The Cemetery Circuit street races in Whanganui New Zealand have been run since 1951 and it has long been an event I have wanted to get to, so when a friend suggested we should go over and use her bike, I wasted no time in booking flights. Unfortunately as so often happens with these off the cuff offers, the bike offer never actually eventuated, so not long after, I was also looking at Bike rental options.
Fortunately I came across Kiwi Bike rentals who had available a MT09 Tracer that looked as though it would be perfect for what we had in mind.
It was also about this time that our friends Thommo and Sandi decided they would quite like to make their first international bike ride. Another MT09 was soon sourced and booked.
Sam and I have done several trips to NZ before, so we knew what to expect, however having only spent a week on the North Island previously, there were some areas we hadn't got to. The East Cape in particular had eluded us on earlier trips, so it was firmly marked down as an Area we had to get to.
Sam and I arrived the night before Thommo and Sandi and after meeting them for breakfast at the airport the next morning, our shuttle bus whisked us to the bike depot, where the bikes were quickly loaded up.
We decided a run the spectacular Waitakere ranges was in order to become acquainted with the bikes and leisurely lunch was had at the spectacular Elevation restaurant with the city of Auckland as a back drop.
Also had our first re acquaintance with KIWI beer which was good.
A battle with the diabolically bad drivers of Auckland was next as we made our way South to our over night stop of Raglan Beach, We copped a few showers along the way, but the roads were fun and the spa and a few bevies soon had us warmed up.
At the motel we Came across these hard core BMW riders. Obviously been to the Dan McLachlan school of motorcycle touring.
The next day was spent winding our way through the spectacular Waitamo region to Taumauri and the the brilliant forgotten world highway to the famous Whangamoma pub, where we had hoped to get a room, but being Christmas eve, was actually closed to accommodation bookings, but the friendly staff helped us find an excellent motel in nearby Stratford, and an excellent BBQ meal was had at the local pub.
The wet clay roads were errr interesting on our road based Shinko tyres and the stage was wone by Thommo due to hisd bike being fitted with more suitable tyres. It was to be one of his only Stage wins.
It Was a miserable start to Christmas day
Thommo was pretty happy with his new Flanny that Santa brought him though.
We weren't sure we would get a glimpse of the imposing Mt Egmont, however the clouds soon cleared to expose her in all her glory and we had a great time on the road that circumnavigates it as we made our way down to Whanganui.
The seat on the Tracer is incredibly horrible.
Had an awesome Christmas lunch at the lodge. Silly hats n all
We retired to the pool and spa for further refreshments.
After recovering from our food coma, We scoped out the town and did a lap of the famous circuit to get our bearings for the following day.
The baggage class field was a little light on.
Rain was forecast for race day, but it dawned a little cloudy but no rain. Its kinda weird walking around the circuit which literally circumnavigates a cemetery,
The event itself was awesome. Massive fields, well organised and friendly people everywhere.
Sam once again upset Connor Cummins wife by asking for a pic. They have a bit of history these two.
I made friends with Carl Cox who apparently is a world famous DJ, but I only know of him through his sponsorship of several Road racing teams. Very nice bloke and happy for a chat.
Were some very nice bikes on display too, such as this vary rare Honda RCV213V.
We had a great time and I can highly recommend a visit if you get the chance.
The free cans of VR46's own urine was horrible
Next day we went up the spectacular Whanganui river road.
At Pipiriki the super friendly hosts at whanganui river adventures told us a run up the Ohakune muontain road to Mt Turoa should not be missed, so who were we to argue.
We weren't dissapointed either awesome road and spectacular scenery. Bit Chily though !
at the summit car park, I attempted a wheelie. Yes I know it was lame. I forgot to turn the traction control off.
We dropped back down in the valley and at National park we turned right and skirted a couple of Impressive volcanos as we made our way to the Beautiful Lake Taupo.
Being Christmas time the whole place was booked solid so we meandered our way down the shores of the lake until managed to score some accomadation at a Motel at Taurangi.
Ended up doing almost a complete lap of the lake which was nice.
Winery day today and we called into a winery at Hawkes bay and pretended we knew what we were talking about, Thommo was just bewildered.
We bought afew bottles to send home and before headed to Napier via some back roads to check out the awesome Art Deco buildings that the town is famous for.
The guy at the winery told us we shouldn't miss the view from the top of Te Mata peak and although it was a little out of our way it was well worth it.
we Followed the brilliant Highway 2 to Gisbourne, where we Lucky to get the last Motel room available in town.
Next day Thommo and Sandi decide to have an easy day and took the shortcut to Whakatane, while Sam and I heading for the much Anticipated and previously Missed East Cape. We weren't dissapointed with this day being the highlight of the trip for us.
The East Cape is the first place in the world to see the sun every day and the scenery is spectacular.
The day started overcast and we thought we were going to get saturated, but it soon cleared. It was a wee bit Blowy though.
The road was utterly fantastic.
We took the loose and rough winding track out to the light house. Only to discover that it was an 800 step climb to the top, so we turned around and headed back into Hicks bay.
The wind was howling and it was difficult to keep the bike upright, but it was well worth it and we were rewarded with some spectacular vistas.
By the time we got back to Whakatne we were totally exhausted , so a refreshing beer was in order. A great day it bwas.
Scrawn wanted to stay for the dance.
I was looking forward to meeting up with our friend Cory who had recently moved back to NZ from Bolivia so we booked in to a lovely B&B in Tauranga
and then to the pub for a feed and a few beers with Cory.
Was great to catch up mate.
Next morning we had a bit of a look around Tauranga, then headed for the famous Coromandel Peninsular.
It was stinking hot, so boiling our bums at Hot water beach wasn't an option. It was far to crowded for us anyway.
Had a great lunch at the brewery at Cathedral Cove.
The run down the west coast of the peninsulaar is just as spectacular as the east and we had a great time as we made our way back to Auckland for our last night.
Got a room with a great veiw of the harbour and the cruise ships coming in and headed out for a nice dinner.
Next day and its my birthday. Got taken out for a lovely breakfast.
Its good to be king
We had a couple of hours to kill before we had to have the bikes back, so Thommo took us on magical mystery tour throught the northern suburbs of Auckland before we eventually returned the bike to their homes in Whangaparaoa. (yes I had to copy and paste that)
Overall we were pretty happy with bikes. Tyres held up ok and they had Great motors but shit suspension and horrible seats, but would hesitate to hire them again through the same mob.
Got the shuttle bus to the Airport and that was that, Thommo and Sandi stayed on for another night while we boarded the big Emerates bird bound for Home.
Another great trip made all the better by spending it with Thommo and Sandi on their first international trip. I'm sure it wont be their last and they were heard to be making plans to get to the Sth Island after we left. Perhaps the Burt Munro Challenge next time ?