Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fishers and the 42

Not a moment too soon and just before the whole country goes into lock-down three WR's went on a little ride...

Ever since I bought the WR I'd wanted to take it up to National Park and ride both Fishers Track and (more importantly) the 42nd Traverse.  Way back in '14 I was dumb enough to tackle both of these rides on the ole DL - this truly was an adventure.  You can check out my write-ups at the links below:
So, how did we decide on last weekend?  Well, it appears that Chevvy has well and truly over his mishap on the Dusty Butt and while chatting to Colin and I on FB he burst into print with a date - the 21st of March.  And not to appear to be wusses, Colin and I had to give the idea the silly blue thumbs-up.

In the intervening few weeks before the ride there was plenty of discussion to match our increasing anticipation and eventually the day dawned - early...

Just before 7am, a Land Cruiser and trailer found its way into my driveway and soon after Mighty Mouse was loaded up with his 2 bros for the trip North.  We were soon on our way but did manage to find a coffee in Sanson to keep us fortified for the 2 hour drive.

Arriving in National Park, we unloaded the bikes and started to get our gear on before noticing a cafe not 50m from where we were parked.  After more refreshments were purchased from a hospitality professional who wasn't, we finished getting our act together and attacked Fishers Track.

Fishers Track is a really good warm-up in preparation for the longer and slightly more technical 42.  Starting out on a wee gravel track, you eventually end up on a dirt/grass track that winds its way up and around a hill before dropping back down the other side and spitting you out on another gravel road.

Along the way there are a few gates to negotiate, banks to avoid riding off and mountain bikers that you're not supposed to run off the road.

The Chev
There's also the odd view to be seen should you decide to stop for a mo.

We must have been the first people through on the track, because rounding one corner, Colin disturbed a hind having a late breakfast.  Unfortunately, I didn't capture it on video even though Colin pulled aside and told me to chase after it.  Deer are pretty fast and quite happy to take to the scrub when threatened.  This all happened somewhere around 18:30 in the horribly jerky (hey, it was bumpy in places) below:

Dirt track finally gave way to some fast but dusty gravel and we finally got to use a few more gears on our way to the monument at Ohio Road.

After mingling with mountain bikers we rode a short bit of seal to Kawautahi Road where we had great fun on more fast and duty gravel which eventually tightened up as it climbed over a hill before dropping us down into Owhango right on lunch time.

Guess what is inside that van...
So after lunch it was time for the big event!  I was really looking forward to the more challenging riding, knowing that the little WR would be a far better tool than the poor old V-Strom.  I was imagining slips, rocks, wet and slippery clay, the mad scramble up the rock face, oncoming 4WD's and general carnage...I was to be slightly disappointed...

While the ride was absolutely fantastic, there has been a lot of work done on the track and it was a far easier ride than last time.  I still did think to myself in a few places that I'd been mad to take the DL through - I don't think I would again even with the track improvements...

Somewhere along the way...
One thing we were careful of was the oncoming vehicles.  We already knew that we might see some 4wd's as we'd seen them heading North earlier in the morning.  Colin knew one of the guys and had called him to see where they were going.  Also, we chatted to some guys at the start of the track and they also warned us of plenty of people using the track.

So, Colin led us off at a pretty sedate pace and this proved to be a good plan as we did meet some other bikes (petrol and pedal powered, 2 and 4 wheeled).  The bikes were ok but one clown in a side-by-side came around a corner sideways and at a great rate of knots at one stage - he got a bit of a yelling at...

Same spot/different angle - can you tell we didn't stop for many photos?
The highlights for me were those tricky bits - the water crossing (where the DL took a nap), closely followed by the rock face (daunting on the DL) and then a few more steeper climbs and descents were all fun and all a piece of cake on the Mightiest of Mouses...

Once again the video is horribly jerky but the crossing and rock face (looking a lot easier than it did 6 years ago) are at around 21:40.

After those trickier (fun) bits we upped the pace a little and it was great fun chasing Colin uphill in and out of ruts, trying to pick decent lines etc.

We finally crested a bit of a rise into an open area with tracks all over it and wandered off down a little side track to see where it went.  It was a short excursion as we came across a gate and decided that we'd better not go any further.  You can see this side trip on the map at the end of the blog.

Returning back to the 42, we had just a few more km of pretty open riding to get us out to Highway 47.  But we were not finished yet.

Colin took a left instead of a right and then off the seal again to check out John McDonald Road and the ride into the Pokaka Mill Campsite.

The road in was mostly quite wide and fast gravel that eventually tightened up a bit as we neared the Okupata Caves.  We stopped at the Caves and took a wander down to have a looksee but were a little bit disappointed - the caves appear to be filled with boulders or perhaps collapsed.  Oh well, something a little different.

After the clamber out we rode into the campsite itself to check it out and then turned around to ride back out to take the seal back to National Park and the waiting cruiser.

A coffee stop in Waiouru followed by diesel in Sanson were the only stops on the way home and I was unloaded and parked up before 7pm.  A fantastic little adventure and probably the last one for a wee while now :(

Oh, and I didn't miss the extra 750cc of the Vee and definitely not the extra 100kg or so!

I already want to ride the 42 again...


  1. What a great trip! Enjoy the memories for a while :-) . I'd hoped to go fishing but the Coastguard are saying no because they're not providing much coverage. My new brake pads haven't arrived either. Thought fitting them might use up a day. Take it easy mate!

    1. Cheers Geoff. I'd love to get some parts in for some work on the bikes but even that's out now...

      I may have to clean the damn things instead...