took much longer to fix bike,

There is a saying, for everything is a reason why it happen in your live. Sometimes you find out after some time, why it happen. That happen tome many times before and in 2019 as well, my tour has been pretty much set up, only few documentation has been missing, application for carnet de passage, shipping bike to next destination. I couldn’t get documents I needed because bike didn’t pass warrant of fitness. The bike need to fixed first. This is my story about changing plans part 3.

After I finally got all my spare parts to fix the bike passed nearly 9 month, some parts where out of stock for 2 month in Germany too, earliest eta would be late autumn early summer 2019 in new Zealand. It took until late January to get parts shipped from Germany to new Zealand. As they arrived I have been busy on the south island, and needed few days off to replace and modify parts. Flight to Auckland has been booked, just on the day before my flight went to Auckland Milford sound experienced one of the most destructive typhoon and floods. Apart of the road in Hollyford Valley got washed away and the road has been closed for nearly 6 weeks, there was no escape out of Milford Sound, I canceled all my flight to Auckland and waited of a better time to travel, in January we heared about covid 19 first time, no one knew really what was going on. I re-booked my flight for April, just before my scheduled flight departed whole new Zealand went into full lockdown for 3 month.

After lock down I could finally fix bike in December 2020. Despite bike has been stored for nearly 2 years it fired up immediately, was super exited to drop off bike by an bmw service centre in Auckland. Staff was very professional and every thing has been done what need ed to be done, this was the best experience I have had in New Zealand with any BMW service centre.

It was Christmas already the weather perfect, surprisingly I had some time for 2.5 weeks as well. I planed a trip from Pallisar Bay to Auckland a combination of back roads, main roads, and 4wd tracks. But I will tell more about this track in my next story. This a re some outstanding location I have visited since I have been back to New Zealand.


changing plan part 2

Sometimes making changes is unavoidable, if there are too many obstacles and hurdles in the way it is best to change the plan that is what I did in January, after I found out that no one was absolutely sure with shipping cost if Brexit is going to happen. That was not an easy decision to make leave bike in New Zealand and put it back into storage. At the end it was a good decision I made. After spending more than 1.5 years in Ireland and working there in a castle as pastry chef I returned to New Zealand. As I want reregister my bike, I found out that my wof has expired, at first, I was very confident that I got my warrant of fitness get done without trouble, I just did my previous wof km 2600 before. In general bike was fine there was just that concern of the engineer with my rear suspension that there is a slag of round 5mm which he though is not acceptable for safe riding on road, and I didn’t get my wof first time.

Now I had to find a mechanic which can replace rear suspension connector, everything was organized to fix, until I got the call from bike shop some of the parts are available but there main part what I needed is out of stock in NZ and eta was not available that time, I tried my bike shop in Germany same information part is not available in Germany either eta 3 weeks from that point. Nearly 8 weeks passed to get parts shipped to New Zealand, bike get finally fixed. It is now late summer already, but weather is much better than last 3 month it was raining snowing and stormy for the whole time not a good time to be riding. I have not much new tours but many new photos of stunning places of New Zealand.

I made a last minute change 4 days before my flight depart Queenstown to Auckland, I decided to freight my bike from Auckland to Queenstown, and I booked a return flight, not only for the time I would spend on the bike. This time it was more convenient and much easier to freight bike from Auckland to Queenstown otherwise I had to take holiday which I need later this year. Everything has been booked. On my day 10, (I work 10 days on and 4 days off);

All looked good so far despite we experienced heavy rainfall, thunder, lightning and galeforce winds, road is closed due to flooding on more locations that we get next road status update by 1.00pm. it didn’t got better rain got more heavy and we had to evacuate wharf, and staff accomedation. That all staff had to take some belongings they need to stay for the night on the boat, that is the safest place that time, because Cleadau river grow to a raising torrent no one know if the bank will hold and if in worst case scenario the staff accommodation would be flooded.

A big part of the road has been washed out too, worst of all the road will be closed for the whole week!!!

I have had to cancel my flight again.



from world abandoned to fairytale castle

From world abandoned to a fairytale castle


After more than 7 years living and working on all part of the globe I returned one more time to Ireland. As I remembered I left Ireland in November 2007 just before the crises hit the whole economy. On my return I had some old memory’s in mind and was exited what I have to see and how much Ireland has been changed over the years.

For first few month I found a place to work in Waterford the oldest medivel city on south east. To my surprise many historic pubs didn’t exist any more, it was very sad to see there appearance broken windows, overgrown pergolas, no one rely bothered bout this part any more. On other hand Ireland had a big improvement on the road upgrade highways and Airports are stunning on their modernest structure. After my shift I strolled through Waterford and to my surprise it appeared much quieter than many years before, many pubs are open only at weekends, and the pedestrian steed is less crowded than before. Than I got a great opportunity to work in one of the best Castels in Ireland Kilronan Castel, it is hard to believe that that Hotel used to be on the world abandoned list, it is not long time ago it was totally ruined. But in early 2000 Hanly Group took the brave step forward to put an dream into reality. It took many years and many hard working hours to rebuild this Castle to todays prestine glory. The inventory has been carefully selected to decorate very single room from entrance, to lobby even dining room has it own charm. As I walked in on my first time I have been totally stunned what can be done, to rescue such a great building and show the public the beauty of history. Just a short stroll from the Hotel is Lake Mallegh, very easy walk through forest with very old trees to look at. There is a little loop walk in the forest with few stunning look outs and benches to chill out. After such an experience it would be good to have a light snack in the bar, the Afternoon tea is one of the best I have had on all my traveling around the world. I dried bar food and dinner menu too I couldn’t find any fault. In general I could feel the impact of the recession locals are more considered than before what they are doing. In the same way the are still as lively and social then before.

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.


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.


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.


Portfolio of the Photographer Frank Widmer