Highway 22

Day 344, Tuesday 31 July 2018

State Highway 22 is a short highway connecting Pukekohe to the Southern Motorway. It’s not an interesting road at all. However, it once extended through Tuakau south to connect with the road from Hamilton to Raglan, State Highway 23. About 1990, the road was truncated to its current length. The old road is still called Highway 22 (but not State Highway…) for most of its length, and the southernmost portion is¬†Ohautira Road. These are very nice country roads for motorcyclists, with lots of curves, little traffic especially on weekdays, and pleasant scenery.

I led an Auckland Ulysses ride down Highway 22 and Ohautira Road today, then along part of SH 23 to Whatawhata for lunch. The tight corners of Highway 22, and the more sweeping curves of Ohautira, were a delight.

Distance travelled: 295 km. Total distance so far: 43,178 km

One Tyre, Four Nails

Day 343, Monday 30 July 2018

I check my tyre pressures at least once a week. On a recent check, the rear tyre pressure was significantly lower than usual, so I pumped it up and checked it again the following morning. It was even lower. Over the next few days it became clear that a fix was required. I’ve done roadside puncture repairs previously, but they are temporary fixes and need a professional repair afterwards, and since the bike was still rideable, I took it in to my local motorcycle tyre shop this morning to have the problem sorted.

The tyre guy found a nail neatly embedded in the tyre, removed it, took off the rear wheel, and did the repair job. He remounted the wheel, and was just about to complete the job when there was a sudden intake of breath. He pulled out another nail, and the hiss of escaping air was obvious. Time to start over. This time he examined the tyre more closely, and found two other nails in it, although these had not fully penetrated the rubber. This is just as well, as there’s a limit of three puncture repairs per motorcycle tyre (that depends on the speed rating of the tyre, and the recommended limit varies by country).

Presumably, one of my recent gravel excursions went over a rubbish-strewn section of road. “Have you been doing a lot of gravel recently”, the tyre guy asked. “I’m trying to cut down”, I protested. “It doesn’t seem to be working”, he said.

Distance travelled: 6 km. Total distance so far: 42,883 km

Long Road track

Day 342, Sunday 29 July 2018

Long Road runs south from Bethells Road. It’s a twisty sealed road, but it isn’t very long. It ends at a locked gate, with an old forest road forming Long Road Track beyond. The track doesn’t go anywhere in particular; it connects up with Smyth Ridge Track and Ridge Road track, but these are closed to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease, and part of Long Road Track is closed too. There are some nice views over the Waitakere Ranges, and access to Pae O Te Rangi summit, although I didn’t go quite that far. The track is steep and in places muddy.

Distance travelled: 64 km. Total distance so far: 42,877 km

Uxbridge Arts and Culture Centre

Day 341, Saturday 28 July 2018

I rode to Howick today to look at the Uxbridge Arts and Culture Centre. I was thinking this could possibly be a destination for the Ulysses monthly cultural outing, as they have an exhibition on Urban Contemporary Art starting next month. Uxbridge has been operating since 1981, and was redeveloped in 2016 with the Malcolm Smith Gallery being added. Unfortunately, I think the gallery is too small to keep our interest for a morning, so we’ll look elsewhere for our next outing.

Distance travelled: 45 km. Total distance so far: 42,813 km

Whangateau Harbour

Day 340, Friday 27 July 2018

Today I explored the Whangateau Harbour, an inlet of the Hauraki Gulf near Matakana.

I started with Upper Whangateau Road, a gravel road going south from Leigh Road. It’s an access road for farmers, and doesn’t go as far as the coast, but it does have great views over the countryside.

Next was Big Omaha Wharf Road, which goes west from further along Leigh Road. It’s quite short and ends at a restored wharf building. In the mid 19th century, this wharf was one of the few places in the locality that a ship could tie up without risking running aground. The wharf was important and busy until the roads improved in the 1920s. A store lasted until 1953. There are information boards at the wharf and along the roadside.

Finally, I took Ti Point Road to the harbour mouth, where there’s a smaller jetty, and lots of small boats at anchor. A coastal walkway runs around the peninsula from here, but I didn’t have time to follow it.

Distance travelled: 172 km. Total distance so far: 42,768 km

Are We There Yet?

Day 339, Thursday 26 July 2018

I joined a group of Ulyssians for a non-motorcycling event at Auckland Museum today. We wandered through the special exhibit marking 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. The exhibit was very well put together and comprehensive in its coverage of the road towards women’s equality in NZ.

I didn’t have much time for a ride due to this, so I did a quick ride around the block.

Distance travelled: 4 km. Total distance so far: 42,596 km

Lower Huia Dam

Day 338, Wednesday 25 July 2018

On a ride today to Huia with North Harbour Ulysses, with a stop at Arataki Visitor Centre on the way. At Huia, we split into three groups: one which walked up to Lower Huia Dam, one which did the gravel road over to Whatipu, and a third which went directly to the cafe for lunch. That way, we didn’t overwhelm the cafe by all turning up at once. It rained while we were having lunch but had cleared up by the time we were ready to leave.

The Lower Huia Dam, completed in 1971, is the most recent dam and has the largest storage capacity of any dam in the Waitakere Ranges, but the Lower Nihotupu Dam has a slightly larger lake area, and several dams in the Hunua Ranges are more recent. Because all these dams are constructed in a similar manner using rammed-earth, they do look quite similar to the untrained eye.

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Distance travelled: 100 km. Total distance so far: 42,592 km

Victoria Battery

Day 337, Tuesday 24 July 2018

I led an Auckland Ulysses ride to the Victoria Battery in Karangahake Gorge today. I visited this place twelve days ago and realised it would make a good destination for a group ride. Only one of the other riders today had visited the Battery before. We had lunch at the Waikino Station Cafe afterwards.

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Distance travelled: 298 km. Total distance so far: 42,492 km

Looking for Three Dead Prime Ministers

Day 336, Monday 23 July 2018

Someone has recently created a new Wikipedia article, List of Burial Places of New Zealand Prime Ministers. There’s a column in the list for a picture of the gravesite of each PM, but it’s mostly empty. I decided it would be an interesting ride to find the gravesites of the three 19th century PMs who were buried in Auckland, Sir William Fox, Sir Frederick Whitaker, and Daniel Pollen.

The first step was to find addresses for each of the cemeteries: Pukekawa Cemetery, in Meadowbank; St. Stephen’s Cemetery, in Parnell, and Orchard St Cemetery, now George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery, in Avondale. Using a variety of websites, I was able to find plot numbers and locations for each. This looked like it was going to be easy. I plotted a route to the cemeteries, and away I rode.

At Pukekawa, I knew I needed Block C, but it’s a huge place and most of the blocks aren’t labelled. I asked a couple of people if they knew where Block C was, but they both gave me incorrect information. I did find a block which was the correct one, but I wasn’t sure of it at the time. Eventually I went to the administration office, where they confirmed I had the right block, and explained to me how to find the correct row and plot. I had assumed the rows in each block started at 1, but this was not the case, and the plots had several gravesites in each, so my counting was a bit off. I did find William Fox’s site.

On to Parnell, where St. Stephen’s is a much smaller and older graveyard. There was no one there to ask, and the section and plot numbers I had were useless as nothing was labelled. I looked at every grave there. Some had illegible gravestones, but I thought it was likely that a PM would have a well-maintained grave. However, I did not find Whitaker’s grave. I started searching again, this time concentrating on the more prominent graves, and this time I found it. I had missed it on my first search because Whitaker’s name was not the first one on the stone.

At George Maxwell Memorial Cemetary, there was again no one to ask for help, and the plot number was of no use when no plots had numbers. I had a grid reference of B2, which I thought might mean the grave was close to the front left side. Eventually, I found a modest, very worn gravestone near the front right side. Pleased that I had found all the graves I was looking for, I rode home and even the rush hour traffic didn’t dampen my spirits.

Distance travelled: 42 km. Total distance so far: 42,194 km

Mt Cambria Reserve

Day 335, Sunday 22 July 2018

Mt Cambria Reserve is a mid-sized park (2.5 ha) in Devonport. It was a volcanic cone about 30 metres high, with a perfect crater, but was quarried away over a century up to 1977. The cone was originally called Takararo, which means “the hill below” because Mt Victoria nearby was significantly larger.

After 1977, it was turned into a park, with hand-made steps over the bluffs of the quarry. The restoration won an award for park design and conservation in 1992. There are many large trees in the park. I was particularly taken with the Californian fan palms.

Distance travelled: 40 km. Total distance so far: 42,152 km