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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Biker Benevolence

January 5th, 2007 by sunflowers

Picton FerrySeafood ChowderI have found there is a real comradeship between bikers. While riding a most of the length of New Zealand ninety percent of the bikers that I passed waved or nodded. At first I thought that it must just be a South Island thing as everyone knows that people are more friendly in the South Island but as I hit the North Island it continued (unless they were obviously gang members and I waved at them anyway but they didn’t usually wave back). I haven’t noticed this custom in the UK but when joining the East London bike association everyone was super friendly.

I caught the eight o’clock ferry over to the Piction. This time there was a few other bikes on the boat and I chatted to them while we were tidying up our bikes – mainly listen to the complaints about the inadequate provision made for the bikes so we were lucky it was a smooth crossing. South IslandSouth IslandI braved the wind on the top to take pictures of the Marlborough Sounds before my camera battery went flat.

It was a lovely ride to Rangiora. Stopping at the Store again for the seafood chowder. For the first time riding in New Zealand I was almost hot. I removed all the linings to my DriRider outfit and enjoyed the feeling of the warm wind on my skin and ironically it was only when I was in view of the snow covered mountains it was that hot.

ps. this is a picture of Marlborough Sounds and the picture the next day is of the same area from the plane.

Milford Sound

Posted in New Zealand | 2 Comments »


Motorcycle Exercising and Memories

January 4th, 2007 by sunflowers

Kawhatau

Massey UniversityDucksToday I have been living in the past. In Palmerston North I stayed with an old flatmate and uni mate and we went out and visited my old university campus and then in Wellington I stayed with another old flatmate and colleague and we went to Wisconsin Burger (best blue cheese burger ever) for dinner and went to Strawberry Fare for the Devils Dream Cake for dessert (amazing dessert which I can’t even finish). We also drove around the city looking at my old flats and the places I used to hangout.

Devils Dream CakeGlenn in WellingtonOn the other end of the spectrum of eating is exercising. I have been a bit worried about how I am going to get exercise on my motorcycle trip. With my last job in London I lived 8.5 miles (14 kms) from work and I bicycle, walk or rollerblade back and forth. I also do yoga and pilates at the gym and sporadic weights and games of squash. But on the long trip down the North Island I discovered a whole set of exercises you can do on the bike. Thigh presses, pelvic floor and tilts and this tummy contraction thing I learned when I was doing belly dancing classes in Australia. I even did a few leg and arm extensions against the wind but maybe that is a bit dangerous. I was hoping to take up running and will try again this year but it isn’t really my thing and I have only done it in training for the Nike 10km runs.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


New Direction and Desert Road

January 3rd, 2007 by sunflowers

Desert RoadI woke up this morning dreaming about work. I guess with one week to go my subconscious is starting to prepare for the new job. I am glad that for this holiday I was starting a new job as with my old job I would spend a couple of hours a day even on holiday checking my work email and ensuring my projects where ok. But I soon forgot work as the sky was blue and it was a beautiful to be on the bike.

TaupoJames MomAs I got closer to Taupo and the temperature started to get colder I realised that my itinerary for my trip would have to change. I really wanted to do December 21st in Te Del Fargo and June 21st in Pruhouse Bay, the equinoxes at each end of the continental mass. But as I got colder I was reminded how much I dislike the cold. Maybe it is because I managed to frostbite all my extremities as a child growing up in Northern Alberta where in minus 40 weather spit will freeze before it hits the ground. I know in New Zealand that February (autumn) is our best month of weather and I am pretty sure that Chile/Argentina is similar and in Canada August (fall) is similar. Plus if I do the trip June – December I miss the UK summer and arrive back for most of the winter so now I think that I am going to do Alaska in August/September and go until Argentina in February/March.

Black EyeWhen I got to Taupo I stopped and had lunch with James’ (my flatmate in London) mom (mum – nz spelling) and listened to a few hours of how amazing James is 😉 After a late lunch I headed off to conquer the desert road. The view of the snow covered mountains was so breathtaking I am forgiving the road my miserable trip north in the freezing rain.

ps. The photo of me I took myself of the bruise that came up around my eye after it was bashed with the surfboard. At least I don’t have to wear makeup now.

Mangaweka

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Kina on Waipu Beach

January 2nd, 2007 by sunflowers

Macklin on my bikeOn the way to WaipuI feel a little bit bad as on Monday I managed to break all my New Years resolutions but this morning I got up and did my yoga and then went outside and picked plums, oranges and grapefruit for breakfast and everyone knows that New Years resolutions really start on the 2nd. Actually in New Zealand it should be on the 3rd as the 2nd is also a public holiday here. After breakfast my sister Rhonda arrived with her kids. I have caught Macklin a couple of times putting on all my bike gear but he has usually gotten out of it by the time I get the camera. This time I managed to film him going and getting on my bike in it which I will put up later.

Shelling KinaKinaWe went to Waipu beach to see my aunt and cousins who were camping out there. It is a lovely long beach and we spent some time body boarding. I managed to board into my cousin on a surfboard and got badly hit just over the eye and it swelled up so bad I was a bit worried about putting my helmet back on but half an hour with ice on it and it had gone down. Someone had gotten kina so we had a taste. It can look a bit disgusting and a lot of people don’t like to eat them but they taste creamy and sweet (if you only eat the yellow bits).

Waipu BeachEden, Macklin and Bethnay on bikeWe left the beach at three so Dawn could get to work and I rode the rest of the way down to Auckland. There was serious traffic jams for about fifty kilometres on the way to Auckland as tomorrow will be the first day after the bank holidays and a lot of Aucklanders go north for their holidays. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with about 1.2 million people in a country that only has 4.4 million people. So I practised my London filtering skills. When I got down to Auckland I stayed with my cousin and we went out into town about ten at night but there wasn’t much open so ended up eating at Dennys and just going home.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Walking in Whangarei

January 1st, 2007 by sunflowers

Whangarei View

It was quite nice to wake up without a hangover and start 2007 feeling good. It has been great seeing my family. I grew up feeling like I never fit-in in New Zealand as even though I was born in the Bay of Islands I have a Canadian accent as I lived in Northern Alberta from the age of five until twelve. Also NZ has this tall poppy syndrome thing where if you are different people seem to take a delight at cutting you down. But this visit has been amazing. I don’t think that I have ever been complimented so much as I have been in these last few weeks. It is going to be really hard to leave and I am really going to miss the scenery – all the flax, cabbage trees and ferns everywhere. I can’t quite believe that I have to be at work in about a week and still have to get the bike down to Christchurch.

Silver FernQuarry gardens in WhangareiAfter saying goodbye to my mother and sister I rode down to Whangarei with my sister who followed me in her car with my bag. I don’t think that I have bought that much stuff but my bag is full and I have another bag full down in Auckland. I have decided I dislike riding with the heavy bag on the back so I might see if my aunt will take it down with her to Auckland on Wednesday. I was quite impressed that my sister managed to keep up on a few of the over takes I did but she has a sports button that gives her car a bit extra when passing. When we got down to Whangarei she went to work and picked up one of the special needs guys that she looks after and we climbed up Mount Parihaka and looked out towards the Whangarei inlet. Then I went and walked around a quarry that has been made into a public garden which was amazingly gorgeous.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Merry New Year

December 31st, 2006 by sunflowers

New Years BBQAfter doing my washing and getting ready to head off back down south I rode the bike over my grandparents which is a lovely road without much traffic and lots of bends. For the evening celebrations my sister had all the kids over to where she lives at a motor camp (her boyfriend’s mother runs it) for a bbq while we went to a fancy hotel for a buffet meal. At midnight we went down to the waterfront and watched the fireworks display, let off sparklers and drank sparkling grape juice. I have been thinking about my new years resolutions. So far they are to do yoga every morning and prepare more than fifty percent of my food myself. Some of my goals are to pass my advanced riding and project management institute exams. I will have to figure out some more on my ride down to Christchurch.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Clairvoyance and Coupling

December 30th, 2006 by sunflowers

Sunset in WaitangiAfter another day lying in the sun for a little bit and then lazing about I walked into town to meet up with my best friend after she had finished work. While I was waiting for her there was a body, spirit and mind exhibition in the memorial hall so I decided to have a clairvoyance reading done as a lot of my friends from NZ have had them. Apparently they don’t usually talk much about the future and instead tell you about your past lives and help you interpret the present but I asked him to concentrate on my future but I didn’t have any particular questions that needed answering. After telling him that I was from Bay of Islands, lived in London, didn’t have a partner and was a IT project manager as he had asked me those questions, he started by saying that there was something happening in my job and I told him that I didn’t know as I hadn’t started it yet. He said that he saw the job being short term, which is true, and then said that my question was that I was going on a journey through countries and was wondering whether I should go by myself or not. At grandma’s on bikeThis did floor me a bit as I have been wondering if I should try and find someone to do my motorcycling trip with when I get back to the UK. So I told him about my upcoming motorcycle trip of the Americas. He said that it might not be safe and that I didn’t have to go. I think that the expression on my face must have told him that I was going as he said that he did see me doing the trip and that I might travel with a female for a while. He said Australia featured in my future(?), I would change my hair colour and it would look really good (I wonder if that means he thinks it doesn’t look that good right now), overall I would have a good life, I was a happy person but needed to work on my heart (meaning self love) and that I would meet a partner when I was on a journey and have to move to the country that they lived in (I hope that doesn’t mean that I will meet an Australian) but there would be a few other guys first.

Anna and DaleAfterwards I met up with my friend’s new boyfriend who she used to fancy when she was a teenager as all he wanted to do is settle down and so did she. He doesn’t remember her though but has just started courting her with presents. I do really hope it works out as they both want the same things out of life and both have eight year old children. After spending some time with Anna I walked home which was the scariest thing that I have done in years. It is a seven or eight kilometre walk and most of it outside the little town. There has been a real increase of violent crime in New Zealand in the last year with the introduction of a drug called P but by the time I realised I should really have asked my parents to pick me up I was half way home with no phone. I got home all right but my heart beat was going double time most of it.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Partying in Paihia

December 29th, 2006 by sunflowers

View from Te HaumiI spent most of the day lying about the house reading and feeling slightly guilty about it. There are heaps of things that you can do in Paihia, swimming with dolphins, kitesurfing, parasailing, canoeing etc etc and if I wasn’t doing that I should have been catching up with a friends or spending more time with my grandmother. It did take me a couple of hours to book a hotel in Dubai as I was trying to figure out one that would be close to the airport, have a pool and maybe near the beach. I also checked my UK bank accounts and realised they had processed all the transactions up until Jan 2nd so had to sort out covering my credit card and paying council tax.

Cabbage TreesI have decided that I am in no hurry to go south as they have been having horrible weather. It has been pretty cold up here in the evenings but apparently it has been hailing in Christchurch and down to 10 degrees. There was also snow in the South Island just before xmas so I changed my ferry crossing from the 2nd to the 5th and booked a flight from Christchurch to Auckland for the 6th.

In the evening my sister and I walked down to Waitangi and I took her out for dinner to an old sugar boat they have converted to a restaurant and then we went out drinking and dancing till about three. I didn’t see anyone that I knew which was a bit disappointing as it is the first time I have gone out in Paihia and failed to recognise anyone. But the band was good and my sister is a good dancer so it was a fun night.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Treaty of Waitangi

December 28th, 2006 by sunflowers

Natawi KawaCultural PerformanceMy grandparent’s next door neighbours had a couple of helmets so I took some of my cousins for a half an hour ride each. Brain Coles who is riding with his girlfriend Fie to Thailand sent an email saying how scary it was carrying someone that you love on the back of your bike and I totally agree. After spending the morning riding the bike with my cousins I rode back into Paihia and met up with my sister and mother at the Waitangi treaty grounds where the Maori chiefs signed a treaty with the queen of England.

Treaty HouseFernMy sister’s boyfriend is one of the tour guides so we got a free tour and entry into the cultural performance. I would upload one of the videos I took but as youtube doesn’t seem to be showing them with the slow upload speed I will do it when I get back to the UK.

Posted in New Zealand | No Comments »


Nuclear free New Zealand and Ngawha Hot Springs

December 27th, 2006 by sunflowers

Macklin at Matauri
Today I rode my bike out to Matauri bay to see my cousins who are camping there. I rode the bike out in the rain and almost tipped the bike going down the last bit to the beach as it is really steep and bendy. I still find that I don’t go around some of the bends at the right speed and then have to break or change down a gear on the corner which isn’t very safe. I am going to try and do some track days this year and work on my cornering. Particularly I am going to have to find out how to handle sharp corners going downhill without backing up all the traffic behind me. Mind you the road down to Matauri Bay is scary even if you are in a car and it was raining.

Matauri BayMatarui Bay is where they re-sunk the Rainbow Warrior the Greenpeace boat the French secret service sank in Auckland harbour July 10 1985. The boat had been going to protest the testing of nuclear bombs in the South Pacific which they also did again in the nineties. In fact it was close to the anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior when the London bombings of July 7th took place. As it was right after London had won the bid to host the Olympic games against Paris the first thing my father said to me when my family phoned to make sure I was all right as I live just north of Kings Cross was had the French done the bombing.

Also in 1985 David Lange the prime minister declared New Zealand nuclear free which mean that United States Navy ships were not able to visit New Zealand. This displeased the United States of America and Australia and New Zealand was removed from the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS).

Rainbow Warrior monumentNgawha SpringsI walked up to the Rainbow Warrior monument with my nephew Macklin as he was the only one who wanted to walk up in the rain with me. The rest of them went for a swim or sat in the caravan. Being at the beach in the rain in New Zealand is a Christmas tradition. On the way home we stopped at my grandparents before going to Ngawha Springs to warm up in the sulphur hot pools.

Posted in New Zealand | 2 Comments »


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