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Thread: Hanmer Springs

  1. #1
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    Hanmer Springs

    1st March 2017

    A poor night's sleep, despite the best efforts of Speight's Brewery. This is an old bungalow, divided into four rooms and with one bathroom. Being old (at least Edwardian, if not Victorian), it has no air handling at all, so I was forced to leave all my windows open.

    Consequently I hear wave after wave of mosquitoes and gnats entering - like the Luftwaffe over Coventry - and am convinced I'm going to be eaten alive (despite being smothered in insect repellent).

    Then Carole Nash rang me at 2345 to tell me they'd renewed my bike insurance. I told them not to (the bike won't be back in the UK until probably June). Then I get some cold call from Belfast around 0400...

    I get up around 0800 - amazed to discover I've survived the night unbitten - quickly shower and shave, get the bike kitted up and am on the road before 0900. I decide against visiting Howard, the old chap I met last night, as it seems a bit early, and hope he doesn't take offence...



    I ride into a beautiful, cool morning - it's 62°F and there's a heavy dew fallen during the night.

    I help him up - I think his name is Manny...



    There's a bit of mist in the valleys as I travel towards Hanmer Springs, my modest target for today - a mere 130km away. I suddenly notice my tyre pressure monitor has decided to work again - huzzah!



    I'm travelling down Highway 7, following the Inangahua River through the Lewis Pass - and it's clearly a popular route for motorcyclists, as three of them are the first vehicles I encounter coming the other way. The third chap had his lights on full beam - completely dazzling in the shade of the forest - why do people do this?



    I keep a steady 90-100kph up - it's a lovely morning for a ride.



    Again.



    I remind myself how lucky I am to be doing this. In 30 days time I'll be cramming myself into an airline seat to rejoin reality - but for now I'm almost able to believe I've always been spending my days like this...



    There are a lot of roadworks on this section - mostly resealing, with new gravel making itself difficult to detect on the sun-dappled surface...



    The temperature begins to climb a little - in the odd patches when I'm out of the woods, it's now pleasantly warm - moving into the low 70s F...

    A clutch of bikes comes in the other direction - this tells me there's a café nearby. If it were a long way off they'd be in a more straggly formation...



    My keen detective skills, honed by artist-tracking, have not let me down. At the junction of Highways 7 and 65 is a truckstop and a café, which provides...



    The Alpine Breakfast - complete with Bratwurst!

    I get chatting to a few of the riders who have stopped in there. As expected, the Lewis Pass is a popular road for riders from all over South Island - today is a really good day to see it.

    One of the girls, surfing on her 'phone, says there's been a magnitude 4+ earthquake somewhere south of Christchurch. I quickly text home to say I'm OK (in case it gets reported - to be honest that's pretty tame by NZ quake standards). Cue a conversation about whether you'd notice an earthquake if you were riding. The consensus is that you probably would if the truck you were overtaking suddenly disappeared onto a fissure...

    I get kitted back up and notice, across the road...



    ...the Morris Eight I saw in Reefton yesterday. I notice I have a text...

    YES! It's a reply from the artist's partner with her email address!

    Onward!



    It's now 78°F and the sky is almost cloudless. The valley is beautiful, the bike's singing along (albeit in German and slightly off key) and all's well with the world...



    There are more roadworks along this section...



    I'd guess I was stopped or slowed perhaps a dozen times over the next 85km...



    It's a gorgeous route, though...



    ...and for some reason I don't feel the need to exceed the 100kph limit - I'm just cruising at 95-100kph and enjoying the day...



    I start formulating an email to the artist in my mind...



    I have a horrible feeling these things are going to be ridiculously expensive and beyond my means, but I've come this far, so will follow it through...



    Lots of bikes coming the other way...



    Despite my lack of decent sleep, I feel alert and comfortable on the bike - this is now how I spend my days and it's as comfortable as sitting in an armchair...



    My reverie is interrupted by the arrival of half a dozen bees at the same time - two hitting me in the face, as I'm cruising with the visor up. No damage (to me ) other than an impact sting - and the insects bounce out of my helmet...



    This valley is a really odd shape. There is a plateau halfway up the range of hills on the right side - I wonder if it's a different type of rock layer...



    There are also large areas of what looks like shale - almost vertical without vegetation...



    84°F now - all the vents in my jacket are open and it's perfect...



    I'm held up briefly by flagmen who are assisting a logging operation, so take advantage and stop to take a couple of snaps of the view...



    Onward!



    I'm held up a little by traffic for a while. It's a result of the number of temporary roadworks stops - traffic bunches up and you need to either have a great view, or use a fairly high speed to get past. The high speed option isn't really on with the attitude of the Police towards excess speed here, so I just pick off the occasional car or truck when I can, but then meet more at the next flagman...



    I turn hard left towards Hanmer Springs onto Highway 7a, then climb a little as I enter the Waiau River Gorge...



    I stop at an overlook...



    ...and look back at the bridge I have just crossed...



    ...where there is a bungee-jumping operation. There's also a jet-boat operation in the gorge there...



    I stop to say hello to this beautifully coloured horse (is that a Skewbald?). But notice it has an odd right eye...



    Anybody know anything about horses? Is it blind in that eye? It certainly doesn't look right (no pun intended...)



    I'm on finals for the hotel now - although it's just gone 1200 and check-in time is 1400...



    I'm booked in by the lovely Tamara, switch the AC to Pluto and relax in its frosty embrace...



    I write a long email to the artist, explaining how I've been stalking her - and asking her about the artwork...

    I have a good cup of coffee from the hotel's cafetière as I upload today's pictures over the (acceptably fast) WiFi, then start on the journal.

    Good day...

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

  2. #2
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    The countryside is simply stunning

    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

  3. #3
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    1st March 2017 (cont)

    So this evening I took stroll up the road to the Monteith Brewery Pub...



    ...where I had a very acceptable pint of lager and some fish and chips...



    ...served by the delightful Missy - a German from Kiel who is taking a year out before starting medical school...

    I get into conversation with some locals to find that - since I rode from the junction where I had breakfast this morning, there has been a huge brush fire and the road is now closed...

    I check online and it's due to open again this evening. I hope this is accurate as I intend to ride back to Reefton, where I have located the artist who does live on Coal Street - I'll be seeing her tomorrow lunchtime and have booked myself another night here, so will be able to do the trip 'lightweight' (although - unfortunately - I will have to change rooms - hey-ho...).

    I stroll back to the hotel - it's a beautiful evening...

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

  4. #4
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    It seems that the horse I saw earlier has got a blue eye, which is apparently relatively common, although I can't ever remember seeing one before. It occurs most often in horses with light coloured coats.



    Blue eyed blondes, I suppose...

    *I got this from a Google search, so it may be complete bollocks...
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  5. #5
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    Now that does look like a really good day.

    The first photograph set the scene for what followed.

    All we have here is a hazy blue sky today.

  6. #6
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    Confirming a suspicion long held on UKGSer...

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

  7. #7
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    2nd March 2017

    I don't sleep well, for some reason - I generally have a podcast or an audiobook playing in the background, scheduled to 'sleep' after 45 minutes or so and drift off. Whether it was the cafetière of coffee I'd drunk during the afternoon or the podcast being on an interesting subject that was to blame, I don't know, but I found myself still awake at past 0130...

    I eventually drop off and wake at about 0750. I shower and shave, then organise my gear to transfer it to the new room. I dress and go out to the bike - to meet Tamara, who happily tells me that she's managed to juggle room bookings and that I now don't have to move...



    It's a dull and overcast day. Tamara asks if I felt the earthquake - I hadn't. Apparently there was a Magnitude 5 one fairly near here at around 0800 this morning - about the time I was in the shower. Tamara said she hadn't felt it either...



    I set off into the grey morning at around 0910 - Bettie telling me that I'll be arriving at Reefton at about 1115. I need to refuel and decide I've enough left in the tank to do so at Springs Junction, as I can then decide whether I am in need of another Bratwurst breakfast...



    The temperature is in the low 60s F, but it's a pleasant day to ride, and the weather to the west is looking better than here, and I'm expecting a lot of this to burn off...



    Almost as soon as I have turned onto Highway 7, the extent of the brush fire yesterday becomes apparent...



    ...the damage goes on for about 12km...



    ...often on both sides of the road...



    ...and I can understand why the emergency services closed the road.



    What is impressive, given the acreage affected, is the speed with which it was dealt with...



    ...there are a few fire service personnel damping down some odd areas of smoking ground...



    ...but otherwise the fire seems to be completely spent...



    This is quite an old looking bus - can anyone identify it?



    I'm stuck behind these guys - a road checking crew - at 30kmh for what seems like hours, but in fact was about fifteen minutes. Whilst I was following, vehicles were travelling in the opposite direction at full speed...



    Eventually we got to the end of their area of responsibility or something and they pull off and stop. I set a comfortable 103-106kph and head north-west...



    The low cloud has gone, and even the medium level overcast is starting to break up as the temperature rises...



    It's another great day to be riding a motorcycle...

    If anything, the scenery is prettier than yesterday - the sun dappling bringing out the colours in the vegetation on the hillsides...



    Life is good...



    As a result of following the road-testing crew for so long, it's more than half an hour before I encounter any traffic heading the same way as me. I watch my speed carefully - and this pays dividends as I see two oncoming patrol cars on this stretch. Thankfully, I was within the limit on each occasion (although I had my camera in hand both times...)



    The temperature is now 74°F and there's not a breath of wind - perfect...



    There are still several temporary roadworks stops en route, but nothing that holds me up by more than a minute or so...



    I chase a trio of riders through a wooded area just before Spring Junction - we all stop for fuel...



    Spotted this old CB450, with its original luggage by the look of it, at the pumps. My second ever bike was an original CB450 Black Bomber - this has the same engine...



    I am seduced by the thought of a Bratwurst breakfast, as the artist is not expecting me until lunchtime (see how I'll reach for any excuse? There's no dignity in it...).

    After adjusting my suspension, I set off for the last 30 minutes or so to Reefton...



    I arrive at Coal Street at just gone midday and the artist, whom I can now identify as Leigh, meets me at the kerb as she's heard the bike pull up. We step into her office - a double garage...



    She's great fun, with a ready wit and a wide streak of anarchy and dark humour - I like everything about her...



    She has lots of her 'Beasts' in various stages of completion around the garage...



    Leigh is preparing for a major art show in Wellington in a couple of months...



    ...she usually sells everything she submits...



    She talks me through the process - there is no internal framework to her Beasts, but she will use a mould (like a cone on top of a coffee can) to get the original shape, and then develop it from there...



    The materials vary, but the vast majority of the work is simple papier-mâché - glue and paper - with some paper clay (something Leigh makes herself using paper and linseed oil - I think I have that right)...



    The eyes are either taxidermy supplied ones or - as in the Beasts at the cafe - eyes made for animatronic figures...



    She makes 'Christmas Poo' every year (I've already learned not to ask 'Why?') ...


    ...and even has some back numbers from previous years. They are painted the most realistic colour she has managed to mix - it's called Japanese War Machine (it's a mix of model making colours designed for WW2 tanks)...

    I spot an artificial cockroach, in a blister package pinned to the noticeboard. Leigh says

    "It's really difficult getting hold of a decent quality rubber cockroach"

    This may be the best sentence I have heard this year...

    We chat about the various things that have shaped our lives and ultimately led to this meeting - including my Poirot-like investigation and Leigh's upbringing and fascination with the slightly weird and dark side of art. It comes as no surprise to me when I spot a Venus Fly-Trap on her workbench...



    We discuss prices, but - alas - as I feared, the prices of even the smaller Beasts are too rich for my wallet. It's hardly surprising, when you look at the amount of work and creativity (let alone the raw materials, which Leigh often orders from the USA), which go into each one...

    We agree to stay on touch in case I have a sudden windfall that results in my being able to invest in some New Zealand art. I leave her the address of my ride report - great to meet you Leigh!

    Time to head back. Any trace of this morning's cloud has now disappeared, like a toad in a blender...



    Just outside town I spot this old house, which has just crossed the event horizon between 'home' and 'firewood'...



    It's getting warmer...



    I take a good, rapid ride down to Springs Junction, then turn right towards Hanmer Springs...



    If anything, it's prettier today...



    ...for mile after mile, I just take in great views...



    I see a couple of bikes coming the other way...



    ...but most of the traffic seems to be heavy goods vehicles, unable to take Highway 1 (the east coast road), due to the earthquake induced landslip north of Kaikoura, and therefore forced to take the 7 as an alternative. This unexpected and unplanned-for increase in traffic is the cause of the many road repairs I am encountering...



    God, this is beautiful countryside...



    There will be a short pause whilst I overtake three of the four vehicles depicted...



    Getting warmer...



    ...but I am having a great time...



    Who wouldn't be?



    Just me, the Adv and a road like this...



    I am stopped at some roadworks and tease the flag girl about her pink safety helmet...

    ...then squander any credibility I had by dropping the camera...

    It seems to have survived, unlike my pride...



    I start entering the desolate-looking area where the fire burned yesterday...



    Emergency crews are still mopping up the last remnants...

    I notice that they have set up a feed and watering station on a field to the right of the road...



    ...this was in a lay by on the main road when I rode through this morning. I expect they have to keep moving it so the Highway Patrol can't find it...

    A last look at the valley, as I enter the road to Hanmer Springs...



    ...and I get back to the hotel at around 1545. I pop down the road and get a six-pack - seems silly not to...

    Really nice day...

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

  8. #8
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    Have you thought about having the camera on a lanyard round your neck Mike?

    You probably have, you must have .... blows about in the breeze?

    But its not the first time you've dropped it now is it

    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

  9. #9
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    The bus in the picture is based on a late 50's early 60's bedford J type , common thing to supply a chassis cab and then local coach builders removed the rear of the cab and built it as a bus, happened in Malta ,Cyprus, India,Oz, New Zealand etc etc.

    This one was exported to Cyprus , converted into a bus and then many years later reconverted into a chassis cab and tipper, brought back to the Uk by a relative after he worked it as a tipper in Cyprus
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micky View Post
    Have you thought about having the camera on a lanyard round your neck Mike?
    Tried that myself for the first time last year, waterproof Olympus TG4 , worked out fine

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micky View Post
    Have you thought about having the camera on a lanyard round your neck Mike?

    You probably have, you must have .... blows about in the breeze?

    But its not the first time you've dropped it now is it

    "The motorcyclist was apparently inadvertently strangled by a ligature around his neck, in what otherwise would have been a survivable accident"

    I'm happy with what I'm doing...
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike O View Post
    "The motorcyclist was apparently inadvertently strangled by a ligature around his neck, in what otherwise would have been a survivable accident"

    I'm happy with what I'm doing...
    Understood
    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

  13. #13
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    Great RR as always.

    Does that lovely Leigh have a website ?

  14. #14
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    Hammer springs

    Worth a soak in the warm volcanic water to de stress

    Loving the ride report
    Abide with me !

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arsey View Post
    Great RR as always.

    Does that lovely Leigh have a website ?
    She's getting a new one prepared - I'll post a link when she sends me the address etc...
    We will never be here again - have a good look around

  16. #16
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    Click here to find out how to remove these ads

    I am sooo enjoying your RR Mike, it's inspiring. Pleased you are having the best of the weather.... keep safe, and drink in all those great views and great days in the saddle...

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