Around the block

Day 101, Thursday 30 November 2017.

I had a busy morning, and the afternoon is wet. My nether regions are still sore from four days of hard riding on my adventure bike. If I didn’t have this streak going, I probably wouldn’t have gone riding today.

I geared up and swung my leg over my sports-tourer. As I did so, the sun came out. I started it up and started up the road. The riding position is sufficiently different from my other bike that it didn’t aggravate the sore spots on my behind. This may have started as a duty ride, but it was purely a pleasure!

Distance travelled: 17 km. Total distance so far: 14,846 km

Northern gravel, day 4

Day 100, Wednesday 29 November 2017.

While waiting for the other riders to get ready, I rode to Haruru Falls, and even managed to find a few kilometres of bonus gravel in the roads behind the falls.

We rode home from Paihia, sticking to gravel roads until we reached Maungaturoto. At that point there were more options for gravel, but I suggested to the group that we had had enough, and everyone agreed. After a late lunch at Te Hana, we disbanded and returned separately to Auckland.

During this tour we had some rain every day, but never enough to disrupt our plans. We welcomed the rain because it reduced the dust on the gravel roads, even if it wasn’t much fun to ride in. After I got home, there was some quite heavy rain in Auckland, and that wouldn’t have been good if we’d been on the unsealed roads during it.

Distance travelled: 316 km. Total distance so far: 14,829 km

Northern gravel, day 3

Day 99, Tuesday 28 November 2017.

Today I rode down Te Paki Stream to Ninety-Mile Beach. This is the highlight of our trip for me. I never thought I would be able to ride a motorcycle down a stream. Initially I followed the path of the rider in front. As I became more confidant, I found my own routes to avoid deep water and slippery sand.

By comparison, riding for 50 kilometres along Ninety-Mile Beach was easy.

I’m now in Paihia, with some nice gravel roads of inland Northland under my belt. As a friend remarked, we remember Northland’s coastal regions, but pay little attention to the beautiful landscapes of her inland areas. .

Distance travelled: 313 km. Total distance so far: 14,513 km

Northern gravel, day 2

Day 98, Monday 27 November 2017

We went from Dargaville to Rawene mostly on gravel roads today, with road conditions ranging from good to treacherous. To avoid the exhaustion of the previous day we decided to stop for a tea break a couple of times a day, using a little gas burner one rider had brought.

Our first stop was at Twin Bridges, an odd place where one bridge meets another at a right angle. Later, the lead rider took an unplanned turn, which reduced our total distance, probably a good thing as I think we have been too ambitious in our targets for each day. Lunch in Rawene while waiting for the ferry over the Hokianga harbour, then more gravel between Panguru and Broadwood.

We are staying in Houhora tonight, with a nice view from the campsite.

Distance travelled: 260 km. Total distance so far: 14,200 km

Northern gravel, day 1

Day 97. Sunday 26 November 2017

On a trip around Northland focussing on gravel roads. Staying tonight in Dargaville. As I’m typing this on my phone, it isn’t easy to format.

All the gravel riding shook loose a bolt on my pannier mount. As a roadside fix, I tried tying it together with cable ties, but that only lasted a few km. Using cable ties again, this time I wrapped the join with electrical tape, and that seems to be lasting.

Distance travelled: 302 km. Total distance so far: 13,940 km

Pukematekeo Lookout

Day 96, Saturday 25 November 2017

Pukematekeo is a trig point in the Waitakere Ranges, just off Summit Drive. There’s a one-way road from Summit drive to a carpark very close to the trig and back again. It’s not well signposted. The views over Auckland are very much worth a detour from a trip to one of the West Coast beaches.


Distance travelled: 65 km. Total distance so far: 13,638 km

Matakana Valley Road

Day 95, Friday 24 November 2017

I went riding today with someone I’ve never met before. He’s only been riding on a road bike for six weeks, but he’s very capable and knows his limits. We went up SH16 to Wellsford, back along Matakana Valley Road, and then back to Auckland via SH1. A good combination of different riding conditions.

Matakana Valley Road runs from the town of Matakana over the hills to the north to connect up to Whangaripo Valley Road. Until the beginning of last year, the road was gravel going over the hills. It wasn’t particularly difficult gravel, but enough to prevent group rides from taking it. In early 2016, the road was entirely sealed, and now this is a good scenic route between Wellsford and Matakana. The part over the hills is several kilometres of consecutive tight bends, some with an advisory speed of 25 km/h. There are grand views over Makakana, Tawharanui and Omaha, best seen when coming from the north as we were. Unfortunately, in the places where there’s space to pull over, vegetation obscures the view. I think the council could trim the plants and put up “Scenic view” notices.


Photo by Kawa Burns

Distance travelled: 202 km. Total distance so far: 13,573 km


Day 93, Wednesday 22 November 2017

A busy day today, so I was on the road shortly after 6 am. It’s broad daylight in Auckland at 6 at this time of year, but the suburban roads are almost empty, and the motorways have some traffic but no congestion. It’s a nice time to be riding.

I went to Puketāpapa, which means ‘flat-topped mountain’, also known as Mount Roskill. The road to the summit is closed by a gate signposted as due to open at 7 am, so I parked the bike next to several people sleeping in cars at the lower carpark and walked up the hill. As I came down again, at about 6:25, a security van arrived to unlock the gate.

On my way home, I encountered the major disadvantage of riding at this time of day: sunstrike!

Distance travelled: 14 km. Total distance so far: 13,354 km

Churchill Road

Day 92, Tuesday 21 November 2017

Riding with a group of Ulyssians around the back roads of the Waikato today, and the lead rider turned down a road I had never been down before. Churchill Road, Puketawa, is a nice twisty country road which runs from Highway 22 down to the banks of the Waikato River and then upstream to the Glen Murray Road. I understand it used to be entirely or mostly unsealed with some quite difficult gravel, but now all is sealed except for the last few kilometres, which are in good condition. I’m always pleased to find a road I haven’t previously ridden, and this one has some nice views over the river.


Photo by Chris Henderson, at our lunch stop in Mercer.

Distance travelled: 229 km. Total distance so far: 13,340 km