Wednesday, 6 June 2012

T T T - Taranaki Tunnel Tour  DAY 1 of Our Journey Begins

Sharon looking at me, we are both grinning as we are mighty pleased with ourselves for blitzing it through that
freshly laid gravel,   "We Have Conquered It,  You Can Breathe Now SUE"!!!
Viewing the sad and dreary forecast on the mng of and expecting the worst out of the weather, this meant for me some pretty heavy packing arrangements would ultimately be the outcome of this knowledge .  Being told to take "ONLY ONE" change of clothing, a dilemma for me again.  Knowing that we had some pretty cosy accommodation organised, it seemed prudent to have "THAT ONE" decent change of clothes for the pre arranged dinners,  and the ultimate combined Orating Of Some "VERY TALL" tales that invariably are part of any adventure ride.  All packed I made ready to set off, almost 80 kms ride early mng from home to begin our journey.  Meeting up with the group at Bombay we set-off and begin our ride which was over many hundreds of kms of gravel-based roads,  that led us through the very scenic back country roads of The Famous Limestone Downs.   Very interesting first stage of our day this was indeed, having ridden over this exact same stretch of countryside the previous fortnight,  the roads were in a very sad state of total disrepair. Bare Limestone/dirt mix and with no evidence of gravel at alll.  The roading was sparsely covered and bare of the loose stuff.  Many ruts to be enountered.  A very rocky journey.  An amazing contrast awaited me for this ride, our friendly grader had been put to very good use and had sorted the first scenario right out.  This ride I was treated to quite a thriller, also riding my new bike. 

Arriving at Te Uku and we farewell a small number of our riders
Riding on two wheels around those tight twisty corners with mountains of new rock makes for quite some interesting moments!!  How to keep momentum and pace and not have the gear box drop out of the bottom of,  quite an art indeed.  Having reached the end of this delightful portion of road, time to take a brief stop and regather ones composure.  Relief to be through it.  Only just recently I have transferred from riding the small Yamaha XT250cc over to my new DAKAR SERTAO BMWG650 GS - affectionately known as "Gravel Hopper" and I adore this new bike.  She handles extremely well over the loose stuff and cuts through it.  The big 21inch front wheel almost feels like I am riding a dirt bike again. 
  Reflections over, and here we go again, The Call Is In and  "SADDLE IT UP AGAIN RIDERS" Our ride leader John G beckons for us to begin to make tracks again,   knowing we still have many more kilometres to journey before we would make it into the tiny township of Te Uku.  A small handful of our riders  had joined us to participate in the mng portion of our ride.  Here, they would leave us and depart on to Raglan - a much larger township.  Time taken for both Linda and John to discuss further details before we depart once again.
Farewell to a small group of riders at the local school at Te Uku
From Te Uku,  our ride is headed towards the fishing town of Kawhia - this thriving township having known over six generations of maori known as Tainui.  Tainui people are recognised as the largest Tangata Whenua (people of the land) of Aotearoa.  The Gravel Riders converge upon this very cultural fishing village,  here we decide to make this our allotted luncheon stop,  at one of the small streetside cafes nestled alongside The Kawhia Harbour.  Engulfing the complete roadfront,  we settle in and enjoy a much needed refreshment stop.

Converging on Kawhia for lunch
"OK" lunch is done, now "WHERE TO" from here?????
"TUNNEL FEVER" and "Boys At Play"
Gorgeous views await those who venture THROUGH The Waikowhai Tunnel and onto the beach
Waikowhai and explore the Tunnel of Course >>>  Yes, it is now Tunnel time - another little something to look forwards to, this our first glimpse of a "Tunnel" on DAY 1 of our Tour.  Nice......  A quiet stretch of unsealed road leads us out over farmlands,  and at the end we reach The Waikowhai Tunnel.  On arrival here,  our riders bursting with "Tunnel FEVER" and "Boys At Play" is quickly on display.  Riding our adventure bikes through the narrow tunnel entrance that leads out to a beautiful black sand beach and taking in the oceanside -   "Epic". 
Parked up outside The Tunnel entrance
Where to from here John???   Another brief ride and we are now headed inland to our first overnight destination - that of Awakino which is situated on the West Coast of the North Island.  The Awakino River runs alongside our Hotel and the Tasman sea is within easy walking distance. The River rises in the rugged bush country of the King Country and flows south via the settlement of Mahoenui from where it runs alongside State Highway 3 to the Tasman Sea at Awakino.  Our first nights stay is the Hotel at Awakino.  Compliments must go to the owners Craig and Margaret for hosting us not ONCE now, but TWICE.  I need to mention Margaret cooks up one really mean roast dinner for the evening meal.  Portion Control????,  not on THIS MENU planner!!!  If you are looking for a healthy and very hearty b & b - this is where it is at!!  The Gravel Riders have experienced the hospitality two-fold now, we came, we had a taste of, and yes Margaret and Craig, we will of course BE BACK for more of.....................
Settling our bikes in for the evening
Husband Jim seen here attempting to DISLODGE luggage carrier from the new SERTAO - I do give my husband some very tough jobs at times???

Preparing for the many TALL TALES to be TOLD over our dinner evening,  the BOYS do it all so very well!!!

Dinner, bed and brekkie and we are settling in for the evening,   shower, shave (for the lads??)  nice - those "SPARE CHANGES" of clothes for the evening,  and we settle in for a while before commencing DAY TWO of our TOUR



  1. Hmmmm, those tunnels look interesting...

    1. thanks Andrew you must get Neil and the B.R.R. to do a Tunnel Tour, we want to go visit again when it is a bit dryer and then we will go further through the Aotuhia Station and also ride over The Old Whanga Road. Dave from Taranaki checked the route out prior to us taking this tour, no good for our bigger bikes, well he did say we were welcome to PUSH the bikes through. Many chose to listen to Dave's words of wisdom te he We had a couple from Waihi attend on the Sun mng of our ride and they had KTM bikes (wouldn't that be nice to go ride the mud with) and the mud was THICK THICK definately suitable riding terrain for the TWO ktm's but not for our big beemers. WE WILL BE BACK and maybe the B.R.R. will come join with us. Funtimes ahead S Q