Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday Night Sailing

In the summer we sail Kerkira in the Richmond Yacht Club Wednesday Night Series. To take a cue from golf regarding "prize for the most golf", we are often able to come up with "the most sailing".

Here is a good indication of why we love doing it, even if we aren't the fastest boat out there - the December evening sky over Auckland city is amazing - even better when you are out there sailing. I believe I had a couple of great mates on board, and we were drinking a cold beer just as the picture was taken. Follow us at Kerkira-Racing.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Going All Social

I was looking through some cartoons and came across this one, done back in July. I am currently working on a large 'social intranet' project and I had forgotten about this:

Ain't it the #truth :-)


Monday, October 28, 2013

Hauraki Rail Trail 02

The second installment of our cycling adventures on the Hauraki Rail Trail - this time heading from Paeroa towards Thames.

Paeroa to Matatoki

It was the Saturday or Labour Weekend, and the weather was clear and warm, so we decided to do more of the Hauraki Rail Trail, this time heading in the other direction - towards Thames. We decided we would go as far as Kopu and back, which would be about 66km round-trip. In the end we stopped at Matatoki and decided that we would forgo the extra distance, and get home at a reasonable hour.

This is about 12km from Paeroa where someone has put two chairs under the shade of some trees. An excellent place to stop for our lunch-break.

We continued on to Matatoki where there is an excellent cafe. We decided to turn back from there and so the whole trip was 40kms - at an average on the trail of 14km/hr. It was easy - just a bit more endurance required from the week before.

Slowly building up for some longer trips. The cyclo-cross tyres are working out well on the gravel surface - but the lack of suspension in the bikes design makes the ride a bit more of an effort - comfort-wise.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hauraki Rail Trail 01

A beautiful weekend weather-wise, we decided to go down to the Hauraki Rail Trail for a cycle.

I have put cyclo-cross tyres on our bikes so we can tackle gravel and off-road trails, and everything went very well.

Paeroa to Waikino

We completed the Paeroa to Waikino section, which is 14km, and back, as an afternoon ride, after the business of Saturday morning was over. Had the GoPro mounted on the handbars of the bike. Got a much smoother clip than I thought I would get. These three images are snapshots from the stream.

The trail runs along-side a road, then through open farmland until it meets with the Ohinemuri River which runs through the Karangahake Gorge.


The rail trail runs through a tunnel which is over a km long. In the direction we went we first crossed the rail bridge over the river. It is uphill through the tunnel, but the whole trail is very flat and easy.
If you wanted an easy 'first-time' experience of a rail trail, then this would be the one ;-)

The tunnel entrance

The tunnel exit (from the inside) - a bit like birth perhaps?


We stopped by the river to have lunch and then proceeded across the river to the Waikino Rail Station where we got a coffee, before turn around and heading back to Paeroa.


  • 14 km each way
  • Flat, no hills
  • About an hour and a half each way with sight-seeing
  • Take a torch or bike-lights for the tunnel - not to see, but to be seen by others coming the other way

Yes, sore bums afterward - but we are already planning to do the Thames to Paeroa leg next.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ducati Museum and Factory Tour

Published also on the Evil Stig site.

No trip to Italy would be complete without a visit to Bologna to visit the Ducati Museum and to take the Ducati factory tour. My chance came, and I was booked and ready to go before I'd even left home in Auckland.

Borgo Panigale

We were staying in Florence, so it was easy to take a train up to Bologna, and from there a taxi (E15) from Bologna Centrale to the factory in Borgo, Panigale. You have to book your visit first and they get back with a confirmation of date and time to ensure the group isn't too big. It also costs E10 on the day unless you are a Ducati Club member.

I flashed my New Zealand Desmo Owners Club card and all was sweet.

The Ducati Museum Tour

The Ducati Museo is pretty neat - take a box of tissues ;-) you big biker blokes don't want to be seen to cry (don't worry its dark inside). The tour includes a full history of Ducati and how the company developed over the years - including lots of bikes and trophies, of course.

From the baby Cucciolo and the mighty Apollo to the Desmosedici and Panigale race bikes.

The Ducati Factory Tour

The factory is strictly no-photos so I don't have any glimpses from inside. It was such a great sight to see the bikes being assembled by hand. There are only 2 people per Panigale, for instance. We saw all sorts of bikes being built as we ambled through the factory, and in every stage of development from the Parts Supermarket to the testing rooms and the load-out. There were a few Ducatis in the carpark too, worth a look. Only Ducatis though - other bikes not allowed.

The Ducati Factory Shop

Across the road is the Ducati Outlet Store where there were a few good bargains in clothing and gear. I didn't buy anything there, and then cursed later that I should have.


That coming weekend MotoGP at Mugelo, and there were a few people on the tour who had ridden over for the race and were doing the tours again. I can see myself doing it again - maybe when I go over to get my special factory Panigale R. Better buy two Lotto tickets this week ;-)

This arrived today - my Panigale 1199 - however it is 1/12 scale.

Cheers, johnhs.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Europe 2013

When you do something, you often say "why did I wait so long before doing this?". I have been to or lived in Australia, Hong Kong, US, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Rarotonga, Peru, and Taranaki, and I had yet to make the trip to Europe, the typical Kiwi OE (overseas experience). With a 60th birthday to attend in Croatia, there were no more excuses - and a four week trip was planned and executed. Wow, four weeks off work - big ask, and if you don't ask you don't receive. Then there were the cats... we found a wonderful lady Jan Philpott to house-sit for us and look after our two cats Tattoo and Spider - definitely no excuses left now.

Where Are We Going?

Auckland to Los Angeles to London Heathrow.


  • May 9, Air New Zealand NZ2 to Los Angeles and London.
  • Once we arrived in London on the Friday morning, we had the weekend to explore the city. The Underground is truly fantastic and after a bus tour of the city to get our bearings, we were walking and "tubing" from one side of the city to the other. This was our 'must see all the sights of London' phase.
  • Then we headed up to Edinburgh, Scotland by train, 1st Class, very nice. Left my phone on the train :-( and then got it back :-) Did the sightseeing and pounded the streets. AirBNB accommodation.
  • Next stop Islay, for a pilgrimage to favourite whisky distilleries (especially Ardbeg - I'm on the Council). Hired a car that was only slightly narrower than the road. Wonderful Scottish country setting with lots of cold, open fires, warm beer and divine whiskies - no rain though - good weather everywhere we went. Beautiful white cottages, awesome oysters and discovered Cullen Skink (made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions).
  • Then Croatia via RyanAir from Stanstead which was 'interesting' by itself - no dramas though besides queing practice for the rest of Europe. We're just not used to it. But Zadar and Maslenica where we stayed in a wonderful modern house, was another world altogether. Old and run-down, so many signs of the war - empty broken houses with bullet-holes. Dull, in a very bright and beautiful setting.
  • Split to Ancona on an overnight ferry. Noisy ferry - brrm brrm brrm all night long. Ancona was our landing place in Italy and then fast and tilting train to Venezia.
  • Lost and found in Venice! Wow what a place... a huge shopping mall for tourists, inside a world heritage location. Many photos taken, and living withing the historic calles, canals and buildings of old Venice made you think about all those who had gone before.
  • Three nights and off by train again to Firenze. We stayed right near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and in a relatively cheap and well set up place (Florence Old Bridge). Got pick-pocketed and reverted to retail therapy.
  • We took a train down to Pisa - well worth the trip - it IS amazing. Got fined on the train for not validating our ticket - that we just bought from the machine next to the train - go figure.
  • Then there was a trip up to the Ducati Museum and Factory in Bologna. Yes please, I'd like all-of-them. The factory shop was good too, but I didn't buy anything - and then hated myself... you know...
  • In order to train to Paris we went to Milan for the night. That's where we got an apartment. AirBNB accommodation. So nice to have a kitchen. I made pasta - of course ;-)
  • The train to Paris was reasonably comfortable - the Italian trains are really nice - this was the TGV from France - functional...
  • Paris - wow. Stayed in Montparnasse - good spot. Cheap but good and under E100 a night (Tim Hotel Paris Gare Montparnasse). Paris really deserves its own blog let alone post! (coming soon)
  • Eurostar back to London and a couple more nights to look around the city, including a dinner in Chinatown.
  • Plane home with Air New Zealand. Got questioned in LA by the US Customs - but just an issue with their system/my bio information, and sorted out easily. I'm not the man they thought I was... or something.
More stories and photos to follow.

Sitting in Hyde Park on a paid-for deck-chair, with phone in hand as usual. The phone was really good (Samsung S3) and many times we used it to find ourselves, and to get directions. The trick for a Southern Hemisphere traveller in the North is that you get the compass mixed up due to the position of the Sun. Its so weird... "Which way? this feels right, OK lets turn around completely and go the other way. Actually 3G was patchy, but we made do.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Easter Fishing On The Hauraki Gulf

Our annual fishing trip was over the Easter weekend, with a couple of days tacked on the end. I wish it could have been more, but busy busy at work - so - take what you can get :-)

Out Of Town

We finally got out on the water at 12:30PM and headed for the Rakino Channel, where we hoped to catch dinner and start the trip. No problem catching fish - just getting the right size - but lo and behold in amongst the wee ones were a couple of nice snapper. Roger hooked into a couple of small kingfish too - and our bait supplies were already looking dodgy - would we make it through the next few days while getting pounded by small snapper?? We tucked up to Rakino for a peaceful night. Next day we went to the Noises, Zeno Rock and Oneroa, while depleting even more bait, teaching small fish to be careful what they eat, and frying in the sun. Just as well we packed a few beers on-board eh!


A night in Oneroa and the plan was "go ashore and get more bait!" which I did at the Little Oneroa Store - a great place, with good coffee too ;-) Then down to Gannet Rock and Anita Bay at the eastern end of Waiheke. That's when we started catching the right sized fish, including a kingfish!

Taken on light line and a Shimano baitcaster reel, it put up quite some sport, but I landed it - to the applause of the neighbouring boat, and whoops of excitement from both Roger and I. That was Monday, and we stayed the night in Man-o-War Bay.

Sitting on the back of the boat, beer in hand, eating raw kingfish (sugar-cured) and Kikorangi Blue cheese...

It Gets Better

Next day we mooched around by Tarakihi Island, chased some birds and drift fished until succumbing to Anita Bay. After two goes at anchoring in the right spot, we settled into some decent fishing. Trouble now was to stay within the daily limit. I like to ensure that we don't go over the 9 snapper per person limit - even though we do clean the fish on the boat, and technically they are not measurable - and that we are out for 5 days. What would you do with more than 18 fish anyway? Of course we ate fish for lunch and dinner, so it wasn't an issue.

Back To Civilisation

Wednesday dawned and we had just 1 fish each to make our numbers - so fishing in the Bay we made sure we threw back anything under 35cm. We did have a couple of fish for lunch too - mmm fresh snapper IS so good!.

Looking forward to our next successful fishing trip on the Hauraki Gulf.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Be Patient - Windingroad

A Signpost For Life

This image comes from Google, I was busy at the time ;-) but got the message anyway!

Suzuki Boulevard Rally 2013

This year the rally was "Journey Through Middle Earth" and what a great ride it was too! We started at Mount Maunganui near Tauranga on the Saturday morning, that meant riding down on Friday afternoon to catch up with the team, and stay overnight with my Dad.

I was hoping to get away early, but meeting, meetings, and meetings... and on a Friday too! As it turned out, I did get away a bit early and headed home to drop off work gear, and get into cruise-gear. Of course - I locked myself out of the house - with keys and helmet inside! Luckily (kind of) I have watched 80's TV shows where the hero opens doors with whatever he has in his pocketses. Thanks McGyver. I was in time to experience the slow drag out of Auckland that is typical of a Friday afternoon, but eventually I was underway properly and enjoying the freedom of the ride through 2x gorges and into the Bay of Plenty.

A beer or too and a hot curry later I was tucked into bed in Papamoa - thanks for the great night.

Mt Maunganui to New Plymouth

An excellent route, and one with a few twists that even I had not been on before.

View Larger Map

We stopped for lunch at Whakamaru where we also gassed up - poor girl in the gas station on her own with 143 bikes wanting fuel! All good in the end. Once we got onto State Highway 3 we spread out a bit, and I found a journo riding a demo bike - one of the new blacked out C90's. We rode with spirit on that wonderful road through the Awakino Gorge and over Mt Messenger - fun indeed - almost to the point of losing the chicken strips - which is a feat indeed on a cruiser!

New Plymouth - Conference

The Rally Conference was at the Devon, and I stayed at the Autolodge - probably a good call as I did get some sleep before the trip continued home on Sunday. Thanks to Troy I had a cold beer waiting at the end of the ride - VERY welcome! The meal was good, but forgettable, the beer was Peroni and so good, and free flowing, and the entertainment a bit of fun, with a hypnotist providing us with the laughs. Sunday was the ride home, and another chance to ride through the gorge - brilliant. I caught up with Donna and friends in Te Kuiti for brunch and headed home through Whatawhata and Ngaruawahia.

Another great weekend with great friends.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NDR2013 Wairakei

The New Zealand National Ducati Rally for 2013 took place last weekend at the Wairakei Resort near Taupo. A fantastic weekend it was too - with the Evil Stig heading out on the black Ducati 916 on a hot Friday afternoon from Auckland.

Ducati 916

I met Craggsy on his Ducati 999R and we decided to take the direct route down through Matamata, where we stopped for a top up - fluids for the bikes and for the riders - it was hot, especially in leathers. What we did then was unexpected and rather exciting - we swapped bikes. This meant I got to ride on the magnificent 999R.

Craggsy's Ducati 999R

What a beautiful machine - so much power, and very comfortable and inspiring to ride. I rode between Matamata to SH5 through Te Poi - amazing! Dave must have been laughing in his helmet to see me wind it on a bit through the corners ;-) Thanks Dave, a real treat.

We were hoping for a trackday on Saturday, but unfortunately for us, we hadn't booked, and MotoTT were fully booked with no no-shows on the day. No problem, we had a great blast around the Lake, meeting our brethren near Turangi who were riding anti-clockwise. Then in the afternoon the show-and-shine - where all the bikes were cleaned and polished and lined up in model years to be judged. Its a bit kind-of bike-geeky but the array of bikes from old to new was really engaging - and the riders/builders and onlookers all had stories to tell about this model or that. I just appreciated the beauty of the Ducati bikes. Dave however managed to pick 'Best in Class' with the 999R.

With the riders and support families, were a few dealers, and Bayride brought down a Diavel and a Panigale to show off at the dinner. These bikes were also demos and I managed to get a ride on the white Panigale. Oh boy, what a ride!

Evil Stig on the white Panigale - oh yeah!

I only had around 10 minutes, and I made sure I enjoyed them... and did some 'serious' research. 195HP is quite a few - especially if you are sitting on them - and they all seemed to be working - wow! Tried out an emergency stop - man some serious stopping power! I looked down to see if any traction control lights would show - nope - just electrifying stop and then with the quick-shifter in action - electrifying go! And dare I say it - I found it comfortable to ride on, not as forward or aggressive position as the 916 - which I find to be comfortable anyway ;-)

Sunday we glided back in the rain - we finally get the rain we have been hoping for and it turns up on a Ducati Rally day! Oh well... we tagged onto the back of the Ducati Turismo, which has another week of riding the North Island to go, and headed for home, stopping at Hampton Downs to watch a couple of NZ SBK races.

A fantastic weekend. Next year it will be in Hanmer - can't wait - I wonder what I will be riding??

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Waitangi Day Loop

Needed to go and have a quick ride to see if the Ducati was overheating on a descent run, before the National Ducati Rally in March (NDR2013).

View Larger Map

I devised a small loop around Clevedon and Maraetai - on a beautiful day, and had a great ride! Met a fellow Ducatisti in Maraetai, where I stopped for a breather and to get some coolant into me. The bike was fine. All good. So many people enjoying the great weather and the lovely Maraetai foreshore - idyllic.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

March Rallies

Wow, this is a great time of year - the weather is stable and the bike rallies are all happening!


The first is the National Ducati Rally, held this year in Wairakei. I have recently been accepted into the fold with a DOCNZ membership and I am champing at the bit, so to speak, at the prospect of a carpark full of Ducati beauties. I haven't been to one of these before - should be fun - but not hoping for 'road-tax'!

Suzuki Boulevard Rumble in Middle Earth

One I have been to before is the Suzuki Boulevard Rally, with this years run from Mt Maunganui to New Plymouth. Should be good - I spent a couple of years in New Plymouth in the mid-80's - yep the Think Big years - and always have a spot in my heart for the place.

Cheers and see you there!