Thursday, October 6, 2016

Final Day in New Zealand

Admiring the view when we woke up, we had breakfast with Christine and Drew, and since we had such a wonderful time at the La Casa Lodge we decided take a shared photo right before we left.

The ride to Auckland was pleasant until about 10 km from Auckland center when it started to rain heavily and traffic kicked in. it took a good 30 minutes before we got out of traffic and back on route to the bike rental company.

About 1 km from the bike drop off place we filled the bikes up with fuel and stopped for the final coffee break especially since we were about 30 minutes early.

Once we delivered the bikes we packed our bags and waited for the our transport to the airport who was late and upon calling we found out that they had the times mixed.

So we were delayed 30 minutes, luckily we booked early and arrived well in time for our check in at the airport. Now all we have to do is endure the 24 hour travel to Kuwait.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Coromandel Salty roads

We left Rotorua and as usual under cloud cover since it rains here a lot we took mostly highways and some farm roads. the winds today were gusty and with a strong side wind we moved a bit slower than usual, we entered route 25 on the Coromandel Peninsula and it must have been high tide since the waves from the sea at places were splashing on the road.

The view was amazing from the hotel on the hill top and the owners Christine and Drew were very friendly they made us coffee on the veranda. in the afternoon we left for Thames which is about 10 km away to look for Manuka honey and bought a bunch. Then we continues on route 25 until we reached Coromandel town. The road was coastal and curvy but the enjoyment short lived since there was gravel from unfinished repairs in many places.

While the road passed through the hills we could see the mussel farm and witnessed a tractor pulling in a load. We walked around town for a while then went to a very nice restaurant and had salmon for dinner. We rode back early along the same road and caught the sunset from the hotel.

Later we started preparing our bags for tomorrow's trip, we will ride to Auckland deliver the bikes and then go straight to the airport.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Steamy to Rotorua

It looks like it rained last night although I didn’t hear a thing, our laundry was in the laundry room since it closes at 8 pm and Ali forgot the get our stuff out of the drier. So right after breakfast we got our laundry, packed our pages and headed towards Rotorua. 

Initially we thought the weather would be nice but it soon changed and got cold. with mountains roads we rode for a couple of hours until we could see steam rising from the grounds in the fields around us. It was a geothermal location and since we were here we headed to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

We parked our bikes in front of the main building, bought our tickets and headed down the footpath to see different holes and ponds that were steaming over with different colours . There were many tourist and a newly wed couple taking wedding pictures. We were instructed to stay on the path since it was dangerous to got off.

After our walk we went back to the main building for our usual hot drinks and snack , Rotorua was only 32 km from here so weren’t in any hurry. We took a leisurely ride into town and got the motel around 2:30 pm. After sorting our things and resting a bit we walked into town window shopping and had dinner at the end of our journey at another indian restaurant. 

Initially we were planning to go tomorrow to Coromandel but decided to go to Te Puru which is about 45 minutes before to make our journey to Auckland easier. That said we will still visit Coromandel just not stay there. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Traffic on the road to Napier

Our destination today was Napier an Art Deco town on the eastern side of the northern island overlooking the pacific ocean. So we decided to leave early since the GPS mentioned more than four hours of riding. We managed to leave around 8:45 am and left Wellington with roads full of traffic and road work that lasted about an hour and a half.

This made us uneasy and yearn for the southern island where it was much less congested. but once we were on country roads again we felt much better. We arrived at the motel and for once had an uncomfortable experience , I guess it was bound to happen you cant have all nice people and service.

We had reserved three rooms and requested that they all be on the ground floor. What we got was one ground floor room. When we asked we were told that the motel was fully booked even though we had arrived early where switching of rooms was possible. For whatever reason they just didn't want to do it. Giving us excuses and attitude wasn't the way to go , luckily we are only staying one night.

We took a nice walk into town and met other grouchy people before we started to meet the nice ones. We stumbled upon an indian restaurant that had the best service ever. They made us soup that was not on the menu and what we ordered was so good and plentiful we couldn't finish our meal. With stuffed bellies we walked back to the motel to finish up some chores like laundry and grocery shopping for tomorrow's breakfast.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Ferry to Wallington

It was a nice and drizzly morning yesterday when we gathered to have a quick bite to eat before we headed to Picton to catch the ferry to Wellington. We left at 8 am and the roads were foggy and quiet with little traffic at first.  We rode along a gorge with twisty roads and beautiful views and came across many single lane bridges and farmland.

About midway through we wanted to take a break, we saw a sign for a cafe and followed it to a nice place concealed from the main road. We didn't want to stay long since we had already booked our ferry and needed to be there ahead of time.

About 60 km from Picton the GPS took us on a merry go round until it put us on the right path. a fuel stop later and we were in Picton looking for the vehicle check in terminal, since there were two companies running ferries we rode around until we found the right one about an hour before the final check in time.

We met a couple of bikers while waiting , the ferry would go through some scenic views before it hit open water and that only lasted for about an hour. During our voyage there was a practice emergency drill for the crew and those who wanted to participate. Ali was excited to participate and after the drill he asked to visit the bridge and meet the captain which he did.

We got off the ferry on time and headed to our hotel where we rested and met later for dinner at Malaysian restaurant across the street from the hotel. We found out last night that the embassador was staying at the same hotel and that the embassy was under renovation and was walking distance from the hotel.

This morning was a lazy sunday morning, it was raining with many places closed we had breakfast at a sister restaurant to the one in Christchurch. Afterwards we took a small walk while I returned to the Hotel Ali and Husain continued along the docks and around town. Ali wanted a Kathmandu store and I needed to finish up some work.

In the Afternoon we visited the Wellington Museum which gace a glimpse of Wellington and it's maritime history.

Later in the evening we visited the new location of the Kuwait embassy with the ambassador of the state of Kuwait  in New Zealand his excellency Ahmad Al-Wehaib and his staff. They later took us to a very nice dinner at a local restaurant where we exchanged memories and stories since his excellency was also the ambassador to Ethiopia when we were on our Africa adventure in 2011.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The tides at Westport

Waking up at Franz Joseph was peaceful and serene with the backdrop of the mountains we had breakfast in house with Ali's preparation of breakfast. Our bikes being parked at the door of the room were packed easily and although there was some drizzle we rode off north along route 6 which is mostly a coastal road.

We wanted to visit Pancake Rock which also had blowholes when the tides is in unfortunately high tide was at 11:20 and we would not get there until 12:45.

Furthermore the seas were relatively calm and so when we arrived all we saw was very nice views and rocks that have been carved up by the waves and weather. The walk took about 30 minutes and then we had our coffee break before continuing on the other 60 km to Westport.

At the motel we decided to make a shift in our plans and ride early tomorrow to take the ferry to Wellington and spend two nights there instead of riding to Picton spending the night and then taking the ferry the next day.

Making the Ferry reservations was easy but the hotel reservations were much more difficult since most of the hotels and motels were booked. I tried different sites, and even call a few places just to make sure. At the end we had to settle of a high end hotel that would cost more.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

West coast to Franz Joseph Glacier

The lodge we stayed in Wanaka had a beautiful setup for breakfast which gave it a homemade feeling.We met a couple on their holiday visiting different ski slopes in the area. After we packed our bikes we headed to the west coast of the southern island along alpine roads with vistas of lakes and white peaks.  It seems that it is always partly raining here with episodes of sun every now and then.

along the way we stopped for some photo opportunities , and enjoyed the twisties especially at Haast Pass. the usual coffee break later and we were on a coastal road with the Tasman sea on our left. The weather got warmer and then cooler as we got closer to our target for the day. Our destination was a motel with villa type accommodations overlooking the mountains about 3.5 km outside of Franz Joseph Glacier.

We enquire about restaurants and the guy at the reception mentions that some will actually supply transport to and from the restaurant for free. Ali has chosen the best restaurant in town which serves asian cuisine, the meal was wonderful and we head back to prepare for the next day.

Tomorrow we head to Westport.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wanasa Wanaka

I had found a nice cafe that opens really early in town so we left at sunrise which is 7:30 am here. And after breakfast we had reload our bikes since we removed every thing yesterday to pack our riding gear when we went on the cruise.

On the way we saw a caravan of caravans which looks like they were rented and on tour. We also stopped near Queenstown and bought a 4 terra hard drive since Ali's hard drive is inaccessible and mine might act up soon. We decided to take a different route than the highway which put us in a very nice and twisty road towards Cardrona passing many farms and running through valleys.

At the we reached the lodge and found it was run by a wonderful couple , we were staying in the main house with three very nice rooms. After we rested we found out that the lodge lends tenants bicycles so we got three and rode into town exploring before heading for the restaurant for dinner. Wanaka is very touristy with many clothing and souvenir shops.

Tomorrow we head to Franz Joseph Glacier.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Milford Sound way

Today we planned to visit Milfourd Sound and take a two hour cruise. In the morning we had a quick breakfast in Casa De Ali with toast and yogurt and some green tea. We were advised to leave early before all the tourist busses were unleashed so by 9 am we were on the road unfortunately it was still overcast and the clouds hid the mountains so when we reached mirror lake there was no mountain to mirror.

But as we rode on the clouds started to part and more vistas were revealed . We stopped two more times at lookout places and viewed wonderful nature and glaciers. There were many tourists and a few were flying drones for some aerial photography.

about 20 km before reaching Milford Sound we reached a stop light with a timer that was counting down from 8 minutes and a tunnel. It seems that the tunnel is one way at a time , while waiting some birds got really close and one was on Ali's bike with them came a sign "Don't Feed the Birds" .

After the tunnel there was a sharp descent and we reached the parking lot only 20 minutes before the boat was scheduled to depart with no idea where to go. First we needed to take off our riding gear and store it in the bikes, then we needed to split up to see where to go and keep in contact with our phones. Ali was done first so he left for the docks and I left for the offices only to discover there is no cell service. Once I saw the map Husain and I started to walk towards the docks and met Ali midway , there was no time only 10 minutes if we didn't make it we would miss out on the cruise. So we quickly walked helmets in hand until we reached the ticket office and off to the cruise , not two minutes after we were on the boat did it depart.

The cruise would takes us all the way to the sea and back, on the way we got to see the mountains and the different shades of granite in the rock from the different metals. We also saw small penguins hiding in the beach , many waterfalls and seals laying on a big rock. The biggest waterfall was Stirling and the boat got right up and close to it.

When we got back we had a small break at the cafe and started to ride back right when the rain started to fall, another light for the tunnel but this time it was green , and the rain stopped. There were so many cars and campers right after each other that we were glad we were on motorcycles overtaking them one by one was easy with light bikes especially on twisty roads.

We reached the hotels with time to spare for laundry and a proper meal at a classy restaurant. Tomorrow we head back north to Wanaka.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Beautiful Road to Te Anau

It rained all night and when we woke up it was still 6 deg C since we wanted to eat at a nearby cafe that was supposed be open at 8 am but the sign said 9 am. Since checkout is 10 am there was no time to have breakfast so we had some toast, dates and tea and rode on south.

It was cold and within the hour we were climbing Lindis Pass where temperatures reached 3 deg C. Although we were wearing all that we could it was still very cold and we were happy when the road started to descend. Later the temperatures got much better and we started to see double digits.

Mid way to our trip we passed Lake Wakatipu and stopped for some photo opportunities before taking a break at Kingston . The fuel light went on about 40 km after that and we stopped for fuel after another 20 km or so.

Once we reached Te Anau we  walked into town the lake is very nice , and there is plenty to do and see. This is truly a touristic town with many tour booking offices and souvenir shops.

Tomorrow we ride to Milford Sound and take a cruise , let's hope the weather is good.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

One hour gone

When the alarm woke me up I was confused the phone said 5:30 but the clock said 4:30 so I got on the net and realized that today was the start of daylight savings time and that we had lost an hour. Knowing this I went to the hotel reception when they opened at 8  and asked for one hour late checkout. Australia and New Zealand both have checkout at 10 am in most of the places we stayed at.

As we expected it was drizzling on and off , so we went for breakfast at good restaurant where the locals go on Sundays. It was packed and we had to sit on a small table. After breakfast we started to load up the motorcycles and managed to leave before 11 am . There was light rain and the roads were wet , we also were getting used to handling of the new bikes.

initially the weather was cold but bearable. then it got really cold and down to 5.5 deg C . at times we would get strong side winds and the overcast was constant. We passed by some very nice scenery and finally parked in front of Lake Pukaki , the color was different a light turquoise that we have not seen in a lake before . Unfortunately the clouds covered the mountains and Mount cook could not be seen.

Husain's bike started to warn that fuel was low and before we entered the motel we filled up at a gas station . Once we arrived we realized that the motel was under new management for a week now. There was no internet and no guest laundry service.

We rested and warmed up for a while and then walked into town for a meal. on the way back we stopped to buy some food a grocer for Ali's late night snack. tomorrow we head further south to Te Anau .

Saturday, September 24, 2016

We have Bikes...

New Zealand is two hours ahead of Australia's east coast so we arrived at midnight and managed to get through immigration and customs in less than an hour. This might be because Christchurch is not that big a city and not alot of travelers go through here.

We got a taxi to the motor lodge where a sign on the door told us what our rooms were since the reception was closed. In the morning we went out for breakfast and in the afternoon we took a car to the rental office to pick up the bikes. We wanted to try something different so we rented BMW F800GS bikes, while we were there we met John who was still preparing things. Initially we ordered one GPS , and then Ali wanted to all to have GPS units.

Ali's bike wasn't filled with fuel so John filled it, then I asked about the registration and he had forgotten to add the road tax so he bolted out quickly to do that. With all the paperwork and preparation it took us 2 hours to actually get on the bikes and leave back to the hotel.

We realized that it was much colder than we expected so we went into the mall and stocked up on thermal clothing and liners to layer up for tomorrow's ride to Twizel.

Friday, September 23, 2016

To Christchurch NZ

Today was a long day and we know it before hand , So we left for Brisbane right after breakfast hitting the highways , who know there would be so much traffic? We arrived at a hotel that we had booked for a few hours and started to unload the bikes and prepare them to be shipped. Husain put his drone on his bike and we all rode another 35 minutes to the depot where are bikes were received to be shipped back home. We then took a taxi back to the hotel and packed up our riding gear , rested a bit then headed to the airport.

When we got there we found out we were flying on New Zealand Air. Checking in took along time since Ali's passport wasn't going to the proper authorities when it was scanned. Luckily we had arrived early and once passed immigration and customs we had a bit to eat at a cafe waiting for our flight to leave it left on time and was expected to reach Christchurch at midnight.

tomorrow we need to get the bikes from the rental company and prepare them for our New Zealand Adventure.