changing plans

To make a plan is always a good preparation, to get organized for a new adventure. Before I depart New Zealand I planed to ship my BMW back to Europe to get it registered and insured. For the last timer I put bike back in storage at Auckland and moved back to Ireland, where I used to work for 7 years already. To find a job was not that difficult, best of all I could work as a pastry chef in one of Irelands best Castle, what a privilege for me. But it took me some time, even month to settle back in in European work habits they are not as casual than in New Zealand, I struggled a lot over first few month. Every thing was organized to ship bike back to Ireland, I had all papers organized what I need for custom clearance, all I have to do fly back to New Zealand get bike crated up and ship it back to Ireland, shipping quote worked out reasonable too. I scheduled 3 weeks in total what is more than enough time to get bike crated and deregistered. After I booked my flights and hotels I could sit back and relax, I thought so……

All of us didn’t thought about one situation what affected whole global business BREXIT!!!!! I fond out after I arrived at Auckland. We couldn’t make a final quote, or even estimate how long bike is on the way and if there more delays in Europe or not. 

At the end I decided leave bike in NZ for an other few month until whole situation is more settled. Than I traveled independently visited Macau, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Germany it is some time that I have been back home for many years, it was good to see parents after many years too.I start planning for my next adventure already, to get bike back to Europe

chatham island rekohu wharekauri

This is my 2ndparty of my Chatham Island experience, I spend at eh end 8 month on this remote and very isolated Island. I still remember the time I arrived and had no mobile reception, any where on the island still on my last day I really enjoyed that, no ringing phones; anywhere. The only internet what was a available was in the Hotel and in our accomodation, I felt set back to the time I grow up, had to play in the garden with my friends without any mobile phone. Over that 8 month I saw a lot from spring, to summer and to fast arriving autumn. Spring and summer was very warm and we have had nearly no rain but every day sunshine and a good breeze from the sea. Autumn arrived very quickly, over night temperature dropped to a chilly 9C in the morning, and the sun rise and sunset where absolute ameizing, not to forget the night sky, after I took many photos already I got up one night at 3.00 am to take some photos of the stars again, on that night I took some rare pictures of an Aurora Australis. The prices in the hotel are not much more expensive than on the mainland, despite all goods have to get to the island, transport of the goods is not cheap, despite price is adequate. And the quality of the food get served is up the standard to mainland, in the presentation and taste is the pride of the chef anchored and presented. As it is in remote places sometimes your first juice of food is not available, for days or sometimes for weeks, because storage is limited and ship with all goods is no the way but due to weather condition delayed. No local is very upset about that, everyone know that situation even each household.Every one on the Island received on the same day all goods delivered by ship or plain. On my days off I did a lot of hiking along the beach, or went to Henna Park, saw many more hidden treasures beside the road many of them needed special permission by the landowner to see, usually there is no problem to get land access.

Wildlife is very active everywhere. Wekas, Chatham Island pigeon fantail, and hedge hook are only a few to name. Surprisingly there are no rabbits on the whole island.

After a big storm we experienced a very sad occurrence 27 whales had been washed up at the beach not very far from my accomodation, all of them died a short time after they had been washed on shore. The best time to visit Chathams is from December to late March, days are long and warm with less rain fall during this period. My personal joyce is Hotel Chathams situated in the most iconic location beside beach. Mountains around the hotel protect the Hotel from sometimes gale force winds which arriving from the sea. In the morning all customer can see the stunning sunrise by breakfast. Well worth it is to join daily organised tours by the hotel, the tour guides has special permission by land owner to visit, what individuals usually don’t have or get. Even to listen to the talkative tour guide about history and glorious ancient times is a good benefit on top of the experience.

northisland

Finally I did travel whole New Zealand, covered more than 75000 kms most of them I traveled on South Island. There is still one area which I didn’t explore and that is northland, upper part of New Zealand. For last 8 month I had my bike in storage as long I have been on Chatham Island for my summer job. Bike soon for the whole time, had no wolf and insurance, first thing to do get the bike legal back on the road, I was not sure if my bike fire up right away, after 8 month standing in storage expected to charge battery first, but any way I give try before taking battery out to recharge, what a surprise bike fired up without trouble. Wof (warrant of fitness) took 5 minutes and I got my sticker that bike is save to ride.

On my first day t traveled to sheep island a nature reserve which is controlled by Auckland council. Don’t get surprised by the first impression it look more than high security track than a reserve. It is worth to stay there for a few days, because one of the endangered birds living there the Takahe they are a bit bigger than Pukeko. Later that day the ranger showed up and informed all camper that whole northland expect a severe weather warning with more than 200mml rain over night, some camper moved on other stayed, I stayed. Rain was hammering over night on my tent, with ear plugs I couldn’t hear much and have had a good sleep. Next morning the whole camp looked like a paddle of water barley any “try” pitch, except where I put up my tent. I stayed for two nights until weather cleared up. My next stop is Otamure bay a DOC camp ground by my check in the lady want sell me a bin bag for $5 which is apparently compulsory the bag was that big that could store my whole belongings on the bike, however I asked her if she is serious about the dice of the rubbishy bag, and for 1 apple would be the rubbishy bag a bit to big, if she could provide a bag which is more suitable for an apple, I was not sure if she felt offended or not but she took the rubbishy bag back and didn’t charge me $5 for it.

On the way up north is an historic Kauri Gum field, Gumdiggers Park on Heath Rd. The park is well presented with many old relic displayed how kauri gum has been digged out.

My next stop was Rarawa Beach, it has easy access to the beach good sand to ride on. Just beside the beach is one DOC camp which is nice to spend the night. Following day I rode to Spirits Bay, this was the most beautiful camp spot so far on the north island, surrounded by native bush land and the roaring Pacific Ocean, I stayed for 2 night. This was the first time that it got close to 0C in the morning, and mist covered the whole valley which looked mysterious by the rising sun. As soon sun came through temperature climbed very quickly, by 10 the tent was dried up and ready to pack away. From this camp it was just a short drive to Cape Reinga, usually there are millions of tourists around, that day the northest point was very quiet, what is unusual. I study the tide for 90 mile beach and I was unlucky low tide was by 3.00 pm it was 10.30 am as so many times I hade to adjust my plan not taking the first road to 90 mile beach due the high tide, but visited the biggest sand dunes in New Zealand, from there I took an other back road to Utea Park, even a good place to spend the night just beside 90 mile beach. From there is one more access road to the beach. Now the time was right, the tide was low and I had the chance to ride down the well known 90 mile beach. To be absolute frank the beach is better to ride the some roads in Nz not a single pothole. I felt a bit bored at the end.

 

 

Chatham Island

The Chatham Island is in the Pacific Ocean located, 800 km east of South Island New Zealand. It counts in total 10 Islands in a 40km radius, the main Island is Chatham Island it is the biggest island with around 600 citizens, Pitt Island is the 2nd largest island with around 30 inhabitants’. There is one company which operate between New Zealand and Chatham Island, Air Chathams. On the island is one Hotel which has the roots back to 1860 and operates still today on the same location in front of the beautiful protected harbour in Waitangi.

My first impression of the island was that it is much bigger than I imagined, from all the roads are only 10km sealed all other roads are gravel and dust roads. All bulky goods such as cars, oven, big alcohol order, petrol and any kind of building material get delivered for private or commercial use on a cargo vessel to Chatham Island, smaller goods and mail arriving via air plain.  It is al ways an exiting day when a cargo ship arrive to the island. It is even so possible that for month no ship arrives during winter month due weather condition.

Chatham Island has a history which is for many outsiders unknown it changed many times nationality first European arrived in 1791 on the ship HMS Chatham whose captain was William R. Broughton and claimed possession for Great Briton, Pitt Island was discovered after Chatham Island.

Movarian Missionary’s arrived in the year1843, those German missionaries made no converts but had a significant input into the lifestyle. They introduced potato which have been exported to New Zealand, Boysenberry and all kind of farming, sheep and cattle have been introduced too. Some how no rabbits, the island is rabbit free still today. the Original Stone Cottage from missionary was build in 1860 and is still open for public towaday, and Helen the owner live in that house with no electricity like the decades ago. I met Helen on my visit she is a lovely lady and like to talk about the past as she grow up, there is a lot to listen too.

Lifestyle is more described as chilled and relaxing, few times of the year locals have their social events as Horse racing, Chatham Island Jockey Club is one of the oldest clubs in whole New Zealand, fishing competition, rugby matches for local teams only, and food festivals are held during the year.

Even so hunting for pig, boar swan is a very popular time. WEKA is not protected on the island it can get eaten, but if a weka want get taken to mainland a permit is needed.

Chatham Blue Cod is world famous and gray fish too both are for export, Kina, Pipi, Mutton Bird, Hakupa is widely eaten as well, and not to forget Paua, it is cooked in all kind of variation, as paua burger, curried, minced, as salad or even Paua Polognese or Lasagne is available.

 

Raglan to Waitomo

This time I realy have to say I go where the road takes me, I have not a specific destination in mind, all I did was checking on my map for gravel roads around west side of Hamilton, too all my surprise I ended up at Raglan, one of the top surf spots on the coast close to Tasman Sea, nearly everything is involved into surfing and the locals are very easy going and relaxed. I found a BBH hostel with sea view, and the local Police station is opposite the Hostel located, was not sure if that was purpose or just a coincidence. In total I stayed for 3 nights and it was always organiced from the Hostel onenight movie night, 2nd night Quiz night on my last night was a home baked pizza night it was great fun for everyone.

First day was wet as; and the sky was pouring down as much rain as possible, I took a day off riding and just relaxed by the warm open fire in the living room, what payed off the next day forecast didn’t look good for the whole day but much better than the day before, after breakfast I decided to take the chance for a ride, down the coast.

I passed the main bridge in Raglan to Wainui Rd, from there I continued to Whaanga Rd, from there start a metal road (gravel road) above the coastline. Sea was not too rough and many surfer had fun in the on rolling waves. On the way are many great look out, one of them is directly above the dropping cliff.

I continued to Kawhia, for a coffee stop, after i left I took the backroad through the forest and mountenious terrain to Waitomo. At Hauturu is the turn off just in a right bend I took a sharp left turn onto Hauturu Rd, which is going through prestine scenery with many little farm to the right and the left, the further I went up the mountains the more interesting got the landscape. Every thing has combined in this location, green overgrown hills, dense native forest, and many landslides. At Waitomo I took one more short stop to look for the road back to Raglan. It was already around 3.00 and day light is for another 3 hours I didn’t had much time to explore more of this extraordinary area. I took the fastest way back that was SH31, I just made it before it got dark and on time for Pizza night.

Coromandel

My summer season in Doubtful Sound has finished in late May, just the right time before it get cold and snowy. This time I decided to move on to warmer locations in New Zealand direction; not exactly known wherever the road takes me.  Shortly after my seasonal contract finished I started my trip to North of New Zealand, passed scenery and city’s where I have been before and old memories came alive. From Picton I had to take the ferry to Wellington, from there I rode straight to Coromandel Peninsula where I stayed for nearly two  weeks, it is already late May and off season, this is the time time of the year when it is not very busy, all accommodation is much cheaper than in the summer month. Mostly I stayed in BBH Hostels on my trip, never had a bad experience, my bike was always in a secure location  parked overnight or even locked up in the yard by the hostel. I did some camping too, however nights got very chilly already and in the morning was some condensation on the  inside of my  tent, as soon the sun came out the tent dried up very quickly mostly late morning I took off to my next destination.

Coromandel Town is a good starting point to ride to Port Jackson, on the way I stopped one more time at Colville for one more night camping at Colville Bay Motel it is a unique place to stay, it is very basic for camping but everything is around what you need, the owner are very friendly and welcoming. Next day I started a bit earlier than normal, to ride to Port Jackson it is a unsealed road in a very good condition, more to look out are the local driver they are speeding up and down the road. At Port Jackson is a DOC campground with a Ranger who take care and look after the area. After this visit I went to Port Charles, it is a very rural location, but mobile reception is available, and it is very good for fishing from the wharf, it didn’t took us a very long time after we cast, we caught a big snapper big enough to feed a whole family. The way back to Coromandel was as exiting as the rode I rode before. The hills are very steep and overgrown with trees and ferns after each heavy rain shower or pour down many landslides occur beside the road, I passed landslides they where big enough to cover the whole road from one side to the other, but road worker where as soon at work, as the rain stopped and it was safe to dig out the road from mud and trees. In Coromandel I stayed for a few more nights to relax.

 

Piano Flat and Waikaia Bush Road

I was planning this trip for some time, the preparation was done but the weather was not suitable, the track is very challenging with many unexpected obstacles. The Waikaia Bush road or Whitecoomb road goes from Fruitlands to Waikaia through private farmland and later through DOC land. The road is much easier if you start by Fruitlands and continue to Waikaia. We took Waikaia Bush Road the access is just around the corner by Shingle Creek coming from direction Fruitlands.

On the first 8 km are few farm gates to open the road is in a very good maintained condition. After the last gate DOC land begins and the road is not maintenance, the road is filled up with rain water which could be front wheel deep or only few inches, but the mud in the paddle is very soft bike is drifting from one side to the other, most difficulty is the tyre marks from 4WD cars which can’t be seen at all, then relay to your luck to get through. I cannot recommend to try riding around the paddle, the ground is very soft as well and the tussock very thick. I drove through all paddle it was very slippery. After I managed the last paddle the road got rockier with wash outs, I decided to drive in the washouts which are not very deep, but without any mud, the tyre had a reasonable grip too. On the next section I experienced a lot of rock steps which remained me more riding down a staircase than anything else. The steps were as high as 40 cm and super slippery covered with a very thin layer of mud and gravel. It is possible to camp beside the track and the scenery is very beautiful, there is a swamp on top of the range too. After the 4WD club stuck in May 2016 the last part of the road (on the Waikaia site) has been improved a lot, there are no wash outs or gaps in the road. It is extreme slippery in wet condition. I put on a brand new Heidenau Scout 60 tyre I have had to work very hard to keep my bike on track.

 

macquarie island

Macquarie Island is one of the Subarctic Island, which is located in the Southern Ocean, just half way between New Zealand and Antarctica. Macca is the nickname of Macquarie Island and is a nature Reserve managed by the Tasman Parks and Wildlife Service. The Island and surrounding waters are protected in a radius of 12 nautical miles. The geoconversation is significant. The land under water, and all fauna and flora including fish and marine plants are fully protected.

Frederick Hasselbough discovered the island accidently on 11 July 1810. As he was looking for new sealing grounds, the island was uninhabited, and claimed the Island for Briton. Hasselborough reported a wreck of ancient design, which has given the speculation that Polynesian or others have visited the island before.

The Island is about 34 km long and 5km wide, with an area of 128 km sq. Near Macquarie Island are two smaller islands. The islands highest point is MT Elder on the northeast ridge 385 m, and Mt Hamilton and Fletcher in the South at 410m.

Macquarie Island is rich on wildlife include subarctic fur seals, Antarctic fur seals, New Zealand fur seals, and southern elephant seals, more than 60 000 individuals are known. Royal penguins, Macquarie Shags, king penguins, southern rock hopper penguins and gentaoo penguins breed in large numbers on the island. Since 1948 the Australian Antarctic Division has maintained a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the northern end of the island at the foot at Wireless Hill. The population of the base varies from 20 to 40 people over the year.

Tourism has a very small impact on the Island, not more than 250 to 400 visitors are visiting the Island over the year. The only access is via cruise ships which usually traveling during the summer month into the subarctic to visit Subarctic Islands.

Macquarie island is the last Island before Antarctica, it could get very rough at sea from time to time, and a landing is sometimes not possible due the high swell at the beach side.

 

Akaroa Island

Akaroa Island is just around the corner by Christchurch, there are a costal drive and the much longer drive on the main highway. I took both roads first I passed Lyttlton to Governors Bay continued to Diamond Harbour. The road is sealed until Monolau from that village on the road get unsealed with deep gravel was not easy to ride with a heavy bike, the further I got into hill side the more the road looked like a 4 wd road, unseals slippery and full of pot-holes. The whole scenery is very beautiful and changes many times, all the time a look out offers a great view to the costal area. The road gets connected to Little River. I took a sharp left turn on SH 75 and drove to Onawe Pa, it is historic place to stop singed in 1832. Nowadays it is a Hotel and Restaurant with a view to Barry’s Valley and Barry’s Bay. There is only one road to Akaroa. Akaroa it self has a strong French influence from the past. Many street names are in French, to police station get called Gendarmerie too. At the far end of the road is a Hostel located a good place to relax, in middle of the forest and mountains, far away from the township. Akaroa is famous for fresh fish, French style baked goods and salmon farming.

After my visit to Akaroa I drove to French farm a small settlement at French Farm Bay it is well signposted on the main road and a good opportunity to go for swim water is crystal clear. From there on I followed the road up into the mountain, a typical 4wd road what I found out. The luck with the weather was not on my side, far up in the mountain clouds moved in very fast and the wind picked up my visibility was not more than 10 meters. That contrition continued the whole road up to Mount Bossu, there was a sharp right bent. The weather changed completely, clear blue sky and sunshine was my reward, and I can say that much it was worth it to keep on going. Landscape got better and better, it was time for afternoon tea too. To sit in the field to relax was awesome no notice was around just plain nature. Following Bossu Road to Reynolds Valley is an easy ride, the road is following the ridgeline, and soon the road is going to Kinloch and Breitmeyers. It took only few more meters to go until back on the SH74.

The colonization started in early 1800 at Akaroa Island, it was the same time were the French established in the Pacific region. Approximately 50 to 60 whaling ships were sailing between New Zealand and France. The Wale trace was very lucrative that time; Oil lit street lamps in Paris and other big city’s all over Europe.

However just one month before the Comet de Paris left France, the British signed the treaty of Waitangi with the Maori Chief, at the bay of islands, on the 6th February in 1840. Just 1 month later the Southland Chief of Maori signed the treaty, on 30th May the same year.

The unknowing French arrived at Akaroa Island in August 1840 and discovered they would be settling into a British colony. After the signing of the treaty, a British warship had sailed to Akaroa and planted the union jack. The land had been bought by Langlois had been sold again, as it was often Maori Custom. The British Settler stayed calm, due to much diplomacy that time, no major incidents has arise that time. The French Government requested the British Government to protect the rights of the French landowners in New Zealand, and that was agreed upon in 1841.

Langlois returned to France in October 1842, with a cargo of more than 1.700 barrels of whale oil.

The French settled as planed in Akaroa, but instate a large French colony, just 2 towns had been build with around 60 French inhabitants.

 

Champbell Island

Champbell Island is an other Subarctic Island that belong to New Zealand. It covers 112.68 square kilometer and is uninhabited. The Island is mountainous and raising up over 500m to the South. Champbell Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Island was discovered by Captain Frederick Hasselborough. The Island became a seal hunting place, and the seal population was nearly completely eradicated, the first sealing boom was over in mid 1815s, and the second was a short hunt in the 1820s. After the sealing boom, started the whaling boom in 1830s and 40s. Much of the topography is named after people which have been connected in any aspect in the late 1800s

Sheep farming was undertaking in 1896, and a small heard of cattle was abandoned in 1931 of the great depression.

During WW2 a constant watching station was build at Trucker Cove at the north shore. After the war the station was used as a meteorological station until 1958. When New Zealand build a new one at Beeman Cove.

The climate at Champbell Island is maritime. The Island receives only 647 h of sun shine annually, and has a annual rainfall of 1.329 mm.

Marine mammals have shown good recovery after all pests have been eradicated. Sea lions and southern elephant seals have begun to re-colonize the island.in the winter month some southern right wales visiting North west Bay and Presverance Harbour. Yellow Eyed Penguins living in the island as well.

Portfolio of the Photographer Frank Widmer