ACROSS THE DITCH: Wellington to Ruakaka 14/04/18 to 22/04/18

ACROSS THE DITCH: Wellington to Ruakaka 14/04/18 to 22/04/18

2018-04-26T05:42:14+00:00April 26th, 2018|General, Lee & Paul Update, NZ Ride|

The ferry across Cook Strait is calm and picturesque with the autumn light casting it’s glory on the last glimpses of the sounds as we leave the South Island. Who would have known that a huge storm had made over six metre swells two days before, cancelling all services!

The Rimutaka’s is a spectacular fast-paced ride out of Wellington

The ride out of Wellington is cool but fine with the ride over the Rimutaka Ranges fast-paced and spectacular. We are heading for Cape Palliser and the southernmost point of the North Island – a promontory considerably further south than Nelson or Blenheim in the South Island. We ride through a farming valley with high ranges flanking us instead of mountains so we know we’re in the North Island again. It’s a great road and the scenery is unexpected and quite different.

South coast road to Cape Palliser

As it winds round the coast we ride through little settlements and you sense it would be quite a wild drive in rough weather!

Cape Palliser from the lighthouse, south coast

Calm weather conditions on the Cape Palliser road

Cape Palliser lighthouse

Bulldozers are needed to pull the fishing boats up the beach, Ngawi, south coast

So everyone has one!

Cape Palliser road would be interesting in wild weather

Famous surf break at Waimeha, south coast

Breathtaking scenery on the south coast road

We ride north through the southern Wairarapa, crossing the mighty Rangitikei River and the scenery and riding are blissful, quite different now than the south. There seems to be more people around and more traffic in places and it makes you wonder what the tourists think when they land in Christchurch and head west as the South Island is so sparsely populated.

Back roads through the Rangitikei River country

Then it’s up the coast to Havelock, where we can just see the top of Mt. Taranaki, although by morning it’s gone.  The summit gets around seven metres of rain a year so more often than not the volcano is shrouded in cloud.

Mt. Taranaki is often shrouded in cloud

The near-perfect cone has a vast half-circle of land around it due to a cartographer who put his compass point on the mountain’s paper peak, drew a circle with a six-mile radius (9.6km) and bingo, Egmont National Park was born. Now, 134 years later, intensely farmed and brilliantly green dairy pasture butts up to the mostly circular park boundary and, on the other side of the fence, magnificent old-growth forest looms.

Riding up the Dawson Falls road, Mt. Taranaki

Cape Egmont lighthouse, the westernmost point of the North Island

We ride through New Plymouth and take a look through the Len Lye Gallery, a striking building in the centre of the city which is home to art that interests some…and not others.

Len Lye Gallery, New Plymouth

A local rider tells us we must ride the “Para-Para’s” so we do a large loop heading up this road and suddenly we have Mt. Ruapehu right in front of us with no clouds obscuring this mountain – what an amazing vista.

Crystal clear Mt. Ruapehu

Mt. Ruapehu from Ohakune

The Whanganui River is the longest in New Zealand and the unique river road twists and turns through farmland, Maori marae’s and reminders of the past.

“Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au” which means “I am the river, and the river is me”

Nearly nine out of ten Maori people live in the North Island and this is evident in the frequency of marae as we head north. The “marae” is a communal, sacred meeting ground which provides a place for eating, sleeping, religious and educational facilities. There is no comparison or equivalent in the Western world, which is why the marae is so important.

A lot more “marae” in the North Island

The North Island involves a lot of visiting for us with friends and family and the opportunity to attend my godmother’s funeral is very special. It would be easy to hang around but we are on a mission as time is running out…the Far North beckons and BikesnBeers have a few more roads to ride!

Dropping in on our nephew, Andre, at Waipu Cove

Favourite of the Week

These little cupboards can be found outside cafe’s or supermarkets in small towns and I think the concept is just brilliant. They are insulated and the range of books inside was an absolute treat for this little bunny…

“Street Library” out Eastbourne way, Wellington

Show Me A Sign

The chances of seeing a Kiwi are very rare as they are nocturnal and shy

Story of the Week

We have a perfect day for riding in the central North Island, although they tell us there’s been a lot of rain in these parts in the last week. As we journey down the Whanganui River Road we can see evidence of the storms by the water marks on the river banks and the river itself is a soft-brown.

The remote Whanganui River Road

The narrow back-road has been completely sealed in recent years but it’s rough, challenging and prone to “slips”. We take it easy and love the bush, the river views and the remoteness. There are lots of roadworks and it’s wet and slippery so when I lead over a small bridge flanking a high part of the road, the patch of slimy mud is deceiving and before you can blink I am off! There is no lead-up to it as it happens in a nano-second and I hit my head on the side of the bridge on the way down. It’s easy to crawl out from under the bike, Paul lifts it up and we are able to have a chuckle. Other than the right indicator requiring some gaffer-tape and a wounded pride, we are able to move on. There’s a major mud-slide further on and llamas grazing on the roadside so I wonder if we have been “transported” back to Peru…or maybe it’s that knock on the head…

Deceiving slimy mud waiting for an unsuspecting bike rider

This is called “wounded pride” and a broken right indicator!


  1. Jen Green May 5, 2018 at 1:11 am

    those bulldozers are a hoot!

    • Lee May 7, 2018 at 3:07 am

      I’ve never seen them anywhere like that…it’s all to do with the stones on the beach because tractors wouldn’t work! xx

  2. April 28, 2018 at 3:35 am

    Did love the photo of the bull dozers and agree with Gay’s comment about the fergie tractors.xx

    • Lee April 28, 2018 at 8:01 am

      Hey Ali, we’ve never seen bulldozers doing that job before! Love your new glasses! xxxx

  3. Dave April 26, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Watch out getting salt water on bikes they will end up looking like those bulldozers 😆 hope okay after little slide 😘🤗 Dave

    • Lee April 28, 2018 at 8:03 am

      All good Doctor, hope you had a great time at your Pye wedding. Running out of time now so wrapping up the north…xxxx

  4. Kelly April 26, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Lee, I love the photo of you and Andre with Bream Head in the background.
    Enjoy your last few weeks in paradise xx

    • Lee April 26, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Me too Kells, he was wrapped to see us and we’ll catch him again. Man, it’s going to be so hard to leave the north. Staying with your Mum tonight xxxx

  5. Janelle P. April 26, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Pleased you are ok. After your slup.As always-great following you.More information ,cultural info,and word painted pictures than we would ever get driving ourselves around.

    • Lee April 26, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks Janelle, passed a shop the other day called Fush and Chups…should have stopped but it didn’t happen! Now we’re back in the “home” region and in some ways it’s like we’ve never left. Take care xxx

  6. Gay Watson April 26, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Another neat NZ entry Lee. I love the photo of bulldozers…what happened to the old furgie tractors on that beach? Glad the head is ok.

    • Lee April 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      Not a Fergie in sight Gay! It’s more a case of battered pride when you have an “off”! I’ll get over it. Loved our weekend with you and yours xxxx

  7. Susan Hird April 26, 2018 at 7:12 am

    More great photos and stories Lee. Glad your leathers looked a lot cleaner when you left here!!
    Enjoy the north – the clock is ticking.

    • Lee April 26, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      It sure is Sue, going to be hard to leave this part of the world. Sitting in Rawene overlooking the Hokianga and it’s just gorgeous. Got sunburnt yesterday! Still feeling clean…xxxx

  8. Annie April 26, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Wow, you’ve certainly covered some mikes in the last week!

    • Lee April 26, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      We have, and not all the roads are shown as Google Maps only allows 9 destinations!! He’s going to have to drag me out of the North…xxxx

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