Wheel alignment

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Bay and Banjos Tour, day 3

Approximately 470 km 

After a pretty good nights' sleep, it's up fairly early to hose off all the mud accumulated from the dirt road section of the Forgotten World Highway.  There must be at least a kilo of the stuff in the radiator alone and removing that is a priority.  Before breakfast, time for a few photos of Whangamomona.  Most of it shut down years ago but many of the buildings have been either well-maintained or restored.

Real wild west stuff!

Character buildings

Traffic congestion, Whangamomona style

Now before we get underway on the western half of the Forgotten World Highway, I'll come back to my earlier comment about a warning sign I'd seen at the eastern end of the highway when I passed through by car last year, but seems to have been removed in the intervening period.  That sign said "Public Road - this is not a Race Track".  Now, a sign like that must be like a red rag to a bull for certain sections of the community and there's a photo in the hotel bar which I've copied below.  Some wag has sprayed over a few crucial words as you can see, with a Holden Monaro, Skyline GTR or similar going past at warp speed - absolutely priceless!  I'd imagine that defacing the sign was a regular occurrence so it got removed by the authorities on a permanent basis.  At least we now have a record of it!

Sheer hooligan genius!

After a light breakfast, I lead off heading for the western end of the Forgotten World Highway near Stratford.  The road is as twisty and up and down as ever, but is in much better condition and mostly runs through farm country.  It's a good job we're riding defensively as two cows are grazing contentedly on the edge of a road round a blind bend.  That sort of hazard is pretty regular in rural NZ.  We climb up over two saddles which are mini versions of those European pass roads which are constantly doubling back on themselves.  This is where the light weight, high footpegs and big torque spread on the Street Triple really gives an advantage and the extra capacity of the following bikes offers no advantage at all - what an awesome run!

Strathmore Saddle with the Mt Taranaki volcano in the background

View from the Strathmore Saddle in the other direction
- lonely country

A quick refuel at Stratford, over the twisty and technical Mt Messenger section of road and then it's a quick trip up the coast to the village of Mokau for brunch.  No photos of  Mt Messenger or the stunningly beautiful coast as we are on a mission!  It's whitebait season in NZ and everyone bar John is hanging out for this delicacy.  The NZ whitebait is the juvenile form of a NZ native fish, just a few centimetres long and translucent.  They're caught in things that look like big butterfly nets at river mouths.  The traditional way of eating them is to mix them with a little beaten egg, pan fry them as an omelette and serve them with bread and butter and a lemon wedge.  Absolutely divine.  My wife can't stand them though - she thinks all those eyes staring up reproachfully at her is gross!

NZ delicacy - the whitebait fritter

John, Andy and Dave enjoying brunch

Andy notices a sign in the village butcher's shop that says fresh whitebait are for sale so pops over to buy some to take home.  Its delicacy value is reflected in the $140/kg price - eek!  Mind you, the 400g which Andy bought will make a good few fritters.

The next leg homewards is through the Awakino Gorge and on to our next fuel stop at the village of Piopio.  The Awakino Gorge is another bike road made in heaven with fast sweepers, tight bends and a smooth, grippy surface.  Dave volunteers to lead on his Blackbird, saying "I'm not going to lead as fast as you guys, I'm out of practice".  Fine with us as the leader always sets the pace but as it happens, Dave just gets in the groove and provides us with a memorable tow which is incredibly smooth - everyone was fizzing at the next stop!

John takes over for the run up to the small town of Otorohanga where the Auckland contingent will take to the back roads north to get home and I'll cut across country to Coromandel.  Exiting Te Kuiti, another bike joins onto the back of us and we all stare in our mirrors, trying to figure out what it is.  As we park up in Otorohanga to say our goodbyes, the other bike parks up with us and WOW!!!!  The owner, another nice guy who lives in New Plymouth back down the coast tells us that he's recently taken delivery of the first Aprilia Tuono V4 in NZ and he's on the way to Auckland for the first service. The powerplant originates from the Aprilia Superbike and is an absolutely wicked beast, with a lot of extras on it.  Sounds amazing too with its little stubby exhaust can.  Guess that if you can afford a bike like that, you can also afford the insurance and operating costs! 

The wicked Aprilia Tuono V4

Cockpit view of the Aprilia V4

I bid a heartfelt goodbye to Andy, John and Dave.  It's always hard to split from such good friends - you just want to keep riding forever as it's been such a wonderful 3 days...  great company, great food, great riding with a permanent smile on the face.  The lads head for Auckland with the Aprilia tagging along and I cut across country for the remaining 220 km home to Coromandel.

As well as reflecting on the last 3 days which has been such a great adventure,  I'm also conscious that all the riding over challenging roads for that length of time has moved my skills up a notch.  All the normal riding functions are being taken care of at a virtually subconscious level, leaving what seems to be heaps of real time dedicated to situational awareness and riding plans.  I'm beginning to understand more of the book I reviewed in THIS recent post - must re-read it!

Thanks guys for a spectacular 3 days away - simply can't wait for the next one!!


  1. An awesome conclusion to 3 days of riding and incredible scenery! It's been great reading about your trip, and the way you've described it makes me feel like i've been on the journey with you!

    Well done mate, can't wait for the next one!!


  2. The whitebait fritter looks interesting (I mean that in a good way). I'm still waiting for the banjo music to start. It looks and sounds like a wonderful trip. I've wanted to visit NZ from way back after I saw a slideshow from a bicycle trip....


  3. And there I thought that meat pie from the gas station around the corner would have been the ultimate NZ delicacy. Nobody told me about fritters. Argh! Looks so good!
    I so love the Forgotten World Highway. You know what, in case the company doesn't send me back to Kiwi Land I will have to come on my own tab one day.

  4. Anthony:
    Thanks mate, I'm still fizzing about it! Will see if we can squeeze another one in the first quarter of next year. All the best for the move!

    Yep, quite a delicacy. We didn't hear any banjos on the Forgotten World Highway either, but kept the doors locked at the hotel :-). Always a warm welcome if you ever decide to visit!

    Haha - the steak and oyster pie must be close to the ultimate delicacy but gas stations don't normally stock them. If you have to come on your own tab, I'll buy you a whitebait fritter or two, or even make them from scratch for you!

  5. Hi Geoff,

    Andy here. Just starting to get the hang of this interweb thing youve got going on. Great site and awesome write up. Like the pic of JP turfing me over the bridge, at one stage thought he might actually follow through. It was quite the drop, glad he didnt. Thanks again mate for your company, always good to head out with the old firm, never know whats around the next corner. Andy

  6. Great friends are an amzing blessing, I count myself lucky to have a couple. What an awesome few days Geoff, and you certainly saw a great part of the country.

    I Loved every minute of your adventure. May you have many more.

    Was there a tinge of sadness as you rode the last ten kms home? Even though you are glad yousee Jenni, a part of you will miss it.

  7. Andy!!!!
    Hi Mate - yeah, JP is big enough for him to carry one of us under each arm. I'd have followed you so he could destroy the evidence :-). Hell of a great weekend and maybe the old firm can get out again before summer is over.

    It sure was good - maybe you'll get a leave pass to come out with us (riding in your best IAM manner of course).

    Yes, there was a tinge of sadness as they're all superb riders as well as friends you'd do anything for. Hope to catch up at month end.

  8. Geoff:

    I think I would go nuts snapping photos at every corner. I would never arrive . . .

    then when I get there, lots of food to eat. You have amazing roads in NZ and little traffic.

    I'm going to sit with Jenni, I don't think I could stare at those eyes either. We're going over to that Eggs benedict place

    Riding the Wet Coast

  9. Hey Geoff what a good read! I really enjoyed that, there's nothing like heading out with a bunch of mates on a biking adventure - and the guy who rode along for 200ks just for the ride and then went home again, typical biker! Wonderful stuff, that whitebait fritter!!! I want that, man that's my kind of food! That KTM looked fantastic.
    I don't know that I could ride with you guys, you would probably be too fast for me through all those NZ twisties but I enjoyed that 3 day trip almost as much as you did. Well done Bro.

  10. Hi Andrew - great to hear from you!
    Yeah, Pete was our kind of guy and what's more, he was talking of taking the long way home which was going to add maybe another 400km to the overall trip! Hope to catch up with him again some time.

    Actually, most of the time, we ride at a pretty modest pace and NEVER take risks. We didn't take risks this time but deliberately chose a route where we could press on a bit without the worry of traffic.

    Take care!

  11. I think you might find that's an RX-8 in the photo, Dad? That kit looks a lot like one.

    Truly her father's daughter....

  12. Hi Sweetheart!!
    Truly better than her Father on cars I'd say. I'll bow to your superior knowledge.

    Truly his favourite (only) daughter :-)

  13. Geoff,

    Looks like you really got to enjoy yourself on out on the machines, and with some pretty good mates at that. Make me pretty envious, I've got to say. A bit of riding would do me good right now.

    Also, I've started to see more of these Aprillas showing up as of late. Am I just suddenly drawn to their type of sex appeal, or are there more of them on the road, cause that is a good looking machine.

    Behind Bars

  14. Brady:
    Got to agree with you but I think that the thing which makes it so special is because we get together so infrequently as a group - we all look forward to it so much.

    Aprilias are gorgeous with an eye-watering price tag. Bet the servicing costs are horriffic!