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Northland-Cruising on 110cc

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  • #5169
    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Only just started….a couple of posties wandering (and wondering) through the Northland.
    Daily updates of a 2 week ride.

    • Town/City: Tauranga
    • Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV, BMW R100GS
    • Rank: Round the World Adventure Globetrotter


    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    <cite> @Eddieb said:</cite>

    The whole yarn is over here…incl. 500+ pics, some of them absolute calender material.
    Had a weekend ride on, but back on the keyboard from tomorrow.

    • Bike: 2014 BMW G650GS
    • Rank: 400cc Rider

    A wonderful report and fantastic photography … it makes you a bit proud to be a Kiwi. Thanks

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Thanks for looking in.
    There’s more to come over the next few days. 🙂
    Sadly can’t post it here due to various limitations.

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    The last one has been too long ago…but in memory it still seems like yesterday.

    Even though the last week blitzed by like a movie at warp-speed, things finally turned good with a few hours to spare before the 3-and-a-bit-hrs flight across the “dutch”.

    The way any decent trip should kick off…cheers!

    So…what’s up this time?
    Oh yeah…New Zealand’s Northland.
    Follow the call of “the Platypus”.
    Sticking the nose into all those tucked-away places that
    the normal tourist will never see.
    Follow the lure of the fabled, little 110cc tiddler… letting the 7.5hp rip away and make those skinny pushbike wheels plough through lots of the deeeeep, coaaarse NZ gravel.
    And sand…and beaches….and lots of other places those things just shouldn’t go and definitely weren’t made for.

    When Bernard promised 2 “ready-to- ADVtravel” Posties, there was not a split second of hesitation.

    GAME ON!!

    Add a welcome like this and nothing can go wrong….we all know that’s bullshit, but it sounds… hopeful?


    “Where’re you goin?…
    “Yeah, my brother was there last year, had a great time with the jet-boats and that train-ride across to the other side of the island…and the chopper ride to the glaciers…yaddayadda groan…

    Wrong island, buddy.



    “Ohhh…you mean that stinky place, wotchamacallit…Rotorua, that’s it… and those Hobbits. Did a boat ride, too, he did…around all those little islands and a day around that Coriander-place, near Auckland, you know…yeah, Coromandel, that’s it.



    Just the bit of NZ north of Auckland…. that narrow, sometimes barely 35km wide piece of heaven that’s been so comprehensively written off as a motorcycle wasteland, hmmm.

    There’s nothing much there apart from a handful of tourist spots like the
    1= Coromandel (which isn’t really Northland, either)
    2= Bay of Islands

    and a couple of second-string places like

    3= Cape Reinga
    4= 90Mile Beach

    How about we’ll go and check it out, aye?


    The slow way!

    A HUGE THANKS to our fabulous hosts Sue and Bernard for making us feel so welcome, it left us speechless and humbled. We’ve never learned so much about NZ before as in the time spent together…thanks for the patience and ALL the answers, GREAT stuff.

    And then, of course, the 2 stars of the show, Hewie + Louie (or something like that).
    2 CT’s in their prime, lovingly fettled to perfection and shiny grandeur!

    The Steel Pony panniers proved a bit tall… Trim some of the plastic lip off that tub to locate it between the uprights of the rack, buckle the top-bag on top of the crossover straps to hold it all down…and Bob’s your uncle.

    Ready packed and with a hopeful eye into the grey, overcast heavens it’s all set to roll the next morning, starting the caper with a dayride from Hamilton towards the coast via some backroads and gravel, some of which might even be familiar territory from the Hobbits+Bobbits Ride a few years back.

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Not too sure about all the details of the route here (the “big 250” was leading the way), but it should be fairly close.
    Bernard will hopefully straighten out the kinks…

    While dry, the skies don’t look too flash and Jeezaz, is it blowing or what?

    Adding to the ~70-80kmh gusts, there’s a mind-blowing 7.5hp on tap, which feed into some dodgy $27 Chinese soft-knobbies by the name of “Golden Boy” (see where this is getting dodgy?)

    Golden Boys aren’t quite round … but rather sort of oval, which makes for great traction in the flat sections and some rather interesting moments over the high spots. At 20kmh things are a gentle, rockinghorse-style, up + down, the horizon sort of wobbling along with the front end going light and spongy, rhythmically… at 40kmh the world is at an even keel again, but now both ends are flighty and the whole affair is fairly howdyacallit??? …..“skimming the surface”.

    At 60kmh you’re shittin’ yourself…
    ….at 70 it’s getting out of control in a bloody hurry….
    ….at a downhill-75 with a truck overtaking and a gusty crosswind it’s white-knuckled packed-the-daks-to-the-elastic while the tiny 110cc mill is about to explode and the 1/2inch boingers are sitting on the blocks. It’s fugging TERRYFYING!!

    There’s a blind lefthander at the bottom of that 75kmh downhiller….and the white knuckles extend to the kneecaps now!

    THERE AINT NO BRAKES!!…..and the $27 Golden Boys go willynilly walkabouts, the dinkytoy rubber squirming and wailing any which way short of popping off the rims.

    Now transplant the above to the 4” deep, 1.5” thick gravel of the backroads of the Northland…or the hardpack-sand of the beaches… and it’s pretty obvious where the fun-bit kicks in, aye?

    BLOODY AWESOME, I tells ya!!
    Harden the f&^k up, sissie!!

    Typical Waikato district….

    The REAL Wild Turkey!! Abundant…and running in flocks all over the Northland.

    Chaperoned by the mighty XT250

    It sure shows how the wind blows around here.
    Te Akau Wharf Rd…. (check the Gmaps link above)

    …which ends in a cluster of amazing “pancake” rock chimneys opposite the small seaside resort of Raglan.

    “Cool Dude”

    More delicious Waikato gravel…

    ….and a MONSTROUS roast-pork-roll from the Raglan Bakery,

    …before more rolling green hills and the descent off the Old Mountain Rd. under a still-grey afternoon sky.
    Beaut piece of gravel, that Old Mountain Rd., looking over the top of Hamilton.

    Ready for the start into the Northland in the morning….

    What a sweet first day….and what a re- introduction to the fabulous CT’s and the delights of the Golden-Boys

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Figuring that cruising at 60-70kmh isn’t really all that healthy on a freeway, a route was picked to use the small country-roads, and gravel where ever possible, to sneak into Auckland… then use the city streets (and –speeds) to fiddle our way through the widely-draped-around-the-bays + harbours-city to pop out at the northern head of the harbour entrance for a look at Huia and Whatipu Camp…. trying for the Donald McLean Lookout for a nice view across the expansive Manukau Harbour.


    Low cloud and drizzle make for a bit of a subdued start, but only 20k’s north the drizzle stops…the abandoned roads make for some eerie cruising, not a living thing to be seen any which way we turn. It’s a deeeep breath of a place that hasn’t gone entirely nanny-stupid like much of Australia… the lack of signs, lines and road-furniture of all kinds is a HIGHLY welcome change and liberating in a lot of ways.

    That alone is certainly worth an NZ-ride on its own!!

    The contrast was crushing within the first few meters when picking up the car at the Airport Parking in Melbourne afterwards again.

    FREE!! Hoo-bloody-ray

    We quickly duck into the Hanua Ranges, and a possible meet-up with someone from the ADVriding NZ forum…then enjoy the first serious set of twisties just south of Clevedon, followed by another sixpack on the Twilight Rd. to Brookby….the uphill struggle in 3. and even 2. gear replaced by squealing brakes and some white-knuckle curvy action, taking a half-dozen bites at each corner while the GoldenBoys insist on following their own lines.

    We’ll have to get this sorted at some stage…

    Auckland has a great system of well-signed cross-routes which negate any need for a GPS…just follow some route-number until it intersects with another chosen route …then follow that. Repeat until the suburbs fall by the wayside…Bravo Auckland!

    Still threatening…but full of promise!

    Skimming the water’s edge at Huia Bay

    The turn inland, across the narrow gravel pass to Whatipu Camp is a sea of green with a dark-brownish beach under grey and black clouds which are hiding our sought-after Lookout.
    A carpark, some bushwalkers, more drizzle….

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Back to Huia Bay and things look better again…

    There’s enough water for half a footy-team bursting out of that shower head down at the beach…

    Sculpted by nature…

    The ride north on the “Scenic Drive” to Waitakere becomes a “dodge-em” trip… the clouds coming from the nearby coast envelope the hills and it’s thick pea-soup fog, drizzle alternating with heavy dumps, 2” of water rushing down the asphalt…and speeds down to an absolute crawl to finally find an overhanging roof at a local fire-station for some temporary cover.
    The muesli bar in the jacket-pocket has turned to a plastic-wrapped sausage of grainy slush…

    The name fits just perfectly…

    Some dog-legging on backroads get us to Muriwai, making quarters at the “Fools+Horses Homestay”.
    Hmmmm….the fools bit says it all, just do yourself the favour and keep riding in your wet jox to look for something else….further inland is best.

    The grump at the Caravan Park doesn’t like motorbikes…while the guys at the beach-kiosk flog us some ridiculously-priced, end-of-day, deep-fried mush in last week’s newspaper…yo, the local version of fish ‘n chips.
    Back to “Puke Rd.”, I guess…

    But….BUT!!!….it’s stopped raining and things are drying somewhat. Enough for a little look around…

    Even some of the locals are out to play…

    Back to the “Fools”….
    Looking quite neat… but maaan, a decent clean-up of the joint would start with a stick of gelly.
    It’s getting dark early…. and the blackbellies are scraping across the undulating landscape before unloading massive amounts of water all through the night.
    Trying to keep the sleeping bag off the sticky bed uprights, we listen to the endless hammering on the tin-roof while the storm howls about the corners of the place….praying for the soft-panniers and top bags left on the bikes out in the open to be REALLY! waterproof….there’s no cover available at all.

    The good news….there are some more muesli bars tucked away in the footwell of the sleeping bag.
    Just like the pack of ground coffee for the plunger-cups….brecky is SAFE, YEAH!

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    A huge thanks to Eddie to copy this whole thing across from the AT forum.

    Great effort!

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    The old wheelbarrow outside has gone from bone-dry to holding a 6” pool of water.

    Ducking out into the semi-dark between lazy drips and more pelting showers, the Andy Strapz panniers seem to have fared only a little better than the Steel Ponys, there’s water in all of them and it’s a battle to get the gear into the “lounge” without getting even wetter along the way.
    Things just don’t feel right….the warm, sticky, thick coastal fog drips and dribbles in between showers and even darker skies while the sole heater works itself to death in the corner, trying to dry some of the soaked stuff.

    By around 10am most of the “damage” is repaired and there seems to be a modest greying in the black out there…time to get away.
    Getting all excited when the rain stops only 15km up the road, I goof and we somehow finish up doing a useless 20km loop towards Kumeu/ Auckland…but it DOES show that the weather is slightly better inland than along the coast, at least some of the skies show some shapes and clouds rather than a blanket of deep-grey.

    First the deserted SH16 main highway north through Helensville. Time for brecky…

    The Kaukapakapa Store…nice to be “in the country”, finally.
    They still leave their boots at the front door here…

    While munching away on those scrumptious bacon + eggs sandwiches, it’s time to plot a course getting into the backblocks again, only crossing the highways rather than following them.


    Up the twisties and we’re in pea-soup again…which must’ve washed the picnic tables away through the night.

    There’s no sign on the turnoff, but it HAS to be the road to Makarau…
    I hope.

    Burnside Rd…..there must be the occasional bit of rain up here…

    Hitting the tar of the West Coast Rd., there’s no time for pics…in THOSE twisties even 7.5hp can pack a load of fun, what a road, yeeha!!

    The whole road is only ~30km long, discount about 2-3km each side for the “lead-in/out”, the rest is GOLD!

    Incidentally…those 30k’s get you from the western to the eastern beaches, the Northland isn’t exactly a stretched out affair around here.

    The GoldenBoys hold things in check though and it’s soon back onto gravel to Kaipara Flats.
    For whatever reason, that name rings a bell with me…perhaps I was here in a former life…or it brings up images of Footrot Flats, the little movie with the “Slice of Heaven” soundtrack?

    Whatever…the going is good, the puddles not too deep, nor is the gravel yet…go north, my friend.

    Wharehine Rd. towards Port Albert….Topuni River Inlet in the distance.

    A little more asphalt on the Mangawhai Rd., then back onto the gravel of the Ryans Rd. the intensity of the “GREEN” bowls you over.

    The Ryan’s Rd./ Pritchard Rd. (same road, it changes names as it crosses the district border from Auckland to Northland).
    This one not just proves an absolute humdinger, it turns into one of the personal Top10 gravel roads of the Northland instantly!

    What a li’l ripper!! Despite the crappy pics, the views are 270deg panoramic… swivel-necking from coastal hills to inland farmland and the distant hills…AWESOME!
    We’d LOVE to do this on a good day!

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Skimming the ridges…

    That’s Taranga Island, just off the coast, in the background there.

    “Exit left” …and “left”…and “left” ….
    The turn into Baldrock Rd. shows what’s given the road its name…and continues the buzz of the Ryan/ Pritchard stretch…this time, on asphalt.

    The 5 minute “commute” on SH1 to hook into the Mountain Rd. gravel brings home the need to stay off those kinds of roads…there ain’t no place for a postie between trucks hauling fruit + veg from up north, a fleet of local tradies-in-a-hurry and wide-eyes tourists (OHHHH, maaaahhh Gawwwd!!) in their dieseling snail-house-campers trying to make the 9pm flight to San Fran or Tokyo.

    Mountain Rd….quite nice, but various levels short of other local stuff sampled recently.
    Kaiwaka River in the flats…

    Double bags, double sidestands….gotta find a double-exhaust to balance the pic, aye?
    Btw…that Givi 40l roll-top bag on the rear rack was the ONLY truly waterproof bag through last night’s torrents.
    Also pretty good: the Andy Strapz waterproof liners… everything in those stayed dry, despite the bottom of the bags sitting in a pool of water for hours. Worth buying if you’ve got canvas-based soft luggage!

    Kaipara Hills…LOTS more on those is still to come. TOP stuff!!

    More Mountain Rd.

    The huge Fonterra dairy-FACTORY at Maungaturoto looks like a gleaming stainless-steel space station but is quickly bypassed on the main road, immediately ducking up the hills again on the Doctors Hills Rd., a very promising start to the following, but dull, Waipu Gorge Rd…..which at least kept us off the highways for a bit longer.
    No avoiding the SH1 (SH= State Highway) for a few minutes before ducking back into the safety (and buzz) of the backblocks.
    Buzz orrite!!
    Starting innocently enough, Glenmohr Rd. turns into one of the many, absolutely juicy, backblocks-racetracks which are hidden away EVERYWHERE!

    A kilometre of smooth gravel, then more of the same on the McLean Rd. down to the coast… it makes even the Tiddlers sing.

    Having dodged most of the afternoon’s blackbellies, the roads are dry but the skies threatening….and there’s a howling wind blowing mighty gusts of leaves, dust and sand across the coastal strip. It’s still way too warm, too…something just isn’t right. It makes the hair stand up….weird.

    The Waipu Cabin Park is closed…but the map shows another place just down the road.
    Camp Waipu Cove proves the “duck’s guts”, the guy in the office has just come back from an 8 day Vietnam-ride on 125s…which makes settling in here a longish, but smooth affair with lots of laughs…nice
    A little kitchen-cabin with small verandah at NZ$70, neat as a pin and CLEAN!
    Again it proves that bringing our own sleeping bags/ sheets and pillow cases doubles the accommodation options in nearly every place.

    The little Beach-Shop doubles it’s weekly takings and even knocks up some Fish ‘n Chips.
    Now, that’s twice in a row and we promise eachother to rather suck on slushy muesli bars from now on than to give this another go. The cold beer makes up for some of it, though…

    The AA (NZ Automobile Club) local maps/ touring maps are BRILLIANT!!
    Each road in NZ….by name!! Main, secondary, backroad, sealed or gravel….everything is marked and, if studied properly and closely, 99% accurate and up to date. Fabulous stuff!!

    It’s still balmy, too warm …and stickily humid.
    The wind has died….and the sandflies are having a feast on us.
    Who cares….even the Midgets are under roof!

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Pitchdark…and the earth is coming to its end.
    The ground is shaking, the rain is hammering, the wind is howling and yammering and trying to lift the little cabin off its foundations. The edge of the chinpiece of the helmet is rattling against the microwave, cutlery and crockery dingle away in the cupboards… the air is foul and thick and the curtains blown horizontally through the cracked-open windows.
    All hell’s broken loose up there; this is like a massive earthquake… from above.
    Never-ending thunder, one crack and massive rumble instantly topped by the next one, lightning everywhere …

    What did dad always tell me as a little tacker?
    For every second between the lightning and the thunder, the heart of the storm is another 300m away. Going by that, there’s about 5 of the bastards within 30 foot of eachother… and right above us.

    CAAAAARRRRAAAKKKKK…SIIIZZZZZZZLE….and the hair stand up again.

    Three hours later, the incredible spectacle has fizzled out into flooding rain, the thunderstorms moved away, the winds down to some gusty puffs.

    A sudden silence makes me grab the camera, water-skiing the grass out there in the purple thongs for something to ban-on-film….anything. There’s gotta be something around after this circus!!

    The rain keeps coming… first solid, then in showers…then in fits and starts….the reception has copped a leak from the flat roof, the power is out, the young Alaskan guy from near the dunes carries his “expedition-proven” World Traveller tent to the dumpmaster aqnd books in for a cabin, the white-faced young German couple (more fresh WWOOF’ERs) spread out in the TV-room after their Backpacker-bunkroom window blew in and the room got flooded.

    No sense to get going now, too late in the day… might as well do what we never get around to…relaaaax!

    By mid-afternoon the sun is out…at least here and there.
    Time to get some real tucker and check out Waipu-Town a little, enjoy the cook-up and a bottle of whatever-we-can-find.

    The Tiddlers packed with goodies!

    It’s a cute little town which even sprouts a small bottle shop!

    Meet the “Good George Squealer”, a local Hamilton brew that even comes in the appropriate packaging, a proper 1 liter, dark-brown, screw-cap “medicine-bottle”

    And squeal I did….with delight!

    ….after I woke up again! This is serious schtuff, whoohoo

    Dropped on me arse twice, doing the chains.
    Christ, this brew packs a wallop!!

    All set for tomorrow then,…hurray, just look at that sky!

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Riding beaches isn’t everyone’s favourite…but I like it.
    I love the crash of the surf, the salty haze, wide open space, the edge-of-the-world feeling….and the challenges and often complex set of circumstances behind beach-riding.
    Like tide-tables, picking the right time, the often tricky and deep entries and exits, the endlessly different textures and “feel” of a beach blown to a glaze by the wind, softened by a high-tide or turning shifty and nasty by being patchy after a spell of bad weather a few days earlier, hiding seaweed pockets, little creek-beds and all sorts of washed up curiosities.

    One of the key attractions for this trip was a tootle along the western beach from Poutu Point at Kaipara Heads, past the old, wooden lighthouse to Maunganui Bluff, Aranga….which I figured we might have a crack at, exiting the beach with the small bikes, wading the river. Then more of it along 90-Mile Beach….and EddieB had pointed me to another beach on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula.

    It all hinges on the tides, as normally only 2hrs either side of a dead-low-tide are considered safe.
    Timing becomes everything and having lost a day, our available time-windows for each following day had shifted up by ~ 1 hour. Which will make for a late start in 3 days time, leaving precious little time to make for accommodation / fuel etc. after the beach-run.

    No good chasing pipedreams with our Tiddlers, so we’ll skip the Poutu-Aranga stretch, taking rather more time through the backblocks across to the west. The Kaipara had cast its spell on the Ryan/Pritchard stretch!


    Not another day of BLOODY RAIN!!

    The hefty shower hammers the roof of the little cabin at the very first tinge of grey, things are getting a little depressing.

    Still eager to go, we’re all set to roll by the time the first, faint patches of blue appear over Waipu Cove.

    OHHH boy!! Are we up for a day of the Kaipara Wonders? YEEHAWWW!

    Come along for a zigzag-wander of the Kaipara backroads, ridges, hills and mountains, farmroads, rivers and creeks…and 4” thick gravel-ploughing on the “High-School-Girls-Rd” (and that’s a real name!).

    Bouncing east-to-west, it’s first across the SH1 and a short stretch of asphalt on the Millbrook Rd., which climbs immediately into the first few hills .

    A look in the mirrors…

    Letterbox on a trunk versus letterbox in a trunk.

    No pussies here!

    Another look back.

    And that’s what’s to come, slobber!

    Western end of the Millbrook Rd.

    A 200m asphalt dogleg and it’s another climb towards the east on the Cassidy Rd.

    YES, that’s NZ, not Oz!

    They’ll finish it…eventually.

    • Rank: 650cc Rider

    Hansen Rd.

    A bit further east again…Stead Rd.
    This Kaipara thing is just …FABULOUS!!

    Still drifting east towards Dargaville on the Pikiwahine Rd.

    If you just want to sit here and stare at the Tangihua Ranges….go ahead!! Nobody and nothing will bother you for the rest of the day.

    A break from the merry gravel-dance

    Did I say “Nothing will bother you?” Only joking!
    gooblegooble gooblegooblegooblegooblegooblegooble

    First thought they’d belong to a close by farm, but no… these are the original Wild Turkey’s!
    Singles, pairs or flocks up to 20 or more. And they’re everywhere.
    gooblegooble gooblegooblegooblegooble gooblegooble….and you thought you had a funny-sounding flat, aye?

    The flood-plains of the Manganui River near Dargaville show last night’s downpour.

    No problems with the couple of black clouds drawing in from the nearby West Coast… as long as we can dodge ‘em through the afternoon, they actually make for some spectacular, and dramatic, lighting.

    Let’s have lunch first, fill up the tanks to their 450km capacity…and find some more chain lube.
    The tiny, local Honda dealer has a single, king-sized, bottle of lube on the shelf….we better leave that for the one who’ll need it to make it all the way down south for this:

    Dargaville….hmmm…don’t really want to say too much and offend any locals, but it certainly reminded me VERY strongly of most of the Aboriginal settlements up Cape York in AUS.

    High youth/native unemployment, social security popping its rivets, lots of banged up shitbox- Subarus/ Lancers dripping with the usual Ebay- junk and loud, demonstrative “Hey, Bro!” shouting and high-5ing across, back and forth Main St….. local pollies of any shade scrambling to cover their arse after the implosion of the latest “social-engineering”-scheme, the local coppers trying to get home in one piece at night, the “natives” milking the national guild-complex for every tired penny it can cough up …the usual mess. Not a place to spend any time at….it’s a slow-fused powder keg.

    The coffee and burger were good; the tanks are full…let’s try to find more of what we’d seen this morning.

    Running parallel to the SH12 main road, the “cruisin’-is-soothin’” on the gravelly backroads to the Trounson Park turn-off.

    Seen better days…the little Kaihu Catholic church.

    Deadly serious….footy of any colour + code will be taken to the grave.

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