Category: Travel to USA

After enjoying the wonderful soft mattress for two nights we woke to hear there had been 4inches of rain to our south west overnight and there was a severe storm cell heading our way with severe wind, rain, hail and potentially tornado activity, the whole shebang.

The weather was hot and humid all day as we rode through lots of rolling fields of corn and potatoes, at least I think that’s what they were, the leaves looked a bit different to what we’re used to.

We saw very few bikes on the road, and we were pretty much the only ones in anything resembling protective safety gear … apart from those wearing a safety bandana, we can only assume the outsides are Teflon coated and the inside Kevlar lined … or not!

The weather predictions came true 35kms out of Toledo when the rain hit and we were on the turnpike so by the time we could stop (amongst roadworks behind barriers) we were soaked and figured it was too late to be of any great use to saturate our wet weather gear inside and out so headed off again. We had about 5km of nearly dry roads and thought ‘well that wasn’t too bad’ which was a mistake because the skies opened up 25km out with incredible rain accompanied by lightning and strong winds and a lot of hail for good measure. Apparently a lot of cars didn’t consider they could see well enough and pulled over and we were amazed we could see given we had water inside and outside the visors, perhaps that’s why they didn’t fog up, so we kept travelling. The water was pouring across the road and in one place was flooded across a dip around 4 – 6 inches deep. By the time we got in we couldn’t have been any more wet than we would have been if we had jumped into a swimming pool! We felt really bad dripping all over the hotel floor at the desk and on our way to the room.

It was a lovely old Art Deco Hotel which was looked after well but Toledo looked very tired and there is an obvious effort to revive the old industrial area. It looked rather nice and would be good to check it out later perhaps.


Services Plaza straddles the freeway so accessible from both sides. Very clever.


The first coffee for the riding trip in the services plaza.


A partial work shot with trucks in the background and some police very interested in our bikes, again at the services plaza.


The things you find on country roads ... when you can find them that is ...


A work shot.


Staying tonight at Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, the lovely Art Deco foyer.

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Some Observations!

Some observations from 2 Aussies on our NZ adventure.

Disclaimer: We are legends in our own lunch boxes so our own opinions and listing are not any sort of grading of importance or anything else … just as we have thought of them.

1.     The cost of living in NZ is a good bit higher than in Australia. E.g. Petrol at home average $1.40 per litre, here $2.10. Restaurant meals (average restaurants, not top end) are also more expensive, entrees in average places $18 – 22 and mains $38 – 42.

2.     Houses of similar quality here also a good 1/3 higher in price then at home from what we can see in real estate windows.

3.     On main highways, a good number of overtaking lanes.

4.     On secondary roads, a limited number of overtaking lanes but still not bad.

5.     Very limited pull over rest stops for heavy vehicles anywhere.

6.     Lots of cars pull over and encourage us past on our bikes. Could it be ….

a.     Because they are very courteous

b.     They appreciate there are often limited spaces for overtaking

c.     There are many outlaw gangs over here and they don’t want to run the risk of ticking anyone off

7.     More trucks seem to be parked up and in motels for the night than at home.

8.     Overall trucks must deal with steeper grades and more bendy roads than at home.

9.     We had experienced more bikers waving and nodding a hello in the first week on the road here than we have experienced at home in the last couple of years. Go figure! Anyway, we like it.

10.   The roadworks signs here make more sense, are less intrusive and annoying than at home and people take notice of them!

11.   We had been warned to be wary of white vans driven by non-English speaking international travellers, but they had been well behaved until 2 very notable experiences on the South Island. The only reason I’m still here is where I met one as he was overtaking a line of traffic there was about 8inches of seal beyond the fog line for a short distance, so I was able to ride on that. Made the heart pump I can tell you.

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Well it’s official our New Zealand Adventure on the bikes has come to an end.

We rode to Lyttleton this morning for breakfast, a large functioning Port which has many quirky buildings and sweet little cottages close in the town reminiscent of years gone by and further out more modern ones. The road from there right around the waterfront by Governors Bay to Diamond Harbour is very lumpy and bumpy with land movement over time and winds up and down hills along the coastline somewhat reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road though narrower and was a lovely ride. From there it was up over the pass, find a car wash to get the bikes cleaned up then deliver them to PFT for shipping back home.  A little bit more of the tourist thing now without the bikes until we head home Sunday afternoon. Ahhh so soon a fond memory, nevertheless we are looking forward to family hugs when we get home! Have missed that.


The bikes in front of the Old Government Building now a Heritage Hotel. The OGB Bar is immediately behind the bikes.


The Port at Lyttelton, quite steep even though the pic doesn’t look like it. Lots of logs and containers and a cruise ship for good measure.


And one of countless pretty views as we progressed around the waterfront.


Lyttelton from our coffee spot many miles away from breakfast.


Quirky boat shed.


Communications tower on Dyers Pass.


Canterbury Plains to the mountains from Dyers Pass.


The last clean up before back in the container and home. Boo hoo!

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We anticipated heavy rain overnight and icy roads this morning after the forecast so were relieved there was only a light sprinkle overnight and sunny skies this morning … mind you Norm did bring me in some ice off my seat as I was packing up to go. We headed back the way we had come into Tekapo because we had seen a sign that said 4km to Mt John Observatory & Café. …which was a bit of a stretch because it was 4km to the gate then another very steep and winding 4km to the Observatory and Café and OMG OMG OMG what a view!! A glorious way to start the day!

The rest of the day was just a lovely ride with beautiful scenery with snippets of views to snow and mountains as well as picturesque farmland and attractive little regional towns along the way. We enjoyed a morning coffee at the Three Creeks Salvage Café then lunch in Geraldine then into Christchurch to get a rear tyre for Norms Rocket, the last one went well and did 14,000kms.


Yep, just through the gate and there’s the Observatory.


Lake Tekapo from the Observatory.


And proof that we really were there.


Some of the Observatory buildings.


Three Creeks, all kinds of quirky.


And again.


Close to the last view of snow on our way into Christchurch in Fairlie.


And more of the snow in the rear and yes that’s all the layers on because it was still very cold.


View from our room in Christchurch across the Cathedral Square.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Peppers Bluewater Resort

8 State Highway

Lake Tekapo NZ 7945


The room / apartment was lovely and comfortable and welcoming with plenty of space to relax and enjoy ourselves and well equipped to be self-contained if wanted. Plenty of heating and cooling options available as well as restaurant on site with room service if wanted. Free Wi-Fi and balcony with chairs to sit and enjoy the view. Roomy bathroom with both bath and shower. Very nice.  We were in a ground floor unit and were shocked how loud the footsteps and movement in the apartment above were audible in a relatively new building especially given the cost of accommodation. Our most expensive night for the trip.

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We headed for Mount Cook despite what was obviously a weather change sweeping down from the mountains and apart from getting wet, damn near got blown off our bikes as well at times needing nearly all our lane just to keep pointing ahead and staying upright. By the time we got to Mount Cook Village we could barely see the mountains around us, and it was pouring so we headed back to a café a few kilometres back for a coffee and a chance to draw breath. From there we headed for Tekapo on the shores of Laker Tekapo and oh my goodness the tourists have arrived in force. It is no longer the quiet back water we last visited.


The day started out well.


Once we headed for Mount Cook it was soon turning dark…. but still loved the turquoise water.


More of the same. You can see tyhe wind blowing up the water on the opposite shore, it was also doing this in patches across tyhe lake. On our return it looked a bit like an inlet from the ocean with lots of white tops and waves.


Morning coffee on the way back down at a Station Cafe and tour office.


And low and behold a lavender farm in the middle of nowhere … seriously! And about to be rained upon.


Heading back down from Mount Cook ahead of the change.


Heading for Tekapo.


Still heading for Tekapo.


Church of the Good Shepherd.


And the view from our veranda tonight.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Mackenzie Country Inn Hotel

2 Wairepo Road 

Twizel NZ 7901


A welcome spot to take a break and feel a little bit spoilt. Staff warm and welcoming and room spacious and comfortable. A return for us after many years. New carpet and infrastructure improvements since then which must be a challenge given it’s probably a seasonal accommodation option. Room spacious and comfortable, library / sitting area downstairs lovely as is the bar and restaurant. Breakfast included with accommodation package. The second most expensive night for our trip, and the only one with included bteakfast … probably because of the isolation but still a lot. A shame.

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We thought today might be a little bit ordinary but oh my goodness it was an awesome ride and will be on our list for the group next year. We started with breakfast at Port Chalmers which was a quirky little spot then incredibly beautiful views as we wound away from there to the inland. The countryside passed through lots of farmland and climbed into rugged rocky outcrops and red tussock high country with beautiful climbing and sweeping roads and corners as we skirted along the Dunstan Dam.  Aaahh! We climbed to a height of 950m above sea level through the Lindis Pass and add snow on peaks in view and it was all kinds of wonderful and then we got to Twizel which had the top temperature for the South Island today of 22c and the hotel we stayed at about 11 years ago with Harry & Lorraine Heathcote. The town has grown in that time.
Breakfast at Port Chalmers and yes that really is a container port down at the bottom of the hill.
 A great view from the cemetery…. which the road to the lookout went straight through. All kinds of quirky.
And a view from the Lookout.
Views in all directions on the road as we progress.
On the road views.
An historic bridge on the way.
A view of Clyde below the Dunstan Dam.
Snow in view as we ride.
Last nights’ accommodation:

Beechwood Boutique Accommodation
842 George Street
Dunedin NZ 9016
A lovely little venue punching well above its weight with beautifully presented units tastefully furnished and decorated and finished to a high standard. Comfortable bed and opportunities to sit and be comfortable as well as be self-contained if you wanted. Parking on site without charge and immaculately clean. Cheerful and helpful owners and unlimited Wi-Fi. Well done!

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We headed to the Bill Richardson Transport World for breakfast which was a treat. Food in the Grille Café was delicious and the surrounds there and beyond whet my appetite for our return in 2020 which is saying something for me who really isn’t a fan of such places. From there we headed off on what is called the Scenic Coastal Route to Dunedin. The roads were just lovely to ride but apart from that we decided the title was a bit hopeful. There were a couple of pretty glimpses of the ocean and several waterfalls to check out (we looked at 2), some caves and lots of farmland with very attractive rolling green hills a lot like parts of Gippsland, some forest and rainforest areas and that was about it. I guess that’s pretty good really, but we expected more of the actual coast side of things after the title.


Couldn’t leave Bill Richardson Transport World without a photo with the bikes (of course).


Sheep everywhere.


Horseshoe Falls.


Matai Falls.


The view from the Florence Hills Lookout.


Quirky morning coffee stop and some others there told us they serve up the best fish and chips in the South Island. A bit early for us.


A big area that experiences Tidal Flooding. Some repairs were underway where some areas of seal had lifted off.


A big valley as we drop down from the hills and head into Dunedin. Check out the road on the other side of the valley, we were heading there.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Quest Invercargill Serviced Apartments

Cnr Dee & Tay Streets

Invercargill NZ 9810


Lovely old Post Office building with modern self-contained serviced apartments fitted out within and nicely done. The shower was divine! Hot and plenty of pressure. Staff cheerful and helpful. Unlimited Wi-Fi, yay! Parking available onsite. Not undercover but there anyway. The bed was comfortable and lovely big window (brass frame) making it a light and airy space and the décor looks fresh and cheerful. A good refurb. Well done.

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We managed to have some breakfast and get rugged up before the rain started and thankfully got very little of it all day, but we discovered a dusting of snow was left on the surrounding peaks overnight which the locals tell us is unseasonal for this time of year here. In any case it was freezing cold and we were grateful for the multiple layers of clothing we had on. Having said that for the most part we managed to ride in front of, behind or beside the worst of the rain so encountered very little throughout the day and were treated to magnificent stormy and colourful skies in all directions as well as reflected views in water when beside it. Wow!


More stunning examples of limestone country.


Clifden Suspension bridge built in 1898 and had the longest single span of any bridge in NZ at the time (111.5m).


Looks like more good weather ahead!


A cute house as we seek out a view of Monkey Island.


And there’s Monkey Island.


A quirky bus stop in Colac Bay.


The Bluff Beacon. The Bluff was established in 1824 and is all things Port … still.


Quirky Art Deco Café at the Bluff where we had some lunch.


And coming back down from the Bluff Lookout. Saw lots of pushbike riders pushing their bikes up, I’m glad we didn’t meet any coming down as we were going up.

 Last 2 nights’ accommodation:

Lakeside Motel and Apartments

3 Lakefront Drive

Te Anau NZ


A lovely spot to drop for a couple of nights. A short few minutes’ walk to the rest of town and dining and shop options. We are in a 1 Bedroom Non-smoking kitchen unit with a lakefront view and it’s just lovely. Older than some we have had but clean and functional and beautifully presented. Guest laundry. Free and fast Wi-Fi so a big plus for me. Plenty of level parking on site without charge and cheerful staff to deal with. What more could a traveller want? Nothing I say!

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Well we have travelled to Milford Sound via coach years ago, but I guess the view looked like lots of cliff faces but the ride meant we could see all the peaks and mountains and oh my goodness what a treat. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.


Milford Sound.


The old and new side by side – Tutoko Bridge, the whole road is incredible infrastructure investment and effort!


And then there is a tunnel which has operating traffic lights from 8pm to 6am! Good luck after that. On the Te Anaua side (this side) the tunnel entrance is 2,300 feet above sea level and after an initial incline is all downhill.


And this is the Milford Sound side. The little shed thing in the background is the start of the tunnel from this side.


Yep that’s snow again.

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And a stop at Falls Creek was incredible and didn’t know which way to look. Decided to show you this one.


And then on the way back into Te Anaua is Lake Gunn.

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Well we have travelled to Milford Sound via coach years ago, but I guess the view looked like lots of cliff faces but the ride meant we could see all the peaks and mountains and oh my goodness what a treat. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.


What a great view from our room this morning.


A lesson in feeling insignificant … not a bad lesson for anyone.


Typically, awesome view and yes that is snow and we were well rugged up because it was freezing!


The Chasm sculpted and moulded over many years. Nothing does it justice. I put his in because one of the little pools had rocks in it which will continue to sculpt and mould and then I saw the reflection of the tree above. Just perfect.


And a shot of the galloping waters above the Chasm.


Lunch at Milford Sound, typical, Norm is eating, and I’ve been off getting photos.

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