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Day 8, Diving the Canterbury, NOT!

Second day of diving on the trip. Planned 2 dives, the Canterbury which was decommissioned and then sunk in 2006 and the other dive was a reef dive. The cool thing with the Canterbury is that you can swim through it (Penetration dive). $180 for 2 dives, that's a fair chunk of cash with my own gear, but the Bay of Islands is a pretty touristy place. Any who, went out with Island Shuttle and Dive on short notice. You get what you plan, or lack of plan for. I probably won't go with them again. I had an equipment problem and they didn't have any spare gear which an average company would have. They forgot to bring another divers bottoms to his wet suit so since I couldn't dive I gave him my suit. Shit thing is after they were in the water for 2 minutes the boat beside us offered up the part I needed to have a usable breathing apparatus. Unfortunately it was too late. So I missed the Canterbury, which would have been my first penetration dive.

Had lunch and went on the second dive which was good. In the end I got a boat ride around the Bay of Islands (some of them) and 1 reef dive for $160 ($20 credit). NZ is very bad with trying to get repeat business with tourism which is good because it makes for a great opportunity for a Canadian, haha.

Me, Dutchie, Yankie, Dutchie


That night I met up with Frank and friends (Anja, Falk and Sandra ;p). Had a couple of beers, but unfortunately we had to shutdown early as I had another 2 dives the next day, The Rainbow warrior.

Day 7, Whangerai to Paihia

What can be an hour trip from Whangerai to Paihia was turned into 4 hours by taking the scenic route and ferry from Russell to Paihia. 200 km or so.

Great sunny day for riding.

Check out the air pump.

Whangerai Falls

Whangerai to Hikurangi via Tutukaka. C9,R4,T5,V7. Curves upon curves. Road was great to Tutukaka, then pot holes and gravel spray from driveways. Small towns causing a bit of traffic. Views of beaches which is always nice for me. Left wing mirror was hanging off when I stopped to take a couple of photos. So I bagged it and only had a right mirror the rest of the trip. Kind of funny really.

How else would Kiwis get their boats to the water?

Whakapara to Russell. C9,R4/5,T4/5,V8.

Russell is a nice spot with some pricey holiday homes.

Took the Ferry over to Paihia and they charged me the same as a car, bastards! At least I don't have to wait in line. One more reason NZ is great for Motorbikes, although to be fair bikes get on Ferry's first in Canada too and I don't think I have paid for any short ferry rides like in NZ.

Made it to Cap'n Bob's which was pretty damn amazing. 1 minute from the beach with views, great kitchen and BBQ with lots of free fixings and huge dorm rooms. Bob did seem like he knew how good his place was and didn't have much time for chit chat. Great base for 3 days to get some diving in, etc. Bit far from the bars, 15 minute walk, which is still pretty good. There are many more backpacker options closer to the bars if you want that.

Day 6, Diving the Poor Knights Islands

Up at 5:50 to get out to Tutukaka for 7:30 ish where the Poor Knights Islands are for some diving. Very good operator "Dive Tutukaka", best I've seen in NZ, but to be fair I haven't seen much. The Skipper was great and knew tonnes of info and the dive guide was excellent as well, Dawn. Very amzing scenery.

Heading out to the Islands (45 min ride).

One of only a few shots I got as the camera needed to stay dry.

Perparing for the dives with the German version of Michael Cera from "Arrested Development" in my shot. (Funniest show ever!)

First Dive, "Magic Wall". Some scorpion fish. 7 mm wet suit was a must. I had orignally thought you could go with a thinner suit in Northland (18C), but the water temp is only 2 degrees warmer than Wellington at this time of year (16C). Good thing I called ahead and brought mine up with me.

Second Dive, "Blue Mao Mao". Definitely felt the cold as I didn't get the blood flowing enough between dives. More great colours and marine bottom. Saw my first sting ray. Oh yes and I was attacked by this fish! Not an actual photo. I think it was a type of Angel fish. We looked at each other for a minute, I stuck my hand out to be friends and he snapped at my finger. Too fast for me, so the only thing I could do was swim away. The little prick followed me for at least another couple of minutes. I talked to the cops, but they were no help.

Overall, not nearly the amount of fish life I expected, but a good site regardless. Some days you just miss the fish.

My Dive buddy Frank from Erfurt, Germany.

Day 5, Jan 2, 2009. Goat Island and Whangerai

Tauranga through Auckland and then up the East Coast of the Twin Coast route of Northland to the tough town of Whangerai. 425km. Kiwis were still on Christmas holidays at this point so the traffic was thick effecting my motorcycling scale (high T values)

Tauranga to Auckland, State highway 2; C5,R8,T8,V5 and rain.

Quick stop in WarkWorth as per Alaskan Trip guarantee.

Check out the corner of the Warkworth sign which is posted amongst 1000 of signs in Watson Lake, YK.

Auckland to Goat Island. C6,R7,T8,V6. Bit tight on the roads near Goat Island. Was able to take a snorkel thanks to the Girls at the Gear Hire place who gave me a place to park, rinse off my gear and good information that saved me time on the roads ahead. The snorkeling was OK, but to be fair I didn't have enough time to swim over to the island where I am sure schools of fish can be found (must have been as there were a lot of people there).

Wellsford to Mangawhai; C8,R6,T4,V7. Lots of curves, sweeps, hairpins. Road was a bit choppy in spots and my traffic rating was high due to slow downs in lots of little towns on the route. Good views with Seaside and long distance meadows.

Made Whangarei and stayed at Bunkdown. Very good even though the town is dodge. Good BBQ, courtyard and bike parking. The owners, Peter and Noelle are very friendly. They even try to avoid alarms in the morning in the dorms by giving you a personal wake up (never had that at a backpacker before).

I met aggression at the bar the next night and many stories of beatings and even killings and saw police tape at a house on the way to the super market. Whangarei's reputation as a dodgy spot is in tact.

Couple of Days at Blair's Parents, Tauranga

So after riding a couple of bigger days it was time to chill with my good mate Blair who was up from Welly to hang with his folks Lindsey and Julie over the Christmas holidays. A good couple of days shooting hoops, getting sun burnt, BBQing and hanging by the pool. Oh and then the usual over hyped NYE. Not much to report on that one except that Tauranga town is quite quiet on NYE.

Cayla (Blair's sister) and friends.

Blair, myself and Lindsay

Fun in the pool.

Also, some good bike conversation with Lindsey and help with my Scott Oiler which automatically oils the chain. Great invention when I don't run it dry of oil. Thanks for that.

Thanks to Lindsay and Julie for having me stay for the 3 days.

Dec. 30, Day 2 to Tauranga

Day 2 on the open road to Tauranga. 500 km.

Left Becs and Claudia (and Diasho) and the little batch they put me up in for the night. Good times.

Past through Gisborne to a full town of music festival goers (Rhythm and Vines, featuring Public Enemy?).
Gisborne to Tolaga Bay; C9,R6,T2,V6/7.

Tolaga Bay to Te Araroa; C8,R5,T2,V6. Lots of unattended dips in the rd. Signs, but no repairs and not much for ocean views.

Tokomaru Bay

Te Araroa to Opotiki; C9,R5,T2,V7. Not enough ocean. This section reminded me of parts of Nova Scotia with little towns along the ocean settled into low patches.

All and all the East Cape was great even though the "European" New Zealanders around the country told me it was dangerous and crappy. I was expecting broken down homes and cars everywhere (like canadian indian reservations), but was happily surprised to see that it was nothing like that.

Made it to Blair's parents for the next couple of days, including New Years.

Dec. 29, New Zealand Northland Trip, Gisborne

For my Christmas Vacation I decided to take a motorbike trip north on the RED VFR from Wellington to the parts of the North Island that I had yet to explore. Of course there is a lot more to NZ than just the main tourist road, but with my bike and having only two weeks I did what I could. The trip was expected to be around 3000 km, which isn't a lot, but in NZ it's probably equivalent to 6000 km on easy north american roads. Once again, I will rate most of the roads using the C=quantity of curves, R=quality of roads, T=density of traffic, V=surrounding views from the road (scale of 1 to 10)

Wellington to Gisborne (Muriwai, 10 km south). 530 km.

Over the Rimutaki Hills which is always a challenge, right Rachel. C8/9, R7,T3,V6/7. Climbs and Decents with tight curves and major cliffs with no room to miss your lines.

The Tui Brewery which is known for it's great commercial that has a bunch of good looking women running the place.

Hwy 50 up by Napier through Vineyard country was a great alternative to State Hwy 2, thanks Ben. C8,R7,T3,V4/5.

Napier to Muriwai was tough in the rain (NZ roads are not as smooth as North American rds so water sits in between the asphault). C8,R6,T4/5V8. This section took over 2 hours for just over 150 km.