Day 10, Thursday 31 August 2017
Tāwharanui Regional Park is a lovely place, but the road to it used to be quite rough with gravel sections and potholes, making it a less attractive destination for motorcyclists on big road bikes. I knew the road was being sealed this year, so I went to see what progress was being made. All the road is sealed now except for the last four kilometres, and that should be finished in the next month. At present that last stretch has some pretty ugly gravel areas, and there were lots of steamrollers, graders, diggers and water trucks all moving erratically, which made it an unpleasant experience.
Tāwharanui is beautiful as always. A predator-proof fence allows for lots of native birds. In particular, I saw lots of pūkeko wandering around.
When I headed home an hour later, the road workers had finished for the day, with their massive vehicles parked at the side of the road or driven away, and the gravel didn’t seem nearly so bad!
Distance travelled: 175 km. Total distance so far: 1535 km
Day 9, Wednesday 30 August 2017
Very wet this morning. I had a ride planned with North Harbour Ulysses, and rode to the start point, but I was the only one there on a motorcycle. We had coffee and good conversation. An hour later the rain had cleared but more was forecast and I rode home. Ironically, the rest of the day has been fine, and the forecast is still for more rain later but I really don’t think it’s going to happen.
Distance travelled: 39 km. Total distance so far: 1360 km
Day 8, Tuesday 29 August 2017
State Highway 25 between Thames and Coromandel town has several slips at the moment and a fallen tree after last night’s rain. The road is open, but limited to one lane in places. As a result, there’s less traffic on it than usual.
I led a ride to Waiomu Beach Cafe, 14 km north of Thames. It was cloudy with occasional light showers as I started, but turned out to be a stunning day. Only one slip on this section of road; the others are further north. The cafe was glad to get our custom. Across the road from the cafe, the Waiomu Beach Reserve has lovely trees and a view across the Firth of Thames.
Distance travelled: 279 km. Total distance so far: 1321 km
Day 7, Monday 28 August 2017
A trip to Karaka Bay in Glendowie is like stepping back a few decades in time. Any other beach in the area would be lined with multi-million dollar homes, but this has modest houses in a variety of states of repair. The only land access to the beach is via a steep narrow path.
A copy of the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on this beach on 4 March, 1840 – less than a month after the initial signing at Waitangi.
Distance travelled: 34 km. Total distance so far: 1042 km
Day 6, Sunday 27 August 2017
The Cancer Society had a charity ride this morning. I think it’s the first one they’ve had. It was raining lightly as we started, but it cleared up soon afterwards. A very well organised ride going from Auckland Museum to Shelly Beach. There was an escort from motorcycle police, who changed the lights to green for us and blocked off traffic so we didn’t have to give way at any intersection. Once we reached the end of the northwestern motorway, the police stopped escorting us, but I saw individual motorcyclists stopping traffic for us at each intersection we passed.
112 bikes present, also some trikes and spyders. Presumably there would have been more if the weather had been better.
Distance travelled: 147 km. Total distance so far: 1008 km.
Day 5, Saturday 26 August 2017
The Kauri Bushman’s Reserve is a small patch of kauri forest preserved in tribute to the kauri bushmen who worked before the First World War. There’s a short walk in the forest. It’s a lovely peaceful place. I came within about a metre of a kererū. I also saw a couple of painted stones. I was aware of this activity, but haven’t seen any of the stones before.
The reserve is a kilometre of unsealed road from state highway 12, just west of Paparoa. The road is pretty muddy and would not be suitable for road bikes if it was wet.
Afterwards, I went exploring, taking Ararua Road north to Waiotira. About 20 km of Ararua Road is gravel, and quite a lot of that is unpleasant to ride on, as gravel goes. There’s some pretty scenery along the way.
Distance travelled: 337 km. Total distance so far: 861 km.
Day 4, Friday 25 August 2017
This is one of my busy days, so today’s ride was a short one. I went to the summit of Mt Albert, or Owairaka in Māori, arriving shortly after dawn. Several joggers and dog walkers were making use of the road around the summit, and no other vehicles.
Distance travelled: 11 km. Total distance so far: 524 km.
Day 3, Thursday 24 August 2017
A solo ride today, through eastern Auckland, through the town of Clevedon, ending at Duder Regional Park. This is a working farm on a peninsula jutting into the Waitemata Harbour. It has a rather bleak beauty. There are walking tracks but not a lot else to do here. I walked for about half an hour, realised that to do the full loop would take at least two hours, and then walked back again.
Distance travelled: 101 km. Total distance so far: 513 km.
Day 2, Wednesday 23 August 2017
I was the lead rider on a North Harbour Ulysses ride today. I took the ride up State Highway 16 to Port Albert, a small town west of Wellsford. Port Albert was settled by a group of non-conformist Baptists in 1862. They had grand plans for a city here on the southern shore of the Kaipara Harbour, but it was too isolated to develop. See Wikipedia
The wharf at Port Albert
We had lunch at the Port Albert Store which doubles as a cafe and does very good fish and chips. Some of us went on to Atiu Creek Regional Park, 14 km further west, which has lovely views over the Kaipara Harbour.
Distance travelled: 231 km. Total distance so far: 412 km.
Day 1, Tuesday 22 August 2017.
Ulysses is a motorcycle club catering to older riders. It originated in Australia and has a strong presence in New Zealand. I belong to the Auckland branch, but I ride with the North Harbour branch as well.
Today I joined 12 others riding around the country roads south of the towns of Pukekohe and Waiuku, but north of the Waikato River. The localities we passed through included Buckland, Aka Aka, and Whiriwhiri. These were all sealed roads, some very flat and straight, others twisty and hilly. We had lunch a little further north at a cafe in Clarks Beach on the southern shore of the Manukau Harbour.
Our group rides have a lead rider who chooses the route and sets the pace, and a tail end Charlie (TEC) who’s job is to deal with any accidents or breakdowns. I was TEC today. It’s an easy job when nothing goes wrong, like today!
Photo taken on Whiriwhiri Road.
Distance travelled: 181 km