New Zealand Motorcycle Adventure in prose
By Paula Keezer (copyright 2004)
Three passes across the north of the South Island
Flat coast road down to Paraparaumu to stay at a ridge high Back Packers with a killer Tasman sea sunset view.
35 klicks to Wellington with a 1 hour start. Jammed in traffic with no where to pass. Lane splitting but Tiger has got a big ass. Getting a bit worried that I won’t make the ferry.
Rock star treatment for ferry boarding and exit. Green tree covered hilly fiords line aqua blue Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound on Pitcan approach.
Partly Sunny land fall and empty roads with brief showers through cultured mountain side forests toward Nelson.
Bike tweaks and a night in Nelson then off to the West Coast of Westland, South Island.
Green and yellow hills and valleys wicked twisties through the Hope, Matiri and Orikaka white capped ranges then down through Buller Gorge and its steep jungle choked sides to find my way to the Tasman Sea and short stop over at Westport for a coffee.
Up a 100 klick rain forested dead end to Karamea and the Last Resort. Peg scraping switchbacks and dense jungle dripping green over the road. Unpack then over metal to the end of the road and Heaphy Track that crosses the Northern most Kahurangi national Park and Tasman Mountains .
Strip the gear, put on the frog togs and tivas then off into the woods. Primeval plants, mosses and ferns strangle the pathway while a small river thrashes beside.
An arch is a skinny thing that crosses over something, or so I thought.
Oparara arch is an entire hill, hollowed out, 300 meters long, 50 meters high and 30 meters wide.
I hug the ceiling along a trail that darkens and narrows while searching for hand grips in the loose limestone 20 meters above a rumbling Oparara river.
Light burst out from the far side with green tree ferns hugging the shores, walls and ceiling making this place feel like it came from the days of Dinosaurs.
The rain lightens then stops as Tiger and I run up a coragated up hill turn on loose gravel threatening tigers paws. Some juice, a planted foot and a save keeps the shiny side up!
Sealed road and empty twisties lead to Greymouth where warmth is gathered from black gold pouring from the road side cuts while sooty air chokes the traveler. A welcomed evening rest amongst a strange Global Culture embellished back packers.
East over Lewis pass and a local lore hunt for a primitive Hot Spring by a river yields a double zero. A quick stop at over developed Hamner Hot springs for a soak then off the beaten track through Waiau to Ferniehurst twisty sheep covered road to Kaikoura and an ridge top porch bedecked hot tub beckoning Dolphin Back Packers invites.
A double day stop at Kaikoura for some Dolphin play. Suited and ready to get wet with my snorkel, mask and fin set.
The boat skipper was all excited and said there were many Orca sited
Well many turned into 20, an unusual event in Kikora bay.
We watched holding our breath as we had a first hand look at Orca in the wild, playing with a baby dolphin to its death.
Three Orca raced at our boat, one spun over and dived upside down while the other two in parrelel lofted their dorsal then dove under the boat.
No dolphin swim today but got our moneys worth anyway.
Buzz down the Canterbury planes to Artsy Christchurch and another Internet stop then off to the West Coast via Arthurs pass.
Here in the snow capped Central Alps is home to the mighty Kea, the only known predator of motorcycles. At a height of 20 centimeters this native green parrot with a beak like a can opener can demolish all who expose their cables and seats. .
I face off with a lone Kea eyeing my machine. “I know who you are” I say to the parrot who squawks and bobs its head at me. “ Your reputation precedes you, stay away from my Tiger” I scold the Kea. The Kea turns and hops away, looking over its left wing as if to say, “I’ll be back”.
The Backpackers I stay at supplies me with Kea defensive equipment, a pile of old curtains to wrap the Tiger. Night falls, the Kea calls. The next morning the defense was intact and it was curtains to the Kea.