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.
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.
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.
17th Sep 2013, Tuesday (Before starting the Journey)
We went for a ride up to Mount Eden, Auckland after getting Sertao BMW bike from Experience Motorcycle handed over and we were just in time for our first sunset.
Day 1 – 18th Sep 2013, Wed (from Auckland to Tongariro National Park)
It was an exceptional sunny day for a good start of bike riding. After breakfast at Olaf Restaurant, Mount Eden, Auckland we started our adventure riding at 1030am. From Auckland, we took state highway 1 towards Hamilton. We were looking for Highway 22 route on the way. It took us quite some time to find out before giving up. We asked for direction at petrol station and we were lucky to meet friendly bikers to show us the direction. We started the off road riding at Pukekohe.
Highway 22 is indeed a recommended unsung scenic route to explore the true beauty of North Island. There is about 30km of adventurous gravel road in the journey. It was a slow and careful ride due to the bad surface, full of potholes and animals’ crossing. From highway 22, it leads back to main road and heading towards Tongariro National Park. Mount Ruapehu is looming in front of us as we were approaching the destination. The total journey takes about 435km and 9 hours of ride included breaks in between. It gets darker and colder as we reached at destination at 7pm. We were totally exhausted after this ride due to the weather. We checked in Plateu Lodge for a good rest.
Day 2 – 19th Sep 2013, Wed (from Tongariro National Park to New Plymouth)
At 730am, we continued our journey after packing. It was a cloudy day. We took Forgotten World Highway towards New Plymouth. 12km of the highway is unsealed road and there is no petrol station on the way. Therefore we filled up the tank before moving. The total 155km of adventure begins at Taumarunui and ends at Stratford. It follows ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks, through ambitious historic settlements, untamed native bush and stunning natural scenery.
On the way, there is a detour along Moki Road leads to a 20 minutes walk to Mt Damper Falls. It is the North Island’s second highest waterfall and is the spectacular sight. Shortly after that, there is a single lane 180m long Moki Tunnel that was built in 1936 and is known locally as the Hobbit’s Hole.
From Forgotten World Highway, it merges to state highway towards New Plymouth. On the way, we stopped at White Cliff for a short break
Walkway map at the entrance of White Cliff
The whole journey took about 380km and 6 hours to reach at destination. It was a heavy downpour when we reached at 6pm. We were lucky to have checked in Duck and Drakes Lodge by then. Following is the route map of Forgotten World Highway from Taumarunui to Stratford:
Day 3 – 20th Sep 2013, Thu (from New Plymouth to Wellington)
We departed at 9am for another 350km journey down to Wellington. When we left New Plymouth, it was foggy on the road. We have difficult vision and missed out some of the great views on the way such as Mount Taranaki. However, the sky clears up in the afternoon. We were riding along the coastal route, taking state highway 3 towards Wellington passing Opunake and Wanganui on the way. We stopped at Wainui Beach for a break.
It was an easy ride and took us about 6 hours to reach at destination. It was windy and heavy downpour in Wellington as we reached. We checked in Kingsgate Hotel at 7pm.
Day 4 – 21st Sep 2013, Fri (From Wellington to Kaikoura)
We left the accommodation at 8am to catch ferry Interislander at 830am. It was drizzling in the morning. We checked in the bike at Deck 3 then chilled out at Deck 7.
There are lounges around which allow passengers to have rest and to dine while enjoying the views outside the ferry. It passes through Marborough Sound but it was a bad weather therefore vague visibility to behold the magnificent view around the islands. The journey took about 2 hours from Wellington to Picton.
After checking out the bike, we continued our journey and drove past Blenheim through state highway 1. It was a sunny day for a good start in South island. We stopped at Half Moon Bay for pictures.
It took about 5 hours from Picton to Kaikoura. At about 6pm, we reached and checked in Dolphin Lodge.
View from Balcony at Dolphin Lodge
Before night falls, we had a stroll along Kaikoura Peninsular and a walk around Kaikoura town center then discovered that there is a vintage car rally.
Day 5 – 22nd Sep 2013, Sat (From Kaikoura to Christchurch)
We departed to Christchurch at 10am and no back road this time. We drove past Cheviot and Waipara along the shoreline. We reached about 6pm just in time before the rain started. We checked in Jailhouse Lodge. This lodge used to be a female prison, which was built because of the overcrowding at Lyttelton.
Day 6 – 23rd Sep 2013, Sun (From Christchurch to Queenstown)
It was a great day to continue to the last town before heading to Milford Sound. We spent about 2 hours on bike service before continuing as it reaches about 1500km by then. From Christchurch, we drove down to Rangitata then taking highway 79 passing Geraldine towards Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo is located at 42km west of Fairlie, with an altitude of 710m. The most striking thing about Lake Tekapo is its extraordinary colour in which the light reflected from microscopic rock particles suspended in glacial meltwater lends the water an ethereal opaque-aqua hue. We stopped at the well-known Church of the Good Shepherd, an enchanting little stone church built in 1935 as a memorial to the Mackenzie Country pioneers.
We also photographed the Collie Dog Monument that is about 100m to the east of the church. It was erected in 1968 by local sheep farmers to honour the dogs that make it possible to graze this harsh terrain. We reached at Lake Pukaki after about 20min from Lake Tekapo. It is just located next to each other but it is an unsung destination with no sign of tourist.
From there we continued towards Twizel and Omarama then Lindis Pass. It was getting dark as we arrived in Wanaka and had a break at Lake Wanaka for sunset.
From there we drove towards Queenstown through the back road. It was about 8pm when we reached at A-Line Heartland Hotel.
Day 7 – 24th Sep 2013, Mon (Queenstown)
We stayed another one more night in Queenstown to explore further. We had breakfast at Post Office Café.
After that, the first stop is Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu 50km northwest of Queenstown. The scenic drive along Lake Wakatipu takes about 30km to The Wharf Shed. The lakeside drive passes Bob’s Cove, the best place to observe the lake’s seiche, a phenomenon which causes the lake level to fluctuate by around 150mm every five minutes.
The whole journey along the lakeside drive takes about 30minutes to reach The Wharf shed. The shed is originally built by NZ railway department as a goods shed for freight carried on the steamers between Queenstown and Glenorchy. There is a well-trained dog ready to play with tourists around the shed. The dog is smart to understand human, as it would play until you bid farewell. We manage to relax at the abandoned wharf under the sun. Then we proceeded to Moke Lake. The access is along the way but the it is about 20km gravel road.
We were in Arrowtown for sunset. The town still has the feel of an old gold town and retains the spirit of a living community with grocers’ shops, pubs and post office. After the short walk in Arrowtown, we proceeded for a dinner at Skyline by Gondola.
Day 8 – 25th Sep 2013, Tue (From Queenstown to Milford Sound)
From Queenstown, we took the steamboat, TSS Earnslaw to transport the bike across Lake Wakatipu to historic working station of Walter Peak. TSS Earnslaw is a magnificent vintage steamship believed to be the only coal-fired passenger- carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere.
From there we continued on the Mount Nicholas gravel back-country road along the Western Shores of Lake Wakatipu with few ups and downs all the way through to Mavora Lake with 2 river crossings. There is no other food or drink along the way or petrol station. 20km after the second river crossing, we reached at Mavora Lake where we had a break.
Then we continued our journey towards Te Anau after Mavora Lake on state highway that took us about 30minutes of ride. It was about 6pm when we reached at Te Anau and had a break at Pop In Café next to Te Anau Lake.
The journey towards Milford Sound from Te Anau took us another 1 hour of ride. It is a scenic route along the way through Homer Tunnel passes Mirror Lake, the Chasm, Milford Sound National Park and water falls.
Finally, the adventurous riding ended at 730pm at Southern Discoveries accommodation!
New Adventures will follow, for sure, If the Adventure bug hugged you, you are hooked, it will be difficult to relax