Motorcycling.

IMG_0834 2.jpeg


Brians Overnighter and onto the Oyster Hunt.

IMG_1198.jpeg

It was a fortuitous meeting that led me to joining a group of like minded souls south on Highway One after a brief corralling of motorcycles at Rolleston BP. I just happened to ask one wednesday Knitting meet, having just returned home from the sea, whether there was anything going on in the near future. “Brians Overnighter’ I was told. A quick phone call to Brian and the last bunk was mine.

It was a cool and crisp mid April morning. We set off south and stopped at Geraldine for a morning coffee and obligatory carbo stock up. Be it a pie, cake or scone washed down with a tea or coffee, they all hit the spot.


IMG_1200.jpeg


New Zealand is renowned for these blue sky days no matter what time of year. A high pressure system was rolling in from the west which bode well for the coming days ahead.

The next stretch of road took us from Geraldine to Fairlie, through the Burkes Pass, passed Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki where we stopped in the car park for a leg stretch and some photos. It was hard to see the lake for just before we arrived so did a couple of tour buses. I need to learn a few words to say “excuse me but don’t walk in front of me when I am trying to take a photo!” in various languages. It infuriates me particularly when selfie sticks are waved in your face.


IMG_1207.jpeg

These roads are amazing. This is a must stop place for anybody coming this way. The colour of the water in Lake Pukaki is like nowhere else I have seen on earth. The back drop of Aoraki, Mount Cook is simply stunning.

From here Brian took us on a tiki tour of the hydro canals before we eventually stopped for lunch in Omarama.

Taking Highway 83, the road winds along more amazing scenery and just before Otemata a left turn winds its way up the the hydro dam between Lakes Benmore and Aviemore. The trees are just starting to turn into their autumnal colours and the view from the biggest earthen dam in the southern hemisphere is staggering.

IMG_1214.jpeg










It's easy to run out of superlatives for these roads.Te Akatarawa road that runs along the north shore of Lake Aviemore is another windy and twisty road worthy of mention with views over the lake at every winding turn. Journeys end came quickly and by mid afternoon we had arrived at the Waihao Forks Hotel. The accommodation here is mainly in a bunk house out the back of the hotel itself. A wood burner provides plenty of heat and we all gathered for a great evening in the bar. Dinner and breakfast provided by the hosts here is nothing short of fantastic.

The next morning we said goodbye to those that had to return to Christchurch whilst Murray led the rest of us on south. Whilst I got held up in traffic in Dunedin, Bob and Steve waited behind for me and in the meantime the rest of the riders had disappeared. We could not find them having cleared Dunedin so we decided to head directly to the Asure Townsman motel where we stayed the night and met the other rider.

Finding a place to eat was a bit of a palaver. It seems that all of Invercargill wanted to eat in the Irish Bar and there was no room for us. Speights Ale House was a decent back up plan.

Early the next morning we set off and would eventually arrive in Cromwell. Before that though Murray led us on another tiki tour of some quite outstanding riding roads. The weather held up for us. This is the only way to see New Zealand. I had no idea some of these roads even existed. Our two budding aviators partook of their new adventure called Biggles Flies Undone when at Mandeville Bob and Chaz went for a flight in a Tiger Moth. Bigger grins you have never seen. Old boys reliving their youths!

IMG_1249.jpeg
IMG_1240.jpeg


IMG_1260.jpeg

Out the back of the hangar was a little hidden treasure. I never knew this existed. A small piece of railway track has been laid and a bunch of enthusiast is putting this old girl back together. There are a number of wagons and coaches waiting some TLC. Well worth a rummage about.

We had hoped to cross the Cleutha river on the little ferry at Tuapeka. But alas due to the water level it was closed. Never mind. The ride out that way is magnificent. After a brief stop at Beaumont we headed to our lodgings at Cromwell and enjoyed a good night at the Ale House in town and a game of cards and a few Scotches at the motel.



Now the next couple of days were the best of the entire trip. The mornings are chilly to start with but with blue skies the sun came out and the riding was all that it was meant to be. Murray lead us on the most circuitous route he could find to Arrowtown, Queenstown, Glenorchy, over the Crown range road to a stop at Cardrona, through Wanaka, up Lake Hawea to our stop at Haast. You have to ride this. I can’t describe it well enough. You get a sore neck looking at the scenery. So here are a few photos to help you.

IMG_1281.jpeg
IMG_1285.jpeg
IMG_1287.jpeg
IMG_1292.jpeg


In Haast our pool skills were put to the test. Funny how they seem to initially get better after a few ales but then deteriorate rapidly.

Next day we set off up the West coast. Again the weather was superb. I really like riding first thing in the morning. Mists rolled off the ancient forests fogging up your visors and wind shields under the trees until you burst out into sunlight and it all clears in an instant.

IMG_1299.jpeg

We traversed the “new bridge" between Fox and Franz Josef which consisted of loose planks over a metal frame. But at least it was open. A detour via Lake Mathieson for those that had not been was taken to get a leg stretch and some photos and then on for lunch at Hokitika.

Our final resting place for the night was the Ahaura hotel in Ahaura run by Mandy and John. Now let me tell you I have stayed in many establishments around the world with my job. Some in New Zealand are what can only be described as rustic.When I first saw the Ahaura hotel i thought it was going to be another typical small town pub that had seen better days. How wrong was I.

Mandy has spent a great deal of time doing up the rooms upstairs into very comfortable, clean tidy accommodation. She put on an evening meal for us, we used the free pool table. A decent breakfast was served in the morning. At around 20 kms north of Greymouth on the Reefton road, this is my go too place from now on. This is truly a hidden gem and is well worth a visit. Incredibly reasonably priced too. Both Mandy and John are delightful. Give them a try. 03 732 3876.

Thursday saw a split in the group. Some chose to head further north whilst Bob, Chrissy and I rode the sublime rode to Reefton, Springs Junction and home to Christchurch through the Lewis Pass. That stretch from Reefton to Springs Junction I reckon rates as one of the top 5 roads to ride in the South Island. The Easter traffic coming the other way had just started to build as we passed Hanmer.

So that’s another road trip done. About 2000kms I reckon. The weather was fantastic, the roads were clear and staggeringly beautiful, Ahaura Hotel was a revelation and Murrays tour guiding was simply the best.Great riding companions really bring these rides alive. Bring on the next one!















A ride Woodend to Picton.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb ad2b

Ready to go.

On a fine November morning Leo packed his Ducati Panigale and I loaded up the Harley Road King.

We were setting off on a small tour of the upper South Island starting with a 310 KM run north to Picton.

First stop was in the small town of Cheviot about an hour and 20 minutes from home. Leos bike is new to him so this was a chance to stretch legs and have a chat about our bikes. We chatted to another lady on a Harley at the cafe. She and her partner are from the North Island doing a tour of the South Island.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb ad2d

Motorcycle helmets really do make an awful mess of your hair!


State Highway one north winds its way among the Kaikoura foothills before hugging the coastline with the railway and mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Back in November 2016 an earthquake devastated this part of the world. This main highway and railway was closed for many months due to large landslides. The repairs are still ongoing. There were many roadworks along the coastal stretch both before and after the town of Kaikoura. At one time the town was completely cut off from the outside world.

We stopped in Kaikoura for lunch and a comfort break. It has been a stop start ride. It's astonishing the damage to the hills caused by the earthquake. Huge scars clearly show where the landslides were. Wire netting protects the road and rail for the future. The many roadworks backed the traffic up into parcels. There were many big trucks on the road.

We reached Picton at 16:00 and checked into the Top 10 holiday camp. After a shower we set off for the town for some dinner. We got as far as the Seamus Irish pub. A cold cider for Leo and a Guinness for me washed away the road dirt. After a good dinner its an early night for the two of us. As we left the pub we met the lady we chatted to in the cafe at Cheviot. They are catching the ferry north in the morning. We will head for the west coast via some amazing roads that I have travelled before but are new to Leo.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb ad31

Parked for the night.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb ad32

Oh go on then!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb ad33

Om nom nom.



Back to Basics Rally 2017

I had no idea exactly what the back to basics rally was actually all about. How basic exactly was ‘basic’ meant to be? I knew I needed a tent and sleeping bag so accommodation would be basic. I knew I was going to camp in a paddock and not a nice and comfy motel room somewhere. That was fairly basic. I knew that some of my riding mates would be telling some fairly basic jokes after a few beers in the evening. They are always basic in content. Would I need a trowel to dig a hole in the paddock for the morning constitutional? Did I need to take some tinned tucker or the sort you buy in camp shops that look like cement and upon adding boiling water turn into a roast dinner for three? I had no idea. There was only one way to find out. Get on the bike and go.

So one fine Friday morning in late February a group of Cantabrian Ulyssians gathered in Amberley for the run north to Kaituna near Havelock.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9da5

It was a beautiful morning. Warm and sunny. With Sate highway 1 still blocked our route took us through the Lewis Pass to Springs Junction, up the Shenandoah Highway to Murchison for lunch.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9d9c


From there we passed through the Wairau Valley via St Arnaud and made for Blenheim.

Despite the many roadwork’s and stop/go boards the scenery is superb, the riding easy but exciting and the company was superb. A couple of our party broke off at Hanmer to take the Molesworth road.

Having bought dinner courtesy of Subway Blenheim we arrived at the paddock in Kaituna. Actually it’s on a sheep station and having been held in the same paddock by the river for a number of years the place was well prepared for us. Tents were erected; chairs rigged and cold beers were proffered to clear the road dust of the day. That Friday evening we sat and watched the sun set behind the hills to the west of us, sprays were passed around to keep the sand flies at bay and the stars came out in a crystal clear sky. We sat there in the pitch dark chatting, laughing and listening to the oh so basic jokes. It was as a relaxing evening as you could imagine and I loved it.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9dae


Dawn broke. A basic breakfast was taken. Bevan and I decided we were going to take the Queen Charlotte road to Blenheim via Picton to get him a decent camp chair rather than the ridiculous thing he was trying to perch his bum on the previous evening. On hearing our plans the rest of the group decided that was a great idea. Now there is a road worthy of any motorcycle. It twists and turns and snakes its way along the sounds to Picton and offers sublime vantage points to view the scenery for which this place is known. If you have not done it, give it a go if ever you are I the area. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9da2


Back to the paddock. That evening we had a dinner that was totally unexpected. We gathered in the woolshed with the Marlborough Ulyssians who had organised this whole rally together with a few members from the West Coast. Dinner was outstanding for the farmer and his team had put together a meal that satisfied any hunger. It was hardly basic at all. In fact quite the opposite. The beer and wine flowed, as did the conversation and music from Grumpy on the spoons. Then it was back to the tents to continue the festivities. What a cracking evening it was.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9d9b


Sunday morning broke. The weather had turned cooler. We packed the bikes ready for the run home. There was one final event that was again totally unexpected for Grumpy had cooked up breakfast for us all in his bus. When facing a long ride home on a cool day that breakfast was highly appreciated.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 9dab


So, was the rally basic? Yes and no.No need to dig a hole in the paddock! There were toilets and a shower with hot water (the most basic thing about the entire weekend) Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Special thanks must go the Marlborough group for organising the event, the farmer and his team for cooking that amazing dinner and Grumpy for the breakfast. Finally to my riding mates without who none of it would be so much fun.


Ride to Gore Bay and Kaikoura

thumb P1020467 1024

My motorcycling Buddy striking a pose at Gore Bay.


thumb P1020469 1024

my 2006 Harley Road King and his 2012 Ducati Monster

thumb P1020470 1024

An overcast but quiet day at Gore Bay

thumb P1020472 1024

Low lying fog off Kaikoura.

thumb P1020476 1024

The Hurunui river lies behind us as the road snakes its way through the hills.

thumb P1020482 1024

A quick leg stretch. Leo catches up.

It was a fantastic day. If anybody wants advice on motorcycling the roads of New Zealand drop me a line. They are simply amazing.

A wine tasting trip to Marlborough

A group of us took a run up state highway one to Picton, stayed an overnight and became wine connoisseurs for a few hours.What did I enjoy most? The ride. It was a lot better than most of the wines we tried. The run up the Pacific coast highway north of Kaikoura is in my opinion one of the best motorcycling roads around. Twisty, scenic and not a dull stretch on it. SoI will let the photos do the talking.

thumb P1020409 1024

Early morning gathering in Amberley

thumb P1020411 1024

My Road King sits ready to go.

thumb P1020412 1024

Debbie with Ruru and Anni waiting for the start

thumb P1020415 1024

Petrol and coffee stop at Kaikoura. The mountains beckon.

thumb P1020420 1024

One of the tasting rooms. This one was at Geisen wines.

thumb P1020422 1024

Young Terrence being escorted into the Drylands winery tasting room by Thea and Debbie.

thumb P1020424 1024

PRENZEL tastings. Not wine but distilled goodies. This place is well worth a visit.

thumb P1020432 1024

A lovely cafe at Kekerengu.

Finally on the way home we stopped off at this cafe. It sits on the beach and was a perfect rest stop on the way home.

Mark Dexter 2015