Tiki touring the Wairarapa
Having now lived with COVID in our world for the past 12 months and international travel still off the cards, an early autumn bike trip within our lovely New Zealand was definitely on the cards.
Leaving the Bay of Plenty behind, we tracked south, hubby Steve on his 2005 Harley Low Rider and me on my 2006 Triumph Thruxton, saddle bags bulging and expectations high. We were heading to the Wairarapa, on the eastern side of the lower North Island, for a short holiday. The sun was behind us as we rode into Turangi with inclement weather, possibly, ahead. Always the optimist, we rode out, only to pull over after a few km and on went the wet weather gear for the ride through the Desert Road.
South of Taihape we pulled off Highway 1 at Vinegar Hill onto Highway 54. Off came the wet weather gear bulking out my saddle bags once again. No Steve I haven’t bought too many clothes, it’s that one piece that’s space hungry! And with that we headed rural, pleasant rolling hills and green meadows, even during what has been a dry summer. A windy descent down to the Rangitikei River had the Thruxton going through its paces with ease and my delight.
Keeping off the main roads we soon found ourselves crossing over Saddle Road, a road from the distant horse and cart past, that was not intended for the 5,000 or so vehicles having to cross daily with the SH3 through the Manawatu Gorge currently closed. At the end of our first day we rode into Woodville, https://nzhistory.govt.nz/keyword/woodville to the pub, for a reviver, where we met some lovely locals who gave us the good oil regarding accommodation for the night. Ormond Street Motel, what a cracker, Mike and Joy were the consummate hosts allowing us to garage our bikes and recommended the best smoked ribs ever at a nearby restaurant. This locally owned motel had recently been painted and the studio and one bedroom units renovated very tastefully with a full kitchen and updated bathrooms. It is one of those motels that you can easily recommend to any traveller.
With the sun out shining we were off again for only a short ride on the second day, past the old Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka to Ekatahuna for a friend’s birthday party. Aaron, who we’d met in 2009, as part of the New Zealand Trans-Tasman Drag Bike team had recently purchased an old pub, so we had a party to attend, 1888 style apparently.
The day after rained for the most of it and was spent as a welcome layover day in a cute, quiet cabin, with a book and good coffee to help ease the hangovers.
Refreshed and eager to get back into the saddles, we discovered a different rural road east of Ekatahuna, then we turned south at Alfredton onto what could only be best described as a sheep-droving highway, by way of the sheep poo that completely littered the road, with dodgy fencing and way too friendly hawk’s; it sure made for an interesting ride. Never-the-less we made it intact to our lovely Castlepoint beach front cottage accommodation, where we stayed for three nights immersing ourselves into the local scene. When you pull up at a pub on a motorbike, people want to have a yarn, we both love it, I’m sure you have experienced that too.
Nearby we found the birthplace of the first ANZAC morning service, yes Australia, another NZ first, held on 25 April 1916 at a little place called Tinui, there is a steep walk up to a ridge some 360 metres high, where a cross is placed in memory of those lost. Very conveniently not dressed for the occasion in our bulky bike gear, we just looked up the track and paid our respects.
Castlepoint is a lovely place for a relaxing break away, a great pub 5 kms out of town at Whakataki with friendly locals, cold beer, yummy lunch and dinner options and a local store located at the beach for coffee and those forgotten supplies.
The 360 degree view from the lighthouse makes the climb definitely worth doing and watching the cray boats being pulled in by crazy looking tractors, was a great laugh.
Eager for the next stage of our journey, we ended up on another stunning rural ride, a hard left off SH2, heading south to the coast through spectacular and sparsely unpopulated farmland valleys, to Riversdale Beach. With the Triumph 900 loving the twists and turns and with very little traffic, it made for brilliant saddle time. We stayed there for two nights checking out the four km long beach, the café, golf club and enjoyed chillax time-out with some of the permanent beach residents, as they approached us to have a yarn. A great place to spend a couple of days.
We were originally heading to Masterton for the NZ Vintage Motorcycle Rally and Swap Meet, but, unfortunately due to the recent COVID lock down in Auckland, the organisers had cancelled the event, much to our disappointment. Instead of looking at and meeting some interested sorts and with the weather closing in from the south, we cut our plans there and trekked north again, back to the Ormond Street Motel, keeping to as many rural roads as possible stopping to admire and appreciate the scenery, we returned home to Waikite Valley, Rotorua, via the Desert Road and past the sparkling waters of Lake Taupo.
A much-enjoyed pre-winter romantic getaway, with spectacular scenery, catching up with old friends, making new and getting in some well-earned saddle time, was just the perfect remedy to escape, while we could from the world controlled by COVID… exploring our own backyard, in two-wheeled style.
By Margie Paris
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