. . South Island Swanie!
The youngest and tallest of the Ten Cousins went to New Zealand. He and wife Julie live on the North Island. Adventurous souls, they have been planning a tour for a while now. So recently they just did it: Hopped onto their motorbike and off they went. Here are some extracts and pictures from Solly’s – or Swanie’s – account of their trip.
New Zealand South Island Trip – Feb 2021 – On a fully-laden bike – 230kg all-up – we left home in New Plymouth for Wellington.
Visited Wellington CBD and the Te Papa museum. Julie went to see the WOW (World of Wearable art) exhibition while I went to see the Gallipoli exhibition (https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/exhibitions/gallipoli-scale-our-war). The next day, Saturday, friends took us to see parts of Wellington that we never get to.
Then it was the ferry to Picton and from there to Cheviot via Kaikoura, where in 2016, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake lifted the land by a few meters to lay bare a rocky shore that had been underwater for millennia! That shake, 350km from us as the crow flies, had us so scared that we moved out of the house that night!
Down the coast to Moeraki of the famous Moeraki Boulders on the beach. We stayed in a cabin in the Caravan Park and the manager at the park said the boulders are just twenty minutes’ walk along the beach. Or on a walkway just off the beach. After about half an hour we had not yet reached the sandy beach and could see the boulders in the distance about another two km away. I said to Julie Don’t worry, I’ll call an Uber once we get there, and we kept walking. As we got to the sandy beach, a red Audi with two elderly ladies came driving past us and waved. We saw them stop later to walk their dog on the beach. As we approached, the Bull Terrier came running straight at us and just wanted to play. I managed to calm it down and started talking. The two lovely ladies said they would come up to the boulders and pick us up if we’re still there. How’s that? Who, in their wildest dreams, could have wished for a V10 Audi A6 5.2FSI QUATTRO AVANT Uber? I offered to shout them a drink at the local, but JJ, the owner of the ‘Uber’ invited us to her house for drinks. What a stunning artistic lady she was. She said she was 70, but she looked more like 69. This was one of the highlights of our trip.
The next day we left Kaka Point in the rain again and rode through the Catlins via Slope Point to Invercargill where the Burt Munro bike rally is held. More gravel roads. The bike was very dirty by now, but was behaving well.
Invercargill was alive with bikes from all over the country. The Burt Munro Challenge is NZ’s biggest bike rally and runs for four days with several events like drag racing, beach racing, street racing, circuit racing and speedway with the odd bit of hooliganism mixed in. (Ooh, Solly would have hated that! 😉 ;-). The first two days in Invercargill was the typical blustery, rainy weather of Southland, but luckily after that it cleared up.
Next day it was off to Manapouri just about twenty km down the road to join the Doubtful Sound overnight trip. Katie the KTM had to sleep in the public car park overnight, chained to a drain grid. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of that.
We got on a boat and travelled across Lake Manapouri; then a one hour bus trip over the gravel Wilmot Pass to Doubtful Sound and onto another boat. Cruising down the sound with the mountains towering above you on both sides is amazing. Down the Thompson Sound back to the Tasman Sea for a beautiful sunset. We briefly saw two Beaked whales before they took a dive.
Doubtful Sound, which is located in the Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is absolutely picturesque. Please check out this link. https://www.fiordland.org.nz/visit/fiordland-national-park/
Like the Trout Farms in South Africa, there is a Salmon farm in Wanaka where you hire a rod, catch some Salmon, pay by weight (a very reasonable price compared to the supermarket) and then you can have it cooked there or take it with you. One can get carried away quickly so I limited myself to two fish. We had one there, prepared hot smoked and sashimi. The other we swapped for cold smoked and had that for breakfast the next two days. Delicious!!
Then we took a boat trip to an island in Lake Wanaka called Mou Waho Island. On this island is a pool about 150m up via a fifteen minute walk with some beautiful scenery.
From Wanaka it was over the Haast pass to the West Coast via the aptly namesd Blue Pools and numerous waterfalls. Beautiful road!!
After Jackson Bay it was up the coast to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson a short ride away. We walked 3.5km around the lake – amazing scenery.
The next morning we took a helicopter flight up to the glacier where we landed on the snow. What an experience!
From there it was up to Carters Beach at Westport where we stayed at a lovely park near the beach.
From Carters Beach it was a three hour trip via the beautiful Buller Gorge to Nelson. By now there was a serious front pushing in from the South and warnings of severe weather for the West Coast. Lucky for us, that bad weather was following behind us. God is a biker! The West Coast has an average of 200 days a year of rain. We managed to experience the days that were sunny!
From Nelson a short ride to Picton via the Queen Charlotte Drive. Queen Charlotte Drive is only about 40km long, but it takes about an hour. Speed limit is 50km/h and there would be about six corners or more in every kilometre and the surface is not the best. Lots of slips make the tar sag down the slope so one has to be very vigilant, but the scenery makes up for it.
After nearly 4000km we were happy to be back home, sore arses and all. Sorry, no photos of those!!
Solly says his ‘other hobby’ is distilling! – I hope to find out more soon.