I'll be writing something decent (well hopefully) for the website soon but here's just a brief summary of the last four days.
Day 6 - Palmerston North to Gisborne
A reasonably big day this although in the end done reasonably easily. We left Palmy in cooler temperatures but the day just got better and better. We were early at the Cape Egmont checkpoint but ended up getting away about half an hour early which was a bit of a bonus.
One unwelcome feature of being back in the North Island was the increase in the number of road works and the delays they caused. Even so we had a pretty good run and after a magic run through the Waioeka Gorge we arrived in Gisborne for the night at about 18:50
View 2011 Southern Cross Day 6 in a larger map
Av speed: 90.9 km/h
Economy: 18 km/l
Day 7 - Gisborne to Whangarei
With a circuit of the East Cape this was going to be our toughest day. The East Cape is a fantastic ride but it is by no means a quick one - the roads are very windy in places and the road surface is not to be trusted. One pain in the butt for me was the GPS not working properly - I had taken it out of it's cradle at night and after putting it back in it kept switching itself off after only a few minutes operation. Eventually it came right but I was without music and directions for a while.
At the checkpoint we were made to climb up to the light house or have to wait until the books were brought down. So off we went and I can tell you that it is some climb - especially in riding pants with liners in! It was worth it though as the views were great and we got away pretty quickly.
In Whakatane I made a wee navigational error (and knew it straight away) but the GPS decided to play ball so after waisting ten minutes or so we were back on track. It was a pretty boring ride through to Auckland (the Kaimai's being the exception) where we had a quick burger with Jantar before carrying on to our motel in Whangarei.
View 2011 Southern Cross Day 7 in a larger map
Distance: approx 895km
Day 8 - Whangarei to Opononi via Cape Reinga
The last day of the Southern Cross and we just had to get to Cape Reinga by 12pm so nothing to strenuous. We got away earlier and stopped only briefly for fuel & a pie at Moerewa before plunging into fog before the Mangamuk's. Luckily the fog cleared for the ride over the hill but there were a lot of pretty nasty road works to contend with going up the Mangamuk's.
Just before Kaitaia we ended up taking in some gravel when the GPS took us on a "short-cut" which probably cost us a bit of time but we were out at the Cape by about 11am - in plenty of time. Once again we had to walk down to the lighthouse to sign the book and then it was back on the bikes to Kaitaia for the post-ride meal and celebrations.
We hung around until we had the lunch was served and then after a very quick bite we were off again taking the scenic route to Kohukohu and the Rawene Ferry before finally stopping for the night at Opononi.
View 2011 Southern Cross Day 8 in a larger map
Av speed: 83.0km/h
Day 9 - Opononi - Palmerston North
Our last day on the road was obviously to get home so we were on the road by 8am and cruising through the mighty Waipoua forest (video to come) to Dargaville and our breakfast stop in Ruawai. Not long after brekkie were back on the dreaded SH1 to Wellsford for our first fuel stop.
The traffic across Auckland was it's usual mad self although we didn't get held up and the bikes got fantastic economy on the motorway. As usual we turned off at Ngaruawahia and cruised on down through Otorohanga to Te Kuiti for another fuel stop - 13.5L used for the last 280km!
On 8 mile we caught up to Brian who was coming up to meet us and so from there on down we were a three bike convoy. From Taumarunui we just had a quiet cruise through National Park, Ohakune, Waiouru and Taihape. Naturally we ended the ride with a good run over Vinegar Hill and then we were pretty much home! What a trip!
View 2011 Southern Cross Day 9 in a larger map
Av speed: 92.5km/h
Total distance: 5,602km
Video playlist here (still a lot of video to be added).