the back not the front. We return to the security office after having another form printed out and get it stamped in the correct place; the security man is oblivious to this requirement!

Eventually we have our ‘Dangerous Goods’ form endorsed by the witness who was hiding in the toilet! We now have our airway bill and the calculations for the load and the only thing left to do was visit the Aduans, (customs) office on the way out of the terminal and hand in my temporary import certificate. We get there only to find that they don’t want it! We return to the Lan offices and hand our dossier of paperwork to them, including the customs papers which they accept. Presuming that they’ll sort them all out, we then leave.

I get a lift back to the hotel with Roberto on the back of his Yamaha Tenerie. Just as we arrive at the front of the hotel his phone goes off, they want us back at the airport as there’s a problem with the customs paperwork. There’s now a heated discussion on the phone, which I’m sure contained a few Spanish swear words. Roberto tells me I don’t now need to go as he can sort it out and will phone me later.

We had just spent over five hours at the airport with Roberto doing all the talking and even he found it difficult to understand what was going on, on my own I wouldn't have stood a chance!

So a big thank you must go to Roberto Thomson of

So how much did all this cost?

For putting the bike on a pallet and covering it in cling film,                    £59.50

Air freighting bike from Santiago, Chile, to Auckland, New Zealand       £1100    

Our flight with Lan/Quantas.                                                                         £2200    

Grand total;                                                                                                 £3359.50

As it happened the bike was on the same flight as us, a pleasant 12 hrs across the Southern Pacific Ocean.

We arrived safe and well in New Zealand.

Immigration was fine, they took our tent to check for any bugs and seeds which we got back in minutes and then had a six-month visa stamped in our passports. We got picked up and taken to a nearby hotel to get some sleep.

I felt like I’d been time-travelling as after crossing the International Date Line we had lost a day. We left Santiago on the evening of the 11th and landed in the morning of the 13th, strange after only 12 hours in the air, what happened to the 12th??

The next day I returned to the airport and went to the ‘Air New Zealand’ cargo offices which incorporated the, MAF, (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) office. Now these were the people that everyone fears. Was the bike clean enough? Will I have an enormous cleaning bill? Or perhaps they’ll just send it back to Chile because they found a dead beetle in the air box?

But no, “I've checked your bike and it’s fine, sign here” was my first contact with the NZ authorities, which, once again, makes you wonder if those other traveller’s stories are true or not!

Armed with my release papers, and a spring in my step, I walk the twenty minutes to the customs offices. Here I get a different reception and the spring in my step turns into a nervous shuffle!

It seems I should have made an appointment. I should have a carnet. I should employ a customs agent and we need the value of the bike when you bought it. Have you got the receipt? And you will probably incur some storage fees if you don’t move the bike soon, was the response from the customs officer. Sadly, and for only the second time, the first being at the Argentinian, Chile border, I unprofessionally, lost my cool and a bit of ranting and raving ensued resulting with me leaving the premises fuming but with an appointment for an interview on Monday, in four days time when I presumed they’d have the extradition papers ready!

Meanwhile we moved to the ‘Back Packers’ hostel which is owned by Peter and his lovely Danish wife and close to downtown Auckland;  It turned out to be one of the best hostels we’ve stayed in. We were allocated a big comfortable double room with shared bathroom and all for only $56NZ, about £22. We had a big kitchen with a walk-in fridge for our beer, a big dinning room, TV lounge and library, and if we ever get the bike back - a garage to put it in. But first we had some homework to do for the customs people. First I found the Auckland BMW dealer, ‘Experience Motorcycles’ and their helpful salesman, Gary, who, after I’d explained our predicament and described the condition of my bike, wrote a quote on some headed paper for no charge; 

Auckland is quite a hilly city of many contrasts. City centre glass-tower blocks and wood-clad dwellings stand next to stainless steel abstract dwellings, all sharing the same neighbourhoods quite tastefully I feel. For the many posh houses there seemed as many posh expensive cars, it looks like a lot of people are doing very well here.

On the way back from the bike shop on a hot and sunny day we availed of some shade in a little park where, for the first time since we were in the USA, we saw some drunks and a youth glue sniffing. We hadn't seen anything like this in the supposedly “Third world” countries, but now back in the modern world it was just like home - no change there then! In the local newspaper there was even a report about youth crime and plans to put police officers into the high schools in an effort to stamp it out. Auckland is a very cosmopolitan city with many oriental Asians, so many in fact that I’ve even seen sign-boards in English with Chinese/Japanese translations underneath. Just like home, there are also many Asian-Indians running restaurants and corner shops.

Monday duly arrived and I caught the early bus back to the airport and customs office. I was invited into a side room only to be met by three customs officers, “strength in numbers” I thought, but no, they were only a couple of new recruits learning the ropes. The interview went well really. With the figures I gave them they were able to calculate how much I was going to be charged in tax for importing my bike. They even managed to reduce how much I paid by making a deduction for time spent in tropical countries! This was just to cover themselves should I sell the bike and fly off, they will then have the tax due in advance; the good part is that I get it back when I leave, or should do!

This cost me $1044.25 NZ, about £421, which I’ll get back when I export the bike, so I’m told.

The MAF check cost me $45, about £18, then another $35, about £14 admin fees to release the bike from the bonded warehouse.

Having been separated for seven days I felt like an expectant father as I waited outside the warehouse for my bike, the joy of getting my bike back was awesome! I un-wrapped it, pumped up the tyres, fuelled it up, connected the battery, replaced the screen and mirrors and rode out of the compound a happy man.

Next stop was the VTNZ, the vehicle testing and registration offices a block away. Here I had the bike registered as temporarily in the country and had to pay $100nz, about £40. The bike was then tested just like an MOT test back home which cost another $35nz, about £14.

The Poole’s are now back on the road, albeit on the left-hand side of the road for the first time since July 06 so it could be fun, watch this space!!

G’ Day Mates,   until next time.   Nick.

From Les

Auckland, New Zealand; 19th February 2008

   This time last week I really didn't think that we would be here in New Zealand so soon!!

It's with mixed emotions that we hastily said farewell to the Americas. We have had 19 fantastic months travelling from North to South of the continent, everyday experiencing something new or making new acquaintances and friends, but....... a new continent is waiting to be discovered. We both agree that we now have that great feeling of satisfaction and achievement that we were expecting to feel when we arrived at Ushuaia having completed the, “End to End”. Even with our limited Spanish we survived and lived to tell the tale ... but next time ... we are going to learn the language properly!!

We had 4 days in Santiago but hardly managed to scratch the surface when it comes to sight seeing. On our first day we visited the airport to find out what was needed of us and how soon we could fly the bike to New Zealand. We were told nothing was available until the end of the week but it left us in limbo as until we got a date we couldn't book flights for ourselves. One of the golden rules is, “Make sure your bike has left the country before you do”, just in case!!

We took a stroll to the Mercado Central and Plaza de Armes enjoying the mixture of tall modern glass structures and huge solid building, which strangely seem to compliment each other. When we returned to the wonderfully old, almost haunted, Paris Hotel, we were met by Roberto, a local fellow-biker Nick had been in contact with through ‘Horizons Unlimited’.

Roberto is one of those people that you like immediately and we were happy when he invited us to a gathering at his home on the outskirts of Santiago for an asado, (BBQ) the following afternoon. He didn't disappoint and we spent a very pleasant time in his steeply sloping garden on the side of his hill, chatting and eating. The meal was finished off with nectarines freshly plucked from nearby trees. Roberto offered to meet Nick at the airport on Monday morning to try and speed up the process of shipping the bike, so ... Sunday was a busy cleaning day. Nick cleaned the bike and I cleaned boots, scrubbed tent pegs and groundsheet in the effort to pass the strict hygiene rule of New Zealand - Just in case!!!

Suddenly things were happening and we had the bike and ourselves booked on flights for Monday evening with only 7 hours notice!! But as Nick will tell you it wasn't without its stresses and frustrations and even the amiable Roberto was getting “hot under the collar” and complaining about the “incompetent officialdom”. It would have been much worse without our translator but it didn’t give us time to see as much of the city as we had hoped to. It was a mad rush to get kit bags from the market and pack our riding gear and clothes as only limited gear went with the bike as we were warned about the lack of security. Very soon we were saying our farewells to the friendly staff at Hotel Paris and taking a taxi ride to the airport, it was all quite a whirlwind!

We have experienced that confusing situation when we hit the very turbulent International Date Line; we somehow missed the 12th of Feb and went straight into the 13th. We arrived at Auckland at 3:50am and hung about the airport for a few hours as we hadn't had time to book anywhere to stay.

Straight away we noticed how much more expensive New Zealand is and we will struggle to keep to our budget unless we camp most of the time. We now have 2.48 NZ dollars to the £-pound and managed to change our Chilean money for US dollars before we flew out. Once in NZ we could then change the US into NZ dollars and buy ourselves a decent cup of coffee!

The helpful Information office staff at the airport made several calls on our behalf and eventually found us a room at a B&B for a couple of nights only 10mins from the airport. It's way too expensive but convenient for us to rescue the “Old Girl” from her cling-film shroud and boxed-in pallet in the morning … we hope!

As Nick will tell you, It’s not as straight forward as all that! Cutting a very long story short … the bike was released from customs yesterday, 18th Feb. We have also moved to a Backpackers hostel in Parnell and closer to the city where Peter, the owner, saved us a space in his garage to house the bike. We had the weekend in that strange place called “Limbo” again so took the opportunity to wander around the harbour area and drool over the “Gin Palaces”, race yachts and even watched a traditional Dragon boat race raising cash and awareness for Breast cancer.

Auckland is a very cosmopolitan city with a huge Asian population. We were very disappointed to see the drunks and glue sniffers in the parks; we haven’t seen that since leaving the States. We are told that Auckland isn't really New Zealand! So we are looking forward to exploring the North Island first and catch up with some old friends along the way. The weather is decidedly British!!! Sunny spells and rain, hot one minute and chilly the next. I wish we hadn't left our trusty umbrella back in Santiago!!!!

We are looking forward to getting on the road again and discovering what its all about!!

Until next time ... Lesley

Orewa, New Zealand; 3rd March 2008

   On a cloudy, but otherwise warm and sunny day, we departed Auckland and headed north on Highway 1 and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which afforded us great views of the city behind us. The plan was to head north up the east coast from Auckland to the ‘Top End’, then back down the west coast returning to Auckland for a new front tyre as the old one was now looking decidedly second-hand. We found ourselves riding along a good road which passed through rolling green fields bordered by lush trees; it all looked so familiar, we could so easily have been in Devon or Cornwall. Initial impressions as to the road conditions in NZ were good and it was looking promising as we rode along the main arterial trunk road which roughly ran up the middle of the country.

A short time later we stopped for coffee at a roadside cafe. It wasn’t long before a lady came over while admiring the bike and the many nations’ flags which we’d passed through. She told us that she lived in the north of the island and was off to the south to see her daughter but we were to go and stay with her on her return in a few days time, “It would be nice to have a chat”, she said. We’d been told the true New Zealand was away from the city and the Kiwi hospitality was second to none, perhaps this was the beginning of it?

We turned off the H1 just after Wellsford and headed east on a very twisty, bendy, three dimensional road to Mangawhai and ended up in the small seaside village of Waipu Cove. Although it was only midday we thought we’d stop early and camp beside the beach in a “Top Ten” campsite. These are a national chain of good camp grounds with full amenities and, if you don’t want to camp, they have cabins for rent. For a tent with two people it costs, $25nz, about £10.

It was great being back on the bike again and on the left-hand side of the road, the first time in over a year and a half! But it all came back, no worries mate!

The following morning we had just got the tent packed away when the rain came and stayed with us for most of the day. We followed the coast road out of Waipu Cove and returned to the H1 and north to Whangarei. Through the incessant rain we headed east towards the coast again on a fantastic sports-bike road. I enjoyed the ride but there was no room for error in the wet, it certainly focus’s the attention somewhat! The loop took us through Kiripaka, Tutukaka, Metapouri and back to the H1 at Hikurangi. It was another great road but the occasional stretch of slick tarmac on a bend or a pile of granite chippings made things even more interesting in the wet!

Through the wooded areas I observed a strange mixture of pine trees and large tree-ferns, and near the estuaries in the swamps we noticed mangroves which gave the countryside a very sub-tropical appearance. We also noticed some different road kill, like possum, which makes a very pleasant change from the skunk, and its stink, which we had found in abundance in South America!

We were now back on the H1 for a short distance before turning off east for another loop to the coast again and Helena Bay, Whangaruru. Then it was on to Russell and the Bay Of Islands, a famously spectacular beauty spot, so we’re told; we gazed in wonder through the pouring rain!

After dripping on a few carpets in a failed effort at finding accommodation we headed to Orongo Bay where we found a holiday park campsite. For $58nz, about £23 we had a small, concrete-floored cell where we had to use our sleeping bags. Everything is more expensive here as the Bay of Islands is a main tourist attraction.

The day’s ride in the heavy rain left us soaked to the skin. Rain had eventually found its way into my jacket through the neck and up my sleeves.  Rain had got into my Carhartt boots leaving my feet looking like they belonged to a dead person, we were very wet!! We now had to dry things out somehow in preparation for the next day.

That night we were hit by a cyclone. I was up several times during the night to check on the bike after hearing loud bangs and crashes. In the morning we found a tree had blown down and the guttering torn of our roof but thankfully the bike was unscathed.

It was still raining as we headed off, the bike starting with the first press of the button, even after a night out in the rain! After crossing the bay on a small car ferry we rode the seventeen miles to Paihia and found the ‘Mousetrap’ back-packers hostel, Here they offered us the owner’s summer house in a forest on the hill overlooking the town for $60, £24. We shared this lovely spot with another 2 British couples, mind you; it would have been even more idyllic if it hadn’t been raining. Nothing would dry!! Seemingly we were in a rain forest which dripped and hissed as the rain continued to fall. The rain eventually stopped and the sun came out to dry everywhere except us in the forest where it continued to drip and hiss!

We took advantage of the sunshine and walked around town to observe the full extent of the damage caused by the cyclone. A big expensive catamaran had broken free from its moorings and had run up onto the rocks. The main road had partially collapsed into the sea causing a diversion through town.

We spent a couple of days here in Paihia in the warm sunshine but it was very touristy and not our ‘cup of tea’, (an English phrase, for my Spanish-speaking friends, meaning – “not to my liking”). I didn’t see many private residences here, most dwellings seems to provide accommodation for rent. There are hotels and motels on every street and shops catering for tourists – it was time to move on. At least it had stopped raining and the roads were now dry.

We carried on north along another loop out to the coast on another fantastic road through beautiful countryside. Jagged hills covered in grass and trees formed a mini mountain range as the road ducked and dived between them all the way to Matauri Bay. This bay harbours the wreck of the Greenpeace ship,’ The Rainbow Warrior”. The French blew it up in Auckland harbour in 1985, successfully stopping its disruption of their nuclear testing in the South Pacific!

From here we wound our way north through Mangonui, Cooper Beach and turned north onto the H1-F at Awanui. In the town of Waipapakauri we camped for the night at another ‘Top Ten’ campsite,  close to ‘Ninety Mile Beach’, a very long, possibly even ninety-mile long beach! We walked about two miles of it and can confirm that it does indeed go on for as far as the eye could see. It was here that we had our first sighting of the Tasman Sea - another first. The other interesting fact about this beach is that at low tide you can drive along it, but after our last sand experience, I decided against it!

The maximum speed limit for all roads here in NZ is 100 kph - 62mph. In urban areas it is 50 kph - 31 mph. To be fair, it’s about right. There are a lot of twisty roads on which you would find it difficult maintaining 100kph, and when you do find the occasional straight it was nice just to settle down at 60mph and take a breather before the fun started again!

We left Waipapakauri on the 90 mile beach and headed north to the tip of the country. This road was fantastic, twisty, three dimensional, with bends on hill crests, so dangerous, but oh what fun even on a 500 kilo barge!

We arrived at Cape Reinga and joined the tourist-coach parties on our walk to the lighthouse at, what appeared to be, the end of the world. As we gazed out to sea we were seeing the Tasman Sea crashing into the Southern Pacific Ocean - another magical moment. We could easily understand why the Maoris deem this place so special - where the spirits of their dead departed the earth.

We then retraced our route south, passed our campsite at Waipapakauri and rejoined H1 to Kaitaia. It was now south along the west coast to Ahipara where, on the southern end of the ninety-mile beach, we found, ‘Coastal Cabins’ where we were virtually on the beach, all for $60nz.

The following morning we headed south along the west coast on more fantastic biking roads through jagged hills with grass and trees. Cattle and sheep grazed on the lush grass as we rode through small settlements of neat wooden houses, many with a very nice car out the front. In the town of Kohukohu we caught a short ferry across Hokianga Harbour to Rawene where we stopped for some much-needed coffee and cake. On board the ferry we met some more New Zealanders who were interested in our adventure and keen to have us drop in on them if we were ever in their neighbourhood.

We followed the coast road south on another beautiful day to the Waipoua Forest in search of New Zealand’s biggest tree, a Kauri tree. I parked the bike by the roadside and, after a short walk, we found it. They call it the ’Tane Manuta’, (Lord of the Forest). It truly is a giant among trees at over 50 mts high and 13.8 mts in girth and estimated to be over 2000yrs old, it was a dominating feature of the forest, If only it could talk!!!

From here we carried on south dropping down through the forest onto some flat lands where the roads widened. In the town of Dargaville we found a nice campsite on the edge of town,  We’d been told that there was a `Field Day` here tomorrow so we decided to stay a couple of nights and check it out.

On a very hot day we walked around, what we would call back home in England, an Agricultural show. In our county we have the Norfolk Show and this was a smaller version of that. We watched some excellent sheep dog trials, then some lumberjacks demonstrating their skills in quite a comical way. There was also some tractor drag racing but the missing ingredient appeared to be - animals! There were about a dozen in all, a few sheep and cattle. Still, we had a great day, and several ice creams later, we walked back to our tent sun kissed!

The next day we wound our way south back towards Auckland. Our next objective was to find a new front tyre; the old one was decidedly ragged. The best place was going to be back in Auckland.

We phoned Peter at the ‘Back-Packers International’ where we had stayed before and reserved a room for the night then went in search of a tyre. We were sent to ‘Cycletreads’, a specialist motorcycle tyre fitter on the north shore of Auckland, they were brilliant. I rode the bike into the workshop where a fitter removed the wheel, took off the old tyre and put on a nice new Metzler Tourance, and all for $240 nz, about £90. This one replaced the Bridgestone Trailwing which had covered 10581mls until it ‘blocked’ badly, hopefully we’ll get more miles out of this one?

Whilst in this shop I bought a new pair of waterproof leggings and now have a pair which are longer in the leg and hopefully should stay on my boots when I’m seated and not ride half-way up my leg making my gaiters redundant!!!

After slating Auckland in one of my previous reports I have to say it was nice being back at the ‘Backpackers International’ hostel where we had one of the best night’s sleep in ages, so good in fact that we decided to stay another night! I had contacted the New Zealand ‘International Police Association’, (IPA) liaison officer, Bruce Revell to tell him we were in his country. Before we knew what was happening we were taken out to lunch where we met his Latvian wife, Larisa. Bruce drove us around the city in the rain showing us a few of the sights and ended in Auckland’s massive shopping mall where we had lunch. Armed with details of a few more sights to see during our stay, we returned to the hostel for a rest.

Several months ago when in Panama, we met Bruce Campbell from New Zealander. He was on tour on a bike and just happened to be gazing out to sea on the same beach as us. We got chatting and he told us when we get to New Zealand to look him up. I find it a bit difficult sometimes imposing as a stranger on someone we only briefly made contact with months ago, but after the friendly reception on the phone we headed out to Orewa on the east coast just north of Auckland. We met Bruce, his wife Clare and their family and enjoyed a great breakfast, drank tea and chatted. Bruce has a Triumph motorcycle and rides out with the local Triumph Owners Club. Coincidently, when we got to New Zealand I had received an Email from Rob, another Triumph owner who’d been given our website details by a member of his club, now we know the source!

After a very pleasant few hours with Bruce and Clare we headed down to the beach at Orewa and found the ‘Top Ten’ campsite where we treated ourselves to a cabin, a bottle of wine and roast chicken!

Tomorrow we head south of Auckland and explore the rest of the North Island visiting a few more friends along the way.

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Orewa, North Island, New Zealand; 3rd March 2008

   The first thing we have to get used to is riding on the Left side of the road!! After 18-months on the “right side” of the road the first roundabout freaked me out a bit, it just didn't seem right.

We safely cleared the city and headed north over a large bridge just in time to catch a glimpse of the QE11 in the harbour on her final visit to Auckland. We were soon riding through the countryside with green fields all around us – “this is more like it”, I thought! The roads are smooth with hardly any straights at all so Nick was in his element. Some of the roads are like rollercoaster rides, dipping and diving with swoops and turns in every direction which led us to small bays and beaches – it is a real bikers’ heaven!

On our first day we only rode 89miles to Waipu Cove on the east coast where we pitched our tent in one of the “Top10” campsites, then enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach for a couple of hours. The sun is very intense here so “factor 30” is highly recommended on all exposed skin, (including Nick’s feet!)

We never do pay much attention to the weather forecasts so found ourselves in the middle of a cyclone with a huge ridge of high pressure to the east colliding with a huge low to the west. The storm started off innocently enough as a spot of drizzle as we packed the tent in the morning but became progressively worse as the day wore on.

We followed the scenic route with more twisty roads which were really too damp to enjoy. The plant life has now become decidedly tropical with palm trees, bamboo, tree-ferns, banana plants and giant busy lizzies. We ended the day by seeking shelter for the night in a “cabin”, (a concrete-floored room with a bed.) The storm hung over us for much of the night and at times we thought the roof would be ripped off. Thankfully we survived the night unscathed only to find a fallen tree just behind us and part of the guttering broken and chairs strewn around the car park. The flag stickers on my pannier were the main casualties; we are now missing several countries, (Ed says we will have to go back and do them again).

The wind and rain continued but we decided to catch a small vehicle ferry across from Russell to Paihia, the main base for boat trips in the Bay of Islands. We called in at a back-packers hostel where we were offered a room in a house in the rainforest. It sounded great, being only a 10-min walk to the Bay and it had plenty of balcony space to hang our soaked gear. Unfortunately things don't tend to dry out too well in the rainforest, they just drip! Suddenly the sun came out and the wind stopped and beachcombers were out in force collecting all sorts of treasures washed upon the shore. We sat for a couple of hours while a shipwrecked yacht was lifted by crane from some rocks and placed gently onto a trailer, we could see a huge gapping hole on its belly, looked like a very expensive mistake!!

We have now been to the most northerly accessible point at Cape Reinga on a beautiful day. The roads were once again Nick’s favourites and there was even a stretch of gravel for a few miles. From the lighthouse we could see where the Tasman and South Pacific Oceans meet, it made us feel as if we were at the end of the world once again.

Most of the Northland area is either forest or pasture for grazing so the cows and sheep all look the picture of health as they graze knee-deep in the lush hilly pastures. There is also evidence of tree felling on an industrial scale as we saw several logging trucks, but on the whole is seems as though it is well managed and they are hot on conservation and re-planting. We stopped off in the Waipoua Forest where we visited the 2000-year old Kauri tree, standing as it does at over 50 metres high. A fellow visitor told me how his father, years ago, used to climb the Kauri trees to collect the gum, often camping overnight at the top as the trees were so large and could take all day to climb.

The 24th Northland Field Day was being held at Dargaville so we pitched our tent for a couple of nights and spent a very hot day wandering around a smaller version of our own Norfolk (Agricultural) Show. It was interesting to watch the locals checking out all the machinery in their big hats and short shorts! I especially enjoyed watching the lumberjacks’ wielding axes and showing off their muscles....not quite in Monty Python style though!!!

We popped back to Auckland and caught up with Pete at the ‘backpackers’ and got a new front tyre as we have now completed 58,000miles. We also spent some time with Larisa and Bruce, a member of the IPA in Auckland. Yesterday we also had a very pleasant visit with another Bruce and his wife Claire in Orewa, we were just in time for a late breakfast! We met this Bruce by chance on a beach in Panama last April when he gave us his card an invited us to contact him in we did and we felt very welcome. Today we will be heading south to find out what the rest of the country has to offer.

Until next time, Lesley.

Collingwood, Golden Bay, New Zealand; 18th March 2008.

   We departed Orewa and headed back south to Auckland where we met up again with Bruce, the (IPA), International Police Rep in New Zealand. Over coffee we gleaned more info on the many fascinating places to visit in this beautiful country.

We continued south towards Hamilton through nice rolling countryside which looked very dry due to lack of rain. We then turned off at Whatawhata and west to Raglan. We found ourselves on a really exciting bendy road which I tried to ride as per the book as I was being followed by a police car. Fortunately he wasn't interested in me and turned off leaving me to play for the last few miles into Raglan, a popular surfer destination famed for its long waves, which weren't working on our arrival. We camped at the town’s campsite close to the estuary beach, ate fish & chips for tea and watched a beautiful sunset before hitting the sleeping bag!

Leaving the surfer town of Raglan we followed the coast road on top of the cliffs overlooking the sea. The road started as smooth sealed blacktop and after a few miles continued as a single track dirt road, but on this dry day the surface was hard-packed and relatively easy going. It is nice finding sections like this; I guess the dirt-road frightens many tourists so we get it all to ourselves!

We headed through Pirongia Forest Park, Ruapuke then east to Temata on another good sealed road which made for fantastic, three-dimensional riding as I scrubbed the dirt off the edge of the tyres! A much bigger dirt/gravel road then led us towards Kawhia where we stopped for a picnic lunch on the quiet estuary quayside.

New Zealand is the country for meat pies; most supermarkets and bakeries will have a good selection. Mornings start with a bacon & egg pie with steak & kidney for the rest of the day’s meals if you wish, but Les won’t let me, something about having a balanced diet she says!!

From Kawhia we headed west and back to the main highway as the more interesting alternative route was closed due to a missing bridge! We headed on south to Otorohanga then a short distance west to Waitomo and a nice camp ground. Waitomo is famous for its caves and glow worms, but as usual, all these attractions come at a price so we gave it a miss!

Next day we had a cool damp start as we headed west along a brilliant single track, three dimensional road which seemed to be built just for motorcycling as we passed through Mahoe Forest where fern and pine trees mix. Catching occasional glimpses of the Tasman Sea we headed south to Moeatoa where the sealed road finished and we found our wheels on good gravel. We now had the road to ourselves as we passed sheep, cattle and the odd farm building. After approximately 50kms of gravel we got back on the main Highway 3 south and some straight sections of road for the first time that day.

When we arrived into New Plymouth we looked up an old cycling friend I hadn't seen for years. Kevin Norman and his wife Anne made us very welcome as we reminisced over cycling days of old. We were fed, watered, given a bed for the night and a little surprise. The following morning we gave an interview to Taranaki Daily News; a little something Kevin had set up! (See our Comments page).

From New Plymouth we rode part way up Taranaki Mountain, an extinct volcano at 2518mtrs then headed back to the coast road called the ‘Surf Highway’ this coastline is famous amongst the surfing fraternity but not today, with no swell it was quiet. The road was quite boring after what we’d been treated too earlier. It consisted mainly of gently rolling hills through farmland and out of sight of the sea.

After a night under canvas at Hawera we carried on southeast down Highway 3. I stopped for petrol and went in to pay when the girl at the counter asks, “Are you the couple in the paper?” Sure enough, there we were on the top of the front page, a nice picture with the article on page two. It was difficult finding room for the five hundred copies of the paper on the back of the bike -- only joking!!

Les has been suffering lately after falling over on the beach and banging her shoulder, I was nowhere near, honest! So after a relatively uninteresting ride south we found a ‘Top Ten’ campsite at Wanganui and hired a cabin with a comfortable bed to ease her pain.

Talking of damaged machinery, the creaking from the bike’s paralever rear suspension bearings has got worse; when I checked the play at the back wheel I was shocked to discover several mm of movement. I found a friendly mechanic in town and borrowed his 30mm socket and took up the slack. But it felt like there was no more adjustment available so I really needed to get these bearings replaced soon, the next BMW dealer was, fortunately, not far away in Wellington. We had a welcome day off the bike to give Les’s shoulder time to recover and wandered around Wanganui, a pretty town centre, neat and tidy with lots of flowers. The river running through town was a hive of activity with all water sports catered for. We spent some time watching rowing, and judging by the turn out it seemed very popular here.

Next day we carried on south as we had another appointment. Gill, a good friend of ours was visiting her daughter Karen, who, with her husband Grant, owned a rose nursery at Otaka. Gill only had a short time before she would be returning to the UK so we had to visit ASAP.

On the way to Otaki we had stopped at Waitarere Beach and visited the rusting hull of the iron-hulled square rigger, `Hydrabad`, built in Scotland in 1865. In 1878 she ran aground here in a storm; unable to be re floated she was left to slowly rust away. There’s still a small section of the hull showing even after all these years.

As we arrived into Otaki we pulled into Trinity Farm Rose Nursery, where we were shown the beautiful gardens which were once visited by Peter Beales, a famous rose grower of Attleborough, Norfolk, England. So, if you need something special for the garden, go online and order it!

While Les and Gill caught up on girlie talk I gave the bike its 72,000 mile service. It’s always satisfying working on my bike. I renewed its oils and filters, fitted new plugs and adjusted the valves, all in all, it was a job well done! But occasionally it doesn't go well. I struggled to get the alternator belt cover off as it was so tight behind the front shock absorber. I then figured out how to slacken the belt before removing it. After half an hour of fiddling, I found I had the wrong size belt!! Anyway, I now know how to do it for next time!

After another fantastic bacon & egg breakfast cooked by Gill, we headed the short distance on a cool blustery day into Wellington where we found the ‘Maple’ back-packer hostel.  From Karen’s home we had phoned around Wellington looking for accommodation and after several attempts were lucky to find this place with a double room. Most places were booked up as the England v NZ test match was about to start. Unfortunately the ‘Maple’ hostel was dirty and run down, but nothing that a good Hoover and scrubbing brush wouldn't cure; unfortunately no one seemed to bother. We had no other choice, we had to stay, and at least the bike was out back and undercover!

That afternoon we walked the short distance into town and found a motorbike dealer, ‘Motorrad’ , we now had Triumph, Kawasaki, BMW and even some new MV Augusta to drool over. Brendan, the owner met us and chatted knowledgeably about motorcycle world travelling, not surprisingly he’d ridden the length of Africa and was later that evening giving a presentation on that trip and we were invited.

We walked around a small area of Wellington on a cool windy afternoon and found it uninspiring, but we were told that we hadn't been to the nice part of town. We ended up back at Motorad for Brendan’s presentation where we were introduced to the crowd and made to feel like celebrities. We met several interesting people, drank Motorrad’s beer and ate some of their food; a really pleasant evening was had by all. After listening to Brendan talk so enthusiastically about Africa I thought that perhaps maybe Pooleglobaltrek ought to fit a bit of Africa in also, food for thought!

We spent two days in Wellington as I got the bike’s paralever bearings replaced. They had lasted 69,000 miles, (the bike’s total mileage) when the creaking started and by the time we’d covered 73,482 miles I had already adjusted them twice. Motorad also did a straight swap with the wrong size alternator belt and I had it fitted. With the injectors also balanced we now had a bike running like new again!

With the England cricket team in town we just had to go and watch the first day of the test match against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, New Zealand's oldest cricket ground. With England's barmy army on good form having some harmless fun, we spent a pleasant few hours in the sun watching our boys have a good first day.

After more extensive exploration we found that Wellington is in fact a really nice city. It nestles in a bay surrounded by hills, expensive yachts bob in the marina, good museums, restaurants and shops abound but the wind is cool this time of the year! We were at the southern end of the North Island and several people had told us that we ought to visit the South Island before it gets too cold. Autumn is starting in the southern hemisphere so we decided to catch the ferry to Picton, South Island; we’ll return to the North Island and finish exploring later.

We booked our tickets online with and saved $65. Total price for bike and the 2 of us was $157nz, about £63. The three hour cruise has to be one of the most scenic ferries I’ve ever been on as it crossed the Cook Straight between the islands and entering the Queen Charlotte Sound. The big ferry carefully manoeuvred its way along narrow channels between steep hills leaving little room for error.

On board we met John, a 70-year old New Zealander riding his Honda CBR400R having recently sold his CBR1000 for something a bit more manageable. Several people have called us inspirational but for me it was John. He has ridden bikes all his life, been a gold prospector and generally earning a crust doing anything and still living life to the full. We parted company armed with his address and instructions to stop by where we had a bed for the night, I can’t wait.

South Island was a stark contrast to the North Island with more dramatic countryside. Big hills now surrounded us, some rocky and some covered in lush green fields and forests. In Picton we found a ‘Top Ten’ campsite where we camped the night and tried to concoct a plan of action for our tour of the South Island. While still living the adventure day to day and not planning too far ahead you never know what will happen next and I feel having too many firm plans spoils the spontaneity.

Whilst in Wellington we’d had problems withdrawing money from the ATMs with our debit card so I phoned the help-line in the UK only to be told that it had been stopped by the fraud department as they had seen it being used abroad and we hadn't told them, oops. I had informed the other credit card people of our plans but omitted to let the debit card people know. Fortunately after a couple of calls we were back online. This had been one of my fears during this adventure, relying on credit cards to access our money, what would happen if they didn't work? Still, it showed that the people keeping a check on our cards were on the ball, I’ve just got to let them ALL know where we are!!

We had another call from Bruce, IPA, NZ, who’d been doing some research on shipping to Australia for us; what a great bloke, thanks mate.

From Picton we followed the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock as it hugged the cliff-side, affording us great views of the islands. At Havelock we joined the bigger and busy Highway 6 which was still a great road for the bike and which eventually led us into Nelson were we stopped for lunch and a bit of shopping. As luck would have it, there was a big Sale at an ‘Outdoor’ shop so we treated ourselves to some merino wool shirts. These wool-made clothes are supposed to be better than the modern man-made products and, most importantly, you can wear them for ages and they don’t smell, we will see!! I also replaced my shoes which I had bought in Ecuador last year; thankfully, I had no problem getting my size this time!

We later stopped just south of Nelson at Richmond at another ‘Top Ten’ campsite before heading up to the Golden Bay area. Our friend, Chris Ball of CJ Ball Motorcycles had asked us to visit Peter, an old school friend of his in Golden Bay, so with this mission in hand we rode northwest to Motueka and over the Takaka Hill. In reality, it was a mountain with lots of hairpin bends as we climbed ever higher, giving us brilliant views of the surrounding countryside.

We had phoned Peter and his wife Nicola in advance letting them know we were in the area and were straight away offered a bed for the night. We found their beautiful house sitting on several acres where they live with their two daughters, numerous animals, chickens and a vegetable garden, they are virtually self-sufficient and living the ‘good life’.  Although being total strangers, we were made very welcome. Over dinner we chatted about our travelling adventures, Peter and Nicola having already travelled the planet extensively themselves so once again we were learning even more from some seasoned travellers.

That night whilst lying in bed we felt our first earth quake. The house shook and rattled for a few seconds, and then it was over, “Did the earth move for you darling?” Asked Les, “Yep, and it lasted about the same time”, I replied, it’s an age thing you know!!!!!

Prior to our departure the following morning we took a short walk over their land which led us to a secluded beach and their little piece of paradise; they have chosen a really nice spot to settle I thought.

Promising to keep in touch, we rode to Collingwood, a small seaside town with a backdrop of big hills where we’ve rented a cabin by the beach for a few days. Sitting in our cabin writing this update I’m looking out to the estuary fifty yards away and watching a seal lazily swim upstream, we are indeed in a beautiful spot so I think its time to rest and reflect on this amazing adventure for a few days.

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Collingwood, South Island, New Zealand, 18th March 2008

   Cricket!!! The 2nd round of the test match between England and NZ was taking place in Wellington, not far from the grotty hostel we were staying at. So, to follow on with our experiencing as many sports as we can, we bought 2 of the cheapest tickets, (grass only) and went to watch and learn!!

The grass pitch was lovely green and lush unlike the countryside a few miles away which had become quite golden from drought. The grounds men had done a wonderful job of carving pretty patterns in the grass which was spoilt by the lanky “sportsmen” dressed in off-whites who seemed to stand about a lot. It seems as though watching a few overs is an excellent excuse to swill copious amounts of expensive beer and burn yourself to a crisp in the intense sun. I am sure the 20-20 games are far more exciting but after the first few minutes it was akin to watching paint dry in a humid rainforest. I think the saying “been there, done that, never again” is appropriate at this time. We did watch for about 3½hrs in total but for me it was more spectator than game-watching. The conversations became far more slurred but the “Barmy Army”, (England supporters) entertained with a good old singsong, led by a very good trumpet player.

Since our last update we have gently wandered south along the west coast visiting folks along the way but again it hasn't been without its mishaps! Over the course of 24hrs I have managed to

1. Bang my head on a toilet roll dispenser, causing a bump, (don't ask).

2. Bang my knee while negotiating a solid wood table and bench but managing not to spill the beer, causing bruised knee

3. Falling heavily on left side on slippery rocks while trying to take the ultimate photo of the 3 Sisters Rocks. I'm now sporting a Technicolor bruise on thigh and only just regaining use of left arm!

We arrived at Kevin and Anne’s in New Plymouth and I was promptly stripped of my muddy clothes for washing and given some TLC, food, good company and a super comfy bed, thank you both!! Kevin had set up an interview with the local paper for the next morning so over coffee we recalled some of our adventures which at times almost seem like a dream to us.

The next day we stopped for fuel as we headed out of Hawera, from where we could see Mt Taranaki, the volcano similar to Mt Fuji in Japan and star of “The Last of the Samauri” film. The girl at the filling station immediately asked Nick if we were the travellers on the front page of the paper....they couldn't have had much other news!

We stayed a couple of nights in a cabin at Wanganui by the river. I was quite happy as I was feeling decidedly second-hand for a few days but we did manage to have a stroll around the town and watched some oars-women racing on the river. We had a change of plan again, “remaining flexible at all times” and headed for Otaki, about an hour north of Wellington to visit my friend Gill who was staying with her daughter Karen. En route we stopped of at Waitarere, one of the many desolate, windswept beaches with lots of washed up tree debris. This beach also had the remains of a ship called Hydrobad which was built in Scotland and wrecked 13 yrs later in 1878. We had a windblown hike along the black sand beach to find it.

Karen, and husband Grant have just taken on a large property with Heritage Roses and acres of land, It was beautiful and peaceful there and not far from the empty beaches. Nick spent the day changing the bike oil and tinkering while I had a lovely day “doing Lunch and Coffee” and catching up with a lot of the gossip from home.

As we were in Wellington we have decided to catch a ferry over to the South Island and explore there before the weather becomes much cooler. We are now almost in autumn and the southern Mountain ranges boast excellent skiing and I don't particularly want to be there then. The ferry only took 3 hours on very still waters and we had our own guide in John, a fellow biker. He pointed out the now unused whaling stations and modern salmon farms as we passed between Islands and land masses to the very pretty port of Picton. The kind staff at the campsite gave us a quite space to make calls to unblock our credit cards which had been causing us a bit of concern!!!

So far the days have been hot and sunny but there is a chill in the air, leaving heavy dew and condensation on the tent in the mornings. The sun is really intense so I have begun to wear my very fetching ”Flowerpot man” hat as we follow the instructions...SLIP, SLAP SLOP!! Slip on a shirt, slap on suntan cream and Slop on a hat!! No one warns you about the Sand flies!!! These nasty tiny flies seem to be everywhere and give a nasty nip. Poor Nick has already got several itchy bites which keep him busy scratching at night. Apparently there are clouds of them further south, particularly on the west coast near Milford sound so we have that to look forward to as well as some outstanding scenery.

The coastline west of Picton is very scenic with its tree-lined hills, small inlets and coves but the roads are busy with the endless stream of campervans of all shapes and sizes. Fortunately there are plenty of well equipped campsites with kitchens and lounges to accommodate them and campers. Most sites also have a few small cabins with bunk beds, a pillow and bottom sheet and free use of camp kitchens and other facilities.

Our friend Chris has asked us to look up an old School friend of his so we rode over the steep and very twisty Takaka Hill and found the beautiful homestead of Peter and Nick's in Golden Bay. We were treated to great hospitality, roast lamb and yellow courgettes washed down with a glass or two, a comfy bed and stories of their travels through Africa. The next morning we had the guided tour of the gardens and took the dog for a walk along the creek to the beach. Lovely people that we hope to see again before we leave.

Golden Bay is a lovely area!!! We liked it so much that we have decided to stay for a week in a cabin overlooking the estuary. Easter is upon us and we are told that it gets a bit busy on the roads and this is a perfect, quiet and picturesque place to stay. This morning I sat by the estuary which is swarming with birdlife and spotted a seal swimming by fishing, apparently they don't often swim in this channel so I was very lucky. From our window we can watch the tide rising and falling, fish splashing and the red-beaked oyster catchers wading in search of a tasty morsel. The tide seems to go out forever leaving small pools and channels with lots of interesting treasures. Do I sound as though I like it here?????

We are due for a break and this is the ideal place to stay to recharge our batteries and get used to this strange new language where all the vowels seem to be mixed up. Pen becomes pin, mince becomes munce, sit becomes set and a tasty special becomes “fush and chups”!!!!

I will think of you all as you munch on your chocolate eggs and I walk for miles along the sandy beaches!! Happy Easter Holidays.

Till next time, Lesley

Queenstown, New Zealand; 4th April 2008.

   We stayed at Collingwood for a week and enjoyed the down-time chilling by the beach, but I didn’t enjoy being bitten by the ferocious sand-flies. The tiny flies actually draw blood; I had several on my legs and shins which, in bed, made my legs feel like they were on fire and itched like crazy. I've tried several repellents to no avail as they still get through. I have been told that the Maoris called them `The saviour of the land ` and now I know why! We’ve also been told that they get worse the further south you go - deep joy indeed! On a more positive note though, we have discovered the `Mussel Inn` just down the road from us and enjoyed some of the excellent beers from the micro brewery, and their brilliant meat pies!

On the beach we dug for our own cockles which I boiled and then fried them up with a little garlic to make garlic-tasting rubber, I'm sure it’s an acquired taste?

Being a bank holiday weekend we had a good turnover of people on our campsite. The majority chose to keep themselves to themselves but we did meet several interesting and chatty people. Amongst them was David, a local chap who had travelled the world over several years so we had plenty to talk about. As a parting gesture David gave us some fresh mussels which I again boiled then fried up with a little garlic to make little delicious garlic flavoured rubber balls. Les took one mouthful and was last seen running for the bins, I must be doing something wrong!

On our last day in Collingwood we went to our new friends’ home, Nicola was throwing a surprise birthday lunch for Peter. We met a good selection of their friends, from farmers to artists, a true cross section of interesting Kiwi people. With good food, plenty of drink and pleasant company it was a great way to finish our time here in the northern part of South Island.

I had noticed recently that there was so much oil coming out around the bike’s oil-filler cap so I replaced the fittings in the cylinder head into which the oil-filler cap goes, I then re-used the locking filler cap again which seems to have done the trick. A lot of GSs I’ve seen have this same problem so perhaps it is just the seal that needs to be replaced more regularly? We will see. I’ve also pumped the Metzler Tourance tyres up a bit more, they were feeling a bit soggy and a hint of shoulder wear was showing, suggesting under-inflation so they are now up 2 lbs in the front to 38psi and 4 in the back making it 46psi.

We departed Collingwood and retraced our route along the HW 60 to Takaka which took us over the hill on the great twisty road and down the other side where we turned off for the coastal town of Marahau, the gateway to the `Abel Tasman` National Park. We just had time to quickly throw the tent up and jump on the water taxi which was going to take us into the park, leave us and we were going to walk back to camp; sounds exciting, doesn't it? Well, after three days of hacking through the dense jungle with my machete along an undiscovered track ... No, I lie. We had a pleasant three-hour walk along a manicured footpath through the interesting forest and bush with beautiful views of secluded bays on our way back to the camp – we were totally spent!!

Leaving Marahau the next day we retraced our route to the HW60 on more great roads and stopped for breakfast at Motueka. It was here we met BJ, a Dutch guy living in Australia, and guess what? He had oil gushing out of his GS1150 filler cap!! BJ was another nice guy and made us an offer of a bed when we get to Perth.

Following another brilliant road, (I’m sure you must be getting fed up with that phrase so from now on I’ll only mention the boring roads!) Anyhow, we passed through Ngatimoti, Stanley Brook to Kohatu where we joined HW 6 - an awesome road to the town of Murchison where we met fellow bike fan Ross in the café, he told us to come and stay when we get to Christchurch. We then went and had coffee with John Jennings whom we met on the ferry coming over from the North Island. I soon discovered that I had more in common with the eternally youthful 70-yr old John than I had initially thought. He was a New Zealand Archery champion some years ago and is still a keen biker. Any further similarity stopped with the gold prospecting though, but I’m willing to have a go! We left John as he gave us a gift of some of his handmade jewellery studs made out of dinosaur fossil, Jurassic Park here we come!!

We followed HW6 sweeping through a gorge between sheer rock faces and followed the river to Westport on the Tasman Sea coast. At Carters Beach we found the `Top Ten` campsite and put the tent up once again. A very welcome portion of fish and chips in the little town of Westport finished the day off nicely.

The tight bends over here have signs suggesting a maximum speed to take them at; this is in kilometres per hour mind you. I’ve since found that I can take them at a MPH hour equivalent which I feel makes for much more fun!

We had one of the best sections the following day as we headed north along HW67 to Summeriea. The road heads inland climbing into the Radiant Range then, after several miles of technical riding through the forests, descends back to the coast and the town of Karamera where the road ends at the beginning of one of New Zealand's long-distance tracks, the `Heaphy` After a nice cup of coffee we turned around and did it again, oh what fun!!

We retraced to Westport then carried on south on HW6 towards Greymouth. Along the coast we discovered superb bends; it was boot to boot stuff, even on our ½-ton barge! We stopped at the Punakaiki Motor Camp and rented a cabin for a change, not bad at $40 - about £16 per night for the two of us. We arrived early enough to walk up the road to the Pancake Rocks & Blow Holes, an unusual rock formation on the beach. The rocks looked like vertically stacked pancakes eroded into these shapes by the sea.

We had been in touch with another old friend of mine from the archery world back home who had emigrated here several years ago. Colin Janes was now involved in car racing here. The plan was to meet him in Greymouth on Saturday where he had a race. On the way I got stuck behind a flat-back lorry with some boxes on the back. I was puzzled as to why I was being constantly hit by big bugs until I suddenly realised that the boxes on the back of the lorry were in fact bee hives and we were inadvertently killing his stock - Oops!

A 30-mile ride got us to Greymouth where we found the ‘Neptune International Backpackers Hostel’ which was going to be our home for a couple of nights; The Neptune was an excellent hostel now based in an old hotel. It was clean, comfortable and with plenty of room for us to laze about, but then it started to rain. Rather than sit about in our room we went for a visit around the Monteiths Brewery and hopefully savour the local beer. During the 1½hour guided tour I watched other people, who were no doubt thinking the same as me, “We know how to make it, when do we get to try some”? We did and it was nice, so nice in fact that on the way back to the hostel we found another two pubs serving the Monteiths brew!!

Sadly, the following day’s weather didn't improve and Colin didn't come the several hours drive only to find the race had been called off. So what did we do? We drank some more Monteiths, shopped and watched one of the `Lord of the Rings` movies.

From Greymouth we headed North East on HW7 over the mountains and through thick forests of trees which looked remarkably like silver birch. We tiptoed on the damp roads to Reefton then south east to Springs Junction and over `Lewis Pass` at 863mts high to a ski resort of Hanmer Springs where we found a `Top Ten` camp ground and put the tent up. That evening poor Les was sick, we put it down to some dodgy soup and not the Monteiths! It was a cold night, but by the morning she was okay and we were back on the road again and passing through some nice rolling countryside with cattle and sheep farming in abundance. Eventually we rode into Rangiora and found Colin and Lynn’s place. Over `fush and chups`, (that's how the locals pronounce them), and a few drinks, we reminisced over the old archery days with the Botolphs bowmen of Diss.

Promising to return on our way back north, we left Colin and Lynn the following day and headed towards the west coast again on HW72 through the familiar sounding towns of Oxford and Waddington where we joined the HW73, the ‘Great Mountain Highway’ towards the distant mountains in the east. It got colder the closer we got so after coffee we donned our fleeces for the first time in a while and climbed into the Southern Alps mountain range. The mountains around us were tall and jagged, with scree-covered summits, some with small pockets of snow in the shaded corners. The road was of good quality and, as you’d expect for a mountain range, brilliant on the bike. We crossed over Arthur’s Pass at 924mtrs and had Mt Rollestone at 2271mtrs and Mt Franklin at 2145mtrs either side of us as we descended towards the west coast. We now had to contend with the odd shower so we donned our waterproof leggings and treated the wet roads with a degree more caution! I had expected to have the roads to ourselves from what we’d been told but was surprised as to just how busy it was. There were hundreds of motor-homes on the move every day. Must not complain though, it will be us one day when we grow up, or get as old as our web master who has one!!! (“Ha Ha”, says Ed, “we can always pull over for a nice wee cup of tea and a wee biscuit”).

Back on the HW6 we headed south on the coast road and found ourselves back in the flatlands to Hokitika, just south of Greymouth and where we found the ‘Mountain Jade Backpackers Hostel’ situated over a jade factory and shop.

Next day was a cold but dry start as we continued south along HW6 with the mountains on our left and occasional glimpses of the sea on our right. We passed through flat pasture lands on straight roads then found ourselves climbing and descending through thick forests with many intriguing and fun-filled bends. It was a cold but dry ride south until we turned off to the small seaside village of Okarito. Now, if you want somewhere secluded then this would be the place. It had a handful of wooden dwellings on a windblown shingle beach which was perfect for a bit of peace and quiet. Mind you, if you want to stay here then bring supplies as there are no shops or cafes.

Riding a few kilometres further south we pulled in to see the Franz Josef Glacier. We turned off HW6 and, after a short dirt road and a twenty minute walk, we found a good viewing spot. The image of snow-capped mountains in the distance and ice only several hundred meters away makes you shiver. The destructive power in this glacier was truly amazing, but compared to glaciers we’d seen in Alaska, Canada and Argentina, this was a grubby baby by comparison!

Just down the road from here was the Fox Glacier, but first we called into the town by the same name and found the `Fox Holiday Camp` where we treated ourselves to a cabin for the night. Once booked in we then headed off to the nearby Fox Glacier. It was another amazing piece of Mother Nature engaged in her destructive task. The backdrop of big snow-covered mountains of the Southern Alps made for a beautiful sight.

It has been quite cold for the last couple of days so we have several layers on to keep warm and, as we continue south, we’re told it will be getting colder! We continued to ride south on HW6 and passed a few friendly-named places like Copland River, Jacob’s River and Bruce Bay on our way to the wild and woolly village of Haast. Hot chocolate was the order of the day to warm us up, and then the ride inland and up over the Haast Pass at 564mtrs and across the Southern Alps where we saw waterfalls dropping hundreds of meters through gorges and passed Mt Brewster at 2423mtrs.

We were later treated to an awesome sight as HW 6 ran alongside Lake Wanaka`s crystal clear water surrounded by beautiful mountains, it was real chocolate-box picture stuff. The road crossed over to Lake Hawea and more beautiful views before coming into the town of Wanaka, another busy touristy town where we found a `Top Ten` camp ground and, once again, after a cold day, we rented a cabin for the night.

For once we got up to a dry bike the next morning, it was mild and there wasn’t any dew to mop up but we’d been warned of an approaching storm. So with gathering grey clouds we headed towards Queenstown via Cardrona on a scenic back road. The road wound its way between the rounded green hills populated solely with cattle and sheep until it climbed up getting cold again in the cutting wind. At the summit between the Crown and Criffel Ranges we had spectacular views looking down on Queenstown in the far distance. We descended the twisty road, spoiled somewhat by construction work, to Arrow Junction where we rejoined HW6 for the short distance into Queenstown where we found the `Deco Backpackers Hostel` and rented a double room with shared facilities for $60nz, about £24.

Queenstown is another busy tourist town with all winter and summer sports being catered for, any adrenaline junky would be more than happy here. For the more leisurely there is a cruise on the lake or on the nearby Milford Sound in Fiord Land, now that sounds nice, I’ll let you know how we get on.

Petrol has become more expensive the further south we’ve come; it is now $1.80nz, about 75p per ltr. I have also discovered another disconcerting hint of play at the back wheel. I don’t know if it is the paralever bearings settling in or the main wheel bearing on the way out again, I’ll keep an eye on it! Also, another milestone was also reached for our amazing trek so far, 60,000 miles and all is well!

From Les

Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand, 4th April 2008.

   We had a lovely week at Collingwood in the Golden Bay area. We both were in need of a break from travelling and just had to put roots down for a few days. “Long-term” travelling can be very tiring and, at worst, exhausting. While the visual and mental stimuli are all around us it can sometimes be too much and we feel as though we are on overload, or system burn out. I can hear some cynics declare, “Sure you are just on a glorified holiday”, but I can assure you that at times it feels like starting a new job at work … Everyday!!!

We do not make any definite plans to visit specific places, though we do have a rough route and a few ideas of places and people we would like to visit along the way and somehow our days just seem to evolve. We try to be on the road by 9am and, depending on where we are heading for, will try to find somewhere to camp or stay by 3-4pm, this then gives us time for a walk and get the lay of the land. Occasionally someone would recommend a place to visit or a road to ride and things just seem to fall into place. A different bed or camp every night can sometimes lead to a bit of sleep deprivation, nocturnal noises from crashing waves on the beach or crashing doors in hostels has made us both very light sleepers and we always keep on ear open for the bike.

Since we have been in NZ we have almost become invisible which is in stark contrast to Mexico, Central and South America where people generally want to be part of our adventure and were curious when a big shiny motorcycle with a couple of middle-aged foreigners appeared on their doorstep. It took us time to get used to the constant attention there but here in NZ it is different. People here tend to keep themselves to themselves with the odd exception. They appear to be more private, the “home-grown” Kiwis’ however have been extremely friendly and accommodating, even offering us beds for the night and contacts to visit. During our stay here we have met more tourists than locals. After the constant attention we were receiving in the Americas this sudden change left us feeling somewhat insignificant and it has taken a while to be used to. I now understand why such a strong bond grows between fellow overland travellers. When we meet other ‘biker travellers’ on the road or in hostels the two-way exchange of information is instant and unforgettable. Perhaps it is the instant recognition that we are individuals with different ideas, backgrounds and agendas? We have all experienced some of the highs and lows of travelling and empathise with each other.

Our week at Collingwood was wonderfully relaxing and long overdue. We walked for miles along the beach when the tide was out, sometimes digging for cockles for our dinner and other times playing Frisbee on the sandy mud flats. We rode up to Fairwell Spit to see the black swans and enormous sand dunes and met Peter, Nick and the girls for dinner at their local. Peter was also about to celebrate another birthday so we joined him and many of their friends for a birthday lunch in their wonderful garden.

Collinwood has a population of about 250, a garage, shop, post office/gift shop, 2 cafes, a bar and restaurant and a very famous chocolate shop full of home-made goodies. The folks are all friendly and over the Easter weekend the restaurant put on 2 “Sheep on the Spit” dinners, a disco, and a live band that played all the golden oldies. It seemed as though all the village turned out, some dressed up for the occasion and others arrived in wellies and shorts - the local uniform; a fun time was had by all.

It was time to get back on the road again so, after farewells to our friendly hosts, we retraced our route to Takaka and then climbed back over the “Hill” and into the hop fields and apple orchards all ripe for picking. We arrived in Marakau on the edge of the Able Tasman National Park in time for lunch and quickly browsing through the various water-taxi guides. We had just over an hour to put up the tent before catching the 45-min boat ride along the coast to Anchorage Bay where we were dropped off onto wonderful golden sands for the start of our 3-hour walk back to base. We began to climb into the trees immediately and soon could look back onto the beautiful bays and the clear blue/green sea. New Zealanders’ call hiking “Tramping” so we tramped along the very easy pathways enjoying the views, plants, birds and streams along the way. Our training on the beach really helped but by the end of the tramp my legs were feeling very heavy and I was glad to get into my sleeping bag for a good nights sleep. Some keen trampers think nothing of doing 4 and 5 day hikes through the forests but over 3 hours was enough for me...this time!

The following day, (with no ill effects) we rode some wonderfully twisty, bendy biker roads, which are Nick’s favourite. We passed between the Tasman Mountains and the Richmond Ranges on our way to Murchison, a small but pretty riverside town and a hot spot for fishing, kayaking and tramping, also home of John whom we met on the Ferry. John was at home and made us coffee as he told us more about the area, his archery and prospecting. He makes jewellery from bone, jade and other stones and on leaving kindly gave me a pair of marine reptile fossil earring studs which I will treasure. We would love to have heard more stories but we continued our ride following the Buller River and gorge to Westport, strangely a port on the west coast.

We have been mixing our accommodation between camping, cabins and hostels with prices varying from £12 to £24. The cabins vary from small sheds with a bed, no sheets or linen and where we use our own sleeping bags, to large carpeted rooms with fridges, kettles, sheets, duvets and towels for up to 5 people. There are usually fully equipped camp kitchens with laundries and lounges with TV and coin-operated internet along with hot showers and bathrooms nearby. We usually opt for a double or twin room in the hostels for a bit more privacy. Ear plugs are a bonus during the night, but on the whole, hostels have been clean and comfortable and can become quite frantic when everyone wants to use the kitchen at the same time.

The further South we travel the scenery has become more interesting and the roads narrower and full of twists and turns. Nick is in 7th heaven and it's surprising how well the old barge handles as we swoop past the cavalcades of camper vans and hire cars. We often stop to take photos and then have to overtake the same campers again; it's almost become like a game.

The vegetation has become quite tropical with huge tree ferns and creepers lining the route. The early morning dew highlights the intricately woven spiders’ webs that cling like Christmas decorations to the roadside bushes. The mountains have become higher with some peaks harbouring pockets of snow and there is a distinct autumnal feel to the air. I think our decision to come to the South Island sooner than later was the right one.

Heading towards the Frans Joseph and Fox Glaciers there was now a real chill in the air. We now need our fleeces, thicker gloves and, unfortunately, our over-trousers as rain is never far away. The Glaciers were not as impressive as I had hoped; they seem spoilt by the constant buzz of helicopters and light aircraft overhead. It is another commercial hotspot and accommodation and food prices jump accordingly.

Mt Aspiring National Park took us through wonderful mountains and lake areas and at last I am beginning to appreciate New Zealand on its own merits rather than trying to compare it with other places we have visited up to now. I can now understand why folks from UK come here in droves to live. There is a familiarity in culture, language and foods etc, but also places that, at times, remind us of Wales, Derbyshire, the Lake District and Scotland. However, these Islands are totally different in many ways and have their own very special beauty and I am looking forward to exploring more with a far more open mind.     Until next time....Lesley


Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand; Sun 13th April 2008.

   The longer we stayed in Queenstown the more we liked it. Maybe it’s because it is near the end of the summer season and the winter season hasn't kicked in yet. There aren’t the crowds of people we had half expected; having said that, there's still something for everyone all year around, inc the adrenaline junkies. You can take a jet boat or, for a slower pace, take the 100-year old steam ship, the TSS Earnslaw,  There is also an Americas Cup yacht to see, paracending or just jump in a kayak. If you crave a bit of altitude why not take the ‘Skyline’ gondola to the top of the mountain with its great views over the town and the valley then jump off it with an elastic band attached to your feet!!!! You can even take a tandem paraglide back down to the bar! There's a helicopter and a stunt biplane taking people for a loop the loop, it seems important to scream whatever you do here! All these activities are expensive and not for ‘Round the World’ travellers on a budget but we did take the ride in the gondola!

In Queenstown we were surrounded by mountains, which, in the winter, would be snow-covered and packed with the winter sports fans. Even though the sun shone on them now it was still quite cold, we could so easily have be on a film set of ‘Lord of the Rings’. And oh yes, they’ve got the dreaded sand flies here and they have found me, another three days of swollen itches!!

After our weekend off it was time to move on. We followed HW 6 south along the banks of Lake Wakatipu. We stopped for coffee and a warm up at Kingston as another 2-up BMW GS rode by, we didn’t know it then but we would later catch up with them. From Kingston we rode between the Garvie and Eyre Mountains and saw the ‘Kingston Flyer’, a beautiful old steam engine and carriages billowing steam and soot against a crisp and clean mountain back-drop, a romantic reminder of the halcyon days of steam, check it out at -

We eventually turned off onto HW 97 and found ourselves in gently rolling farmland with cattle and sheep for company once again. We’ve also been surprised by the large herds of deer being farmed here, obviously big business.

At Mossburn we turned North West on HW 94 to Te Anau where we stopped for lunch and met up with the couple on the other BMW. Urs, from Switzerland and his Chilean girlfriend Javiera are doing a tour of NZ on a hired bike. They were a nice couple and we hoped to meet them again later.

Riding around this area of South Island seemed somehow familiar to us, we had seen it before at the movies, and we could so easily have been on a ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie set as it was all filmed here in NZ.

The ride north along HW 94 to Milford Sound was quite spectacular. We had a twisting road through forests and mountains on a perfect day, although it was cold it was still beautiful. The further we travelled the rockier and more intimidating the mountains became, their valleys being carved out over thousands of years by glaciers.

After passing through the Homer Tunnel, close to Mount Christina at 2502mtrs, and descending a switchback towards Milford Sound, we had sheer rock cliffs on either side.

Milford Sound is a small settlement catering for tourists with a couple of lodges. We found the ‘Milford Sound Backpackers Lodge’ where we camped in the woods in a nicely organised pitch and used the facilities of the hostel.

We later walked the short distance to the cruise terminal and booked ourselves on a boat for the following morning, at $65 each.

Back at the camp site we caught up with Urs and Javiera who’d had an eventful ride to Milford Sound. They had crashed on one of the many tight corners and ripped one of the panniers off and caused some other damage. They will have to pay $2500 for repairs and it will certainly make a bigger dent in their holiday budget! We joined them and tried to lift their spirits. Time, beer and wine are great healers and by evening it didn't seem too bad!!

The following morning we were up earlier than normal. Les was loading the bike when she quietly called me over as, only a few feet away, stood an elusive Kiwi. It was mottled brown and stood about one about a foot tall as it walked around the bike in the gloom. By the time we’d got the camera from the tent it was in the undergrowth and hidden. After describing it to some of the locals it seems we were very lucky to see one, many locals have never set eyes on this endangered creature.

We caught our boat the next morning. There were only 10 of us onboard - it could have carried hundreds! We had a spectacular cruise down the Milford Sound Fiord to the Tasman Sea and back again in just less than two hours. It was spectacular as we carved our way between the huge rock faces, many several hundred meters high and carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. It was a perfect day with blue sky and sunshine although cold in the shade. We were once again lucky as this place can get 6mtrs of rain a year and is considered to be the wettest place in New Zealand.

After the cruise we retraced our route along the spectacular HW 94 South to Te Anau and stayed at the ‘Great Lakes Holiday Park’ where we treated ourselves to a cabin and had to turn the heating up on another cold evening. As we warmed we reminisced on another great day, our first sight of a Kiwi, the Fiords and another great road seemingly built by a motorcyclist through beautiful and unspoilt scenery, it was perfect.

Next day we had our thermals on as we headed south along HW 95 and passed through more scenery reminiscent of the movie, ‘Lord of the Rings’. We then rode the ‘Tourist’, ‘Southern scenic route’, to Invercargill, the most southerly city on South Island and where we stayed at the ‘Southern Comfort’ backpackers’ hostel. Just a short walk away we visited the town’s museum where we found a small exhibition about Burt Munro and his famous motorcycle, the World’s fastest Indian. We had watched the film of the same name starring Sir Anthony Hopkins over a year ago and had been given a mission by Eddie, our webmaster to find the bike!

Burt Munro, 1899-1978 was a New Zealander who bought a 1920s 600cc Indian Scout which, over a period of several years, he rebuilt to 1000cc and in 1967 broke the world speed record for its class at an average speed of 183.586 mph, (the fastest one-way speed being over 190mph!) on Bonneville Salt Flats, USA. Apparently the record still stands to this day.

In the exhibition there is a streamlined bike but this one is only a replica made for the film and powered by a Ducati engine. To see the original you have to take a walk downtown to the hardware shop! E Hayes and Son’s hardware store in the high street not only has Burt’s original record holding bike but also his 1936 MSS 500 Velocette which he rebuilt to 650cc and took to 138mph - a lesser known achievement. The incredible thing about these bikes is that Burt made everything for them himself through trial and error and with basic tools. The museum and store are well worth a visit and the film is also well worth a look.

It truly is a small world you know. Several months ago we were at a hostel in Panama, Central America when Les brought to my attention a Columbian magazine which had a story about a New Zealand family who were riding through the Americas on two motorcycles with their children on pillion. Months later we were about to cross Arthur's Pass, South Island, NZ when we met Shane, a man who knows the same couple living near Invercargill. We gave them a ring and ended up spending the night with them. Over dinner we talked with Garth, Sandra and their two children about their travelling adventures and ours, and once again picked up a few more tips from some really seasoned travellers. Coincidently, Garth and I shared the same profession, (before my retirement), and the same passion for inflicting pain by riding a bicycle in races!

At last I have eaten shellfish cooked as they should be! We stopped at Bluff, a little town on the coast south of Invercargill and sampled some of the famous Bluff oysters. It would appear I'd been cooking them for too long. Also, thanks for the advice from my on-line chefs, Garrett and Carol back home - I will try again!

Leaving Invercargill on a cool and occasionally damp day we headed east along the ‘Southern Scenic Route’ and followed the coastline through the Maclennan and Beresford Ranges to Owaka and Balclutha where we joined HW1 north east through Milton and into Dunedin.

We passed another ‘Globaltrek’ landmark today at a running total of 61,000 miles.

We are staying at the ‘Hogwartz’ backpackers’ hostel,  where a superb double room with an elevated sitting area overlooking the city costs us $60 a night, about £24, and, as its the weekend, we are having a few days off!

Dunedin nestles between hills on the east coast of South Island. It has a university and a very young and arty culture with loads of cafes where you can sip espresso and watch the world go by, but not for us, we were busy today. We had already been to ‘Cadbury World’ and overdosed on chocolate in the morning, then to the ‘Pride of the South, Speights Brewery’. At the end of one of the best brewery tours I’d been on, we were given a glass, shown the beer taps of the various brews they do and told, “Help yourself, you’ve got twenty minutes”. Well, that certainly washed the chocolate down!!!!

Tomorrow we head further north along the coast towards Christchurch, but first I've got to take a look at something a bit different. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s steepest street is Baldwin Street at 1 in 1.266. I wonder if we can ride our ½-ton barge up it? I'll let you know!

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand; 13th April 2008

   We decided to spend the weekend in Queenstown to investigate the differing reports we received regarding this small town which is surrounded by mountains on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. With a name like Queenstown it must be worth a visit I thought, and so it was. The scenery was stunning from our vantage point in the hostel’s back garden where we could see most of the town and harbour area.

The whole town was geared up for adventure sports and dangerous pastimes such as bungee jumping, paracending, jet-boat rides and paragliding etc. During the winter it is a bustling ski resort, the rest of the year it caters for those who enjoy the gentle cruise on a steam boat or those who feel the need to throw themselves off the edge of cliffs, dangling in mid air like rag dolls for no apparent reason. It definitely wasn't the cheapest place to stay mind you but we only managed to spend $42 to ride the Gondola, (cable car) to the skyline high above the town where we could enjoy the fantastic views. There were many bars and eateries near the quay and we enjoyed an evening of live music and stayed out till way past the witching hour!! Our well-equipped hostel was unfortunately up a very steep hill which really got the heart and lungs working - exercise at last!!

Our next quest was to visit the famous Milford Sounds in Fiord Land. En route we passed the Kingston Flyer steam train billowing plumes of steam into the fresh clean air. It made me think at length about the lack of continuity in the eco-friendliness of these Islands. Some hostels and camp-sites have very strict re-cycling programmes and frown upon those who dare to mix plastics with paper. On the other hand, other places have no re-cycling systems at all and are very proud of the fact that they burn coal to fire the water heaters and to heat the buildings – all quite contrary I thought!!

We have once again been so lucky with the weather despite it being very autumnal and chilly. The skies stayed clear and blue as we chugged through the waterways of Milford Sound. The chilled-out captain spent most of his time reading the paper and expertly steering us with his feet resting on the wheel - years of practise I assume. He was quite jovial and chatty telling us about the silly things that tourists ask such as “What time do they turn the waterfalls off?” or “Do they put the dolphins in tanks at night?” You can just guess the nationality!! We were joined by some fellow bikers, Urs and Javiera who also camped amongst the trees with us but they missed our encounter with the Islands secretive Kiwi bird. We understand it is rare to get a sighting of these flightless birds and many people born and bred here have never seen one so we were very lucky.

The scenery changes at every twist and turn in the road, and there are many of those! From the mountains we followed the Southern scenic route south through rolling green hills which provide abundant pastures for the hundreds of sheep, cows and deer. The price of milk and dairy products is surprisingly high here even though the air is filled with bovine smells. Apparently the large companies such as Tesco and Sainsbury buy vast quantities of milk fairly cheaply which doesn’t seem to leave much for the locals.

We arrived in the town of Invercargill with plenty of time to visit the local museum where we spent time in the “Burt Munro exhibition”, (The Worlds Fastest Indian -- a great film to see). Then it was on to Hayes Hardware store where Burt's bikes were on display, this was another goal achieved ... we are doing well!

While in Panama, almost a year ago, I thumbed through a motorcycle magazine and read an article about a couple who had taken their 2 young children on a 13-month tour of the Americas. By sheer coincidence we met a guy in a car park near Arthur's Pass who knew this couple and gave us their phone number. Nick called Sandra and we were invited to stay with them outside Invercargill. The children, Nadine 8 and Frank 7 were busy doing what children do and had settled back into school after their return in November 2007. It was great to hear of Garth and Sandra's adventures which made ours seem pretty tame by comparison. Whilst crossing Brazil they spent 6 days axle-deep in mud and were rapidly running out of food, but still they lived to tell the tale. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them all, Thank you.

We followed the Southern Ocean scenic route which started off fairly flat and damp till we got to the Catlins conservation area where the hills became steeper, smoother and interlocking with many covered by forests and deciduous trees. The blending autumnal colours made for wonderful scenes as we caught the occasional glimpse of bays and beaches. We were now heading for Dunedin where I had a “surprise” treat awaiting me. However, Nick had been giving me too many easy hints so I had guessed before Garth had the chance to say, “the Cadbury's chocolate factory is a good place to visit”!

We have based ourselves in a lovely room in the comfortable ‘Hogwartz’ hostel on a hill overlooking the city for the weekend. On Saturday we visited the Cadbury factory and ate our free goodies during the introductory film, and then it was off to the Speights Brewery tour. This was far more interesting than the Monteiths tour of a few weeks ago. It was interesting to see that several of the very old machines in use were made in Bury St Edmunds, which means that the Green King brewery didn't get them all. We were even encouraged to pull our own pints and I was happy to find I hadn't completely lost my touch from over 20 years ago. To complete our, not so healthy diet, we ate a cheap Chinese and then rolled back to the room to watch the first Lord of the Rings video and consume a large bar of discount dark chocolate. If you are going to over indulge I thought, then you may as well do it big style!!!!

Today, after a very relaxing start, I wandered into town and visited the old railway station which houses art galleries filled with many works by local artists. The sun was bright and warm so I sat in the park for a while, wandered some more and then struggled up the steep hill back to base with the shopping. It's good to get some distance between us now and again and this weekend in particular has been a very worthwhile break. We will try to take a break each weekend from now on but … you know how it is … have bike, must travel!

Till the next time, Lesley

Whitby, Nr Wellington, NZ; Monday 28th April 2008.

   Our three-day stay in Dunedin coincided with the realisation that we have now been in New Zealand for 2 months, so, under grey threatening clouds; we both felt it was time to move on. But before doing so, we have another important task in hand; we had to visit Baldwin Street on the way out of town. I am led to believe that this street features in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s steepest street at 1 in 1.266. Looking up from the bottom it is indeed steep with the steepest gradient near the top after several hundred metres of climbing. I decided not to risk riding our half-ton barge up it all but just tackled a few metres for a photo! Check out our picture gallery and my sincerely concerned looks!

We followed the coast road north on Highway 1 to Pukeuri, stopping briefly at Moeraki for a coffee. We had also intended to see some massive round boulders on the beach here, but the tide was in!

Following HW83 northwest, we hugged the banks of the Waitaki River. With a steep ridge on one side and through beautiful autumnal scenes the trees looking like they were on fire. After passing a couple of hydro-electricity plants we rode into Omarama where we found another ‘Top Ten’ camp ground for the night.

Before leaving the next morning we met Rob Sulsted, a professional photographer and motorcyclist who gave us a few more ideas of places to visit, visit his site at -

HW 8 North took us through gently rolling countryside with many long straights. In the distance we could see the Southern Alps again. Just after a town called Twizel, we passed the film set for one of the biggest scenes from the movie “The Return of the King”, (one of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogies). In one of the battle scenes they had over 1500 actors and extras involved. Once again the countryside looked very familiar to anyone who has watched any of these films.

Turning north onto Hw80 we followed the banks of Lake Pukaki into the beautiful rugged mountains to the mountaineering resort of Aoraki, Mount Cook. Here we treated ourselves to a coffee in a cafe with possibly one of the best views in the world. We gazed in splendour through a huge window at the Southern Alps and Mount Cook in the distance; visit the site at -  We then walked for half an hour to an observation platform which afforded us fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and Mt Cook towering over at 3754m, the highest peak in Australasia. This was a dead-end road, unless you wanted to hike over the mountains for several days, so we retraced our route alongside the lake and back to HW8. A short ride then led us to Lake Tekapo where we found another camp ground for the night. I had an uncomfortable night’s sleep, I think I need a thicker Therma Rest mat, or maybe it is just an age thing? We headed east along Hw8 to Fairlie, and then Hw 79 to Geraldine and the inland scenic route Hw72, which I’m sure, would have been very scenic if it hadn’t been raining and cold! Eventually HW77 and 73 took us into Christchurch where we found the ‘Old Country House’ back-packers hostel, It was an excellent hostel, good value and only ten minutes walk from the city centre.

When it’s fully loaded, getting on and off our half-ton bike requires a certain degree of balance at the best of times. The short sidestand barely supports the bike as it is; I’m going to have to get it lengthened or weld a thicker foot on the end. If the road is cambered and we are not careful, the front wheel can suddenly lift off the ground as the bike pivots between the sidestand and back wheel. The risk of the bike falling over is high and with poor Les standing on the wrong side she has to scamper around to lean on the left hand pannier in an effort to stop the whole thing crashing to the ground with me under it! I then push the bike up and with Les pulling on a rail at the back; we pull it onto the centre stand. Departing is a different matter though. We push the bike off the centre stand after first making sure the sidestand is down, we then rest it onto this stand. With Les beside me, I heave my rigid right leg over the saddle then with a little push from Les we have the bike upright. Les then climbs onto a pillion peg and swings her other leg between the boxes and thumps down onto her `Airhawk` saddle cover. Occasionally I get aboard by balancing the bike upright, holding the handlebars with my left hand and a pannier with my right, then, with the balance just right, I lift my right leg over the saddle, this could well end in disaster if we got the balance wrong though, but for the most part it works well. We often get very surprised looks from people as they watch our entertaining show on how to get on and off a heavily loaded bike!! With such a strong right leg muscle, woe betide anyone who I kick, perhaps the England rugby team needs a new kicker?

I’m afraid I didn't like Christchurch very much and felt it was just another grubby city; a high degree of construction work didn't really help change my view. After stocking-up with reading matter from second-hand book shops we left town aiming for Rangiora. But first we rode over a spectacular hilly road to the harbour town of Akaroa. It was a beautiful detour and somewhere I would have preferred to stay rather than in the city. After coffee, cakes and chats with several interested people, we retraced back to Christchurch and the short distance north to Rangiora and our friends, Lynn and Colin, we had promised to return and see them on our way back north. The first night we camped out and the temperature plummeted; it rained, hailed and snowed in the foothills around us. We got very cold so the next couple of nights we stayed in the warmth of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I do like camping but there comes a time when it’s good to be indoors! Once again it was great catching up with our friends, we hadn't seen much of them last time as they were both working, but now it was the weekend so they showed us around, We visited Lynn’s workplace where Boulton Racing is based and where Colin is a spanner-man on his days off; We also visited the port of Lyttelton where the first settlers from Europe landed back in 1850. We also met Heather, I worked with her sister Carol back in Norfolk – what a small world! We had a great time relaxing with good friends but all too soon it was time to move on once again; we had a mission!  I had promised our friend Derek, back home, that we would go and hassle his son Lewis, who was doing the “back packers thing” around the world and was in Christchurch at present. We returned to the city and found him and his girlfriend Carolanne. We enjoyed some dinner together, got the photographic evidence to send back home to dad and once again left Christchurch.

On the way out of town I stopped off at the BMW dealer and changed the rear shaft drive oil. I was slightly worried to find some slivers of, what looked like metal, attached to the magnetic sump plug. I was assured by the mechanic that it looked normal, we will see!! The play I had detected in the back wheel has now gone after the paralever bearings were replaced so all’s well with the bike for now.

We have had several Emails from people who had dropped onto our website. One had come from Nigel who’d been following the adventure and who worked at the nearby Addington dog racing track. He owned the business that operated the photo-finish equipment. So, from Nigel’s superb vantage point on top of the main grandstand, we watched him in action and talked bikes, in between the dogs!

From here we followed Hw 1 up the east coast through some great countryside with the Lowry Peaks Range on our left and the sea on our right. We enjoyed some 3-dimensional fun all the way to the coastal town of Kaikoura where we hired a cabin on another ‘Top Ten’ campsite. How thankful we were for a little heating as that night’s freeze had left the bike with a dusting of frost on it in the morning.

There are many big, throaty cars over here. The youngsters are very keen on the custom car scene and, as insurance isn’t compulsory, many drive cars with big V6 and V8 engines so you will hear customised exhaust systems in all the big towns. With these muscle-cars comes the need to lay down some rubber. The tell-tale black burn-out marks on the roads surely must be an indication that, either tyres must be cheap here, or they are dads???

From Kaikoura we followed Hw 1 along the east coast to Blenhiem. With cliffs on our left and the sea on our right we snaked our way north further inland, catching occasional glimpses of the seaward Kaikoura Range and its fresh dusting of snow, it seems we’re definitely heading into winter here!

In Blenhiem we found ourselves in the middle of the vineyards with acres and acres of vines and most of the hostels were full of youngsters who were working the vine. So once again we headed to the trusty ‘Top Ten’ and treated ourselves a cabin. The couple running the site are also motorcyclists with an ambition to do what we are doing. We spent time telling our story, which usually always ends up with me saying, “It’s easy, if we can do it anyone can”.

I topped up the oil on the bike today, the first time in ages. Since I changed the filler-cap fitment we haven’t had a leak but I wonder how long it will last now that I’ve fiddled with it! We are now averaging 50-miles per gallon and petrol is getting more expensive at $1.98nz about 80p UK. We have also been doing the Kiwi Lottery once a week at $6 a go and had our first win, $22 - well it’s a start, the big one next week then! Another milestone was also reached today as we clocked up 62,000 miles, 100,000 kilometres for our World Trek so far!

After spending six weeks and 3098 miles exploring the South Island, we leave tomorrow and return north, having booked the Inter-Islander Ferry online. I have to say that it is with a degree of regret that we leave as I’ve had such a good time here looking up our old friends and making several new ones along the way. We will be keeping in touch with them all and hopefully meet again one day.

Once again we had a beautiful cruise on the ferry as it wound its way between the islands and out into Cooks Straight, until we hit the swell that is! The tannoy reminded all passengers where the sick bags are kept! I knew the secret, I was straight outside and concentrating on the horizon, I wasn't feeling well but kept my lunch down! Perhaps we won’t do the next lap of the planet on a boat after all!

We had timed our return to Wellington poorly as it was Anzak Day and a public holiday. All the hostels were full so it was off to a ‘Top Ten’ at Lower Hutt on the northern banks of Wellington harbour. From here I phoned our International Police Association friend Bruce in Auckland to see if he had any contacts in Wellington, sure enough he came back to us with a bed. We stayed with Rick, an officer in Wellington and a fellow IPA member, his lovely wife Rona fed us really well! It’s been such a relaxing time that it will be a struggle to get going again - you can have too much of a good thing!

Strangely, for the first time since my retirement, I returned to a police station and had a look around the central Wellington station where Rick works. From one end of the planet to the other they all look very similar!

Wellington was busy over the weekend with a music festival demonstrating local Kiwi talent so we wondered around on a warm sunny day listening to some interesting sounds and generally people-watched. It seems they’ve got the balance just right here, there’s a skateboard park on the front where the youngsters are entertained, people rollerblade, run and cycle down the beautiful prom without upsetting each other, a little give and take is all that is needed and everyone’s happy - we could learn a lot back home!

I’ve renewed the front and rear brake pads and serviced the callipers so we must move on - well one day!

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Whitby, Nr Wellington, New Zealand; 27th April 2008

   How quickly the seasons change! We haven’t really experienced any seasons since we left home in June 06 as we have been constantly chasing the summers, but on New Zealand’s South Island, autumn is definitely in full swing!

We have still managed to dodge most of the rain but once the sun begins to sink it can become bitterly cold. Over the past few days the skies have been clear both day and night and the morning frosts against the autumnal colours are priceless. On the downside, we almost got hyperthermia one night in the tent as 4-inches of hail fell. We surfaced to find the surrounding hills and mountains had received their first dusting of snow of the season. In fact just down the road people were skiing on Mt Hutt, near Christchurch.

Our route around the South Island has been rather meandering but so far we have crossed from west to east and back again on all the major roads and passes. Lewis Pass, Arthurs Pass, and just recently, the route that took us across country from Dunedin to Twizel, ‘Lord of the Rings’ country and onto Mount Cook, the highest mountain here at 3754mts. The last 50 kms from Twizel to Mt Cook ran alongside Lake Pukaki which was a fantastic pale green/blue /turquoise. With the contrast of the bright yellow and gold trees it was stunning. Having had storms the night before it was unlikely that we would actually get to see the summit of Mt Cook but as we sat watching she slowly revealed herself from the clouds in full splendour. It was well worth a short tramp along to Kea Point to get a clearer view of Mt Cook and the huge Hooker Glacier. As we sat in the sun we could hear the cracking and rumbling of an active glacier, it's quite scary and exhilarating at the same time, reminding us of the vast Merino glacier in Chile.

Many people we have met have said that we will just love Christchurch but I am sad to say it didn't leave us with a great impression on our two separate stays. It is very English and quite modern in places. The street names are predictable, and even the river could have been transported from Oxford or Cambridge, including the punts! We managed to catch up with Lewis, a friend’s son who is having a “big adventure”. We also spent a very relaxing weekend with Colin and Lynn who are old friends from the UK. Colin is a “spanner boy” for a car racing team so we were shown around the workshop and the huge team bus. It was all very impressive and we wish the team well for the following season. Lynn not only gave my hair a bit of a trim but disappeared into a charity shop whilst we were visiting the Lyttelton harbour area and came out with a bag full of goodies for $5, about £2, from which she presented me with a wonderful long sleeve merino jumper, just the right size. She must have taken pity on me when she saw the depleted wardrobe we travel with and I have worn this cosy jumper everyday since I was given it and am now snug and warm...thanks Lynn. (Luckily for everyone, merino wool has a special doesn't get very smelly and doesn't need to be washed very often....Hurrah!!)

On our way out of Christchurch we met up with Nigel Marx (Horizons Unlimited) who invited us to his workplace at the Race track where he runs the photo-finish cameras for race meetings. I had never been to Greyhound racing before so found it very interesting. The races are televised across the country during the day so there were few spectators at the track. It seems that gambling is pretty big here in NZ, there are many Casinos and slot machine parlours, weekly and daily Lotto, Horse, Harness and dog racing on most days of the week.

The vineyards in the Blenheim area were very colourful as the leaves were changing to their autumn shades. Apart from being a bit on the chilly side it is a really lovely time of the year to be riding the bike. The low sun in the afternoon casts unusual shadows on the hillsides, the air always seems so clean and fresh, and the smells are earthy and toasted...yum! Yes, I do love autumn.

Suddenly, we were back in Picton awaiting the ferry back to North Island. Our six weeks in South Island has gone so quickly and we have been lucky again with excellent weather conditions. We have met so many friendly people and visited many beautiful places, it is quite sad to leave.

Perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to the calendar as not only was it Anzac day (Remembrance Day) but schools are on holiday again. Accommodation is scarce in Wellington as the large home-grown musical festival is on in town for the weekend so thank goodness for Rona and Rick, (IPA) who came to our rescue and have opened up their lovely home to us for the weekend. Unfortunately Rick is on night shift so we haven't seen much of him but Rona has been an excellent hostess and has made us feel very welcome and relaxed - Thank you.

From our weekend base we rode up to a fascinating car/bike museum at Southward. The cycle and motorcycle display was excellent but I particularly enjoyed downstairs in the basement where a Ford Anglia, Vauxhall Viva, Morris Minor and Mini all stood side by side and I was hit by a sudden wave of nostalgia. “I used to have one of those!” Actually, we have seen more Morris Minors, Austin Allegros and other old favourites in the past few weeks, and all in good condition. I imagine many of the ex-pats brought them over with them in the 60's and 70's and have kept them going for “old time’s sake”. On the downside, we were promised empty roads in New Zealand but, with the boom in campervan tourism and influx of Japanese imported cars, the Islands are becoming slightly congested in parts.

Wellington outshone itself again for us. Locally known as the “Windy City”, we spent the day in bright sunshine and little breeze. Usually a city on a Saturday is a place to avoid but we had a great time wandering along the waterfront, stopping off at the various venues and stages of the home-grown music festival. We were both very impressed by the whole of the waterfront area, from the huge modern museum to the purpose-built skateboard parks and cycle /pedestrian areas. There was a very relaxed feel to the whole area with cyclists, skaters, rickshaw-type bikes, toddlers and street performers all sharing the same space with no problems at all. Strategically placed seating overlooking the jetties and unusual fountains that spurt patterns of water into the air, planked walkways that take you to the waters edge all make for a very pleasant place to sit back and just ‘people-watch’. As a mother of 2 skateboarding sons I was really impressed with the whole set up and felt that the town planners in the UK could learn a lot from this recreational area where young and old can work, rest and play side by side, happily.

We are now going to continue our exploration of the North Island where it is several degrees warmer than in the South.

Until next time, Lesley



Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula, N.Z; 9th May 2008

   We spent three relaxing days with Rona and Rick at their comfortable home in Whitby. We were fed gorgeous home-cooked dinners, something we’d both been missing but our waistlines hadn't!

Staying in a location where you feel safe and secure promotes a deep and refreshing sleep, the only problem being is that it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle getting up in the morning and breakfast nearly always becomes elevenses! It was now time to move on.

On a damp morning we retraced our route north along HW1 to Levin, then HW57 northeast to Palmerston North. From here we rode HW 3 & 54 through rolling green countryside to Cheltenham, where the road becomes more interesting. Under a threatening blanket of big grey clouds and rain we wound our way through gorges, along slippery, wet and tight bends. The hills became bigger as we drew closer to Vinegar Hill and rejoined HW 1 and headed northeast. A short time later we stopped at Mangaweka for a coffee at an interesting cafe featuring an old DC9 aeroplane in which you could sit and dream!

HW1 is a busy but good windy road which led us through big green hills, an army training area and eventually to Waiquru, where we headed west on HW49 and a loop of the Tongariro National Park. Mount Ruapehu, at 2797m dominates this area containing the North Island’s top ski destinations. At the ski town of Ohakune we found a `Top Ten` camp ground and treated our tired bones to a cabin for the night - well it was raining! This area also featured several `Lord of the Rings` film locations, you might remember, Mount Doom, Orc country and Mordor, they're all here.

After heavy overnight rain and more consistent showers all morning we rode the `Thermal Exploration Way`, HW49 to Tohunga Junction.  Unfortunately with a very low cloud base we didn't get to see the summits of two active volcanoes in the area, Mt Ruapehu 2797m and Mt Ngauruhoe at 2291m. Having said that, we still climbed up through the fog on HWs 47/48 to the ski resort at Iwikay village, surrounded by boulders of lava, and you’ve guessed it, another `Lord of the Rings` movie set! We then retraced our route to HW47 and north through forests to Turangi on Lake Taupo, then around this beautiful lake to the town bearing the same name - Taupo. It proved to be a busy touristy town with prices to match. The ‘Top Ten’ camp ground turned into a `Top Ten Holiday Resort’ and where a cabin cost $63nz, and not $45 like the night before!

On another wet day, and most importantly, Les` birthday, we visited the Huka Falls just outside town where the water from Lake Taupo funnels through a very narrow channel in the rocks giving a beautiful natural display of water power. On the other side of the road we walked around a steaming, hissing and bubbling area of geothermal activity. “Keep to the path”, we were continually warned, as if we needed a warning, you can see it’s hot stuff, but I guess you've just got to touch it to confirm it, so where’s the nearest casualty department?

Just down the road a bit it was great to observe the Kiwis harnessing all this natural power. It’s almost surreal to witness large silver pipes appearing to grow menacingly out of the ground, the residual sulphurous steam which surrounds the area helps paint a very sinister picture indeed. But then again all this effort made me wonder about the sincerity of the Kiwi ecological aims! What, with hydroelectricity and the geothermal energy making for a very ‘Green’ nation, there are just too many very thirsty large V8`s and motor homes on the roads here, they seem to have their priorities all mixed up, there appears no consistency in their eco policy!

Anyhow, Les pushed me off my soapbox and we rode through the Paeroa Range and Whakarewarewa Forest and into the town of Rotorua. Here we found `The Funky Green Voyager` backpackers’ hostel as recommended in the `Lonely Planet` guide;  We had a great double room with en-suite for 2 nights, something we hadn't had in a long time, well it is Les` birthday and I felt it was well worth the $58nz, £23.

In Rotorua we were constantly reminded that we are in the middle of what is perhaps, a very fragile area of the Earth's crust. Our senses were startled by occasional wafts of sulphur over the town and as we walked around the lake; which just happens to be another extinct volcano with its banks steaming and bubbling. Just off the town centre we took another walk around some more hot bubbling mud pools. You can become almost paranoid about all of this geothermal activity, but the town has been here for a long time and I guess they must have found it was reasonably safe before building our hostel on top of all this - didn't they?

We left Rotorua on a dry but cold windy morning after our very interesting 2-day break and rode around the lake and dodged runners taking part in the annual marathon. Later we joined HW5 west to Tiram and then HW1 to Cambridge. Many beautiful rolling green hills and pastures surround the small pretty town of Cambridge, which happens to be the centre for race horse breading, similar to Newmarket back home but on a slightly smaller scale. From Cambridge we followed HW1 to Hamilton, another big city which recently held its first car race through its streets, New Zealand's Monaco grand prix perhaps?

We crossed some flatlands along HW26 to Te Aroha, which nestles at the foot of the Kaimai Range where we almost came up against the rocky face of a mountain. HW26 north took us to Paeroa and onward to the town of Thames, the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula and a tourist favourite.

We then followed The `Pacific Coast Highway` which ducked and dived along the western side of the peninsula, hugging the shore of the Firth of Thames and the Hauraki Gulf on the Southern Pacific Ocean. We had an exhilarating ride on a twisty road through beautiful hilly green countryside to the town of Coromandel, where we found a `Top Ten` for the night. It was dark and cold by 5.30pm; it’s getting into winter down under. Later on that evening we rode into town for our fish and chip supper and were surprised to see several of the locals seemed oblivious to the cold and were still walking around in shorts!

The following morning we carried on up the coastline. The road started well enough on good tarmac but eventually deteriorated into a loose gravel surface. Mind you it was a spectacular ride which took us from sea level to cliff tops and through some river fords. We even had to operate gates to gain access to some seemingly deserted roads where we passed a couple of great camp grounds right on the beach. Ah well, it was not to be beach camping tonight as we were short on supplies and the rain had started. Somewhat disappointed we headed back to Coromandel town and an all day breakfast for lunch!

Looking out at the rain, I thought, “I'll text Bruce, from the IPA Auckland, just to say we were heading back towards Auckland and his patch”. Within seconds I had a call, he was driving to his holiday home in Whitianga, which wasn't far away, and we were welcome to come and stay. By this time it was raining heavily and I started to think that perhaps there was a god after all!

We had an exciting ride as we climbed over the hills which formed the spine of the Coromandel Peninsula. We were negotiating hairpin bends on steep ascents and descents but with a twist, there was so much water on the road now that we almost had a bow wave!

After climbing to the top of a ridge overlooking the town of Whitianga, we rode straight into Bruce’s garage under his house and dripped all over his floor for ages! We were made very welcome, fed, watered and given a comfortable bed for the night.

The following day it was dry and clear so we took in the splendour of the views. Commanding a superb hilltop view at 376ft, (according to my Garmin Etrex) over Mercury Bay, we could see for miles, the sea and hills around us gave us that magical ‘million dollar view’. From his sun deck we could watch the town twinkling at night far below - how lucky are we?

Bruce took us for a drive around the area and stopped at Kuaotunu where I was forced to eat a `Killer` ice cream with the help of a local dog. Later that night we went out to dinner with Dick, who owns the ‘On the Beach backpackers’ lodge’;  where, if it wasn't for Bruce’s generosity, we would be staying I’m sure.

The following day Bruce left us to our own devices as he returned to his work in Auckland and work. Before leaving he invited us to stay for as long as we wanted, perhaps I’ll open a bank account in town and stay!

The new front & rear brake pads on the bike are slowly bedding in, not helped by the wet weather. The plastic securing catch of my pannier, which was already broken, lost another plate but it’s still serviceable - just! I have to say the BMW panniers and top box have surprised me as the hinges, the lids lockable catches, and the mounting catches are all made of plastic and have stood the abuse well with only one breakage, considering the conditions and daily use. Also, the mounting framework for the luggage remains solid even with everything overweight. I've heard of several well known makes breaking after the terrain we've been through. Mind you I've probably given it the kiss of death after these comments!

The bike was still suffering from the fuel cap drain-hole blockage and in an attempt to remove the tank I broke a plastic fuel pipe cut-off connector for the second time and petrol went everywhere, the first time was in Chile. I fixed it again with another metal pipe insert and some jubilee clips. A phone call to BMW showed that this was a common problem and the new connectors had a metal insert but came at a ‘BMW’ price! A search of boat shops in town revealed that there is a similar fuel cut-off connector used on boats at a fraction of the price, so it looks like we’ll be having a bit of boat on the bike! Maybe with all this rain it would be appropriate?

We took a ride back to Coromandel town over the mountain, but this time in the dry. This should have been fantastic ride with all these hairpin bends, but something wasn't quite right, we weren't loaded and didn't weigh half a ton but the bike’s handling was just strange! Mind you, the back tyre is due for replacement soon, very soon! We returned on HW309, a scenic back road which started as asphalt then gravel and, thanks to a road re-grader, had now turned to mud, bringing back memories of South America, (I loved that place!).

 On the way home to Bruce’s we stopped off at `Hot Water Beach`, where once again, geothermal activity bubbles up on the beach. You can hire a spade, dig a hole and soak in the hot water, but it was so busy - bloody tourists!

For the first time in ages, Les and I have had the time to get a fitness routine going, a circular walk down off the hill to the bay and a mile-long climb back to the house, the 376 foot climb is about one mile, total walk time started at 42 minutes but we got down to 37! This was followed by a few sit-ups and press-ups, by now we were feeling healthy, but sore!

With our own kitchen we’ve been cooking our own food, watching some TV and losing ourselves in books. So how long will we stay? As long as it takes Bruce to evict us!

Until next time, Nick.

From Les

Whitianga, New Zealand; 9th May 2008

   Gone are the days when we sped around country lane bends, sending showers of sparks and shards of metal from foot pegs at anyone who could keep up with us. We now ride majestically around the countryside taking in the wonderful views, admiring the scenery and even allow people to overtake - occasionally. Some may say “Pooley is going soft in his old age” but he still has his moments of “Free style” when he gets carried away with the moment and forgets he has passenger and luggage on board.

As pillion passenger for the past 62,000miles I feel safe and secure (most of the time) knowing that Nick is one of the safest and definitely the smoothest rider I have ever ridden with. Not only does his smoothness make for a comfortable ride it also helps with the finances as we don't experience the severe wear and tear of expensive parts that many seem to suffer from, hence less repair bills. As a rider myself I often wish that I was riding my own bike - hopefully next time. I often feel that I am missing out on so much of the challenge. Having said that I think that many of the tracks we have travelled along would be far too difficult for my skills.

On the back of the bike I have time to look around me, over a shoulder and through a gap. I could also tell you about every label, mark or blemish on the back of Nick’s helmet and neck. I have had more time than ever before in my life to think and reflect. I come up with wonderful witty things to talk about in my updates and promptly forget the moment we stop. Even though we are in very close proximity physically, when we are on the bike, we are often miles away in our own thoughts. Spookily, we are often thinking of similar things like “Wouldn't it be nice to be in a campervan” or “I hope we get a real comfy bed tonight”.

The intercom is essential. The whole trip would have been very lonely for us without it. There is always something to chat about and discuss along the way, places and scenes to be shared and the occasional “slow down” from me at the back and “stop trying to steer” from him in front.

We have spent the past week quite recklessly living life on the edge of active thermal areas. As we ride along we can see wisps of steam escaping from the thin crust of the earth, and then realise that we are in a crater with a 360 degree view of hills. Along the road from Lake Taupo to Rotorua we stopped off at the Huka Falls where the wide river is suddenly funnelled into a small narrow canyon creating a waterfall, so much power in such a small place. Just across the road is the “Craters of the Moon” park which took us along a safe walkway passing jets of steam and pools of bubbling water and mud; I began to feel slightly vulnerable, what happens if it blows now? In fact we are probably safer standing on a dormant/active volcano than trying to cross the road in the UK. It's best not to think about it!!

I have just notched up another birthday on the road; the last one was spent in Panama. Nick spent his birthdays in Montana, USA and hopping between the Bolivian and Argentina border......I wonder where we will be for the next ones. We celebrated by staying in the ‘Funky Green Voyager’ hostel (with an en-suite) in Rotorua. The bubbles came from the boiling mud pools and hot steaming sulphur-smelling cracks and crevices and not from a bottle of champagne! We also achieved another milestone, our 29th Wedding Anniversary - I understand that murderers often get a shorter jail sentence!

Rotorua is very famous for its thermal activity and the Maori culture so it is pretty busy and touristy. We managed to find some very pleasant, deserted walkways around the simmering and bubbling lake where helicopters and float planes take off at regular intervals on their short and very expensive scenic tours. We have been amazed by the cost of some of the trips and excursions in New Zealand. Thankfully there is always the “free” option if you know where to look or take advice from the locals who always seem to know of some secret place.

The Coromandel Peninsula is not only wet but is also very beautiful. We rode from Rotorua across to Hamilton and through Cambridge, the main racehorse area, and then to the west side of the Peninsula. The road hugs the coast as it dips and dives over the hills and you are never more than a few metres from the sea. The Peninsula is also known for its fantastic variety of birdlife. On the rocks are cormorants and sea gulls of all shapes and sizes and further along on the green pastures we saw kingfishers, huge birds of prey, dainty finches, wild turkeys and at one point were joined by 4 colourful parrots. There is a mountainous area along the spine of the narrow peninsula and narrow roads cling to the side of the steep hills. We rode the dirt road to the Northern point at Fletcher Bay and, at last, found the quiet narrow roads we had been promised. Maybe this is the last remaining area of peace and tranquillity left on these Islands? Hopefully the roads won't be developed so that campervans and the tourist cavalcade will continue to avoid this beautiful area.

I have already mentioned that it’s wet, that’s why it’s so green! As luck would have it ... we were in Coromandel town when Nick contacted Bruce of the (IPA) to say hello. Bruce was on his way to his getaway not far from us and invited us to stay with him. So here we are with a wonderful 180deg panoramic view from our elevated position overlooking hills and several bays, including Mercury and Whitianga Bays. For the past couple of days we have had some torrential rain so we are spending some “chill out and vegetate “time.

The sun has been shining from time to time and we took advantage of a dry spell to retrace the route to Coromandel Town across the twisty mountain passes on dry roads for a change. The scenery is stunning. We are also making the effort to begin a fitness campaign and have walked the steep hill circuit daily, finishing off with sit-ups and press-ups; I wonder how long we will be able to keep this going??

Until next time, Lesley

Napier, New Zealand; 24th May 2008

   We ended up staying a week with Bruce, our IPA friend, and his wife Lorisa in their holiday home in Whitianga. It was a week spent in the lap of luxury in a house which commanded a nightly rental that would keep a Bolivian family fed for six months, but at a special rate for us! We had already met Bruce’s friend, Dick from the `On the beach` backpackers hostel where we left our rubbish and used his internet at no charge. Their neighbours, Barry and Monica also chatting to us about Barry’s motorcycle racing days, “when they were real bikes” like Nortons, AJS`s and BSA`s. We also had the pleasure to meet Doug, a larger than life character with hands the size of dinner plates and who was off to Russia on holiday once again. All in all they were a great bunch of people and we feel honoured to have spent some time in their company.

As a result of our daily hill walking routine we both now felt much fitter but the road was calling and it was time to move on once again. The plan was to slowly head south along the coast to the town of Napier, where in a couple of weeks, Steve, an old school friend of mine, would be back from his holidays so we could call in for a visit. We hit the road on a dry, sunny, but cool day with the Coromandel Range on our right and the Southern Pacific Ocean on our left. We followed the beautiful HW25 and HW2 roads south, twisting and turning as we rode through the green hills and forests to the town of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, named by Captain Cook on his 1769 expedition.

My penchant for fun-filled twisty roads had once again taken its toll on the bike and it was time once more to go tyre hunting as the rear was looking decidedly sad and scrubbed out either side of the centre and down to the tie bar. A couple of shops gave me a quote but couldn't get the tyre in stock until the following day so we went to the neighbouring town of Mount Maunganui, where we found, ‘Mount Motorcycles’, a local BMW dealer. I was over the moon when the friendly mechanic said he would remove the wheel and fit a nice new Metzeler Tourance for the same price I’d been quoted by the other dealers, “not bad for a BMW dealer” I thought. As an added bonus he even dropped his other jobs and cleared the drain hole in the fuel tank aperture which was blocked, a top bloke indeed. The bike’s old rear Metzeler Tourance had embarrassingly got a couple of areas where the cord was beginning to show through, the first time in the trip that this had happened and which confirmed my theory of “under inflation”. I had been running it at 46psi but will now put it up to 48psi and Email Metzeler to see what pressure they recommend I should be running my ½ ton BMW at! Out of interest, the rear tyre had done 9040 miles, the last Metzeler did 9241miles, not bad considering our weight, and it’s not all Les!! We passed another milestone today and have now covered a total of 63,000 miles on our “Global Trek” so far.

Now content with our new rubber we went searching for accommodation only to find that the backpackers’ hostel in Tauranga was full so we headed a little further down the coast to Papamoa beach and a ‘TopTen’ holiday resort where we treated ourselves to a cabin close to the beach.

That evening as we walked along the beach we observed some local fishermen working away, not fishing with a rod and reel but “long lining”. This was achieved by using a long length of fishing line with several hooks attached. This was then towed out to sea by a small torpedo-looking device which was on a timer and which stopped when it was about a kilometre out; they would then haul the line back in. I'd never seen this type of fishing before - what a great idea I thought.

From our cabin I phoned Paul Gowen at the RAC back home. Paul looks after the `Carnet De Passage` applications for British-registered vehicles, and after the complications getting into New Zealand, I thought it wise to get one before we go to Australia, where I've been told things can get even worse! The purpose of this document is to guarantee to the local customs that I will take the bike with me when I leave and not sell it and do a bunk without paying my tax! The form is now ordered and should be with us soon.

With a new tyre, dry roads, blue sky and sunshine; we picked up HW 2 southeast across flatlands and straight roads through the major Kiwi fruit-growing area of New Zealand. Hugging the coastline we rode into Whakatane and a welcome coffee stop. We sipped our coffee and gazed out to sea and picked up the unmistakable sight of White Island, an active volcano gently smoking away about 50ks away, worried? Of course not!  HW2 then took us to the town of Opotiki where most of the people we saw are Maoris, all friendly and chatty with some of the most intricate facial tattoos we had ever seen, this was the predominantly Maori region of the East Cape.

We followed HW35, the `Pacific Coast Highway` which is a brilliant three-dimensional biking road along the coastline. Along the spine of the East Cape runs the Raukumara Range, of which Mt Hikurangi, at 1752mtrs, is the highest peak.  There are few roads across this peninsula and the guide book recommends them only for serious hikers. By now it was getting late in the day so we started looking for somewhere to stay the night. To our surprise we found everywhere was either full, closed for the winter, or just too damn expensive. Just as all hope seemed lost we found the `Teararoa Holiday Park in Hicks Bay. Here we got a basic cabin for $55nz, and with the village fish and chip stand on site, and a couple of beers from the site shop, all was well in the Poole camp once again. On site we were entertained during the evening by a group of Maori road workers who were gradually drinking themselves to sleep!  It was fun to watch them having some harmless fun and were up and gone in the morning before us!

Wow! What a difference a new tyre makes to the bike, she now handled like new and even the fuel overflow drain pipe was working once again as I deposited some petrol on the garage forecourt as I fuelled up! The bike’s odometer also showed all the sevens today, 77,777 miles and we’ve now been in New Zealand for three months.

Next day under blue skies and sunshine we headed from Te Araroa village along the beautiful gravel coast road to the East Cape lighthouse, which happens to be the most easterly lighthouse in the world. Because the International Date Line is just out to sea from here, we see the dawn of a new day before anyone else in the world.  As this road came to a dead end we had to retrace to Te Araroa and back onto HW35. This took us through spectacular rolling countryside which was amply supplied with numerous exciting bends to test the new rear tyre. We passed through several Maori villages which looked sadly run-down, unkempt and the aesthetics were not helped by the odd rusty abandoned car. We rode into, Tokomaru Bay; another run-down looking place with several derelict buildings, spoiling what could otherwise have been a beautiful coastal town. We rode through town to the old 1917 dock area and a rotting pier. On the way we passed a simple wooden dwelling where, outside, sat around a table bending under the weight of beer bottles, were a group of Maori men drinking away, “its eleven o’clock on a Wednesday morning” I thought!

A short time later we found one of the nicest backpacker hostels of our visit to NZ so far, we had stumbled upon ‘Brian's Place’  Brian’s place sits on top of a hill overlooking the town and the coast. The owner, surprisingly named Brian, was a great bloke and very helpful, setting us up with his largest cabin for $50nz. The hostel already had a mixed group of friendly people in residence; a couple of Brits, some Germans, Asian Indians and us, we all had a brilliant evening over a few bottles of the old vino.

Damn! For the first time in ages I had been bitten again, this time by both a mosquito and a sand fly within seconds of each other on the back of the same hand!! The mozzy bite lasted a few hours, the sand fly for three days!

The following morning we followed HW35 south along a beautiful bendy road through green hills. We passed peacocks, brightly coloured kingfishers evenly spaced on the telegraph wires, and orange- growing farms, but the sheep and cattle NZ is famous for were never far away. We stopped at the neat and tidy town of Tolaga Bay, it was refreshing to see its wide clean roads, freshly painted dwellings and golf club, we even found a nice little cafe for coffee. While enjoying our coffee we were joined by a road surveyor who told us about his recent trip to India where he bought an Indian-made ‘Royal Enfield’ motorcycle on which he toured Indian then shipped it back to New Zealand; needless to say, we had lots to talk about.

Our short ride down the coast was punctuated by occasional welcome glimpses of the sea as we rode into the town of Gisborne on Poverty Bay, so named by Captain Cook in 1769. It was here we found the Waikanae Beach Holiday Park and a comfortable en-suite cabin at $52, about £20. Check out their site at  We spent a couple of days here in Gisborne, a neat little town with a small marina, a long wind-blown beach strewn with drift wood and a good selection of restaurants and bars. We also found a group of Brit ex-pats who were restoring an old WA165 steam locomotive. Les paid a visit to a local doctor and got a prescription for her ear infection, and I carried out a 78,000 mile service on the bike, well, new oil all round, checked the spokes and blew the dust out of the air filter!

It was time to move on once again as we headed out of town on HW35 south, then HW2 along the coast and inland through Wharerata Forest and some amazing bends through to Nuhaka where we joined Hawks Bay. At Wairoa we stopped for coffee and warm up. It’s been getting colder lately and even with my thermals on I was getting chilly, on more than one occasion looking to my heated handlebar grips for help!  We left the coast road and headed inland along HW38, another superb road which started out as asphalt then turned into gravel as it slowly climbed beside a powerful stream with the clearest of water I think I have ever seen. We rode onward through hills cloaked in vibrant autumnal colours and into the Huiarau Range where Mt Manuoha, at 1403mtrs, is one of the tallest. We then entered the Te Urewera National Park where we found Lake Waikaremoana and a motor camp and where we treated ourselves to a cabin for $42. This big beautiful lake is surrounded by thick forest and, for the better equipped, (that's my excuse), you can walk around it in about three days.

That night it got cold, it was so damn cold. We had several layers on in our sleeping bags in order to keep warm, and in the morning we woke to a thick layer of frost on the bike and surrounding trees. The lake looked mysterious through the morning mist as we carefully rode back down off the hills on a frosty gravel track. We retraced our route to Wairoa, then an exciting ride on HW2, another bendy road through gorges and over hills with occasionally views of the coast to the town of Napier on Hawke Bay.

In the town of Napier we found, ‘Archie’s Bunker’ backpackers’ hostel and met the owners, Doug, and his wife Julie;  As we had planned to stay for a few days, and because it was the “off season”, they gave us a nice double room for the discounted price of $46 per night. We have TV in our room, WiFi internet access for the laptop, a great kitchen and huge sitting room. I know we’re going to enjoy our stay here; it’s one of the best. Although the bike is outside she is safe and out of sight around the back!

The town of Napier was devastated by an earthquake in 1931, what didn't crumble in the quake burnt down in the aftermath of the disaster. The amazing thing is that over a period of only two years the whole town was rebuilt, not as it had been but in an ‘Art Deco’ style which makes the town a very interesting place to explore. Blessed with plenty of places to eat and drink and the huge surf of Hawke Bay with its black pebble beach, it seems we have found a nice place to chill for a few days and make some enquiries into shipping to Auz. Check out


We do let our webmaster, Eddie have some time off his important duties maintaining this site! He was off touring Europe on his bike for 2 weeks but promises to get to the keyboard ASAP. If you’d like to see what he gets up to then log onto 


Current Kit List   01/06/08

We have received very mixed opinions regarding the amount of luggage we are travelling with. Some people are amazed at how little we carry and others cannot believe how laden we are. We have really got down to the very basics and everything we carry is used, but not necessarily at the same time. We would have frozen without our thermal underwear and at times have had to wear all of our tee-shirts to keep warm. We still need our shorts and sunhat on the rare occasions that we can relax on the beach.

On The Bike

2 large security cables, 1 to lock tank bag to handle bars, 1 to lock bike to nearby tree!!

Ball compass glued onto fairing,

Under the saddle, a tool wrap containing a selection of tools. Puncture repair kit, Autocom control box.

On the saddle are  Airhawk inflatable saddle covers x2


On Top Box

Khyam  ‘one touch’ tent and groundsheet

Umberella, (a British tradition!)

Dry sack containing winter gloves and fleeces

Waterproof over trousers 

2 plastic water bladders, (Ideal for solar shower)

Frisbee, skipping rope

All held down with 2 nylon straps and cargo net.


In small day sack

Strapped on top of one pannier with 2 nylon straps

Terra cooking pots, (2 pots and frying pan)

Dragonfly MSR cooking stove, (multi fuel)

2 plastic cups, 2 cutlery sets, 2 small plastic bowls, 1 tee-towel, 1 spatula and small washing up liquid bottle, can opener, bottle opener,

2 personal wash kit bags, containing the basics...toothpaste and brush, soap, deodorant, dental floss and nail scissors.

Small nylon bag

Oxford Sports Tankbag  contains:-

Maps,  Guidebooks, our  personal diaries, 2 reading books, pocket calculator, 2 small torches, loo-roll, small medical kit,  2 penknives,  2 washing lines, various pens,  sewing kit, (hardly used by Lesley) small binoculars, baby wipes,  antibacterial hand wash, disc lock for the bike,  puncture repair kit, magnifying glass, side stand support, camera mini tripod, 2 Sony walkman Mp3 players, Garmin GPS, mouth organ, spare spectacles in case, plastic cable ties, multi tool, mini karibinas, Panadols,  insulating tape, lucky crystals, visor cleaner, spare leather boot laces, Large waterproof map holder that covers the top of the Oxford Sports tank bag

Top Box

Selection of dried foods, rice pasta etc, and muesli bars. 1Lt engine oil,  1 can WD40,  1.5lt aluminium water bottle, half litre aluminium bottle fuel cell for MSR  cooking stove, selection of cables for camera, cell phone and laptop.

Bike spares:-  oil filter, oil filter remover tool, fuel filter, spark plugs, throttle cables, clutch slave cylinder, rear drive bearing, selection of wheel spokes, alternator belt, brake pads, puncture repair kit, selection of gaskets, selection of light bulbs, duck tape, selection of insect repellents, suntan lotion, water purifying kit, glue, artificial chamois, 2 disposable rain ponchos, and the de rigueur Inflatable globe!!


The rule is...”If it doesn't fit, it doesn't go!!”



Sleeping bag and silk liner

1 pair flip flops (Jangles in NZ)(Thongs in OZ)

Therma-rest mattress

1pr trainers

Travel Towel

1 sun hat

Coagucheck Blood test machine

1 small scarf from Peru



2 pairs trousers

Photo's of our boys

4 tee-shirts

Paperwork and accounts book

Thermal underwear (Shirt and long johns)

Small tube facial moisturiser (for treats)

2 vests

1 lipstick (hardly used!!!!)

4 prs Knickers

International electric plug

2 Bras

Wires for laptop

3prs socks

Long sleeved merino wool jumper


1pr shorts and cut off trousers

3 elastic support stockings

                                  Nicks Pannier

Sleeping bag with silk liner

Flip flops

Therma-rest mattress

Helly hansan thermal underwear


Merino wool tee shirt

2 Folders of paperwork to keep us legal

“Slime” compressor for pumping up tyres

Travel towel

2 hankies

2 pairs trousers

2 base ball caps

1 pr board shorts

Battery razor

2 long sleeved shirts

3  short sleeved shirts

2 underpants

2prs socks


Looking at the above lists it looks as though we may be carrying too much....but, everything is used regularly, nothing is surplice to requirement! (Well, maybe the lipstick!)

The clothes are all quick drying and, when we get the chance, are thrown into the washing machine together. The underwear and socks usually gets washed in the shower!!

Riding gear

We are still using the original Caberg Justissimo flip-up helmets. The visors were replaced in Colombia and Nick has fixed the floppy flip up using a piece of a bicycle tyre inner tube. The Autocom communication system has become a bit crackly and intermittent at times, the microphone covers have been replaced by pieces of old socks sewn on to cut out the wind noise.

The Hood jeans are superb!!!  Can't fault them so won't try!!


Les's 6-yr old Daytona boots, (re-soled for the trip) are showing signs of cracking but are still waterproof.

Nick's Carhart boots bought in Alaska, also showing the odd crack in the leather and haven’t been waterproof for a long while. (Something to do with toe nails??)


Les’s Revitt jacket showing signs of wear, some of the lining is pealing off near the zip and it is definitely loosing its waterproof ability. The workmans’ pull-on over trousers from Colombia are still waterproof! The main complaint is that the jacket is sooooooo heavy! The fleece lining was stolen in Columbia.

Nick’s Hein Gerrick jacket is wearing well although does spring the occasional leak.  The nylon lining is uncomfortable in the hot weather. The winter lining was stolen in Columbia but the fleeces take their place. The pockets are great though! 

I think both jackets are due for replacement in the not too distant future!!

From Les

Napier, New Zealand; 25th May 2008

   Our time in Whitianga was one of the most relaxing since St George Island in Nov 2006! I actually cooked every day and almost came to enjoy it ... well just a little. It was like a home from home, so big thanks to Bruce and Larisa for allowing us to chill and vegetate in comfort.

We were back on the road again on a lovely sunny day on the scenic twisty roads surrounded by forests and pampas grasses as we headed for Mt Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty. Our main goal was to get a new tyre as the rough sealed roads have been eating away at the rubber and we had a few cords showing through the carcass. Nick did a price comparison and BMW shop matched the price so had the privilege of fitting a tyre and unblocking the fuel drain which was not as easy as it sounded. We stayed just down the road on Pampamoa beach with its long sandy beach and wonderful sunset.... yes, life is good.

We had just heard on the news about the volcano eruption in Chile and also that parts of Argentina had also been affected. As soon as we could we sent a few “welfare check” emails to fellow travellers and friends in the area. Fortunately, all were okay but our friend Marisol in Viedma on the east coast of Argentina said that the town had received a covering of ash so the problem must be very widespread. Once again we are reminded of just how vulnerable we are.

As we rode south we noticed that tall screens had been erected over large areas along the route. We caught the occasional glimpse of vines behind the screens. The vines were much larger with bigger leaves than any grapevines we had seen before. The mystery was soon solved when a giant (plastic) kiwi fruit towered over us and a sign declared Te Puke as the “Kiwi Fruit capital of the World”. New Zealand relies heavily on its Kiwi Fruit industry and in this small area of the country all the required ingredients, soil, sun, rain and nutrients combine to make this the growing capital. I had no idea that Kiwi fruit grew on vines but I had heard them called Chinese gooseberry's or Monkey peaches. In China, their country of origin, they were called monkey peaches because when monkeys started to eat the crops they knew it was time to harvest. We could see the fruit on the vines but there where no sightings of monkeys.... maybe they substitute desperate backpackers on working visa's nowadays?

Following the coastal route from the Bay of Plenty to Hicks Bay and East Cape I began to feel as though we were in truly wild country and way off the tourist trails. There was a certain unkempt look to the villages and houses in the area and the frequent abandoned rusty vehicle didn't spoil the illusion. There were few places to get a coffee and even less places to stay now we are in the “low season” for tourism. Many camp grounds and motels had closed down and looked desolate and in some cases flooded out. It had been raining for almost 3 weeks in the East Cape area and there was still a lot of surface water. However, we were lucky enough to find ‘Brian's Place’ in Tokomara Bay where we spent a very cosy and enjoyable evening with fellow Brits, Paul and Neil, and three young German travellers. This was one of the friendliest hostels we have stayed at in New Zealand, even though the town/village was uninspiring. The East Cape is a strong Māori area and we often passed the large “Marae” meeting houses with their intricate carvings at the entrances. It was also not uncommon to see both women and men with dark facial tattoos, some more attractive than others. This week we watched the wonderful film “The Whale Rider” filmed in this region and we strongly recommend it.

I have been quietly suffering with ear ache for quite some time now but the time had come to do something about it as it wasn't improving by itself. Unfortunately, the system here isn't as easy as in South America and the chemist couldn't help me so I had to book myself an appointment with a local Doctor. Doctor Hockey in Gisborne not only printed me reams of prescriptions he was also able to work the credit card machine! Thanks Doc. I have followed the instructions and am pleased to say that the only ear ache I get now is from Nick!!

Autumn is now verging on winter! It is becoming very chilly. Even though the sun has been shining and the sky has been blue we are wrapped up in our layers of thermal underwear, long-sleeved jerseys, T-shirts and fleeces. I am sure if we fell off the bike we would bounce but I am not prepared to carry out that experiment.

Several people, including the good Doctor, had told us to visit Lake Waikaremoana slightly inland and between Gisborne and Napier and within National Forest areas, and so we did. It was a really pretty ride following a fast flowing river/stream most of the way. We hardly saw anyone else on the road and arrived by the lake just as it was beginning to cool down dramatically. Nick had intended to camp but I am getting a bit soft in my old age and we ended up in a small fisherman's cabin close to the waters edge. The lake itself was almost glassy smooth and was surrounded by steep forested cliffs and mountains. We took a hike up to one of the viewpoints and were treated to a great view once again. The lake area has an abundance of birdlife which was evident by the constant birdsong from dawn to dusk. But it was cold!! That night we slept in our sleeping bags with all our gear on except boots, helmets, trousers and jackets. My Jacket lay across my feet to prevent frostbite and I was wearing my woolly hat and the sleeping bag hood was tightly fastened over it. The bike, standing out in the elements, was covered in glistening white frost by the morning and we couldn't see across the lake for the mist and steam as the sun rose. Yep, it's almost winter here .... time to head North again I think!!!

We are now currently in Napier, a coastal town famous for the 1931 earthquake and the rapid rebuild of the city in Art Deco style. As is sometimes the case, some good things come out of the odd disaster and between 1931-1933 many people were employed in the re –construction, which in turn helped them survive the “Great Depression” of that time. I am enjoying wandering around the streets comparing the architecture of the area. The sea front has a large water fountain which at night is lit with colours to match the nearby neon clock. Further along the beach is an arch which, if you stand by a strategically placed rock and line up the centre of the arch you will see the point on the horizon, out to sea, where the sun first rose on the new millennium. So, while we in the UK were easing ourselves into the last day of 1999, the residents of Napier were almost partied out and beginning their New Year resolutions and detox sessions. It is something to do with the International Date Line.

I am still slightly confused by some of the language here but have noticed that most sentences end with “Eh” or “Es” or “Sweet as”. The dress code for the blokes is still short shorts and big boots, I wonder if they actually possess any long trousers and at what temperature do they begin to wear them. I may never get to find out as we are getting closer to the end of our time in New Zealand and we are in the process of arranging shipping to Australia. We have enjoyed our time here and would advise anyone to visit NZ. There is so much in such a small area.

Eddie the webmaster is on a well deserved “boys playaway” in Europe at the moment so this and the next report may be close together. We may well be on our way to Australia so,

Until next time...Lesley

My last update from Auckland; Monday 9th June 2008.

   We spent a predominantly wet, cold and windy week at ‘Archie’s Bunker’ backpackers’ hostel in Napier. To say the locals were shocked by this “unusual weather” would be an understatement. In my own humble opinion, and from what we’ve been hearing from people in the 17 countries we’ve been through, I’m not surprised. Something’s happening with the planet and things are definitely changing. So how long have we got? Who knows, as long as I can finish this plate of fish and chips and my pint!

Whilst in Napier we rode to the top of `Te Mata Hill’, where, from about 400meters above sea level, we had a 360-degree view of this spectacular area. The area was resplendent in lush green rolling hills where cattle and sheep meet vineyards and orchards and the scenery just seemed to roll down to the coast where the angry sea relentlessly pounded the shore.

On the way back we stopped off at a British car museum to gaze in awe at the biggest collection of old British cars I have ever seen. We both enjoyed this trip down memory lane as we remembered the cars our parents and grandparents had known and loved so well, not to mention a few we have had ourselves, like our old Triumph 2.5 pi, a real gas guzzler! We could only take it on long trips if we had paying customers, (do you remember, Derek & Brian?). Happy days indeed.

At last my old friend Steve Briggs returned from his holidays to the UK and we caught up with him and his wife Sarah at their home just outside Napier, where Steve has his own osteopath business. We hadn’t seen each other for several years but found we shared the same passion for motorcycles, making music and cycle racing. I wasn’t surprised he retained his interest in cycling for when we were lads we were the national pursuit champions on the grass track. The motorcycling was a surprise though, especially when we’d both survived a bit of dispatching in London in our younger days! Now Steve rode a Yamaha FZR and squeezed in the odd track day when the weather was good! Later that evening the guitars came out and we made some interesting sounds, Steve was far more proficient than I but I enjoyed thumping about on the bass!

Sadly it was time to move on so we followed Hw 2 north, then Hw 5 northwest through Yorkshire-type countryside, and with towns named Eskdale it made the illusion even more convincing. We rode steadily onwards climbing hills with sweeping bends in the wet, it was ‘steady as she goes’! We carried on upwards into the Maungaharuru Range with forests and logging trucks! With the altitude came an unwelcome drop in temperature as it got very cold, how glad I was that I had the foresight to don my thermals. Suddenly the terrain levelled out and we dropped towards Lake Taupo for the second time this trip, but this time the mountains were snow-capped. After a coffee and warm up we headed north on Hw1 through the geothermal activity, steam and sulphur smells! Highway1 is the main arterial trunk road running up the middle of the North Island and as such it attracts more than its fair share of heavy traffic. At Tirau we continued north on Hw 27 to Matamata, more commonly known as, ‘Hobbiton’; yes, another `Lord of the Rings` movie set. Just out of town we found `The Opal Hot Springs Holiday Park’ and a cabin for the night plus free access to the hot pools. After a long cold day on a bike there really cannot be a better feeling than soaking in a pool where the temperature varied from, 29 to 39 deg c.

After a fat boys’ breakfast the following morning in town, (not for Les you understand!) we rode across more flat, green, cattle and horse countryside. In the distance to the east and running parallel with us was the Kaimai Range, which led us to the coast once again at Waitakaruru and the Pacific Coast Highway. Here we followed the beautiful coastline alongside the Firth of Thames to the Coromandel Peninsula in the distance on the other side. This quite little back road brought us to Orere Point and a `Top Ten` campground where we rounded off a very pleasant day by watching the sun go down from a vantage point on the beach, we were like a couple of young lovers, (even after all these years!).

After another freezing night, and wishing we had warmer sleeping bags, we scraped the frost from the bike’s saddle and continued northwest around this spectacular coastline heading towards Auckland, our final destination for the New Zealand leg of Poole Global Trek.

We found `The International Backpackers` hostel in Parnell and its friendly, but businesslike, host Peter and his wife Trina, who generously gave us a room with an en-suit bathroom at a discounted rate as we were going to be here for a week or so sorting out the shipping to Australian, We’ve now been in Auckland for ten days which has really flown by, mainly due to the fact that we have met some fantastic people and made some lasting friendships.

After exchanging several Emails from Rob and Tracy Henderson, who had been following our adventure on the web site, we eventually joined them for dinner at their lovely home just out of Auckland. On arrival we were welcomed into their home and I immediately observed the walls covered with Burt Munro memorabilia. I was amazed to find that Rob is in fact Burt’s grandson. Well you could have knocked me down with a feather!! Now, if you remember several months ago we were tasked by our wonderful webmaster Eddie, to find the ‘World’s Fastest Indian’, Burt Munro’s bike at Invercargill on the South Island, which we duly did. Now we were in the company of the famous man’s family, and it didn’t end there! On entering the garage to admire Rob’s bikes, a Harley Davidson Electraglide and a Triumph Sprint, I noticed several bows hanging up on the wall. I was startled to learn that I was in the company of a New Zealand national archery champion and Olympic competitor who had shot a compound bow like I did back home, but I was only a county champion! With only days between the four of us, age wise, we all got on like a house on fire and later that evening they escorted us back to Auckland on their Harley, I had to look at our rev counter to see if my engine was in fact running, “how loud was that”? I thought.

The following day we were invited back for breakfast where we talked some more and went for a drive to the coast for coffee. It was on this drive that I could see some `Burt Munro genes’ in Rob as he did like to drive sportingly - a chip off the old block! Thanks Rob and Tracy, we will meet again!

I had been making several enquiries regards shipping the bike to Australia. I have had three quotes for shipping by boat, Auckland to Brisbane, for which I would need a crate to put the bike in and which was being supplied by Gary of `Experience BMW` motorcycle shop here in Auckland. The prices were $480, $641 and the most expensive, a roll on roll off service at around $1600nz. In the end we decided to fly, but during the course of these enquiries I phoned Martyn Freere, a transport logistics manager for, ‘Tapper Transport’ here in Auckland. It turned out that Martyn was an ex-pat and not only that, a fellow BMW rider. We were invited around for dinner and to watch the rugby on TV, twice in fact! The second time was for the first of the All Blacks v Ireland test matches. What a treat it was as Martyn’s wife, Wendy is a cookery teacher, and not only that, another fellow BMW rider! All in all we had a great couple of nights of bikes, beer and rugby, then with a big belly, we waddled home!

After spending an afternoon cleaning and polishing the bike we took her to a company called ‘Green Freight’ at Auckland International Airport on the 9th of June. I had read about this company on the `Horizons Unlimited` website, and was impressed. We don’t need a crate after all and they are flying the bike to Brisbane for $1410nz, about £566. Our contact in Green Freight was the very friendly and helpful, Graham Smith. I had the bike weighed with some of our camping gear and helmets left in the boxes at 288kgs, and with the cubic meters of 2.537m3 they calculated the cost. They will also recover my deposit from the customs department and exit the bike with customs for me. After all the importing issues I had with the customs on the way in, I was now somewhat relieved that the burden had been lifted from my shoulders and I had professionals on my case!

Next I filled in a ‘dangerous goods’ declaration form and a form containing our destination details, then I had to cross the road to the bank and get a cheque made out as they didn’t accept credit cards.

Next I removed and taped up the battery leads and left only a drop of petrol in the tank. Now armed with my ‘Air Waybill’ and receipt we were done in only one hour and twenty minutes, it was so painless and easy.

It was slightly sad leaving the old girl in the warehouse, (no, not Les, the bike). But at least she was now oh so clean and ready for the massive roads of Australia. She has just clocked up 64,000 miles for the `Globaltrek` so far and the gear indicator has started playing up, but I think I can live without that.

Our good friend Bruce from the International Police Association here in New Zealand, who has kept an eye on us and let us stay in his Coromandle retreat, completed his last duties by giving us a lift back to our hostel. We look forward to returning the pleasure when you get to the UK Bruce, if you get there before us then the keys are under the mat so put the kettle on and put your feet up!!

The bike flies out on the 10th of June and we fly out on the 11th with Royal Brunei Airways, 2 one-way tickets costing $600, £240 from a high street travel agent.

When we first arrived in New Zealand I was slightly disappointed. After having spent an exciting time in Latin America, New Zealand was tame by comparison! But, after 6876 miles in just a day under four months exploring both North and South Island, I now love this place; it is small but perfectly formed - a bit like Les I guess!

We have met lots of lovely people who will remain our friends and one day we will be back, unless of course you would all like to come to us, if you can find us that is! We are currently ‘no fixed abode’, somewhere on the planet at present!

All being well, we should be reunited  with our bike on the 12th June in Brisbane, Australia for our 18th country on this amazing, `Global Trek`, get another flag ready Eddie!

Until next time, Nick

From Les

Auckland, New Zealand; 10th June 2008.

   Before we left Napier we had three very important things to do: - Meet up with Steve, an old school and cycling buddy of Nick’s. We also met his wife Sarah, who had just been visiting family in the UK and our hometown of Wymondham. We had a very pleasant, but too short, a visit with them as they were back to work on Monday. Secondly we went to a local rugby match in downtown Napier in the rain. I am so glad I didn't have to wash their kit after all that sliding about in the mud. Thirdly a hair cut and a very good cut it was too. We also had time to visit the Aquarium where we were transported on a conveyor belt through a large tank where sharks swam above our heads, thankfully. Two Kiwi birds in their special dark, double-glazed wooded area were busy trying to prevent their species from becoming extinct! But it did confirm to us that it was in fact a real live Kiwi bird that visited our tent in Milford sound some weeks ago. And So I was ready to move on again leaving Archie’s Bunker, and Doug and Julie, our hosts for the past week.

It was good to be back on the bike again but very chilly. As we passed Lake Taupo again we could see Mt Tongario and nearby volcano tip covered in snow in the distance. The trees were wonderful in reds and gold and seemed to have maintained their colours longer than those further south. We stopped at Matamata, or Hobbiton for Lord Of The Rings fans, and had our first soak in mineral hot springs at the Opal Hot Springs. It was worth taking our clothes off as the pools varied from a cool 27 deg to a lovely 37deg which warmed our bones nicely.

I have just finished reading an entertaining book by Kiwi Mike Hayes who has just ridden around Australia on a Suzuki V-Strom. “Twisting Throttle” made me chuckle many times but it does leave me in fear for my waistline and arteries as in the outback the staple diet is truckers fried food and Mrs Macs pies - UGH! Not long now till we will be experiencing the outback ourselves.

And so we are back in Auckland staying at the International hostel in Parnell with Pete and Trina, who I think seemed pleased to see us again. The next quest was to arrange our exit and onward passage to Australia. Initially we had hoped to ship the bike, which is a cheaper option on paper, however, it would entail sourcing a crate, being bike less for almost 3-weeks and arranging transportation and incurring lots of extra cost along the way. One contact that Nick made during the crating enquiries happily led us to Martin and Wendy. Martin is involved in freighting and Wendy teaches my least favourite! They are both bikers and took pity on us by inviting us to a roast dinner and a rugby match on the TV, not once but twice!!! They were lovely people and excellent hosts and with great food.

When we first arrived in New Zealand we received an email from a couple who owned a Triumph and were heading to the South Island for a 3-week tour and they had invited us to meet up along the road. Unfortunately at that time we were enjoying the North Island but as luck would have it they live just south of Auckland and were happy to meet up. When we arrived at Tracy and Rob's the first thing we noticed, apart from the warm welcome, was a collection of photos and memorabilia of Burt Monro and the “World’s Fastest Indian”. It turns out that Rob is Burt’s grandson. What was intended to be “just a cup of coffee” ended up as lunch and a dark, wet ride home as Rob and Nick found they has so many mutual interests such as bikes, archery, rugby, athletics etc The visit was so successful that we returned for breakfast and spent the rest of a lazy Sunday with them - Thank you both.

We have been fortunate to have met so many wonderful people here in New Zealand and have made many new friends and have caught up with some old friends on the way. A big thank you to you all, too numerous to name but you know who you are. It has definitely made our travels in NZ a happy time for us.

Today we took “the old girl” to the airport, dodging raindrops on the way. She looked as good as new as Nick had been giving her his full attention for a couple of days. He has the usual cuts and grazes on his hands when he tried to clean her nooks and crannies but I noticed he almost shed a tear as we left her in the freighting warehouse awaiting her flight to Brisbane. Hopefully we will all be reunited again on Thursday 12th June for the next phase of our great adventure.

I have had very mixed feelings about New Zealand. Initially I was very disappointed and felt that arriving here was a bit of an anti climax, perhaps things were too much like home and the language and culture was no longer a challenge? Having spent just under 4 months here I can now fully appreciate the wonderful scenery and friendly people. The cities in particular are very cosmopolitan with a high Asian population. New Zealand is a very new country, only recently discovered and inhabited in the big scale of things. I think that true Kiwi's can only go back 7 generations so there is not much history as we know it. It seems to be developing into a whole new multi racial culture, making it new and unique and creating it own history for the future.

The next time we send in our updates we will be in Australia and hope that you will be able to join us there.

Until next time, Lesley.

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