This year I start my first tour early spring, the weather could be very dramatic, and unpredictable. Special on the South Island of New Zealand. The day’s could be very nice and sunny or it could be the opposite, snow could fall up to sea level.
However my first day was an absolute brilliant day, with sunshine low clouds over the Fiord of Milford Sound, and very mild temperatures. After I have had a good breakfast and a strong coffee I started my journey to Dunedin it is a 4.5-hour drive. Where my BMW should get serviced, I have had some unexpected delays on my way, my engine cut off many times as soon I geared down. I was experiencing this trouble already before and contacted my bike dealer. As soon the engine was dying all I need to do open the tank lid, close it again and the engine was running with out any trouble. As I arrived at the bike shop it was late afternoon and to late for the service. The next service which would be available would be in 1 week. There was nothing to do to put my bike for the service the next day, the Manager told me, despite I explained him the situation that I am on holiday and travel to north, even if he could do just an simple oil change would be fine for me. He refused. That was not all; the gasket is leaking too, the bike is just 1 year old and has not more 21200 km.
Early next morning I drove up to Christchurch, visited a licensed BMW dealer, which booked in my bike on the next available day, that worked out for me, and I could do some back country riding. After I left Hamptons Motorcycle, my bike’s engine cut off 3 more times, I did what I did so many times before opened the tank lid and closed it, and continued my riding, until next time engine died.
Finally I took the west coast highway to Arthurs Pass, it was just a 45 minutes drive to the turn off onto Lyndon Road, my first dust road after a long winter break. It was a good feeling, to feel how the tyres bit into the gravel. At lake Georgine I found a great spot to pitch up my tent, surrounded by native fern and the mild splashing lake. The night was looking to get very chilly, it was full moon that night, so I light up a little bon fire beside the tent, and eat my dinner beside. Next morning it was freezing cold just below 0C, fresh snow fell on top of the mountains, during the night. After break fast I got prepared and started my journey.
My plan was to visit the power plan Kowhai, Lake Heron, Lake Ophua, and Lochaber. The whole day was very sunny, the temperature reached tropical 8C at midday. The dust road to lake Heron was in a very good condition, I could accelerate to move on. At the end of the road beside the lake is a nice plateau to have some quick lunch, the contrast from the fresh green to the magnificent landscape let me dream away for some time, out of the short break I planed before, was at the end a 2 hour stop. There is only one road in and out of the valley, to Geraldine, suddenly I need the first time in my life my helmet, I never need it before but now I need it!!!!! It started hailing, hailstones as big as a finger nail, all I can say the hail was a hammering on my helmet, hail stopped as quick as he started, but still some extra croton was needed on the road. After I passed Geraldine my next stop will be Fairlie, at Fairlie I turned into Kerr Clayton Road it is the first part of Lochaber Road, scenery up the road is stunning. It was already late afternoon as I reached the end of the road, it get time to look for a camp spot, not far away from the road is a signed camp site at Opuha Gorge, that night will be one of my coldest nights ever, I camped out in the wild once more, there is a cold front moving in from the alps, locals informed me that night temperatures could get very chilly. I did some winter camping before, put on my thermal clothes, I have had a very good sleep, didn’t feel the cold despite the temperature plunged down to 7C below 0C. The bike was covered in frost the next morning. Fist thing to do after such a cold night, cook some water to make a strong coffee, and lean back and enjoy the sunrise.
Already a long time ago I changed my stove, I used methylated alcohol for cooking but changed to petrol, at low temperatures methylated alcohol could be difficult to light up.
On this day I traveled in direction Mac Kenzie Pass, Lake Benmore, Hakataramea Pass and Mayers Pass to Oamaru.
It was a very cold day again, around 5C and sunny. The day was a very easy and relaxing, good gravel road no camper vans or bicycles on the road, there was only one big decision to make which road I have to take to Oamaru, there are two options first one Hakataramea Road which is a back country road with few Ford Crossing, or the more challenging Black forest road, you need to ask the farmer for permission at Black Forest Station to pay a little road tax to him. It took some time to make up my mind, the cold front was still moving in the wind picked up already, it was much rain forecasted, as friends told me before, if I want to do Black Forest the weather must be very good other wise it could be a very challenging adventure more like a mission.
I decided to ride Hakataramea Road which was a good Joyce. Only after a few km’s it started to snow temperature on my GPS 1C not even close to the pass, Snow got more intense on the way to the highest point of the road, for some reason snow shower stopped before I reached the pass, I was hoping to get a nice photo at the pass with some fresh falling snow. All the scenery changed many times from brown landscape into fresh green farmland, all shades of grey, green blue.
Mayers Pass is not a very tricky section; at some parts deep cliff and drop off make it more adventurous. I passed Serphentine Valley, Elephant hill back road. From there I took SH82 to Kurow. There is no Backpacker in Kurow to stay. So I need to booked a Top 10 Holiday park in Oamaru for that night, to get a hot shower after a few days camping by chilly temperatures.
I have had a refreshing beer that night too. Next morning I drove back to Christchurch to service my bike at Hamptons. Despite the service took longer than expected, I started my journey to Lake Tekapo, it was already dark when I arrived there, the wind was exceptional strong for the time at night, the weather change must affect the unusual strong wind that night. I pitch up my tent in the difficult condition, full of a challenge’s, it took much longer than usual. First I started with placing the tent on the ground put the pegs into the ground one by one, the tent was moving all the time was lifting up and twisted around, until all pegs where placed. Next step put pools into the tend tighten all secure straps, and safety line’s on all sites. Surprisingly few of the secure lines get ripped out of the ground by the gale force wind, during the night. There was no way to light up a bonfire, the wind was just too strong.