Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 11 - Part II. Castlepoint -> Martinborough -> Lake Ferry -> Karaka Bay

300km - 4hrs : 14min.
After breakfast and packing, we ride down to the headland for a walk out to the lighthouse.
Great views up and down the coast and back across the bay.
The lighthouse is perched an some rapidly eroding sandstone full of shell fossils some 2.5 million years old.

And so for our final days ride back to Wellington. Another loop on secondary roads heading for Martinborough. A trendy town with all the usual tourist trappings of wine outlets and upmarket "providores". Plus expensive real estate. Picture postcard village square surrounded by period buildings. Very comfortable!

Still, lunch was good, and the coffee excellent!

After lunch, south to Lake Ferry and a loop around Lake Wairarapa.

Lake Ferry is on the mouth of the Ruamahanga River on a small estuarine lake. Perfect conditions reveal the mountains round Marlborough Sound on the South Island. To the west the Rimutaka Range separates us from Wellington Harbour.

Back round the western side of Lake Wairarapu, with the Rimutaka Range looming to our left, and views to the east across the lake and the flats of the valley to the golden rolling hills of the Wairarapu.

Featherston and the highway up and over the Rimutaka provide more exciting riding, before our descent into the Hutt Valley and the final stretch into Wellington in the late afternoon.

Back in Karaka Bay after an amazing month of motorcycle touring on what have to be the best motorcycling roads in the world. 8,310 km of riding. Perfect weather apart from a couple of days in Blenheim. No problems with bikes. Excellent travel companions. All safe and sound. What more could you ask for?

Tomorrow back to OZ and start planning the next trip!

Day 10 - Part II. Vinegar Hill -> Pahiatura -> Pongaroa -> Masterton -> Castlepoint.

296km - 4hrs : 16min
A foggy start to the day, and a delay while we waited for the sun to clear the hillside and penetrate all the way down to our campsite at the bottom of the valley.

On the road and we start to retrace part of our route out of Wellington 10 days earlier.  Climb up and out of the valley stopping at Stormy Point lookout to admire the view. Fantastic! Clear skies to the north and west allow us to see all the way back to Tongariro. Below us in the river terraces, the morning mist is slowly clearing. The weather gods promise yet another perfect day.

Back through Ashhurst and the Manuwatu Gorge and on to Pahiatua for fuel before heading east for a loop through the Makuri Gorge and Pongaroa. Here we turn south again, heading back to Masterton for lunch, fuel and supplies for our last night out on the road.

We head for Castlepoint on the coast. No free camping, so a night of relative luxury in the local caravan park. Electricity, hot showers and a kitchen with tables. Also a great view out to the rock and the lighthouse.

Tomorrow will be our last day on the road. We're planning another back road loop before the last stretch into Wellington!

Day 9 - Part II. Coromandel -> Tirau -> Taupo -> Waiouro -> Taihape -> Vinegar Hill Campground.

452km - 5hrs : 31min
A day for getting from A to B.
Marco had texted their proposed route & destination, so I punched in "Taihape" into my GPS and set off.
420km and 5 hours later I enter the main street inTaihape from the North on route 1 and encounter M & U having literally just arrived from the east! Perfect timing!

My route took me from Coromandel down to route 27 and onto route 1 at Tirau by midday. I stopped for an early lunch after a great morning of riding. Apart from a police roadblock just outside Thames where they were checking driver licences, the ride had been easy. Light traffic and yet more perfect weather.
After lunch, down route 1 through Taupo and Turangi, past Tongariro which was venting steam from its flanks. Over the so-called "Desert Road" to Waiouro. Yet another incredible road through an amazing landscape. On to Taihape and our timely crossing of paths.
Afternoon coffee at the Brown Sugar Cafe before the final 35km to our free campsite for the night at Vinegar Hill. Quiet spot on a river, winding through a landscape of eroded river terraces.