Monday, November 12, 2012

Coromandel Loop 5

To go with the post on Motorcycling East Cape Pete enlisted the help of a passer-by to take a photo of us outside the Wild Hogs Bar and Restaurant in Whitianga.

Cheers Pete, a great shot.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Motorcycle the East Cape of New Zealand

From Auckland Whangarei, Warkworth, Christchurch and Invercargill, the riders gathered for a motorcycle trip around the East Cape, where corners are plentiful and you can still see horses in the main street of town.
View Larger Map
The trip includes iconic North Island roads including:
  • Ngaruawahia to Te Awamutu
  • Kihikihi to Whakamaru
  • Pohipi Rd, Taupo
  • Taupo-Napier Highway
  • "The East Cape"
  • The road out on the Mahia Peninsular
  • Opotiki to Rotorua via Taneatua
  • The Old Te Aroha Rd
  • Waikino Gorge
  • Coromandel Loop [Waihi to Thames]

Te Waipounamu Motorcycle Tours, Auckland North Shore

I have my own bike, but for some of the others motorcycle rental is the way to go - although Max did ride from Christchurch - we met him in Taupo and as good timing would have it, he arrived at the Adelphi Motel about 5 minutes after we did. There were six of us on the trip:
  • John: Suzuki Boulevard C90
  • Graeme: Suzuki DL650
  • Nick: Suzuki DL650 courtesy of Te Waipounamu
  • Heiner: Triumph 1200 Explorer courtesy of Te Waipounamu (with only 3KM on it)
  • Max: Suzuki XF650 Freewind
  • Peter: BMW 650GS courtesy of Te Waipounamu

To Taupo in the dark

When we were all assembled it was Thursday 4:00PM and we charged off to our first meeting place - the Bombay Hills BP. This was through the Auckland motorway traffic (a delight all of its own) - however we managed to have one group wait at the BP and another at the Caltex - just to add a little early confusion. No harm done, it was off to Taupo, turning off the main highway at Ngaruawahia and taking in the Waikato country-side through to Te Awamutu, where we stopped for sustenance. I use that term to be vague about whether or not beer was involved. Come to think of it, I don't think we ate anything... Once you turn off at Kihikihi you have a wonderful run through to Whakamaru - brilliant ride, with both a challenging twisty bit, and lots of sweeping and rolling. After the main road I admit I did relax a little bit. We ended up in Taupo in the dark, and as mentioned, met up up with Max at the Motel.
We went out quite late to find some dinner, and it was an Indian meal at Mr India. Hot spicy food and cold beer - can't go wrong.

Taupo to Gisborne

Up early and rearing to go, we decided to stop at the first decent looking place we found for breakfast. Hint: Never let a guy who has eaten lead a group to breakfast! We did stop finally at the River Valley Cafe - which is nearly at the Napier turnoff. No problem though, it was an excellent breakfast stop, complete with South African crafts and ornaments. From the turnoff it was proper East Cape riding. Not too much traffic, although quite a few large logging trucks on the road. Mahia Peninsular for lunch was the order, and we charged off. What a beautiful ride out there - well worth it, and the pub at the end did a great lunch too - with Graeme going for the half-crayfish - be rude not to...
Discussing important bike things...

Our stop for the night was at Wainui, a wonderful beach just north of Gisborne. As we came into Gisborne there is a golf course running down the side of the road, and a guy was teeing off. As we approached he seemed to be taking his time, and he drove off just after I passed him. Nek minit... a golf ball bounces about 3 metres from me, and just in front. I don't think he was aiming at me.
Nick went down for a swim, did put his toes in the water, made a face and came back.

We had a great Mexican at the Ocean Beach Motorlodge restaurant - really good authentic food - I had a bean burrito which was excellent (with some habanero sauce added of course). I flagged the margaritas - after a days riding, a feed and a couple of beers, I was for bed - a big day tomorrow - Gisborne, the Cape and to Rotorua, with signs of rain coming.

The East Cape ride

Up early again we headed to Tolaga Bay for breakfast and a fill. I was a little worried about the range on the Boulevard, as there would be plenty of twisting - both the road and the throttle, and I didn't want to run the mere 14 litre tank dry. The DL's seemed to go forever without a petrol stop.

The riding was full on, I can imagine this would be a very bad road to be in a car with kids in the back - twisting and turning, a bit lumpy in places, and pretty much empty apart from bucket-loads of iconic NZ scenery.
Tolaga Bay Wharf there and back.

We stopped in Ruatoria for a fuel break, and did see horses in the main street. As with all good trips - lunch... which we found at a lovely pub (with no beer) at Waihau Bay. We ate without Nick however, who missed the turnoff and continued through to Opotiki. That wasn't the only mis-calculation either. Heine and Pete had gone through Ohope and on to Taneatua where the turn to Rotorua is. Pete just kept on going until he saw a road sign that said 77KM to Gisborne...ooops, time to turn back. We were getting a bit worried as the weather had turned very wet and Pete was nowhere to be seen. Must really love that BMW seat?? Yes wet... it hadn't rained for a few days and the road was foaming with loose oil and road debris. We all made it to Rotorua in one piece however = even if Pete did try and go around again... The road from Opotiki to Taneatua was a gem too.
This is for Nick, who didn't stop here...

The place we stayed in Rotorua had a hot mineral pool, and it didn't take us long to find it, soaking away the days riding. Heiner hammed it up for the motel lady - not sure what she thought we were up to in the private pool room. Now for dinner and a beer and it was time for Mediterranean at Cafe Ephesus - wonderful Middle-Eastern salads and wood-fired pizza. The bouncers let us into the Pig and Whistle for a beer and we all had the margaritas we had missed from the night before.

Sunday and the Coromandel

Max was off to Christchurch early, and so Graeme had us up at 6:30 heading for breakfast in Paeroa. This was via the Old Te Aroha Rd, which is well worth finding - almost 'hidden valley' kind of stuff. The Coromandel roads are truly miles-of-smiles when it comes to motorcycle riding - and the day was perfect.
Stopped for a break and re-group at Tairua.

The loop was great as always, shared with 200-odd hotrods who had been in Whitianga for the weekend. Up and over the top and down to Coromandel and the Smokehouse. I stocked up on smoked mussels... this is a must stop. Back down the coast we diced with some inconsiderate drivers towing boats - I guess they are locals and own the road...sorry for being quicker and more agile. We thought that we might have time to do the Kaiaua-Clevedon road but time was against us to get the bikes back to Barry's Pt Rd.

A wonderful trip on some of New Zealand's best roads. Thanks guys for a great trip, great food and great company. And the great organising skills of Mr Graeme Stretch, who gets up early.

I did get some video on the GoPro and will see how to make it into clips on youtube.
cheers johnhs [windingroad]

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seafood Paella Part 2

Well it didn't take long to have a rematch for the NZ seafood paella recipe. This time I got the saffron and the tuatuas sorted. The recipe has been updated at my earlier post on seafood paella. A small phial of saffron was over $18 at Nosh on Dominion Rd - but you don't need much of it. I used 10 stamens - maybe I would increase to 15. Certainly felt like the right thing to do!
The result was very good, with a bit of socarrat starting in the centre. The wok burner is not quite big enough to get to the edges.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seafood Paella

I got a paella pan for my birthday - something that I had looked at and pawed over ever since I first saw them for sale in Sabato. Then a birthday appears before me, and my lovely wife got me a paella pan from Farro Foods in Constellation Drive.
Paella is pronounced pah -a- ya. I off course started to scour the internet for paella making methods and recipes and was treated to the normal drivel from youtube where some cooking school guy advertising his school makes a rice dish for which he is flamed by every internet-paella-expert out there... but I did find one that was very good - Cooking Authentic Seafood Paella With Sarah Jay.

Seafood Paella Recipe

Here is the recipe for 2 that I used, using the ingredients that were easily available. This is the updated version made 22Oct:
1 onion
1 400g can diced tomato
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup shortgrain rice (Arborio is what I had)
375ml pack Fish stock
2 cups water
4 mussels
2 tuatuas
10 saffron stamens
4 mussels
12 prawns
4 tuatuas
Oil the pan with olive oil and make the sofrito. Let it cook so that it darkens - you'll have to add water to it. I cooked it about 20 mins. Get the broth going, and take out the mussels when they open. I ate two before I could stop myself. Save them for the topping. First try didn't have saffron so used 1 tsp tumeric. Put in the rice and stir for 5 mins. Then add the broth and cook for 10 mins. Then add the seafood. I had to lay the mussels down - they were quite big, and the paella is only an inch deep. I placed the prawns in and pressed them down. I did add a bit more water. Test for salt - the fish stock was pretty salty so I didn't need to add any more salt to the paella. I was testing for the socarrat (which is the yummy toasted base-layer) and I could feel a bit of resistance. When the prawns were pink-through and mussels open, it was done!

We had a Spanish red wine with it and my first paella was a success - the pan was scraped clean! Time to go get some saffron, and I think I'll add some cockles or tuatuas next time too.

Part 2 22 October update: Used saffron and added the tuatuas - great idea! Getting the authentic NZ Paella ;-)

Yum. johnhs

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Waiheke Snapper Rise To The Bait

With only a short fishing trip last year to make way for our trip to Australia in October this years fishing trip was brought forward to Easter, we were up for it, and so were the fish! And the weather played ball as well, providing us with some beautiful days fishing around Waiheke and the Rakino channel.

Fish Eat Fish

One of the great things about going on our fishing trips, is the evening feed. Our meals are sumptuous, starting with pickled onions and crackers with cheese, a beer or two, and then broccoli, kumara, and fresh fish - so fresh! And possibly a couple of beers to wash it done, sorry... to compliment the meal!
And we aren't the only ones who enjoy a fresh fish meal either - the following sequence is just incredible...
...I caught a good size John Dory at the eastern end of Waiheke, around the 4.5LB mark. As I pulled it up on board I noticed something in the John Dory's mouth.

You can see a tail of a small snapper peeking out of the John Dory's mouth
I had hooked the little snapper, and it in turn was swallowed by the John Dory, and because it was head first (to escape the spines) and as I was pulling... the snapper actually 'caught' the bigger fish. Snookered, you might say!

That's actually quite a big little sanpper to fit into the John Dory! The snapper was shaken, but swam away when I released him. Bet he had a tale to tell!
Looking forward to our next outing.

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Boulevard Rally - Rangitikei Rumble

The weekend of 23-25th March 2012 was the date set for the Suzuki Boulevard Rally for 2012, with the destination being Palmerston North and the glorious roads of Rangitikei - Manawatu.

Boulevard Rally Ride Down

We met at the Bombay BP for the ride down to registration for the rally - leaving at 8:00AM and hoping to arrive sometime between 5:00PM and 6:00PM. That meant getting up at 5:30AM in order to get packed and leave the house with enough time to gas up before the first group ride.
View Larger Map
Google says the journey is 530KM (around 330M)
After 10 days watching the weather forecasts and the day finally dawning - it was so good to be riding on dry roads. The long range forecasts had foretold rain-rain-rain, and as we left Auckland, we rode into fine weather, which stayed with us for the weekend, barring a few spots through the Paraparas on Saturday afternoon.
Regarding whether my Shoei visor has UV filtering? - no - I needed sunscreen even through quite a dark tinted visor - by the time we stopped at Ohingaiti Hotel I could really feel the heat on my face. With the dark visor you think you are OK... is it so hard to put UV filter in a visor?
From our meeting at the BP at Bombay we rode through to Cambridge for our first break, then onto Taupo for lunch and a gas top-up at Turangi. My Suzuki Boulevard C90 has a 14 litre tank, which does up to 250km on the open road, but only around 165km commuting in Auckland. Our next stop was the Ohingaiti Hotel, a quick breather and a cold beer - most welcome!
Ohingaiti Hotel - a welcome and bike-friendly stop on the way South
As we proceeded down the country we picked other riders up in Cambridge, Tirau and Taupo with our numbers reaching around 45 bikes by the time we made registration at Freedom Suzuki in Palmerston North. All up the registrations were around 180 bikes and 220 people counting riders and pillions. Great to see all the pillions - mostly wives and partners, with at least two fathers that I know of sharing-the-love with their sons onboard.

After coffee and conversation it was off to our lodgings for dinner and bed after one long ride and in preparation for the next - the Rangitikei Rumble on Saturday. I booked myself into the Kingsgate in Fitzherbet Ave using Wotif. Once checked in I decided to find a beer and take a walk around the town. I wandered around the Square and back towards the hotel - stopping at Rosie O'Grady's Bar for a beer. As I tweeted, when I asked if they had any NZ craft beer - thinking there might have been something local - I got back a blank stare and "Whats that?". I settled for a Kilkenny (in an Irish Bar - go figure). I met some of the riders at the hotel bar, and we adjourned for a very nice dinner and conversation at the hotel restaurant.

Luana Payne Heels-on-Wheels who works and reviews for Motorcycle Trader was there too - doing a review on the new C50 - a nice two-tone version. I suspect there will be a review out there soon.

The 2012 Suzuki Boulevard Group Ride

View Larger Map
The route for the group ride
Saturday dawned, breakfast was eaten and we were off to Freedom for the muster before riding some very scenic and great motorcycling roads through to Raetihi and back via Wanganui and the Parapara's. This was the first time the whole group was together, and a time to catch up with old friends and people I only know from previous Boulevard encounters. This ride was going to be a real treat for me as I haven't really been on any other than main roads in the region, and the chance to be guided around some beautiful North Island country roads was not to be missed.
Rangiwahia Main Street - bemused locals came out to see what all noise was about - the rumble... note the light shining from heaven...
And riding with a big group? Its always a balance between the "Flying Wedge" and the "Procession" - in other words... a large group of motorcycles cruising fast and monstering everyone else on the road, or slow single file hell with someone in front of you that brakes in unexpected places. I must say most of the time I could concentrate on my own riding and not that of the guy or gal in front of me - and the smaller 250cc and 650cc bikes were ridden very well. If you are on Hwy 1 just before Mangaweka (going South, where the DC3 aeroplane is) turn left - well worth it, these roads would be a lot of fun on a sports bike.

Raetihi School

Once through the sandstone cliffs and winding roads, and a short spurt along the main highway, we arrived at Raetihi School, who put on a feed for lunch - and a feed it was - it was amazing! We were cheered into the school by a welcoming party of kids, and we parked en-masse on the school netball courts. The school was using this as a fund-raiser to get the kids to Rarotonga for a cultural event - the food was great, the atmosphere was great, and there was a great feeling that we were there contributing to the community. Everyone was saying - how can the dinner beat this!
The netball courts at Raetihi School with brooding clouds behind.

The Parapara

The legendary Parapara's - part of Hwy 4 which runs from Te Kuiti through to Wanganui. We joined Hwy 4 at Raetihi and following our lunch at the school we headed out onto one of the must-do rides in the North Island. The mix of twisties, and sweeping corners is a bikers dream - and unlike my last trip down this road which was to the 2009 Boulevard Rally, I didn't have a broken arm and endless road-works to contend with. As you coax the big bike through the tight corners you get a good workout, and if you really lean hard on that inside handle-bar as you accelerate through the corner you can really feel the magic of cornering a motorcycle, that all bikers cherish.

We had a few spots of rain heading into Wanganui, but that didn't affect the riding. The blast back through to Bulls and Palmerston North from Wanganui was more along the 'flying-wedge' type of riding, and possibly a bit of steam was let off on the more open straight roads.
At Bulls: This was not the venue for our Boulevard dinner...

Dinner with the Boulevards

One of the reasons I chose to stay at the Kingsgate was that the bus to the Racecourse picked up and dropped off there. The dinner is always a highlight of the weekend, and a chance to catch up with friends over a meal and a beer, or possibly two. With the usual prize-giving and hi-jinks (fluffy-bunnies which became flubby-buddies in no time thanks to the large sized marshmallows) the evening went very quickly. The band (rightly called The Boulevards) playing on to an energetic dance-floor, as the smokers outside, probably over-represented in this group, discussed the merits of this tyre against that, and the new bling they were going to add to their bike next.

There are a few pictures of the night on the Suzuki Facebook site.

The Ride Home

I met Moonlight (Paul W) at Cafe Cuba for breakfast - which needed to be anything fried and on toast - and with a couple of coffees under my belt we rumbled out of town for the 500 or so kms home to Mt Eden, Auckland.
The Desert Rd and our bikes in the foreground and the quiet Mount Ruapehu at the back.
We met many of the crew on the way back, everywhere we stopped, every cafe and gas station along Hwy 1 seemed to have 3 to 10 bikes out front. We stopped for lunch at Taupo and caught up with a few people, and then continued home - arriving just in time to collapse on the couch with a cold beer - lucky that...

The weekend was a complete success! Thanks to everyone involved, including those motorists who pulled over to let this empty-nest hooligan ride by ;-)

Cheers, John Hamilton-Smith (windingroad)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Happy Camper

I sneaked off to see Camper down at the Viaduct before heading out for the Wednesday night racing (sailing). Its was great to see a really good turn-out, and the open-day was caught on the 6 o'clock news. Someone else was caught on camera, giving advice to the shore crew before climbing aboard to check the boat over.

Camper Volvo Ocean Race 2012
Camper at the Viaduct in Auckland [Volvo Ocean Race 2012]

The vision I had in my head reeled a bit when I got to see the boat up close... 70 feet isn't that big after all, when you start to think about being alone in the wide ocean, with fierce winds and monster waves.
People in and around the boat. This cheery picture on the right is painted inside Camper, on both sides - maybe to cheer the boys up when the going gets tough? (Excuse shaky phone-cam picture).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Volvo Ocean Race reaches Auckland

They have arrived in Auckland, New Zealand after slogging 5,200 nautical miles over around 20 days from Sanya in China. As Mike Sanderson said "welcome to the land of the short, steep wave" the crews battled down the coast of the North Island (so cunningly named - being northwards of the South Island) and after over 5,000 miles through some of the toughest conditions they have encountered, almost match racing to the line. And I went out to welcome them in on Peppermint Planet, a Young 11 sailing out of the Richmond Yacht Club in Auckland. Armed with French wine and chocolate, or course.

The Real Boats Arrive

Groupama arrived at night and so the photo is a bit on the dark side - however we wondered with the lights that were blazing onto them from the support flotilla, whether they could actually see anything from Groupama at all! The others arrived very close together the next day (Sunday) with Telefonica and Camper having a great duel, won by Telefonica by 93 seconds - over 20 days... wow.

My Virtual Boats Arrive

Well the first one is about to finish as I write. I chose the name "Maroro" because it is Flying Fish in Maori, and while this fish and Maroro 2 were in the top 2000 boats coming down to Papua New Guinea, I have slipped to the 7,000's and 21,000's.

The virtual racing is fantastic, if you don't want to sleep, or be away from your computer/smartphone for longer than an hour... addictive, yes.(current progress I'm just past the Rangitoto lighthouse... so close now). The other boat - the greedy one that stayed too close to land (actually hitting Papua New Guinea during a dinner party) and went south early... is yet to reach Lord Howe Island - so still some sleep to catch up, and just a week lay-over. Even for us virtual skippers, that is not much time to relax before we head to Itajal in Brazil.

So, welcome visitors and welcome home kiwis and welcome virtual skippers too.

Home! Maroro 1 tacks at North Head, across the line in position 7433 at 11:07pm NZDT Monday 12 March.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gratuitous Beaver Shot

Yes right here in New Zealand, in Beavertown no less, we have taken some photos as evidence for those non-believers amongst us - there ARE beavers in New Zealand - although - yes - they are made of bronze - but that's just details....
Benji pats the local beaver
Bryan - there really are beavers in New Zealand - in Blenheim.
The cute little fullas
On our last visit to Blenheim we went to Raupo for lunch, and we were able to formally introduce Bryan to the beavers, and get the photographic evident necessary.