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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hello Gold Coast

Yesterday we woke up to the sound of rain, and admired the view while birds start to play.

We had breakfast quit early and left with haste, since the rain would delay us reaching the place.

Of sun and beach and warmth all the day , the Gold Coast is where we wanted to stay.

On the highway there was a thought in my mind, where is my phone did I leave it behind?

At the next rest stop we inquired and all was revealed,  my phone was in fact 150 kilometers from here.

The Hotel patrons called back with an idea in mind, "We'll send it with a courier you should have it in time".

A fuel stop later and while we rest, we met some locals with some interest .

Many questions were asked and we replied, We like making friends who wave us goodbye .

We will ship our bikes home and in three days receive,  new rented motorbikes in New Zealand I believe.

For now we will enjoy the Gold Coast with it's sun , who knew this place would be so much fun.

Beach walking and shopping , and souvenir hunting all with kids week events and tram hopping.

We peaked out our windows and guess what we found? A member of the biggest bike group in town.

Tomorrow we must deliver our bikes in Brisbane and catch our 6:30 flight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Look out at Dorrigo

We walked into town to the local cafe and had a breakfast where everyone knew each other, and had very nice french toast. Packing our bikes we realized that although the wind temperature was low about 15 Deg. C , the sun was really hot which evened out the equation giving us another beautiful day to ride.

Leaving the hotel the GPS wanted us to go back a few kilometers to the highway but we had other plans and decided to continue on our way taking back roads to Tamworth where the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum was. We glazed over the many bikes there comparing it to the Museum we visited in Bicheno Tasmania, then left on our way to Dorrigo.

When we reached Armidale we took our break then continued on one of the best roads for motorcycling we have seen, with grand vistas and curvy roads , we were mesmerized and a little disappointed that it ended when we reached the Hotel. Later we found out that there were waterfalls along the route that we could have stopped at had we ventured off the road but we didn't care, The enjoyment we got from the ride and the road was far more than enjoying watching a waterfall.

The hotel was atop of mountain with nice scenery all the way to the ocean, and the patrons here told us of another look out about 4 km from the hotel so we rode there and took some very nice photos. We decided to stay in today and had our dinner in Ali's room which was quite good. Tomorrow is a long ride to the Gold Coast and the weather forecast is RAIN.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Putty to Quirindi

It was a dry sunny day when we left Sydney heading north. A few days ago we met a guy who mentioned the Putty road and since we value local knowledge we decided to try this road on our way today. and After a many kilometers of traffic and lights we hit Putty road which is infamous for Sydney riders.

Midway we stopped for fuel, tea and coffee and found out that there is an accident almost every weekend from motorcyclists that push their bikes too hard. We also met some other bikers who were riding Ducati's and enjoying the twisties.

We reached Quirindi late in the afternoon, and while I was making hotel reservations for tomorrow and sending emails to secure our motorcycle shipping, Ali took a stroll around town and taking pictures of the sunset. We later went to a local pub for our dinner and decided to visit a local cafe for tomorrow's breakfast.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sydney with friends

The weather cooperated with us yesterday giving us partly cloudy blue skies, and the road was mostly highway with plenty of service and rest areas. On our way we saw a line of motorcycles going towards Canberra that wasn't ending so when we saw Harley riders on our break we asked what was going on , and they mentioned the Wall to Wall : Ride for Remembrance which honours the Police force and later we found that there were 2058 registered riders, no wonder the line didn't end.

After our break we headed to Parramatta as suburb of Sydney since we don't like to say in high traffic cities. After we got settled we went out and visited some old friends that we haven't seen since the eighties who used to live in Kuwait. When we arrived at the Isaac family house Ali immediately saw a bunch of kangaroos since a national park is right behind the premises. Rowena prepared a wonderful meal and Husain spent the time talking to Younan about their colleagues when they were working together.

We woke up this morning to clouds and drizzle so after breakfast we headed into Sydney on our motorcycles to try to get a picture of the Opera House. Along the way we saw a sign that mentioned the Harbour bridge being closed due to the Sydney Marathon, with blocked roads we tried to reach the Opera house but couldn't so we settled for a nearby park that overlooked the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. 

We rode back and settled for resting and doing our laundry while the rain increased. Parramatta is filled with cafes and restaurants so getting something to eat was a short walk. We hope the weather improves since we have a few long riding days ahead of us until we reach the Gold Coast.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cold Canberra

After Ali Prepared breakfast yesterday , we gathered our things and left sunny warm Eden and headed north. The Forecast was for rain and we were prepared for it.  about an hour into the ride a sign showed a steep incline for 10 km and that's when we moved from being in 16 deg C weather to 8 deg C weather with overcast. And after I couldn't handle the cold any more we stopped briefly to put on a layer of clothing. While we were on the side of the road I saw something hopping in the woods, it was a kangaroo I showed Husain but by the time the news reached Ali it was gone. Finally we saw a live wild kangaroo.

We stayed at a hotel a bit out of the city and closer to the embassy. We then left for a shopping center were Ali and Husain got a haircut and I was trying to recall when was the last time we saw a shopping center. Perth yup we didn't see any until we reached Canberra, and since we were here we decided to go see a movie too.

Since we were staying in an apartment style hotel there was no breakfast, so I volunteered to go into town and buy what we needed for our meal. it was 8 deg C at 7 am when I ventured to the closest supermarket that was open at the time and rode back very careful not to break the eggs I was carrying.

Later that day the clouds subsided and the weather was just right for our ride to the embassy. We met the embassy staff and Mr. Mahdi Alajmi, Mr. Abdulaziz Almenaifi, and Mr. Abdulaziz Aldekheel. Later we Met with his excellency the ambassador Mr. Najeeb Albader.

We talked all about our travels and took some photos, the ambassador insisted that we see some of Canberra before our dinner with him tonight. And assigned a car to take us to the Australian War Memorial which is a highly recommended visit.

Later in the evening we went to the ambassador's house where we met more staff as well as the current and future cultural attache. And as we talked about the great role our embassy's and ambassadors play we got to know that the former ambassador to Ethiopia when we visited in 2011 is now the ambassador to New Zealand where we hope to see in a few weeks. The meal and company were very well enjoyed and we went back to our hotels to get ready for Sydney.