S: Honeymoon 2005
FC: Chris and Sandy's Incredible Honeymoon Adventure.
1: Sandy and Chris's Honeymoon Adventure. 24/01/2005 Objective: To motorcycle down the North Island, cross Cook Straight and continue on as far South as possible and return Safe and Sound.
2: Day 1 Left home after lunch at about 1pm. Refuelled at Waharoa, snacked on some of our wedding cake. Two little boys asked for a piece and said it ‘looked nice’. We didn’t give them any though. We continued on through Matamata, Tirau, Tokoroa and across Whakamaru and down the western side of Lake Taupo and in to Tokaanu and stayed at Aotearoa Motel as planned. We soaked in the hot pools there. It was a very hot night and we both woke up covered in mossie bites.
3: Day 2 Stayed for an ‘as much toast as you can eat for $5’ breakfast and then headed off to Wanganui. The roads were dry and windy, (really good fun). We stopped at a lookout over Turangi and met some mad cyclists from Holland. They were travelling on to Christchurch! They had already been around the Coromandel via Tairua. We stopped a bit later on and went for a small bush walk in National Park. When we got to Wanganui, where we had a tasty seafood pizza. We planned to make it to Wellington, but Chris was very tired, so we stopped at a B&B about 4km outside of Levin. Lindesfarne. The lady was lovely and the house was beautiful and full of antiques. We had a picnic tea on the side of a country road, not far away. When we returned to our accommodation, we helped our host celebrate her birthday over a few bottles of wine. We discovered we had left the rest of our wedding cake at Tokaanu. Perhaps we should have shared with the boys?
4: Day 3 Onwards to Wellington, booked on the 3:30pm Lynx Ferry. While we waited, we went up to the top of Mt. Victoria. It was a beautiful clear day, not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind. We walked around the waterfront and saw a very old boat that was being preserved in tanks. It had recently been dug up from under a bank, which was now being developed. The ferry crossing was smooth, we arrived in Picton and found a B&B to stay in, not far from the town centre. Sandy’s zip on her jacket had broken, so Chris had to fix it. We had fish and chips for dinner, it wasn’t very nice, but we were hungry. We had a great sleep in a super king sized bed.room for friends! Day 4 Booked another night in the B&B and went on a 6hour fishing trip in Queen Charlotte Sound. Chris caught a large eel, Sandy caught a metre long spiked dog shark. We both caught lots of Maori Chiefs. Sandy managed to get really badly sunburned legs. We had a bbq at the B&B, where we were able to cook our catchings. After dinner, we went for a walk, (Bob’s Walk), but didn’t make it to Bob’s Bay. We stopped at a café on the way home for a drink. It was very hot. The café was on an old boat that was up on the hard. We went down into the cabin to be served, it was unbelievably hot with all the cookers going as well. Up on deck were tables and chairs, with lovely views of the harbour. There was fabulous music playing.
6: Day 4 We had a lovely continental breakfast and headed off towards the West coast and Westport, through the Wairau Gorge. The speedo on the bike stopped working shortly out of Picton. This was annoying as it was difficult to judge petrol stops as well as traveling speed. We stopped at Blenheim to fiddle, but to no avail. Onward up the Wairau River and stopped again off the main road at Lake Argyle. Chris took this time to fix the speedo. From there, we went off the main road up to the Rainbow Ski Field. Unfortunately, the gate was locked about 10km up the road. The scenery was beautiful and very isolated. From there we returned to the main road and travelled on some very straight and fast roads. We saw a sign on the side of the road pointing towards ‘Top House’, so we followed the sign. The road took an unexpected turn and we had to stop suddenly. Unfortunately we came off! Fortunately, no one was hurt! Top House is an historic guest house. A family lives in the house, but you can knock on the door and they will serve you lunch on the deck. We had whitebait fritters and learned the story of a tragic love triangle. We saw the holes in the iron, a remnant of when the postmaster blew his brains out, when he learned of his unrequited love. The backdrop here, was beautiful snow-capped mountains. After lunch, we went to Lake Rotoiti and up Mt. Robert Ski Field Road. Once again, stunning views on this clear, still day. From here, we went through Howards Junction and on to Murchison. This Marlborough Country was hot. The gas station attendant said it was 34c in the shade. Way too hot for motorcycling. The roads were melting! From there, we went on to the Buller Gorge, where we had to stop due to the heat. We found a very quiet spot down a bumpy track. The river and scenery was beautiful. We had a skinny dip to cool off. The water was cool, but not freezing. We finally made it to Westport and found a motel to sleep and rest in. We had a lovely roast pork dinner and managed to book another night. Have ridden over 1000km so far.
8: Day 5 Chris noticed that the tread on the rear tyre was looking a bit dodgy. Went around all the tyre shops and rang around as far as Greymouth. No luck. Will have to go over to Christchurch! We booked ourselves on a tour of some caves at Charleston, we would be picked up at 7:30pm from our motel. In the meantime, we explored Westport a bit. We had lunch on the beach. There was a deep water inlet on one side and a surf beach on the other side. We walked along the long breakwater. It was made from massive boulders and a road had been constructed on top. At the end was a memorial for all the people who had died crossing the bar. Most were young men in their 20's. After lunch we went to Cape Foulwind. We discovered we had left the camera behind! Lots of wekas. There was a seal colony there as well. We returned to the motel and were picked up by our tour guide Russ. After a lengthy car ride, we arrived at a container in the middle of nowhere. Russ opened it up and came out riding a small steam train! We rode the train into the bush and then got off and entered the caves. It was an amazing tour. It was incredible to see that the water used to run in the opposite direction AND that we were walking right underneath the main fault line of the Southern Alps. On our return to the train it was very dark, after 11:30pm. All around us were hundreds of possums. Many were within arms reach. It was easy to see why the bush was becoming so damaged.
10: Day 6 We packed up and went to the other side of Cape Foulwind to the seal colony. It was very impressive, but more and more tourists turned up. Sandy got told off about talking about the dolphins that were right in front of us, by a man who was filming the seals! The weather was beautiful. There were lots of other bikes on the road, mostly Harleys. We went onwards along the coast road and stopped at Punakaiki, to see the pancake rocks and the blow holes. The blowholes were rather unimpressibe as the tide was out and the sea was flat. Most uncharacteristic of the west coast. The rocks were amazing We were amazed by the amount of tourists, as the road had been pretty quiet until we came to Punakaiki, which is really in the middle of nowhere. Thousands of people and heaps of buses and cars. A tourist Mecca. From there we went on to Hokitika motel, alongside the railway line. We met up with a man who had had a bad motorcycle injury. He was blind in one eye and clearly had some difficulty speaking. This is where we met the worlds worst bed.... ended up in separate beds. Day 7 Tyre tread becoming critical, only able to locate one in Christchurch. Spent the day looking around Hokitika. Lots of tourist shops. Greenstone everywhere. The beach was amazing and was covered in remnants of a driftwood sculpting competition. The sea remained very flat.
12: Day 8 Headed off to Christchurch at about 10am. Chris did a tiki tour around the 'blue spur loop' and we ended up back in Hokitika. Turned off at Kumera through incredible alluvial river plain. Great roads and beautiful rivers. The approach to Arthurs Pass is very steep, with staggering scenery. There were still a few snow-capped mountains and a postcard view around every bend. We stopped at a lookout at Otira. We saw a kaka there, but it didn't leave the pylon. There were lots of waterfalls, but you could only really see them if you looked behind you. We stopped for lunch at Arthurs Pass. We were served by a very 'ocker' bloke. The descent on the Eastern side was spectacularly different. Long straights punctuated with huge sweeping bends. The rock formations were strange and the mountains were barren, as opposed to the lush forest on the other side of the divide. Once we hit the Canterbury Plains, Sandy perfected the art of snoozing on the back of the bike!
13: We hit Christchurch at about 3pm, heaps of traffic and traffic lights. Booked in to the Westside Motor Lodge, then set off to find Cycle Treads. While we were there we met a nice couple outside on a blue BMW K100, she was riding a Ducati 900! Sandy was almost inspired! They suggested that we go through Geraldine tomorrow. Cycle Treads didn't have the right kind of tyre, but were able to get one in by the afternoon, so we left the bike and wandered around the 'seedy side' of Christchurch. THere were lots of sex shops! We had just missed a busking festival. We got back to the motel at about 5pm with the new tyre all fitted. We opted for a home cooked meal this night so we went to the supermarket, where Chris got told off for having a trolley in the express lane!
14: Day 9 We set off to see Aunty Dot at about 9.30am. The motellier gave us great directions, so we found the place easily. She was surprised and pleased to see us. She said how much Chris looked like his Dad and then started to cry because she was so sad about him passing away. We gave her some wedding photo's and left after an hour or so. We followed the map back to Arthurs Pass and then took a turn off towards Mt. Hutt. The Rakaia River views were spectacular from the clifftop. At the foot of the mountain a sign said it was 16km to the top. It was heavy gravel and very steep. Sandy was scared! By the time we got to the top Chris had pins and needles in his hands from hanging on so tightly. We stopped for a break half way up. The bike was getting hot. It was 1st gear just about all the way up. It was very hazy at the top. The ski lodge and chair lift were all shut down for summer, so there was just us and a small maintenance crew.
15: The way down only took about half an hour as opposed to an hour going up. We were hungry and thirsty by the time we got down to the bottom, so we stopped at a cafe in Stavely. A pretty place with a lovely river and a bush walk and sandflies like we had never seen before! From there, we went on to Geraldine and stayed for a night there in the Andarra Motel. We had a swim in the pool and a welcome rest.
16: Day 10 We woke to a foggy cold morning. Hit the road early for Queenstown, we stopped at lake Tekapo. Fantastic views! Then on to Lake Pukaki, with amazing colours and views of Aoraki Mt. Cook. We had a narrow escape here as we were nearly taken out by a guy in a campervan doing a u-turn in front of us. Chris had to toot! We went on through the McKenzie Country, startling Browns and golds, quite breathtaking. Some of the plains went on unbroken as far as they eye could see, all against the backdrop of the most amazing blue sky. We stopped at a fish farm and fed the fish. We bought a smoked salmon fillet for $17 and ate it beside a small lake that was jumping with fish. From there we went through Lindis Pass to Cromwell. Great roads, no traffic, except for a police officer who did not appreciate our point of view. $180 for 124km.
19: We finally arrived in Queenstown. It was extremely hot, approaching the low 40's. It was a bit like downtown Auckland and was packed with mostly the very young and the very old! We booked into this very trendy motel aimed at youth and back packers. There was lots of loud music and noise all night. Our window was above an alley way, where some scullduggery went on through the night. We took an early evening cruise on the Ernslaw, it was very nice. It picked up a large group, (about 200), of poms from the far end of the lake. They all had a sing-song around the piano on the way back. We walked around Queenstown after we got back. Town was buzzing, lots of places were open. We booked ourselves on an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound for Friday Night. We had clocked up over 2000km at this point.
20: Day 11 Started the day with an amazing breakfast, bacon, egg, tomato and mushrooms on toast for $5. Coffee was particularly good. We rode out of town and noticed that there were cops everywhere. We passed heaps on the way to our first stop, Kingston. We had a paddle in the lake and saw the Kingston Flyer, the steam train. We didn't have time to take a ride. As we drove away, we came across many more cops. We learned later in the day, that they were there for the funeral of an officer who was killed when his cannabis searching plane crashed into a hillside.
21: The landscape was flat and it was sweltering hot. We found a rest area that looks over Te Anau, where we finished our smoked salmon. From Te Anau, we made our way to Manapouri, where we found a nice motel, with stunning views over Lake Manapouri. We rode in to Te Anau for a delicious feed of blue cod and chips. It was still so hot, that we rode in shorts and sandals. | Day 12 We packed up early and headed for Te Anau for breakfast. We had a wander around and then headed back to Manapouri to meet with the boat for our Doubtful SOund trip. We had a stunning trip across the lake, there was a great commentary. There were lots of people on board. We arrived at Manapouri Power Station and then caught the bus that goes over the saddle to Deep Cove.
24: Our boat was waiting for us at Deep Cove. It was 26m deep at the wharf. The boat was much bigger than we imagined. The Navigator was her name. 70 of us were ushered on board and into a lounge where we were introduced to the crew and briefed on the activities for the day. We learned we would be sharing a cabin with a couple of New Yorkers. The mountains were almost vertical although huge trees seemed to stick to the rock somehow. At about 4pm we were split into groups. Some were to go kayaking and some were to go in little boats. Chris went Kayaking and Sandy went in the smaller boat, The place is amazing. After we had completed our activities, we were able to go for a swim. The water was over 20c. We were in 50m of water. On our return to the Navigator, we were given soup and toast. Delicious! The boat made it's way out to the edge of the sound to the seal colony. Lots of seals!
26: The sea was very flat, out by the colony and there were lots of seals.Because it was so calm, (very unusual), the captain took us out to the edge of the continental shelf. We headed back in to the sound at about 7.30 and went downstairs for a sumptuous dinner. Salmon, beef, lamb, veges, salads and desserts. After dinner we given a slide show, it was both informative and entertaining. Most people went to bed after that, but we went up on deck to do some star gazing and to listen to the kiwis. The sky was crystal clear and we saw space stations and satellites whizzing by! We returned to our cabin and stayed up talking with our room-mate Fred, until the wee hours. Neither of us slept well, but we were up at 6am to hear the dawn chorus.
27: We were greeted with a pea soup fog when we got up at 6am. The dawn chorus was wonderful. Had a huge breakfast and then up on deck again. A pod of dolphins had surrounded the boat. They entertained us with their acrobatics jumping out the water and somersaulting and other acrobatic manoevres. We motored back to Deep Cove and said some sad farewells. The crew had been brilliant. Then we were back on the bus, everyone was very quiet. Perhaps they had all slept as badly as we had? We arrived back in Manapouri and checked back into our room. Chris conked out for a few hours, while Sand did the domestic chores. In the afternoon we went back into Te Anau, where it was 35c. We discovered that there was an air conditioned theatre, so we went and watched Ata Whenua, a movie about Fiordland. It was awe-inspiring. There were several people from our cruise in there as well. Had dinner at the same place as last time, then went to the pub in Manapouri, where the world's worst one man band was playing. It was truly, truly awful!
28: Day 14 Sunday Breakfast at the motel, then hit the road through Lumsden to Queenstown. We stopped at Fairlight as the Kingston Flyer was there again. While we were watching, the engine shunted the carriages rather two hard. People fell over and windows were smashed. Again we met some of our cruise companions. We chatted with them for a while and chatted to the station master as well. We rode on, stopping at Kingston for petrol and met yet more companions from the cruise. Headed to Arrowtown for lunch. We found it very quaint, but very commercialised. The shops mostly staffed by Japanese people to deal with the tourist traffic. Chris had a venison burger, Sandy had chicken and guacamole. We went for a short walk to digest, only to find that Chris had lost the key to the bike. Sandy's sharp eyes spied the single key on a pathway, not too far from the bike.
29: From Arrowtown, we headed for Haast, over the Crown Range and through Cardrona. We stopped at Wanaka and browsed through a market. Again it was very hot. We carried on through Mt. Aspiring National Park, stopping at several waterfalls. We went for a walk to the Blue Pool. It was stunning, BUT, there was a sandfly convention going on there! We continued on and it began to rain, so we stopped to don our wet weather gear. As the rain increased in intensity, more and more waterfalls appeared. It looked as if they were pouring out of the clouds. We made it to Haast and booked in to a lovely luxury motel.
30: Day 15 It rained heavily all night and the weather report was for more heavy rain, so we booked to stay in Haast another night. Had a little look around Haast, very small, but we managed to buy some supplies, all of which were close to expiration date! Headed off to Jackson Bay, the furthest south you can go by road on the West Coast. It was a long way, with lots of gorgeous beech forests. Lots of drunk kereru swooping wildly, one nearly hit Sandy. At the end of the road, there was a caravan called "The Cray Pot". There was no crayfish, but we did have some fish and chips. There was a fabulous lookout over the bay. We talked to some other tourists from the U.K. Unfortunately we didn't have the camera. We headed back to base and picked up the camera and went back up Haast Pass, where there were now hundreds of waterfalls Took so many photo's we made the camera go flat!
31: Day 15 Ate a hearty breakfast and started heading for home. The first time we had headed North in 2 weeks! We stopped at a couple of lookouts, but were eaten alive by sand flies each time we stopped. The roads were great, nice and twisty and fast. Stopped at Fox Glacier. Heaps of tourists and the worst toilet ever! Followed a sign further up the coast that said "Kiwi crossing" and followed it to a lovely settlement called Okarito. Had lunch there and one of the locals suggested we go to 'Greens Beach'. We followed the directions, which included a logging road. It turned into a track, to a path and then just when we could hear the ocean, we couldn't go any further. It was so narrow we couldn't turn either! Eventually managed to get turned. Stopped at Ross for the night. Yummy whitebait fritters for tea. Clocked over 3000km.
32: Headed off early headed north to Greymouth. Went up to a lookout and nearly got taken out by a guy who went through a stop sign. On the way down, we nearly got taken out by a bus which was on the wrong side of the road! Then we crossed the main road to get some petrol and a driver went through a Give Way sign! It is official, Greymouth has the worst drivers! We decided to get out fast. Headed North East and stopped at Blackball. Loads of character. The local hotel used to be called "The Blackball Hilton", but THE Hilton family sued them to change it. Now it is called, "Formerly The Blackball Hilton". Chris bought a small stash of Miners Dark Ale to bring home to Auckland. We picked up some yummy salami's and black puddings. We continued on through Reefton and stopped at a place called Marui Springs. They are a complex of Japanese style hot pools. We soaked up large and stayed the night in a very tiny, hot unit.
33: Day 18 Hit the road early, stopped for petrol at Springs Junction and checked the phone. Very sad news that CHris's cousin Jan had passed away suddenly. Decided to push on as quickly as possible to get home in time for the funeral. Stopped and had a look at the Murchison Falls. Pushed on through many small towns. After nearly 3 weeks, we found the traffic getting busy as we approached Nelson. | Took the scenic route through to Picton, absolutely stunning. Arrived at Picton and checked back in to Marineland B&B. Booked ourselves on to the early ferry 7am, so had an early night. Had until Monday to get to the funeral.
34: Day 19 Up at 6:50 to get to the ferry at 7am. Had a flat crossing, arrived at 11:30. Motored on to Flat Hills and stopped for lunch. Met a guy with a Harley on Nitrous Oxide. Kept riding, stopping only for petrol and arrived at Ohope Beach at 6:50pm. It had been a long time on the bike and we both had a sore backside. Over 4000kms. | Day 20 Saturday Dick and Les were leaving for Hamilton that afternoon, so Sandy was allowed to drive the XR6 Ute. We walked up to Linda's and had a good chat. Took the ute to Richard Kemeny's for lunch. He had been diving and had some crayfish. We had one each! Sandy popped her bean! We went with Richard and Vanessa to a swimming hole, but didn't get in. Access was a bit tricky. Had a beautiful dinner. Chris had quite a few beers and Sandy drove him home and put him to bed. Day 21 Up and off early for petrol in Tauranga. $1.19 p/l. Cheapest of the trip. We had been paying up to $1.35. Stopped in at Siobhan's for a cuppa and then home via Kaiaua. Arrived home at about 2.30. Great to be home.
35: Conclusion Overall a very enjoyable trip, taking exactly 3 weeks and achieving our objective of traveling the West Coast of the South Island and exploring some of Fiordland National Park. We saw a lot and learned a lot. We ate blue cod, whitebait, venison, salami, salmon, and crayfish. Most more than once. We saw friends and relatives along the way. We got one small speeding ticket and fell off once. All part and parcel of a 4000km trip. The motorcycle did not miss a beat the whole time and eventually arrived home safe and sound. We were glad to be home and three weeks seemed like the perfect time to be away motorcycling. And then the honeymoon was over and we got on with the business of being Mr and Mrs Good.