Following The Sunshine

[Original post by Elliot Mogerman] – February 21, 2010 –

In the morning we arrived to the Quarantine area and through a streamlined process, including a checklist, after about 2 hours we got our bikes. The only trouble we had to face was walking a mile from the quarantine area to the customs building. Before lunchtime we were off and the first thing I thought is how much like mainland Hawaii this place looks like. New Zealanders, Kiwis, are so nice, polite, welcoming, and hospitable. The views and passing environment here is consistently beautiful and tropical with larger than life rolling hills and dimensions. Oz and Tazzie had jaw dropping views, but so far in New Zealand everywhere we look is amazing. Since the south island is going to get colder before then north, we decided to ride straight to Wanganui, which is on the way to the port city where we will catch the Ferrie in Wellington. Wanganui is right on a river and the hostel was a nice little B&B place with friendly owners. We went for another jog along the river, went for dinner but the pub stopped serving food, so we found a place across the street. We wanted lamb but they were out, so we had pork filets which were very good complimented with some New Zealand red wine. Some kiwis like our accents, I find this funny, because normally we are the one’s telling people we like their accents. The owner said he will give our info to a local reporter and we come back to the north island maybe he will do an article on us.

Short but great ride to Wellington and by the time we arrived the ferry was booked. We could have paid for a night ride but then wouldn’t be able to see the coast or islands so we bought passage for the next morning. To kill time after we booked in the hostel, we went to the Te Papa museum. It is free admittance and we literally spent most of the day there. Met a funny, loud girl from New Orleans while watching the giant squid 3-d movie. We all had dinner, shared stories, and then time for bed due to our early boat ride. When we arrived at the Ferrie there were a bunch of Triumph riders from Wanganui waiting to get on the boat. We started talking and they invited us to a rally they were heading down for taking place that weekend. We accepted the offer and rode with them. The weather off the 3 hour boat ride was clammy, wet, and cloudy. There was enough moisture in the air and it rained just enough to get everything dirty, uncomfortable, and make it difficult to see. I prefer, if it does rain, a hard rain because it just rolls off the visor and it is still easy to see. The ride was amazing and we stopped to see fur sea lions on the side of the road by the east coast. That night we stayed in cabins at a camp sight with the triumph guys and ate the best burger I’ve had on the trip at the local pub. The reason for its greatness was because the chef prepared it like a house burger. We also found out the difference between a lamb and sheep is age. We thought it was when it was killed the name was changed for pity sake. The kiwis remember this with a saying that screwing a a sheep is ok, but a lamb is illegal because it’s underage. Also, the joke is why do kiwis wear rubber boots? Because they don’t slip while screwing the sheep. Another interesting fact is there is supposedly more sheep here than people.

On our way to the weekend rally we stopped in Geraldine for a coffee and the rain finally started moving away and the skies cleared up. Passing Failie and Lake Tekapo the water is so crystal blue from the glacial runoff. The next lake was Pukaki and it was bigger and had a view of Mount Cook. These waters are so amazingly inspiring and beautiful. I have really never seen any lake, river, stream, ocean as clean, blue and spectacular as these here. That night we ended up at Kurow staying at Kevin’s village. Kevin is a friend of Abba who is one of the Triumph guys. Kevin and his wife own a town here and are in process of building up a camp slash convention center. So the cabins are not quite finished, and I slept on the floor of one of the kitchens. The property is right across the road from a large damn. In the evening Dick and I were drinking home made bourbon and kiwi wine, and I learned how to play snooker. It’s like pool but takes about 100 times longer to play and is set up on a points system. We played a new faster type of snooker speed game and it wasn’t faster in my opinion. But the good news is beginners luck rules and I won my first game. By the second game defending my title I just wanted to stop, but we did end up losing in the end.

The morning on the way to the rally site we picked up some more biker friends in Oalaru. I drank some sasparilla and ginger beer while we waited. I love this stuff! (no worries mom, they are non alcoholic). Funny story, and random thought of the day-we passed by Shag point and turning into it was a really really old couple in an old white beat up car. I thought it was funny at the time, guess you had to be there. Remember the homemade bourbon I drank the night before? Well thanks to that stuff I spent the next day taking a trip riding the booze pooz. We finally got to the rally in the middle of the forest and got introduced to a few hundred people. We socialized the first night and shared stories. It rained all night and in the morning but cleared up and turned out to be a wonderful day.

During the day everyone put their bikes on display and rally members and locals come from the city to admire all the bikes. That night there is an award ceremony. Mike and I won the longest distance traveled to rally award and won T-shirts and beer cozies. The president also gave us triumph patches to put on our gear. There was a live band which was barely alive until the electric stoned drunk guitarist arrived and brought life to the band. We danced a little and crashed for the night. The next day we went riding south with a couple from the group and the parted ways with the others. The mountains today finally reminded me of home. It was the first time I didn’t see green covered on the landscape. We camped riverside and the grass was still wet from the storms. I only mention this because I slowly made a sharp turn and dropped my bike. Nothing bad except the pannier fell off and was mangled again. Fortunately, there was a shop on the premises and the manager let me use their tools and machines to fix my panniers. I’m getting pretty good at it by now and they are back on and seems to stay on for now. I cooked steak for everyone at dinner. The meat here is not grain fed, only grass fed, and is a little tougher than back home. Mike had a captive audience and narrated a slide show. I left early to relax and get some sleep now that the rally was over it was definitely a quieter night. It is getting bloody cold outside. People ask why I do this trip. Most of them like to sit at home watch tv, read a good book and I do that too on the trip. But the chance to go out of your comfort zone and test yourself allows me to do things I normally won’t do. And the result is surprising what is found. And you might actually even enjoy things you think you might hate. And when you see the things I have, and been the places to experience cultures and people, been challenged, it is an experience to not be overlooked to open your eyes and make you appreciate the basic things.

So the next morning I stopped by the Dr again to find out why this ear infection hasn’t gone away in forever and they think it might be a different kind of external bacteria so they took a swab to be tested. It will take a few days so we continue through the south and the Caitlans. We ate dinner at the Cabbage tree and I had venison. Another wonderful ride, and another night camping by a stunning lake. We went for a quick jog in the afternoon and hung out with some biker friends which included a new German couple riding around the world. We discussed philosophy and life. The next day we met up with the triumph guys and rode to Milford Sound. This is so amazing you have to look it up. I’m not sure what Google will have on this place but try because the place is spectacular. It’s hard to put in words but when we post pics you will see why this was as great of a day as doing the great ocean road in Ozzie, The rivers, streams, waterfalls are all from glaciers right above them and the lakes and caverns have been cut out by the glaciers over a long time throughout history making the views amazing. All I can say is WOW. We rode through a really wet, dark long tunnel to get there. The next day we took a boat to the glowworm caves at Te Anuo. These little things are pretty cool.

In the town getting dinner with the Germans we ran into more Germans. They told us about an adventure bike rally going on this weekend. So we decided to put our plans on hold and check it out. We took an off road trail for a little and ended up at Lake Mavora where the rally was in a nice large lodge property. There are about 25 bikers staying and all a nice groups of travelers. The views and stars at night are great. I can’t keep telling you how beautiful this place is but if you ever want to explore a country, I strongly recommend New Zealand from my short experience so far. My tires are getting a little bald so after the weekend we will b-line it towards Christchurch and I will get new tires, a new headlight, and service. Probably will be the last one of the trip.

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