Sunday, December 31, 2017

Seeing out the year

...with a little gravel fix...

With a bit of time off over the Christmas/New Year period I had a little plan up my sleeve.  The plan involved a day spent in the saddle eating up a few miles by riding up to Wairoa, then taking in the Lake Waikaremoana Road before returning home.  This is about an 800km day with Waikaremoana Road being about 160km long with probably around 100km of it being gravel.

After doing the Christmas thing I was a little unwell for a few days but seem to have recovered enough as yesterday I finally got the ride in.  And it was a near perfect day for it!

I got up early (beating the alarm clock) and had everything I needed to get done, done by before 6:30 so was out the door just before then.

With the 4km/h speed tolerance in place I puttered across to Ashhurst and then had a little blast over the Saddle before taking back roads to Dannevirke.  Along the way I kept my eye out for stock crossing the roads but not for ducks and unfortunately I collected one when it made the wrong left/right decision and discovered that Tenere's are not as soft and friendly as they may look...

In Dannevirke I stopped for fuel as my last fill had been in Taihape nearly two weeks previously.  That important job done I loaded in cruise mode for the trip up SH2 & SH50 to Napier.  I hit Napier at about 8:30 and carried on out past Bay View and onto the Napier-Wairoa Road.

Even with a few damp patches and the odd spit the Napier-Wairoa was fun and by 10:15 I was in Wairoa amazed at my 4.6L/100km average economy from Dannevirke.  I stopped at the usual bakery to pick up some lunch to take with me and then headed off to top up the 2/3's full tank.

While riding to the gas station the engine came on giving me a heck of fright.  I thought that this must be some sort of joke - I was on a Yamaha, not a Triumph!  Turning the ignition on after filling the tank sorted out what the problem was - the bike immediately started up!  Yep, the starter button had somehow stuck down - weird, will have to investigate...

Looking towards the North-West where I imagined I was heading it looked a little dark and grey and I tossed up on whether to put my wet weather gear on but in the end decided not to, thinking that I was in no hurry and could stop if need be.  Time to get stuck into then...

While I had ridden the Waikaremoana Road before I had not done the first of it from Wairoa - last time with the BRR group we had not even gone to Wairoa but turned off at Raupunga and taken more gravel roads over to it so this time around I was going to get to ride some new to me road.

The road through to where we'd hit the Waikaremoana Road was mainly pretty good but windy seal with just a couple of short sections of gravel to give me a taste of what was to come.  The little junction in the pics below show the road that the BRR came through on to meet up with the Waikaremoana Road.

I'll leave the video until the end as it has quick snippets of the entire 160km but initially the gravel roads were quite wet with not a lot of actual gravel on them.  They were very hard and occasionally corrugated but I found that there was still plenty of grip and really enjoyed the ride through to the lakefront.  I stopped briefly there to tighten a loose mirror (I'd adjusted my bars the night before but not the mirrors and loosened the right one off when trying to adjust it on the fly) and a few quick snaps.

Leaving the boat ramp I carried along on my way trying to keep an eye out for the lookout by the Mokau waterfall.  Shortly after a wee slide on a wet wooden bridge I think I managed to find the right spot.

More tightish, muddy roads led me further around the lake.  The riding was great but so was the scenery and couldn't ride past all of it.

Just past this point I saw the first of a few other bikers out enjoying some fantastic countryside.  There was even a little Tenere in the group.

By now I was probably around about the halfway point and the day was getting warmer and the roads a little dryer.  There were a few cars about but at least most were keeping to their side of the road.  At around 12pm I managed to find a picnic spot to have my lunch and listen to the birds.

A dirty Tenere is a happy Tenere
After my quick lunch there was more gravel to be disturbed and not long after re-passing a couple of cars I managed to capture a couple of GS's out exploring.

Wow, seal!

He's just come from somewhere I may need check out one day...
Somewhere along here I nearly had my second run-in with a duck (and her babies) but I managed to avoid her even though she took flight and left her ducklings behind...I also managed to avoid a half a dozen or so horses grazing on the side of the road.

The rest of the ride out was more of the same - good hard packed gravel with the odd short stretch of seal.  Closer to Murupara the gravel finally ended but there was one heck of a neat bit of twisty tarmac to finish.  Some of it is at the end of the video.

After this fantastic 160km the rest of the ride (300+kms) was a bit of an anti-climax.  There was a fair bit of traffic in places and I kept the speed down so that the fuzz wouldn't annoy me.  In Waiouru (and after 375kms on the tank) I stopped for my last fuel stop and put in 20L - 3L to spare.

More SH1 got me to Vinegar Hill where I could at last have a little bit of fun before getting home just after 4:30.

It was one neat little ride and an ideal way to see out 2017!


  1. A nice wee pottle, need to focus that camera before shooting the GPS bud

  2. Anonymous3:39 am

    Nice write up. Have to get out there again soon. Cheers - Waihou Thumper.

  3. Wow, now that was a long day in the saddle. Well probably easy peasy for you.

    Gravel,twisty bits, and a beautiful lake thrown in. A perfect way to end 2017. Thanks for sharing the video too.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you too!

      Can't wait to see your Versys in places like that :)

  4. Nice going Andrew and gorgeous photos too. That's one of the few places in NZ I haven't been to. Our younger son is camping there with his family right now. Hope your "indisposition" didn't involve throwing up. Our family had one of those one day bugs and only two of us escaped it!

    All the very best for 2018 mate!

    1. Thanks Geoff. No excuses not to go for a cruise through there in the Rav...

      Happy New Year!

  5. Comforting to look at the reflections of your trip -- so green and lush. And warmer than the 11F temperature I was riding in today. New Zealand always looks great.

    Best wishes for more long rides and safe travels in 2018.

    1. Thanks Steve. It's probably always green through there - plenty of rain. A lot of the rest of the country is going brown - reasonably severe drought in a lot of places.

      Happy New Year and safe riding to you too!