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Thread: Mangarakau

  1. #1
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    Mangarakau

    24th February 2017

    This was a horrible motel – just grotty and cheap. Unfortunately I’d made the mistake of paying for two nights, so I was stuck. The Wi-Fi connection was pretty flaky too.

    I spent yesterday doing various admin things and trying to pay off my mortgage. Unfortunately, despite arranging to do this with Nationwide before I left the UK, I couldn’t get any of the online stuff to work…

    So I stuck the money (paid to me yesterday as part of my delayed Police pension) in my savings account and will try to sort it out on my next admin day – when I will ensure I’m somewhere with good Wi-Fi…

    I get up and shower, pack the bike and I’m on the road for just after 0900. I have a long way to go today – and some of it will be on gravel roads. The forecast is for sunny weather all the way, but Greymouth is suffering from a high overcast and a bit of lingering sea mist.



    I set off along Highway 6, which follows the west coast – I rode down this way on my down from Nelson, earlier this month…



    Diversification - that's the key to success in business...



    It’s 62°F and slightly humid, but I have the vents open on my jacket and it’s a comfortable day to be riding. The road is quiet and the scenery just beautiful…



    …I’m continually reminded of riding the Pacific Coast Highway in California…



    …although here, I’m riding on the correct side of the road…



    The road is twisty enough to be fun and ensure you pay attention…



    …but there’s always time to savour a new view as it appears…



    I had a pizza yesterday lunchtime and nothing since, so I feel a spot of breakfast might be in order…



    I pull into the Punakaiki Tavern, guarded by a couple of plastic dray horses…



    …and order…



    …The Kiwi Breakfast and a mug of tea. The food’s good, but expensive – I also notice they charge for use of their internet and add extra if you want to recharge your device. Not a good idea (I didn’t need to use it – but everywhere else I’ve stopped has offered it for free). Maybe that’s why I was the only customer?



    It’s about 1000 by the time I come back out to the bike and the temperature has risen to 70°F…



    …and this has started to burn off the cloud left on the hilltops. It’s absolutely beautiful and as good a day’s riding as you could ask for…



    Life is pretty good...



    I say farewell to the Tasman Sea for now, as Bettie steers me inland…



    There are several sets of traffic lights along this section (as well as lots of road works ones). At the permanent ones, I notice they have a push button for cyclists to use, as they may not trip the sensor. I start using this myself and ir seems to work well…



    I see lots of bikes – this is obviously a favourite route…



    I follow this old MGBGT for a while, until he turns towards Christchurch and I keep heading towards Nelson…



    I stop at the Flat Rock Café, where there are already a great selection of classic bikes…



    I park in the car section, as my bike is clearly not clean enough to be seen in this company…



    I find this unusual vehicle…



    …impossibly clean and shiny – not sure I’ve seen one in the flesh before – any guesses?



    The bikes turn out to belong to members of the Nelson Classic Bike Club (I may have got the name wrong). The chairman, Ian, turns up at the same time as me on a Blackbird and we have a natter over lunch – the other guys are nearly finished and disappear as we talk. Since it’s now lunchtime, I decide it’s time for a sandwich…



    Ian tells me that a load of the members of the club meet for lunch every Friday they can manage at the Flat Rock for a chat. I tell him I’ll meet here if I find myself in the area on a Friday…



    I also get details of the artist who creates the papier-mâché animal heads I saw when I was last here. I get the phone number of the artist and will give her a call when I get the chance…

    Right – time to get some mileage done. Bettie tells me it’ll be 1730 before I get to the lodge this evening – which is a little later than I like to be travelling, but hey-ho…



    The temperature is rising, so it’s good to get some speed on…



    Bettie takes me on a beautiful ride, past hop fields…



    …then through some great twisty roads through the low hills…



    New Zealand are big on safety road signs…



    …I like these – they have different bikes and different riders, each wearing a T shirt with “Dad”, “Mother” , “Brother” etc on them – the sign’s SEE ME tag line is designed to get motorists to recognise that riders are people…



    Quick bridge pic…



    On Swamp Road, I pass hundreds of metres of fruit bushes, covered in mesh – presumably to protect them form insects….



    Roadside stalls reveal them to be plums and apples…



    I start the long climb up from Takaka to Upper Takaka…



    It’s a series of twists, turns and the occasional switchback which climbs high above the valley I’ve just been riding…



    …and offers some superb views…



    When I eventually reach to top of the pass, the whole of the coastal plain of Golden Bay comes into view…



    Onward!



    It’s a glorious day – I’m drinking regularly and feel the temperature is just about perfect…



    Came across this fence loaded with shoes and boots – no idea why…



    Back down at sea level, it’s a little warmer, but not uncomfortably so…



    …looks like the tide is out…



    At Collingwood I refuel – 255 miles so far today…



    I spot this lovely old split-screen Morris Minor Convertible…



    The mechanic asks if I’d like to see the engine…



    Side-valve – anyone like to guess what year this was built? It's in the garage to get the semaphore indicators fixed...



    I get back on the road, heading towards the brilliantly named Farewell Spit…



    After a few miles – and as expected – the road turns to gravel…



    It takes me through miles and miles of wetlands…



    The gravel road has recently been graded and re-gravelled – which is a nightmare, as there are deep troughs of gravel from time to time and no accurate way to predict where they are….



    …the road is also single track – inasmuch as cars just straddle the centre. I have to keep in the left wheel rut and look out for the dust trail of approaching traffic…



    The views are spectacular though…



    Eventually I come to a gate…



    …marked with a restriction on dogs as a result of Sheep Measles, which I’d never heard of…



    I open it and close it behind me, but I’m getting a feeling I’m not heading in the right direction for the hotel any more…



    I’d been unable to find the road the lodge was on, so just put the postal town in Bettie…



    This part of the gravel road hasn’t been graded and is much easier to ride – the views are great…



    …but I’m getting tired and could do with reaching the lodge…



    I wonder what would have caused that on the sand dune?



    I eventually get to the end of Bettie’s track. It’s very pretty, but not where I need to be. I do some more searches and find Snake Creek Road about 13km back the way I came. I ride back up and – sure enough, find the lodge as advertised…



    I turn the engine off, remove my helmet and earplugs and am amazed at the volume of sound being produced by millions of cicadas – it’s continual obtrusive white noise. Sally, the owner, assures me they’re quieter at night…

    Sally shows me around and explains where all the nature walks etc are. I tell her I’m really just interested in a shower and a bed at the moment and she understands.



    She then earns my undying gratitude by bringing me a large electric fan…



    Internet access is a little strange – there is a log in the car park – you can get a signal there.



    I park the bike near the log. I log on (I crack myself up... ) and am pleasantly surprised to find a really quick internet speed. I upload 255 pictures over the next couple of hours, leaving my laptop propped on top of my pannier…



    I retire to my cabin and have a shower that was so good it felt decadent, then changed into fresh clothes and sat in front of the fan drinking iced Sprite…



    I meet my neighbours, Cab and Mark, who live between here and Nelson.

    The sliding doors on the lodge have a screen door fitted – it’s a wise precaution – Wetland is a polite name for a swamp and bugs abound.

    Since I’m not willing to be a blood donor for whatever nocturnal insects are in the area, I write a rough draft of my journal and will try to get it uploaded tomorrow from a café in the village.



    Very tiring day, but a good one…
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  2. #2
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    25th February 2017

    I sleep very well – yesterday was a very long day and I was clearly very tired. By the time I’d finished writing the draft of my journal last night, I noticed that the cicadas had fallen silent – as had the rest of the world. Other than the fridge switching on and off during the night, the quiet was total. I fall asleep easily.

    I eventually surface at around 0900, shower and dress and stumble around the cabin. I’ve left the sliding door open (screen door closed) all night and it’s pleasantly cool inside, so I stay inside and listen to some podcasts I have on my iPad whilst I wait for the café to open.

    The cicadas are at full chat, filling the countryside with their chirping. Apparently this will only last a couple of weeks and then they’ll all die off. Cicadas have the weirdest life cycle – underground for seven years and then living above ground for a couple of weeks during which time they mate and then die…



    I ride the Adv up to the Nugget café just before 1100 and find Mandy, the owner, hard at work. She’s a Californian who has lived here for 35 years, having made her way here via Ireland, London and South Africa.



    Unfortunately the café doesn’t have an internet connection…

    On the plus side, she does have a splendid breakfast and HP Sauce (for some reason, most cafés serve breakfast with ketchup – clearly unacceptable).



    Mandy and I have a chat whilst I’m eating and drinking (I order a large pot of tea – which is delicious). She says “You did order apple juice didn’t you?” with a wicked grin, and brings me a frosted mug of home made cider. It tastes completely innocuous, but has a kick like a mule…



    We spend an hour and a half or so putting the world to rights, during which time only two customers - an elderly couple – come into the café. I think it’s a labour of love for Mandy (who has a part time job in the NZ Local Government), although she may be inundated in high season for all I know.



    It’s a pleasant way to spend time.

    I decide to try and post my journal from outside my cabin, where I uploaded my pictures last night, but will need to dig out my sun block first…



    I set up in the shade of a large bush and type - not a bad way to spend a morning...

    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  3. #3
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    25th February 2017 (cont)

    After writing up my journal, moving the chair occasionally to allow for the sun's movement, I take a nap in the afternoon. This is apparently OK if you're in your sixties and have had scrumpy for brunch...

    I decide that a spot of tea is in order, so ride up to the café, which I know closes at 1700, arriving at 1630. Unfortunately Mandy is closing up, as she and her husband are off to a first birthday party for the only child born in the area in the last 40yrs or so (Sally, my landlady, is going too). I tell her it's not a problem.

    "Nonsense - what would you like?"

    I ask her if she's got anything I can take away.

    "I've got some hot pizza" - fantastic...

    "Why don't you eat it here?"

    "That'll be great, if you don't mind me joining you"

    "No, we're going - but you can lock up after you're finished - here, have some Carrot Cake..."



    I get my wallet out.

    "Settle up in the morning - see you for breakfast..."

    I eat my homemade pizza and cake - both delicious, then lock up as requested.

    What a fantastic part of the world...



    I get back to the cabin to be greeted by Mark and Cab with a cold beer...
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  4. #4
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    Hi Mike, great to read of your continuing exploits, fair play to you! Ride safe!!
    Climate is what you hope for, weather is what you get!

  5. #5
    Never knowingly understood Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    A photograph is worth a thousand words

    Superb ...

    Adventure.GS
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    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  6. #6
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    The car at Flat Rock cafe is an MGRV8 which is an updated MGB Roadster with the 3.9 Rover V8 in it and some modernising of the body shell.
    Looks like you found the Whanganui Inlet at the very top of the West Coast. Not many people venture there but it is absolutely stunning as you have found.
    Can I assume from the lack of photos you didnt do the two river crossings that will take to roads end?
    I recommend on your way back a side trip to Bainham and see the old store tell Will or Sukita the Wookie from Wellington mentioned you call by.
    http://www.langfordstore.co.nz/

    Adrian

  7. #7
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    Fantastic.

    Another good day then.

    That gravel road and the views are to die for.

    Looks like Mandy the cafe owner has a soft spot for OAPS.

    Did I spot a police radar detector on the Ducati nearest the camera (The one with the insulation tape repair on the seat)?

  8. #8
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    Great photos as always, although a few more bridges/dams and less cars would be my preference.

    Safe riding

  9. #9
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    where do you upload the masses of photos to ?

  10. #10
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    I have been following this and reading all the chapters avidly without comment but .....

    Fab Ride report keep it up
    Just a Prospect at the moment

  11. #11
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    Looks great Mike. Enjoy every moment.

  12. #12
    Nice but unfortunate husband.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ymfb View Post
    where do you upload the masses of photos to ?
    Smugmug I'm sure I remember.
    There are two opinions of the GS. There are those who have ridden one who think its fantastic and there are those who haven't who know its crap.

  13. #13
    Really enjoyed that.

    Thank you...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan1150 View Post
    Smugmug I'm sure I remember.
    It is Smugmug

    Worth every penny

    Adventure.GS
    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr nosh View Post
    Fantastic.


    Looks like Mandy the cafe owner has a soft spot for OAPS.



  16. #16
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    Fantastic Mike always enjoy your reports you have a real knack for it and travel photography. Thank you!
    What we need are clearly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

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