ACROSS THE DITCH: Hanmer Springs to Collingwood 20/03/18 to 28/03/18

ACROSS THE DITCH: Hanmer Springs to Collingwood 20/03/18 to 28/03/18

2018-04-04T09:37:29+00:00April 4th, 2018|General, Lee & Paul Update, NZ Ride|

Driving round Banks Peninsula in a little clapped-out Hyundai Getz is nothing like riding the wonderful roads on our KTM’s but we are adjusting, slowly, and making a positive slant to our journey. Inside a car we can chat, keep warm and dry, carry different food and crawl very slowly up steep gradients! We always knew it was a risk taking our well-used motorcycles on a six-month ride and to be fair, it’s just a worn-out clutch! My worn out chain and sprockets are being redirected to Christchurch so everything can be done at once and while the LC8 engines are still purring, we will keep riding. As our mate Pete always says “You just can’t seem to ‘kill’ those bikes!!”

Hanmer Springs from Conical Hill

Hanmer Springs is our first port of call out of Christchurch and once more the Southern Alp mountains are all around us with beautiful views as we come into town. The natural thermal pools are a big attraction here but we enjoy the crisp alpine air and a walk up Conical Hill through the forest.

Thousands of toadstools up Conical Hill, Hanmer Springs

We’ve decided our next move is over the Molesworth Road as we hear it closes after Easter (purportedly it is one of the coldest places in the country) and we don’t have a date yet for picking up our bikes. The rental agreement for our little car doesn’t mention “no” for gravel – it just states that insurance doesn’t cover the underneath of the car and the roof! We head up the Jollies Pass and it has a 4 x 4 sign, but we know this is only a short part and the rest of the road is okay for cars. It’s steep and a little gouged in places but the little blue car copes and once we come down the other side of the pass we start to enjoy the experience of this stunningly beautiful and isolated road.

Remote country, Molesworth Station

Who said a hire car can’t do river crossings!

Molesworth Station is the largest farm in New Zealand and travelling through is a unique high-country experience with the craggy scree-scarred mountains, wide river valleys and tussock slopes.

Amazing scenery through the Molesworth Station

Merino rams on the Molesworth Station

Lots of closed gates for stock control, Molesworth Station

The actual Molesworth Station (homestead and working buildings)

The last part of the Molesworth Road is through the beautiful Awatere Valley which nowadays is full of vineyards as the climate here is slightly cooler than other parts of Marlborough wine country and is perfect for certain grape varieties. We arrive in Blenheim and set up camp with a balmy evening but during the night the skies open so our day off in town is a wet one…perfect weather for some wineries! We visit Wither Hills and meet the delightful Thibault from France, a young man who is very good at his job!

Wine sampling at Wither Hills with Thibault, Blenheim

Bancroft Vineyard, Blenheim

It’s Paul’s birthday so we find the Dodson Street Beer Garden, a perfect place to mark the occasion as they have one of the largest selection of craft beers and ciders on tap in New Zealand and the authentic German cuisine is just the ticket.

Tasting paddle for a birthday celebration, Dodson Street Beer Garden, Blenheim

The Wairau Valley takes us to the small alpine village of St. Arnaud and the gradual ascent means cooler weather as we circumnavigate Lake Rotoiti and drive up Mt. Robert.

Enchanting Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti from Mt. Robert

The Motueka Valley is very picturesque and full of surprises (like the sculpted bull in the middle of a paddock) and it’s home to my cousin Sandy. We are on our way to Nelson for a family reunion and as we get closer, it is time to spend time with cousins I haven’t seen in 30 years.

Bull sculpture looking at the soft hills in the Motueka Valley

My cousins, Aynsley and Sandy, overlooking Sandy’s beautiful property in Tapawera

Playing “Cornhole” in Tapawera at my cousin Sandy’s

Favourite of the Week

Bull sculpted from an old stump, Motueka Valley

Special People

My cousin, Fiona, is one of life’s gems who after working as a nanny overseas in the ’80’s came home to New Zealand and started a small business called Domestic Personnel, an agency which provides a range of domestic services. The business grew and Fiona sold franchises all over the country, an amazing legacy. Now she and her partner are living their dream doing bio-dynamic farming on a remote lifestyle block in Golden Bay.

Entreprenuer and bio-dynamic farmer, my special cousin Fiona

After moving to Nelson, she was involved with fundraising for the Nelson/Tasman Cycle Trails Trust and then for St. John’s Ambulance raising funds and project managing the building of an ambulance station. She is now a business mentor so she “knows” most of the small business owners in the Nelson/Golden Bay  area. Coming from a small business background myself, it’s always a joy to come across business’s that stand out – and it’s usually the people behind them that make them special. Fiona takes us to visit Zatori, a gorgeous retreat that overlooks the Collingwood Estuary and village, halfway between Takaka and the world famous Farewell Spit.

Tracy amidst the fabulous artworks at Zatori, Collingwood, Golden Bay

Tracy Walker has designed and developed the premises from an old rest-home and the detailing is exquisite. We share a few local beers from the Mussel Inn, and appreciate the view.

The sunset view from Zatori retreat, Golden Bay

Down the hill from Fiona’s block on the way to the start of the Heaphy Track is Langfords Store which has a strong historic background and is thought to be the oldest operating store in New Zealand. Three generations of Langford’s have been behind the counter since it opened in 1928 and today Sukhita Langford runs the amazing little shop, full of antiques and her own delightful hand-made wares.

Sukhita Langford selling me a bag of good old-fashioned “milk bottles”, Langfords Store, Bainham

The eclectic Langfords Store, near the start of the Heaphy Track at Bainham, Golden Bay

Show Me A Sign

Langfords Store, Bainham, Collingwood, Golden Bay



  1. Hilda Pye April 5, 2018 at 2:33 am

    Great photos again Lee! Did not realise you guys are in car at the moment. And somehow I missed wishing Paul a Happy Birthday on his day so here it is now! The country side looks amazing. Take Care and safe travels as always xxx

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:27 am

      Hey Hill, we’re back on the bikes now and tearing up the roads again! Paul has caught up to Dave once more! You can’t beat those Marlborough vineyards hey…looking forward to seeing you guys soon xxxx

  2. Alison April 5, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Hi Lee and Paul more great photo’s Lee, found another great game to play as in cornhole,looks like fun, very envious of your cousin Fiona’s garden though.xx

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:21 am

      Hey Alison, mmmm cornhole…could be a goer to add to the collection! Fiona’s garden you would have loved, and her milking cow – but probably not all the gorse on the property!! I’m just loving being with all my cousins…xxxx

  3. Dave April 4, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Happy belated birthday Paul Enjoy!!

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:19 am

      Thanks Dave, made sure he did – it was a good night. We keep seeing stuff we did with you guys! We need to come back and do the Heaphy Track!!

  4. Susan Hird April 4, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Fabulous photos of the Molesworth . Makes me want to go – and we’ve just got home!

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:17 am

      Ha! You never know, there may be another opportunity! It would have been so neat to see it with snow-capped peaks… Hope you had an easy trip home xxx

  5. Mal April 4, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Lee,you have captured the uniqueness of the north of the South Island in words and photos. The vineyards are the neatest I think I have seen (the produce is pretty good also!!) and the ride (or drive at the moment) through the Motueka Valley is in the “must do” category. I like the fact you catch up with family who are able to provide “local” information which you pass on to readers. It all adds up to a enjoyable read. Thankyou

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:16 am

      Thanks Mal, it’s been 30 years since I’ve seen most of these family members so it’s very special. We are wrapping up the South Island now and eager to get north again to see our immediate families. It’s hard to find a “bad” road in New Zealand…

  6. Annie April 4, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Happy birthday Paul 😘🍻🍷🎂
    Wow, some absolutely amazing photos there!

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:12 am

      Thanks my friend, it was a great night and you would have loved it! Can now say we’ll be home next month! xxxx

  7. Sue McDonald April 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Hope Paul had a very “HAPPY” birthday with that selection of beers! The wine tasting at Whither Hills would’ve been easy to take too! Sorry to hear of your problems with the bikes.Really enjoying reading about your trip aswell as seeing the fabulous photos! Waiting for the next stage of the journey.

    • Lee April 6, 2018 at 5:11 am

      All good Sue, we are back on the road on two wheels each and carving up the roads once more! Weather is still being kind for now. You would have loved all the vineyards….xxx

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