Day 13 – The Final Ride

From Mount Cook, it was off to our final destination, Christchurch. Bob and Glen had discovered the University of Canterbury Observatory during their planning and wanted to visit it. It wasn’t part of the main tour even though it was right on the main route so the others didn’t stop. They missed some magnificent views as you can see in the photo gallery.

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Day 12 – Mount Cook

After our stay at the Larnach Castle we headed toward Mount Cook. On the way, we stopped at a couple of tourist attractions. One was the Blue Penguin Village. Believe it or not, there is a real penguin colony here in New Zealand. The photo gallery shows the lone penguin that we saw. Don’t know where the others were but he stood stoically for all to take pictures. We joked that he must have got the short straw and been relegated to photo duty for the day. Bob saw the Elephant Rocks attraction during his preparation for the trip and he really wanted to see them. We found them in an empty field on private property. Not much to see but he was happy.

The view of Mount Cook was amazing. Look in the photos section. We each had our own chalet. The view from the restaurant’s main dining room was great. The dinner buffet was special too.

We were all sad to know that tomorrow will be our last ride together.

I did it!

We stayed in Queenstown for 2 days and just had a ball. First of all, the ride from Fox Glacier to Queenstown was outstanding. We took Haast Pass and went past Lake Wanaka and into the Cardrona Valley. The Cardrona Hotel was a cool place with good food and pleasant outside dining. See pictures in the Trip Photos. The ride into Queenstown was the Cardrona Valley/Crown road. What a blast. Our group leader, Glen would occasionally step it up a notch and blast through the mountains. His friend Bob, would have to catch up later. Mick and I were right behind him but I wasn’t able to pass a bus and lost sight of them. Once I got around, they were nowhere in sight. I later found out they stopped at a lookout but I must have zipped past without seeing them. No problem, we were getting close to our final destination and I had Google maps.

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Day 8 – Cardrona/Crown Rd.

The day started off with a drizzle which soon turned into a downpour. We all put on our rain gear and headed out. When you ride, it’s not uncommon to get caught in the rain and the whole group took it in stride. After a couple hours it cleared up and were on our way to Arthur’s Pass. What a treat that was. The rains produced some stunning waterfalls as we rode across some stunning viaducts. Take a look in the photo gallery for some wonderful images. Look for Monday in the Photo Gallery. Everyone’s favorite stretch was when we literally drove right through a waterfall which dumped water right on the road. The force of the water and the resulting wind made it a challenge to stay upright. There’s a picture in the gallery. The West Coast is on the prevailing weather side of the island and has huge rainfall as a result. Arthur’s pass gets about 10 feet of rain a year. Bob, our leader was running a GoPro through the waterfall. I’ve got it on my computer and will upload it when time permits.

New Zealand-Nelson & Hamner Springs

Saturday was our rest day. Allen and I decided to ride up to Golden Bay. Allen had been riding in the pack with his wife, Joy and I think he wanted to stretch his legs and do some quicker runs. We had been talking quite a bit and I also think he wanted to see which of the 2 of us was faster. The ride was great with beautiful views and good twisty roads. We were busy testing each other out and didn’t stop for photos. Allen initially led and I was able to keep pace. Then I led and he was able to keep pace. So we determined that we were about equal in capabilities. Allen has been riding for over 40 years so I felt pretty good about my skills after only 2 years. It was a good, long ride and we got back in time for dinner in the city of Nelson.

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New Zealand – Unto the South Island

Interesting day as we took the ferry down and unto the South Island. Ferries are always interesting and a bit stressful on a motorcycle. Lining up around all the trucks and figuring out how to tie down the bike can be intimidating, especially when you’re with 20 other bikes. It was a 3.5 hour ride across the channel and we had a slight rain to add to the excitement. Photos are here.

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Thursday

A short mileage day to Wellington. I’ve hooked up with a couple guys who spent hours researching routes and programming a gps to plan the very best scenic routes and twisty roads. They have allowed me and another rider ( a brit named Mick) to tag along with them. We have been able to avoid the slow parade that the other riders have to endure as they follow the tour leader. There a total of 17 bikes and 21 riders on this trip and that’s simply to0 many for just one guide. Hooking up with these guys has been a real blessing. For instance, yesterday, the main group visited a bird sanctuary while we saw a great car museum. Also, these guys are happy to ride “briskly” whereas it’s slow going in the pack. It also just so happens that they are both engineers so we have a lot in common. I’m hoping I can ride with them the rest of the trip.

The ride today was scenic and fun as we went up and down the Tararua Mountain Range. Enjoy the pictures in the gallery.

Tuesday – 1st Day of the Tour

Monday, we went on our shakedown trip up to lunch and back. It was a quick trip but fun. I found the Triumph to be a fun bike and I’m glad I picked it. I worried about bike selection quite a bit and changed my mind several times. I wanted to try something that I hadn’t ridden just for the experience.

I was having trouble with my GPS tracker so the route is not complete. I think I’ve got it sorted out and as long as I remember to turn it on, you should be able to track my progress.

It was up early yesterday as the tour guide wanted to be on the road by 7:00am. It was going to be a long day. We got started on time and fought traffic out of Auckland. The group managed to stay together and we eventually left the motorway and hit the back roads. The route took us into the Coromandel Mountain Range. It was billed as a scenic and quite technical ride, meaning lots of turns. It was fantastic! I found out yesterday that I didn’t really like riding in the large group so I decided to head out on my own after our first coffee break. I’m glad I did because I was able to ride at my own pace (fast) and stop as often as I wanted to enjoy the scenery. I would rank the ride as one of my top 5 favorites. Very technical with lots of curves and elevation changes. You can enjoy some of the imagery in the photo gallery.

Later that night we took a bus to Maori Concert and Hangi (traditional Maori feast). It was fun and the food was good. Here’s a short video.

Gotta go! Feel free to make comments if you’re so inclined.


New Zealand Arrival Day

After a bit of a scare in Detroit, the rest of the journey was uneventful. The shuttle to take us to O’Hara developed a faulty de-icing valve and had to be repaired before we could go. Fortunately they were able to fix it and we were on our way to Chicago. I had a huge 7 hour layover in Chicago so I wasn’t too concerned. Hell, if I had to, I could drive to Chicago and still make the next flight. Since I had a lot of time, I grabbed a seat at the bar and struck up some great conversation with several guys. The beer and dinner wine allowed me to sleep soundly for most of the night. I grabbed my Kindle and started a new book and before long, I checked and only had 2 hours before arrival. This is not so bad.

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