Wheel alignment

Monday 29 August 2011

Bike Porn and an IAM ride

As Roger mentions in his post, we turned up for the monthly ride with the Institute of Advanced Motorists riding group.  My 170 km ride to central Auckland  was a bit of a mixed bag weatherwise.  Up at 0530 and on the road by 0645, it wasn't long before I encountered very wet fog and even a spot of rain but once I hit the Auckland Southern Motorway, the weather turned hot and sunny.

Arriving at the IAM meeting point, an hour before kick-off so that I could enjoy a leisurely coffee and breakfast, Roger and my 1000 miles in 24 hours riding partner Andy were already there.  As fellow blogger Sonja remarked, there's no problem in getting up early when a ride is involved!

I don't intend to cover the ride details as Roger has done a great job of that.  With a shortage of official observers this time due to their competing priorities, I was quite happy to follow Roger and Simon, the Observer; as it was still possible to learn a lot from watching them.  Being a country boy, riding the narrow and twisty country lanes is something I do almost every day so was quite relaxed about that.  However, my experience of riding densely-populated motorways full of idiot cagers in a hurry is something I'm not so experienced with.  Watching  Roger and Simon position themselves assertively (most certainly not aggressively) to create a safety bubble round themselves was great to see and I took a lot from that.

As a serving police officer, Simon must find his blood pressure going sky high when riding his personal bike off duty.  Some of the behaviours in terms of lane discipline, following distances etc defy belief!  Bikes aren't immune from stupid behaviour either.  At one motorway on-ramp where there is a  70 km/hr restriction, an R1 (I think) rider came screaming down the ramp at very high speed into the dense traffic, diving in and out with no great skill - an accident waiting to happen.

Anyway, enough about the ride.  Regular readers will remember the recent  post I did on Deus Ex Machina, the rendezvous point for IAM monthly rides, up-market cafe and builders of extraordinary motorcycles.  Getting there early gave time to wander round and as their bikes are constantly changing, it's a good opportunity to post a few more pictures of some of the machines currently on the premises.  Here's a selection:

Magnificent Indian on one of the tabletops

Close-up detail

Gold Star lookalike with  Yamaha single engine

Hand-made alloy bikini fairing

Flawless RD350 Yamaha - I want it!!!

Old custom Harley (I assume) - nice!

Ariel Square Four - how rare is that???

Flawless Douglas fore and aft twin

Kawasaki W650-engined Bobber - love the pipes!

Covered over 400 km for the day, rode with great friends and continued to learn great riding techniques - really doesn't get much better than that, does it?  Actually, it does!  Because I missed out on a check ride this time, the IAM Chief Examiner is going to take me for a one-on-one ride soon.  All this and Spring just a few days round the corner.  **contented grin**

Sunday 28 August 2011

Do you believe in Serendipity?

This post has nothing to do with bikes but it's such a cool little story that it's worth sharing!

Our eldest son Lyndon studied for his first degree in the 1990's at Otago University, Dunedin, in NZ's south island. Dunedin has a strong Scottish influence from the first settlers. Although Lyndon subsequently went on to further study in Auckland after graduation, Otago had a special place in his heart. Knox College, where he resided for his first 2 years has traditions similar to Oxford and Cambridge - dressing for dinner, college balls in full evening dress and so on. There was even a cast iron antique bath in the quadrangle filled with old green rainwater and unmentionable substances which students got hurled into for various misdemeanours and birthdays, but that's another story which ended up with us being called "The Parents From Hell", hehe

 Knox College, University of Otago

Surprisingly for a lad from the provinces, he lapped up the atmosphere and ceremony. After the first 2 years in college accommodation, Lyndon went flatting.  Students at Otago are known as Scarfies (after the blue and gold scarves they wear). Scarfie accommodation outside the colleges are often dire, unsanitary old weatherboard-clad rental houses which everyone but students wisely steer well clear of. Nonetheless, they add a certain charm to the city.

 A tidy(ish) example of student flats

Social life revolved around sport, the opposite sex and beer, not necessarily in that order. The local Speights brewery ensures that the Scarfies get to enjoy themselves for very modest prices thanks to generous sponsorship of events involving the consumption of vast amounts of alcoholic beverages. One of the favourite hang-outs was the (in)famous Gardies student pub - not the sort of place you go for a quiet sip of chardonnay and an exquisite meal. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the evening clean-up by bar staff involved high pressure hoses and industrial-strength disinfectant. The 3-dimensional sign outside was a giant can of Speights Gold Medal Ale on a pole.

 The late-lamented Gardies Pub

The Scottish influence extended to architecture and the university Registry Building is a delight in heavy, dark stone. They even have a statue of Scotland's great poet Robbie Burns in the centre of town.

 Lyndon outside the Registry Building

Fast forward to 2006 when Lyndon was building a good career and with his birthday approaching, we asked him whether there was anything he'd particularly like as a present. He said that he'd like a nice framed print of Dunedin as a reminder of those great days which showed some of the landmarks (like his college and the pub!) he was intimately associated with. He wasn't interested in a photo collage, but would like something like a cartoon-style art sketch in vibrant colours. He even went as far as giving us a (very rough) sketch to show what he meant. Try as we may, we simply couldn't find anything suitable and we ended up giving him something else. We never entirely forgot about it, but had more or less given up hope of ever finding anything in the style he was looking for.

Jumping forward to around Easter this year.... I was cleaning out a whole load of old emails and I found one from Lyndon back in 2006 which had a copy of his sketch attached. This pricked my conscience and I Googled "sketches of Dunedin". Still no joy as expected but it did throw up a blog of excellent sketches done around NZ's capital, Wellington. As I flicked through them, there was an acrylic on canvas sketch of Oriental Parade on Wellington's waterfront. I was transfixed - it was in exactly the style which Lyndon was looking for!!!

 Oriental Parade, Wellington

There was virtually no information on the blog about the person who had sketched it, save for an email address. Showed Jennie, she thought that it was worth following up so I sent an exploratory email off with a bit of background, wondering whether a commission might be possible. A few days later, a reply arrived from Fiona Ryan.  Not only was she interested, she was currently holidaying within half an hour of where we lived and she'd be happy to meet up for a coffee and a chat - how good is that for a serendipitous sign?? We organised a meeting at a cafe near where she was staying and I rode over on the bike as Jennie was on a girl's "shop 'till you drop" expedition out of town.  Fiona is a graphic designer from Wellington who was on her honeymoon in our area.  Felt a bit guilty dragging her away from her new husband and family, but she suggested it!  We hit it off straight away and Fiona said that she just sketched for fun and this would be her first commission - fantastic!!  She suggested that she produce a quick composition to see if it was what we had in mind and we could take it from there. A couple of weeks later, a working sketch arrived by email, partially coloured in to indicate the finished effect.  It was better than we could have ever hoped for - a perfect match for our mental image!  She'd nailed it first time up from the photos we'd given her.  We particularly loved the little touches like the chairs in the student accommodation yards, the little birds and animals and even an Otago rugby team shirt on a washing line - pure class!

Moving forward, Fiona completed the acrylic on canvas painting and couriered it up to us.  What a beauty - we were over the moon and the little touches like "borrowed" road marker cones in the student garden and outside the pub are outstanding and so typical of students everywhere.  Old chairs and settees in the garden are also a feature of Dunedin student flats! Here's the finished painting - compare it with the "essence" of the photos near the top of the blog to see how well Fiona captured the spirit of the place:

Student life in Dunedin

I'm sub-zero when it comes to artistic talent but love good art of any kind.  It might be a personal thing but this style of painting seems particularly effective in evoking memories of a place which you've known intimately, as opposed to a painting, print or photo in a more formal style. Somehow, it captures the essence of a particular time and place in your life as it triggers the memories buried inside your head.

Yesterday, we visited Lyndon as it's his birthday this week and his jaw just dropped.  Isn't it lovely to see such a reaction of pleasure when someone is caught out totally unaware?  As we thought, he imagined that we hadn't been successful but had never considered that he'd ever receive an original piece of art. As a parting item, here's the artist, Fiona Ryan seen finishing off the picture.

The hugely talented Fiona

If anyone wants to see the lovely evocative sketches done for her own pleasure, predominantly of the Wellington NZ area, click  HERE.  Her email address is on the website if anyone is keen to talk to her about a commission, particularly Kiwi Wellingtonians!

Serendipity?  Probably as close as makes no difference!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

New tyres - difficult replacement choices

The Street Triple came equipped with Dunlop Qualifier sport tyres.  In overall terms, grip was probably more than my riding habits would require excepting unforeseen events.  However, by 6000 km, the rear hadn’t got much tread left and both tyres had lost their original profile to a significant degree.  It was noticeable that under hard cornering, the bike tended to drop in rather than progressively roll in. My earlier musings on tyres is HERE.

Because some decent distances were planned to be covered in the following 6 months, I replaced them with a set of Avon Storm 2 Ultra sport touring tyres.  As mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I’ve been an Avon fan for years.  The dry weather grip is probably on par with many other good quality makes of tyre but what has been outstanding for me is wet weather performance.  Even with standing water on the tar seal, they hang on exceptionally well and don't suddenly let go.  The other feature I’ve really liked is that they retain their profile through a large percentage of their total lifespan, meaning that you don’t have to replace them early because handling has been adversely affected.

I've just covered a shade over 10000 km on these tyres and the rear is down to the minimum depth wear bar in the centre of the tread.  Note in the picture though how even the profile across the tyre is - no big flat in the centre to upset the handling.  The tyre is dual compound with a harder centre and softer sides.  Although it wasn't really noticeable when new, the harder compound in the centre can clearly be seen now although the transition can barely be felt with a fingernail.  Sooo... verdict on the rear tyre - extremely satisfied with the performance.  Good grip in the dry, outstanding grip in the wet, turn-in is very progressive and profile remains pretty constant over its total life.  Not a bad tyre life overall considering the conditions of its use on predominantly twisty roads with coarse chip.

Avon Storm Ultra rear @10000 km
Harder compound in centre

The front tyre probably has at least a further 2000-3000km of life in terms of centre tread depth but it's developed significant flats on the side of the tyre.  The flats are clearly visible in the photo below. Whilst the handling doesn't feel compromised at present, it certainly will before long.  The root causes of the side wear are hard to determine.  I'm paranoid about accurate tyre pressures and am inclined to think that the wear is probably normal given that the roads I mainly ride on are twisty with coarse chip.  Fairly stiff suspension, budget suspension damping and vigorous countersteering won't help either.  Verdict: Excellent tyre in terms of wet and dry weather grip but uneven profile wear well before reaching minimum tread depth.

Avon Storm Ultra front @10000 km

Where to from here?
I don't want to go back to pure sport tyres and replace them at least twice a year, so sport-touring tyres will fill the bill for longer life, but still provide grip for enthusiastic cornering.  I've done a lot of reading and Pirelli Angel ST's, Dunlop Roadsmarts and Michelin Pilot Road 3's all seem to fit the bill, although I've read a few reports detailing the odd issue with all of them.  Realistically, will they offer any more in terms of performance and "feel" than the Avon Storms?  Is there a case for taking a chance on something else at present?  Is there a significant price differential between brands - enough to influence the final choice? 

My thinking was to simply replace the rear tyre with an identical one.  For the front, I was tempted to go for the sportier Avon VP2 Sport for even more grip (they're compatible).  I don't mind the odd rear wheel slide but the couple of front end slides I've had in years gone by are a bit unnerving.   I got 7000 km from the front VP2 on my Blackbird and the lighter weight and more aggressive steering geometry of the Triple should give significantly more life, still allowing both tyres to be changed at the same time. It's pointless skimping on tyres when their role in keeping you upright is so important.

Meanwhile, a few days later.....

After a little more research on the 'net, the new Michelin PR3's looked an interesting proposition but maybe not enough to sway me.  However, after a call to our nearest decent tyre depot, I was surprised to find that there is indeed a significant price differential.  The full Avon set is NZ$650, balanced and fitted whereas the pair of Michelins is a nice round NZ$600.  The price advantage and performance research has been sufficient to convince me to buy a set and it will be interesting to compare their performance with the Avons.  Doubt that I'll be buying a lemon as some of the early reports are pretty encouraging.


Rode to the Drury Performance Centre in South Auckland to get the new tyres fitted.  I hadn't been there before and was extremely impressed with their professionalism so have no difficulty in giving them a well-deserved plug!

Drury Performance Centre

After greeting me and double-checking the tyres I'd ordered, I was given a voucher for a coffee at a cafe across the road.  Actually, it wasn't really a cafe as such,  it was Roma Coffee Roasters and I was able to sit and have a superb cup of Macciato whilst watching beans being roasted on a commercial scale behind the counter!

Meanwhile, the guys had started to replace the tyres and I strolled round having a look at some of the tyres in stock.  The 300-section tyre shown below was pretty impressive - presumably for an outrageous chopper or something like a Rocket 3.  You'd need a healthy bank balance to replace that!

Serious rubber!

There was a gorgeous early (1980's) GSX-R 1100 parked inside which caught my eye.  It had aftermarket Ohlins suspension and Yoshimura cans but the rest of it looked pretty stock standard.  It was in beautiful condition, not show pony good, but good as in someone who loves his bike, rides it regularly and hard and loves it to bits.  I  mentally raised my hat to the owner.

Gorgeous early Gixxer

The Michelin Pilot road 3's are a pretty new tyre and replace the hugely popular PR 2's.  The 3's have very fine grooves (sipes) as part of the tread pattern to apparently hugely increase wet weather performance.  These are rare on motorcycles but as an aside, I found out sipes were first invented in the 1920's to increase the grip of rubber shoes in wet slaughterhouses - nothing new under the sun eh?

Rear PR3

Front PR3

Here's where things took a bizarre turn!  I was sitting in the customer reception area waiting for the fitting to be completed and was flicking through the NZ Magazine Motorcycle Trader (Aug 2011 edition). It had an interesting article on tyres and I noticed that there was a photo of a Street Triple.  See propped-up magazine in the photo below - bottom photo in magazine. (Click to enlarge).

A sudden realisation.....

It suddenly dawned on me that it was was MY Street Triple and the photo was taken from my blog post from 21st February this year!  It shows the laser wheel alignment rig I'd originally built for the Blackbird. I'm not annoyed - surprised more like at seeing it but I don't think an email to Motorcycle Trader will go amiss to find out a bit more.

Taking the normal care with new tyres, I headed home down some twisty back roads to scrub them in.  Normally with new tyres,  they feel quite flighty in comparison with the old ones but I'd have to say that these didn't feel significantly different to the Avons which they replaced.  I think that this is testimony to how well the Avons held their profile over the complete life of the tyre.  Once on the coast road up to Coromandel,  I felt confident enough to press on a bit and when I got home, the rear was scrubbed in right to the edges.  Initial impressions are very favourable and really looking forward to evaluating them over a longer period and in a whole range of conditions.  I'll certainly be going back to Drury Performance Centre, really nice guys with a great service ethic.

ADDENDUM:  I followed up the matter of my photo appearing and whilst they didn't directly admit to stealing my photo from the blog, they did offer a carabiner-type helmet lock and fancy wire strop as a "goodwill gesture", plus a free subscription to their magazine.  I was quite happy with the outcome - they got the message and I got some goodies!

Note: A full end of life review of the Michelin PR3 tyres mentioned above can be found HERE

Friday 19 August 2011

Tugging at the heartstrings

I've always considered myself a fairly unemotional and controlled guy (picture Jennie nodding in agreement and rolling her eyes) but when it comes to animals, I'm a complete sook!  You may remember an addendum to a recent post about a tiny, gorgeous and very hungry stray kitten which turned up in our garden a few days before we headed to Thailand. We fed it and let it stay whilst we tried to track down the owners.  No success at all in finding a home and all the local cat rescue places were full, so what to do?

A neighbour was feeding our cats whilst we were away and she offered to feed the kitten too if we wanted to take the risk of leaving it with our two big males and we could sort out what to do when we got back.  We didn't have a lot of choice short of the unthinkable so we took her to the vet for a check-over and a vaccination just to be on the safe side.  The Vet pronounced it a "her" and said she was in superb condition and around 8 weeks old. (You can see where this is going, can't you?)

On getting home, our neighbour said that the kitten had taken complete control of our other two cats (including Jennie's alpha male, Thomas), and had been no trouble at all, even accompanying Thomas on his rounds visiting all the neighbours!  We'd studiously avoided discussing keeping it whilst on holiday, much less talking about names but after being greeted so enthusiastically at the front door, it was done and dusted in ohhhhh..... less than 2 minutes so I'd like to introduce Annie to the world:

Little Orphan Annie
(and her toy mouse)

Sooo cute!

We'd both forgtten how hard work kittens are - chewed book edges, hands with bite and scratch marks and Jennie's large Peace Lily in the lounge has been virtually destroyed!  Oh yeah, and she steals anything that can be carried from our bedroom dressing tables and they pop up all over the house.

On a more sober note, I thought that today was going to be a day when a lot of tears were shed.  On Wednesday evening, we got back from our weekly pub quiz and my cat, Henry, was walking oddly and it was clear that he was in a lot of pain.  Checked him over, couldn't see anything but it looked like his stomach was the problem.  Left him overnight and in the morning, we found he'd pooped runny stuff in our sun room.  We thought he'd either eaten something bad or maybe even poison. Yesterday, he just slept a lot but didn't seem in any discomfort.  This morning, he was in pain again so I rang the vet who doesn't come to Coromandel on a Friday so we legged it 50 km down the coast to Thames.  Henry and I have been great mates for nearly 12 years and I was anticipating the worst so you'll appreciate that I shed the odd tear on the way down.  Little buggers have a way of getting under your skin, don't they?  The vet examined him and almost a miracle - he had a blocked urethra and couldn't pee, apparently not uncommon on older male cats.  I'd be in pain too if I hadn't had a pee for 3 days!  We left him with the vet and got a call this afternoon that they'd fixed the problem and that we'll be able to pick him up in a couple of days when he is fully recovered.  Repair cost is going to be between $400-$700 but  what do you do with family?  Crikey, I should have trained as a vet to beat the economic outlook, but simply overjoyed to have him still with us.  Big, badass biker image in tatters!

Henry loves a wheelbarrow ride!

Addendum:  Sorry to say that Henry didn't make it (see comments below) despite the best efforts of the vet. Annie immediately adopted me and it really does make you wonder about Karma!

Saturday 13 August 2011

Burt Munro - Kiwi Legend

Fellow blogger Roger Fleming recently both staggered and delighted me by giving me an outstanding book on the life of New Zealander Burt Munro.  Rog mate, that was a real act of generosity - you're a star!  If there is actually someone on the planet who doesn't immediately recognise the name, Burt was immortalised in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" and portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Front of the book

This book, running to nigh on 300 pages of A4 format high quality art paper is without doubt the definitive book on Burt Munro.  In fact it's bloody terrific (a technical term).  Roger Donaldson, the movie director was given access to all the Munro family memorabilia right from Burt's early days - Photos, letters, certificates - the whole 9 yards and they're all in the book.  In addition, he has included transcripts of interviews with a heap of Burt's fellow competitors at Bonneville, plus family friends, newspaper interviews and so on.

Offerings to the God of Speed - prototypes and failed components
in his shed

Pushing the boundaries!

One of Burt's Bonneville certificates

This isn't just an interesting and enjoyable coffee table book, it's far, far more than that on so many different levels.  It's an object lesson in what can be achieved with single-mindedness (bloody-mindedness more like!),  sheer persistence and hard work against all odds and scant resources; no matter in what sphere of endeavour.  It's an inspiration to us all and in fact, a number of successful Kiwis in all sorts of fields have cited Burt Munro as having inspired them to "have a go".

I'm English by birth although I've lived in NZ since 1975.  Looking from the outside in for a moment, people like Burt Munro and Sir Ed Hillary, the first man to scale Mt.Everest; typify for me the archetypal New Zealander - modest,  friendly, doesn't regard anything as impossible and still has the pioneering spirit of their forefathers.

The movie is an amalgamation of Burt's various visits to the salt, all of which you'll find in the book and much more besides.  It's interesting that when the movie was first shown in NZ, the appeal was far broader than just motorcycle fans.  It was pretty universal and the DVD is in an awful lot of homes over here AND watched repeatedly too.

If you're interested in getting a copy, here's the library code:  ISBN 978-1-86979-207-7.  There's also a 2hour DVD tucked in the back flap of the book covering all manner of things associated with Burt's life and the making of the movie.  Go on.....  you know you want one!!

Burt Munro - the icon

It's been said that Burt's record still stands as a mark of respect to his Bonneville legacy and that if anyone ever attempts to break it, that person can expect no assistance and will not be welcome at Bonneville.  Whether this is true or urban myth, I don't know.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Travels in Thailand, part 5

The last noteworthy part of our trip wasn't scheduled to happen but like a lot of unplanned events, turned out to be memorable.  Jennie had booked and paid for the trip and we weren't far off leaving when Thai Airlines contacted her and said they'd cancelled the return flight on our chosen day.  They gave her the choice of returning a day earlier, or extending the trip for a day and putting us up in a Bangkok hotel, meeting all our accommodation and food bills.  Naturally, Jennie chose the latter!

Flying into Bangkok from Phuket in the late afternoon, we were met at the airport and ferried to the Novotel a few minutes distant.  This is a seriously nice hotel and far beyond what we thought we'd be staying in.  For starters, the atrium must be 60 metres long, 40 metres wide and maybe 30 metres high, all covered in marble! The quality carried through to the bedrooms, which were huge and beautifully-appointed.  We dined in that night and all that needs to be said is that the buffet was exquisite.  By way of example, there was a block of Roquefort cheese sitting on the cheese stand which must have weighed a couple of kg and at the price of that stuff....!!!!  Suffice to say that we over-ate!

Because our flight didn't leave until early the following evening, we consulted the concierge and arranged a tour of the Bangkok waterways .  Did you know it's locally known as the Venice of the East?  We didn't but it has literally hundreds of canals all over the city coming off the main Chao Phraya river and as part of our honeymoon 39 years ago was spent in Venice, there was a nice symmetry to it.

We ambled down to the atrium in the morning to meet our young tour guide and he asked us to wait a moment whilst he phoned for our vehicle to take us the 50-odd minutes into central Bangkok.  All we (well, me) could do was gape because we thought there'd been a terrible (and expensive) mistake!!  See the picture below.

Oh heck - who's made a blunder???

When a beautiful Jaguar with dark tint windows and a white-gloved chauffeur turns up, the phrase "this must be for us" is not something which immediately springs to mind! Jennie, who has infinitely more class than me swept straight into the back of the Jag like she does it every day, whilst I stood there grinning like an idiot and taking photos.  Jennie thought that I'd let the side down somewhat but at least, dear reader, you can see what I was grinning about. I guess it's expected by the tour company that Airport Novotel guests always travel that way.  All part of the very reasonably-priced tour though.

That ain't workin', that's the way you do it, la la.....

The trip to town on the excellent toll road was interesting as we imperiously exceeded the speed limit all the way with the engine quietly purring away whilst we sipped cold drinks in the back - could get used to this lifestyle very easily!

Big-scale advertising on hotel block

Waiting for the water taxi

Now let me explain something about the longboat water taxis as they are pretty impressive.  Only 2 metres wide at the maximum point and maybe 15 or 20 metres long, they look like oversized canoes.

Front of our water taxi down a narrow canal

That's where the similarity with canoes ends as the propulsion system is pretty impressive.  The motors are turbocharged truck engines beautifully counterbalanced with a long prop shaft so that they swivel like an outboard. The skipper steers the whole thing with a long pole attached to the front of the engine - see the 2 photos below.  Those suckers are seriously fast and the spray and rooster tail from the shallow prop were impressive.  Even more so as there were just the skipper, the guide and Jennie and me on board!

Turbo'd power plant - nothing like a few gee-gees

Showing the counterbalance arrangement

Cruising through the canals was a fascinating experience which gives you the chance to see "everyday life" in a city and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Rustic waterside house - complete with satellite dish

Canal supermarket - don't drop your groceries!

Waterside temple

The photo below is interesting.  The little boat was a mobile floating snack bar and the driver stopped to buy some bananas which were fried on the spot in a charcoal-fired wok! There were also little boats which were mobile supermarkets.

Stop me and buy one.....

Suspended fishing net makes a cool picture

I doubt that any of the canal-dwellers would ever starve as the waterways are teeming with catfish.  We lobbed a bit of bread on the water surface and this is what happened:

No over-fishing of resources here then!

Interesting mailbox

Waterside orchid farm

The Royal Palace

Making Chrysanthemum garlands at the market

Just a few chillies!

Local taxi - the 2 stroke tuk-tuk

What a fantastic bonus to have toured Bangkok by water and really added to our enjoyment of Thailand.  The Thais are genuinely nice people and go out of their way to give visitors real value in terms of their experiences.  We probably won't return as there are so many new places to be explored but for anyone who is thinking of going there for a bit of fun, you'll absolutely love it!

Hey ho, back in New Zealand trying to get into a routine - having to cook for yourself is the biggest pain!!!

Hope you've enjoyed seeing another part of the world......