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Thread: New Zealand - Christmas at Fairlie. Lakes Tekapo & Pukaki, Mt Cook & ride to Picton.

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    New Zealand - Christmas at Fairlie. Lakes Tekapo & Pukaki, Mt Cook & ride to Picton.

    22nd - 30th December 2007

    New Zealand - Christmas at Fairlie. Lakes Tekapo & Pukaki, Mt Cook & ride to Picton.

    On our first morning at Akaroa we make a late and lazy start. After breakfast we finally amble down into town and have some cakes and coffee whilst watching the world go by. We buy some fresh fish from a harbour boat and cook it on bar-be-que later in the evening whilst talking to some Germans we meet. When I say ‘we’, I mean Sylvia mainly (as it was in German) and occasionally I joined in English….which was just as well because I was the Chef !! After dinner it got quite cold so we watched the last half of tonight’s film, Pride & Prejudice. In my defence it was now very cold !!

    The following day we drive to Fairlie, home to our first New Zealand Christmas. We settled in to our room for what was going to be home for the next five nights and went shopping at the towns only Supermarket for some supplies. We’d hoped to buy more of our Christmas requirements but they were very limited on their meat supplies , however they were expecting some more the following day. We bought what we could in the end.

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    One of the first things we spotted was how much bigger everything was here .....admittedly this was a Salmon farm though.


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    Our Motel for Christmas. Quiet, clean and fully self-contained at around £40/night for the room.

    We'd parked the bike outside and went about our shopping. Whilst doing so a lady approached Sylvia and asks her ’Are you Sylvia ?’ Sylvia, a bit stunned, confirms she is and asks who the questioner is. She turns out to Pip, owner of ‘Saffron Tours’, specialising in Asian excursions on Royal Enfield’s. Dave had told us, on finding where we were to spend Christmas, that Pip lived there and to look her up. He’d also told Pip and she’d beaten us to it.

    On Christmas eve we manage to finish our shopping for Christmas (although no Turkey in sight !!) and manage to get some dark rum, drinking chocolate & squirty cream for our now legendary rum-hot chocolates.

    On Christmas day we went to Church in morning for a very good service. After we take a light lunch, which we follow with a walk a bit later, and get to feed some horses some ’Greener’ grass from our side of the fence. In the early evening I roast some silver-side beef which never seems to brown, always remaining red. Eventually I give up, cut a slice off which tastes fine and we eat it as it is. (We later learn that’s what happens with Silver-side ! ) We end up watching a lot of TV, drank our rum hot chocolates and end up going to bed very late….

    ……..which led us into getting up late on Boxing day. We decided to have a fry-up for breakfast & have dinner in the evening again so in the afternoon we go for a shortish walk hoping to feed some spare carrots to the horses we’d seen yesterday but they‘re not there, instead we end up feeding 2 goats who were delighted with their coup. One ran towards us like it was our pet….and I mean really bouncing.

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    Sylvia displaying some bacon (?!?) from our Boxing day Brunch.


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    The council seemed to be having to make a few cut backs though......... (in fact, most of the ones we saw were like it.)

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    No doubt the Councillors car......yeah, right !! ....seen just along the road from the Pelican crossing beacon.........

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    We also saw this on our walk. Strange eh.

    On the 27th we start planning out our time for when we’re on the North Island. We don’t start too early and so when Pip comes round around 12 to discuss meeting up for an afternoon tea visit at her house & evening dinner at the ‘Old Library Restaurant‘, the little enthusiasm we have got disappears quite quickly. We pop round to see Pip at about three and end up going from there to dinner. After dinner we get to meet Brenda, Pip’s sister, and her Mum, Noreen. We chat over a tea for an hour or so and stroll back to our Motel room.

    We finally leave Fairlie the following day, and despite our initial plan to head towards Christchurch and then catch the the ferry from Picton for the North Island, the weather is looking like it may be good enough for a good view of the mountains and so we decide to visit Lakes Tekapo & Pukaki & continue to Mt Cook. The weather was initially a little suspect but got better as the day went on and by the time we stopped for lunch at Lake Pukaki the weather and views were magnificent-we were very pleased to have taken the risk.

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    Lake Pukaki & Mt Cook - I make no apology for the number of shots taken here. I hope you enjoy them too.

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    After lunch we rode on to Mt Cook and camped at the National Park campsite. In the evening we decided to eat the local (and expensive) but good café/restaurant in a small complex. They even had a sausage named after Sir Edmund Hilary. After dinner Sylvia and I managed to get on to some Internet terminals which formed part of the restaurant set-up. Part way through surfing, a young lady asked if it is my bike outside, ‘only its being attacked by the resident Kea’s’ . I thank them and go outside, and sure enough there are 3 Keas sitting on my bike seat and panniers with one of them pecking a hole in one of my now not-waterproof pannier bags . I try to shoe them off but they don’t take me seriously initially….BUT next time they do though. These birds I guess are about the size of a small Eagle and their beaks are similarly shaped.

    That done, I return to the Internet until closing time….where I manage to discover that I’d lost my keys. After quite a hunt and a resolution to use my spare set, I then find them in my fleece jacket pocket that I was wearing under my bike suit…Doh !!! By the time we get back to the campsite it is very cold. Our trip to the toilet block is done as fast as possible and we resort to Long johns and thermals to keep us warm during the night.

    The following morning we get up at around 06:15 in a very very cold tent as we wanted to get back to Christchurch today so I can get a rear knobbly tyre that Phil’s supplies and swears by before heading off for the ferry to the North Island. Neither of us wanted to get up but I wanted to have the tyre for the gravel and tracks we hoped to ride on the North Island.

    We managed to get to Phil’s in time.(even having met some of Pip’s clients in a restaurant just outside Christchurch who were on their way to see her). The new tyre was fitted but the engine was still not running as well as it had done in Australia. I discussed this with Phil and he suggested that the engine mapping may have been upset by throttle cable problem, and I ought to try re-setting the mapping. I agreed - a good idea.

    We find a campsite not far from Christchurch and settle down to try and get the bike running ok, a small re-pack & some washing done. I check all I can think of on the bike including detaching the battery to try and re-set the control unit as the mapping may have got confused with the running problems we had when collecting the bike in Christchurch, however the bike is still missing some of its normal low speed running which will be a pain especially when riding off road.

    Whilst trying to re-map the bikes computer I also (think) I have discovered that Phil has sold me the wrong size tyre. The Adventure takes a 150 normally but he had fitted a 140 (It turned out that 140 is the maximum size they make)-The handling is fine but I’m a bit disappointed and frustrated that I didn’t check it myself (at the time). Going back at this point would cost us a bout 3 days so I decide to stick with the 140.

    We manage a reasonable nights sleep and get packed up which takes a while as the washing also needs to be packed away. However, we finally we manage to leave for our 300km ride to Picton where we will catch the ferry for the North Island. The ride goes well and we stop for lunch and fuel at around 13:00 under the impression that the ferry leaves at around 16:00. Somewhere along the lines we get complacent about our progress towards Picton and enjoy our roast dinner too much. By the time I register the time again it is around 14:15 and we still have a lot of Km’s to make. Resolute that we wanted to make the 16:00 ferry I drive as fast as is sensible over here, about 100-120km’s/hr. (The limit is 100 & the Police are plentiful & strict ! - 30km‘s over the limit can leave you with your vehicle impounded for a month !! )

    We arrive in Picton at 15:50 and are hopeful to squeeze on to the ferry, however we hadn’t confirmed the vague boarding-time advice we’d been given and discovered the next sailing was at 19:00, the last having been at 14:30 ! Doh !! , What a twerp-I couldn’t believe I’d allowed us to chase unconfirmed advice. I felt really stupid !!

    Anyway, at the booking office there was wireless access for the laptop and an Internet terminal free so Sylvia & I use the time to organise and catch up on a few bits & pieces. I sent a hopeful e-mail to BMW Motorrad in Wellington that they might look at the bike to see if they can find the problem with the low engine speed running problem the following day.

    We board the ship, secure the bike and go upstairs to the passengers quarters. The sailing is fairly smooth although the smell of burnt cooking fat in the café area makes Sylvia feel pretty rough so we move up to the cinema deck to watch the end of the in-sail movie. We also learn that one of the ships in the fleet was the ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ which sank just off France back in 1986(I think). Hmm, encouraging !

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    At the end of securing the bike on the outward journey from Picton.

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    'Kia Ora' is 'also' Maori for Welcome....not just a drink too Orangey for Crows !!

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    Picton harbour.

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    The views out from the harbour.

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    Sunset at sea.

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    Some cattle who were cramned in these containers for the voyage. To be honest I was surprised that their conditions were so harsh for what I'd expected of New Zealand.

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    Untethering Skippy at Wellington.

    We arrive in Wellington and after the boat docks we are soon back on the car deck undoing the securing ropes and preparing to ride off into a very dark night. We’re off pretty soon and head for a “Top Ten” campsite we had in our “Top Ten” booklet. Wellington on first glance is not attractive-it is a combination of port, industry and motorway and whilst our “Top Ten” campsite was ok, it was not quite the haven our stay at Akaroa had been when we first left Christchurch.

    None-the-less the facilities were good and we had somewhere to stay.

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Great pictures,me and the better half have booked up to visit the country later this year
    in november,but will have a motorhome to topur around,(leaving the gs behind)lokking forward to it any hints and tips welcome maybe we could meet any "kiwi"gsers out there.
    our dates november 20th until 11 dec then pop over to sydney..

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PETELU View Post
    Great pictures,me and the better half have booked up to visit the country later this year
    in november,but will have a motorhome to topur around,(leaving the gs behind)lokking forward to it any hints and tips welcome maybe we could meet any "kiwi"gsers out there.
    our dates november 20th until 11 dec then pop over to sydney..
    Hi Petelu,

    Excellent choice ! Of all the countries my trip has taken me to in the past (just under) 3 years, New Zealand is probably the most beautiful and the roads...oh the roads (and gravel) are wonderful, and I mean wonderful.

    If there is anyway you can ride your/a bike down here, do it ! You are unlikley to see roads and tracks like this anywhere else in the World. I don't obviously know what your criteria are but there is an Australian company, getrouted.com.au who could ship your bike from the UK down here in September and bring it back up the following March. He does all the paperwork and can put you in touch with a reasonable insurer(although you may need a Carnet to pass it through Australia-not sure, if you are interested I'd send him a mail(address on their web-site) Some of the most beautiful places are only accessible by your own vehicle as the rental companies prohibit use of their vehicles off road. ( But there is still plenty to see even if you have to stay on the road.)

    By my maths you have 3 weeks in New Zealand. Whilst I'm sure it's tempting to try and do both Islands, I personally would only do the South otherwise you will end up rushing and not being relaxed enough to enjoy what you do see, or your holiday. In 3 weeks you will be able to see a good amount of the highlights of the South Island(and there are plenty) and not be too rushed. (My only very small reservation as I say this is that Rotorua is NZ's Maori capital which is on the North Island and roughly a 2 day drive from Wellington, the sea port that you arrive in from the South.)

    Invercargill, the near-most Southerly point of mainland New Zealand(Bluff is the most Southerly) was home to Burt Munro, who Anthony Hopkins played in the film, 'The Fastest Indian'. There is a hardware store called Hayes in Invercargill and the owner sells a really nice collectors portfolio of photos etc which include Burts record breaking facts and a map of the town which shows places of significance either in the film or in Burts real life.

    I'm not sure about GS'ers but if you email Dave at getrouted, and tell him I put you in touch with him, he may well know of some as he actually is a Kiwi(and knows loads of people in NZ) despite the fact that he now lives in Melbourne.

    The average cost for a 2 person tent/Motorhome is around $NZ30/night(Can be a bit higher in remote areas or in cities). The campsites are generally very good and all(the Private ones) will have decent showers with plenty of hot water and often the use of a free gas powered barbeque. Temperatures when you go will generally be fine and you'd find camping in a tent easy...if you were to bring your bike that is .

    I'll stop there for now. If you'd like more specific information, please feel free to ask.

    Regards,

    Mike

    If

  4. #4
    Apprentice to the Chief Idiot Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Sorry if this is a bit late. As a local who has just done an 11 day rather hectic trip around the South Island in my Land Rover Discovery I would say 3 weeks is the bare minimum if you want to experience all that is offered. We took the Disco as it is the middle of winter at present and many alpine passes are closed to vehicles not carrying chains. Hope to go back with the bikes when the weather is better.
    Yep I am a fair weather rider

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