Tuesday, 18 December 2012

NGARNZ 2012 Xmas at Tongariro National Park REVEALED

PEOPLE -  Our Weekend BreakDown of This Word we describe to you as below:

Those magnificent Mountain Views just seemed to follow us around as we scouted out the close environs

P  -  Weather  PERFECT  
O -   OUTSTANDING variety of terrain
P -    Machines  PRIMED and Ready for a serious Xmas Adventure
L -    LOCATION -               Right in The Very Heart of It All   
                                               (The Adventure Capital of The NORTH ISLAND)
E -    ENDING                 to a very successful First Season   Farewell 2012


Just back from our Tongariro Adventure motorcycling weekend and what a great weekend it was. We must have all held our tongues the right way as the weather and ground conditions were perfect. There were amazing views to be had all weekend, just great.

I would like to thank all Ride Attendees over the weekend who helped to make our weekend ride brilliant. There seems to be a real enjoyment and camaraderie amongst our group making our rides that bit special. As we state we are not about blitzing throughout the day although we can get along, rather helping all attendees complete their ride as challenges present themselves with a good measure of photography thrown in.  If you attended our Xmas ride you are most welcome to pix of yourself - I have created a special Slide Show Presentation with numbers under each picture sequence,  mail me with the pix that you request.  This is a Special Xmas offer available to Ride Attendees only.

The farm challenge sections were spaced out throughout the weekend and made for a bit of variety and even though not a lot of distance was covered on these, the challenge to complete and the satisfaction of having done so was immense. 

 The 42nd Traverse and Fishers track were also undertaken and completed without too much concern as they were in prime condition due to the recent DOC maintenance programme and the dry and dusty conditions. Just a word of warning here,  these tracks can be totally different in wet conditions as river levels rise the exposed brown sandy rock gets slippery and parts of the track turn to mud.  Always best to ride in a group through these areas for your safety.

The accommodation for this weekend was not 5 star but unique and comfortable. We elect to stay at these places to make the rides affordable for all,  rather than top line accommodation which may not be available in the ride area anyway. Give us some feedback if you would like the accommodation to be any different. At times we stay for 2 or 3 nights and with all meals included the dollar value can add up quickly; hence why we choose the cheaper accommodation option for affordability to all.

Providing New and Interesting Riding Areas and Terrain
NGARNZ is now nearly ONE year old, and we have come a long way since our start up. Realising that providing ONLY gravel roads to ride on all the time can be mundane and monotonous, we have sought out more interesting riding areas of late, to provide some variety to ride attendees. This will continue in the future as we look to broaden our ride areas.


We would also like to thank our Ride Group Supporters that help us make these events happen;

Corban Revell lawyers
Cyclespot Euro – Auckland BMW & KTM dealers
Spectro oils & Hi flo filters
Dunlop & Metzeler tyres
Dri rider jackets
Shoei premium helmets

Lastly from Jim and Sue of NGARNZ - We thank you all for your support and attendance throughout the year. We would like to make special mention here of the help we received and best wishes from some ride group members when faced with a large clean up after the recent tornado that went through NGARNZ HQ. We wish you all a merry Xmas, happy festive season, prosperous New Year and look forward to catching up again next year.

“ Stay safe over the holidays, right side up and venture            down the roads less travelled.”

Tongariro/National Park Xmas Ride ADVENTURE begins......
  Arriving in at The Owhango Hotel midday on the Friday both Jim and I used this opportunity wisely to continue to scout several of our areas that we intended to showcase to our Ride Group Members.  The weather at Tongariro National Park can be very changeable and always in our minds in providing an adventure to our people is our back-up plan in case of adverse weather conditions.  WE have been very spoilt as of late with the lovely fine and very humid days.  This has led us to be able to provide the much needed variety to our adventures, that we have included into our Ride Calendar.  These have been very well received by everyone,  and the many mails that we receive in relation to our "New Concepts",  we know we are on track to happy Ride Group Members.  

  The afternoon here soon wore on and it was time to check in with the Hotel Owners to run through our detailed plan of events.  Tick,  cross and sign,  we are done.  Due to a large 21st wedding in the area,  the Hotel was abuzz with patrons,  Gravel Riders included.  A very noisy reception anticipated,  we were all housed in the near vicinity of the Hotel.  Forest Lodge Complex overflowing,  many housed in adjacent and vacant houses.  The Gravel Riders filled much of the available accommodation in the tiny township of Owhango.  Our aim for this visit was to bring much needed business into this area that largely relies on the many tourists that frequent the Tongariro National Park and the Famous Tongariro Crossing.  Due to recent activity in the area,  a large downturn has been experienced due to track closures, and we were indeed well received here, along with our wedding party.  It is not often the Hotel caters for such large numbers.  WE will of course be back to visit here.

  Our accommodation saw Jim and I housed in a street nearby.  Our house unit consisted of three double rooms along with a living area, kitchen/dining, wash room and separate shower/toilet facility.  We felt the homeliness of the small home and this was well received by us,  and offered something quite unique rather than the normal Top 10 Holiday Park.  The home here was steeped in authenticity, and also came complete with a Visitor's Book with dozens of pages of warming entries penned inside.  Inside of our lounge area,  a cabinet full of books, games and many interesting nic nacs to keep all occupied for hours.   Settling in, it was not long before our roomies arrived.   The first being Neil and Denise who joined us late at night.  Great having lovely light evenings.    We were just about to call it in for our first night,  but we were still awaiting our third roomies,  John and Maria.    Our late arrivals now housed and settled in,  we were able to switch off the lights and enjoy a few hours of sleep before the excitement of the next morning.  My mind buzzing with details and planning,   it was early hours of the morning before I finally drifted off.

  Not needing any form of alarm,  as my mind drilled me into wakefulness and the dawn of the new day came beaming through the gaps in our curtains.  Up, dressed,  downed a cup of tea and over to the Hotel,  only a couple of blocks away,  trailer in tow.  The car parking area was abuzz with bikes, riders and vehicles/trailers and bikes/riders were gearing up and priming bikes,  making ready for the first day's planned adventures.  7am and Breakfast - orders taken the evening before,  the Hotel was busy with the preparation of 40 hot, cooked breakfasts.  Smells drifting from the kitchen,  as plates were being handed over the counter to hungry and waiting attendees.  The morning before any adventure really does wind over all too quickly,  and that imminent 8am Rider's briefing always rolls around with certainty.  Our friends living in the area had been hot with the reporting on the weather conditions for us, and we had been receiving frequent details, almost daily.  This had helped immensely with the planning and preparation of the varying terrain we could expect to be able to incorporate into our weekend of activities.

  Rider's briefing,  and for this ride we had good numbers in attendance at all three of our groups.  Our Mid Rangers group is proving to be very well received and we now have many joining into this group at our planned rides.  Along with this group,  we now have a NEW group that is set to expand,  that of our Scenic Leisure Tourers,  all whom were provided with their very own Adventure Activities,  to also enjoy, whilst our other attendees are busy over their scheduled activities.   Jim details procedures, and it is now time to separate into our respective groups and the Adventure begins.   Looking around,  it is interesting to see the many makes and models of bikes in attendance.   This aside,  all minds geared similarly,  Adventure seekers, all of us very like minded,  and looking to tackle it head on.  This is exciting,  as I know what they will have in store for them.  It is going to be great,  I know this for certain.  The perfect weather conditions means we can Bring It On,  and we are climbing on board those bikes,  and setting off.

  We fully plan to take in as much gravel on the journey over to our very first Station that we can hone in on,  and Jim has found a lovely and very loose offering to begin with.  The hoard of Gravel Riders bring the roar of engines,  and I am sure the neighbourhood here has not heard this sound and buzz in such numbers shattering their quiet in some time. 


Next stop,  another nice side track leading down into more loose gravel that our grader friend has been busy working on.  Nothing like freshly graded metal tracks.  Spending a few moments here to take in the surrounds, we head back via the state highway and enter into our very first Station.  

MAGIC,  the settings simply gorgeous with those big mountain views evident as we make our way around here. 

They seem to follow us in all directions as we traverse through.  On our entrance we are greeted with a predominant pumice based 4 x 4 track that leads up to a plateau that houses 250 acres of pristine farmland. 

The grass here fresh and very very green.  On my visit here a few months ago,  many of these paddocks had been freshly hoed and sewn with new seed.  The weather in this area only allows for three months of the year that caters to fresh grass growth.  So it is full time at The Station to ensure maximum growth and timing of crops to cater for inevitable winter hardships. 

These fresh and very green paddocks at the plateau ridge top provided for an excellent ride around the perimeters here.  One can actually get lost in this area alone.  Following the fence lines we were all treated to a great blast around.  Fantastic.  

Leaving the plateau we then headed out over our 4 x 4 tracks and Jim was then able to treat our more experienced riders to a little something more on this concept. 

ROB - Looking GREAT on that NEW bike and going so very well
ONE of our Challenge Sections
thoroughly enjoyed by those
looking for that something a little extra

A more challenging route was available to those looking for that little more,  whilst my Mid Rangers group journeyed on through many more gates that led us over more hard packed pumice trails.   


DAVE enjoys tackling our Challenge Sections - The crew at the top
loving to detail directions to DAVE

Andrew prepares for the Big Choco Mud Dipper
  The journey through the Station was excellent,  and the trail winding its way throughout, just seemed to be endless. 

As I journeyed through here, it was amazing the change in detail to our scenery.  Comments on this were to the effect that some felt they were in the South Island.  Simply amazing.    OVERLAND we were led, and as we travelled over one newly sewn paddock,  this led us down to the exquisite Kaiwaka Villa. 

Built in the early 20's by the Bowen Brothers,  being made and built by hand out of Kaiwaka Timber,  this cottage has withstood the test of time in this area.  The very harsh winter conditions in this area,  have not seemed to even marr the rustic beauty.  Comments rushing in -  "Can I stay here for the night"???  It really left you with that impression of The Boy's Camp Out Cottage in the bush.  Very enticing and brings back great memories of my scouting days.  (I had to check that all bikes were duly on track and vacating the area)  hmmm amazing what a Camp Out Cottage Stay can do to some of the crew!!!

  The sun beaming down on us and it is beginning to get hotttt.  Sunscreen out, and linings from jackets being peeled off.  It was hotttt here.  The call comes in from Jim,  and we saddle up and prepare to head off again,  over the fence line, and away from our Kaiwaka Villa in the sunlit and very desolate paddocks.  Sad to leave this area.  Peace and solitude.  Very quiet here and undisturbed.   Heading out and over some very rocky pumice tracks, and we come to one very gnarly and rocky little serving.  Quite a steep track ahead that went uphill, it was laced with big embedded rocks,  and this proved a technical little climb, amidst dodging big rocks as I ascended.   Applying FULL throttle,  I gassed up my DR650,  and she was pushed into maximum, to reach to the top here.  Almost making the top,  a slight push from one of my riders,  One MORE pumice rock to doge, and I had made it.  Husband Jim passing by even congratulated my efforts.  YES,  this is what this is all about.  Gas her to the Max,  and receive a badge of merit for your efforts.  I will soon earn myself quite a collection.  Bet on it.  I am...... 

  The pumice road out of the Station was a very long, dusty and winding one,  quite a ride was enjoyed here, and we exit the Station. 

The Long and Winding Pumice Track leads us out
of the Station
  WE are now at National Park,  and we fuel up, in more ways than one.  The heat of the day now taking its toll,  and thirst to be quenched, along with  refuel for our machines was needed to be organised.  A quick scout around,  and Mike comes to the rescue with some sunscreen.  I can feel my alll tooo fair skin burning quickly.  The sunscreen of the morning now soaked in dust and dripped offf long hours ago.  Drinks and fuel actioned,  just an hour left to take in Fishers Track, and we are off. 

Many seasons ago,  Fishers Track was once a clay based track leading down to the valley floor.  Today,  much work has been done here and the Track now boasts an easy gravel road leading down and over a few cattle stops.  Gates have been installed here to curb high traffic use, as this track is a predominant mountain bike circuit in this area,  along with being used by many motorbike riders.  The gravel soon gives way to a clay based track that is covered over by the strands of kaikuia grasses.  The lovely hard packed conditions we experienced made for easy riding for our group.  NOT SO,  in the winter months.  The big rains in the area,  combined with very cold conditions, and the water falling from the hills,  flows through and down this clay based track.  This makes for a very experienced ride over wet and wintry months.  Something not to be tackled by less experienced riders,  both mountain bikers and motor bikers.


Completing Fishers,  we enjoy further very loose and marbled gravel roads,  with little or no wheel tracks groomed into them.  Nice ride enjoyed by our Gravel Riders.  On watching some of our ride attendees you can see remnants of enduro based riding skills come into play.  Watch for the third leg flicking out the sides of those bikes as the back wheel skidders enjoy those loose corners.  Amazement as I take it in,  (when i can see through the dust haze that is)   Meanwhile,  back at Owhango,  the staff are preparing to bring in those big bbq burners and our lunch is served.   Nice to have cold drinks on tap after a very full on mng,  it is now 2pm and we enjoy just a brief break, before we prepare to journey out to Taumarunui to visit our Station here. 
Taumarunui Station is on our doorstep and we are all parked on the Airstrip.  Interesting riding on an Airstrip with the thought that this platform is used for crop dusting in the local area due to the terrain here.  Our position we are parked on,  not at all quite as flat as the grass area would have you believe.  Bikes pouring over and through the Station,  we switch off our engines and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area.  Hundreds of hectares of property,  but only a small amount suited to our big bikes to travel over,  but a journey we are about to embark on and we look forwards to enjoy.  As we rode through the wooden gates we are treated to several loop circuits that lead us over and up into those very big/high hills.  An accomplishment for those big bike riders amongst us.  WET grass along with animal droppings can make for some very slippery conditions.  Reaching the top of one of our paddock hilltop circuits,  gorgeous views greet us of The lower Whakapapa River - well received.  Riding alongside here - MAGIC in itself,  as the glistening diamond like sparkles flicker off the surface. 

Calm and surreal beauty here on this property also.   Exiting here and heading down again, we travel over and enjoy our second loop circuit on our schedule.  This provided an even further dustier experience as our riders travel over a newly graded paddock being made ready for winter crop pings to be sewn.  Amazing, the variable temperature conditions in this area also.  From well over minus seven degrees here in winter to well over 30 degrees in summer,  the soles of our feet can simply blister by walking the pumice track that leads out of this property.  Grass growth here has proved a mission and extensive testing has been conducted to analyse the soil conditions to be able to operate this Station as a productive business.  The green grasses of this Station today,  true testament to the exceptionally hard work of the new land managers.  Simply stunning property.
Yes,  the skills of Darryl who joined us with wife Sue -
just watch that DR - it comes with a large bag of skills also

Jim has mapped our more gravel roads and we slip and slide through more dusty roads to reach our destination for our first day -

The Owhango Hotel and our accommodation.  Yes,  a shower will be much appreciated,  chatting to fellow riders it is evident many have received a good smattering of embedded dust.  Eyes are red and bloodshot and many very tall tales are being related.  Laughs and camaraderie being shared around.  This has gone alll tooo well.  Dinner is now served.  LAWNSIDE and The Hotel has put up a marquee for us.  Our buffet dinner is now served.  Xmas lamb and roast veggies.  The line was QUICK,  and the rush to be in the line much quicker.  Full bellies and much appreciated drinks and the conversation is buzzing.   Evening is drawing rapidly to a close and darkness is setting in.  BUTTT,  the night is not finished people.  SUE calling to her riders - "Does anyone wish to go Out And About and view the Locals???" - "That being The Glow Worms in the immediate area????     WE know they put on a very very good show when the lights go down - so they come out and play.  Three cars out and pick ups taken - we journey over to their neighbourhood and drive through a very darkly carved out tunnel.  Lights dimmed and only whispers amongst us,  turning off all unnecessary lighting we head down to view.  Infrequent at first,  but as we make our way further through the dark tunnel,  it feels like we are living in a scene from Jurassic Park,  fitting a scene from a Rainforest setting we finally spot one area on our right hand sides where the whole steep embankment is covered with bright blue lights.  Absolutely amazing and well worth the late at night journey here.  What a treat.  Not special to our down country farmers who are treated to these in their neck of the woods,  but for us living further North,  an amazing spectacle.  Interesting,  Johnnie who attended our ride relayed to us the feeding habits of these creatures.  hmmm they really are very carnivorous with their dining habits.   ooooh  Johnnie.  You detailed it alll tooo finely....

Back at base and now to our respective houses/mini hotels,  it really was very nice having accommodation that was so very cosy and different.   I cannot quite remember the time it was that I finally turned in,  but I think at least midnight???  Why bother setting the alarm???  Only a few hours of sleep and then the next morning up again to another 7am breakfast visit at The Hotel,  before Day 2 of our Adventure is to begin.  Today,  we have something a little interesting planned for our Scenic Leisure Tourers in attendance,  and we will be also providing them with a little Blue Duck viewing also.  If you happen to be a Genesis Energy customer you will know a little something of these protected creatures. 

Andrew captures the famous Blue Ducks
A major breeding programme has been established by Genesis Energy,  so this offers quite a perspecive on viewing these animals.   Today we plan to take our riders over to visit their habitat and see if we can spot and view them and their living quarters.  Objective - Seek and Search Out The Blue Duck.  YES,   Andrew has posted me in a pic of two ducks perched on a rock in their secluded area.  We travel OVERLAND and into their private location,  and yes they happened to be At Home for our visit.  A short sealed section and we enjoy an intake.  A nice break and further jacket strip downs happening.    It is hot yet again.  Wow, this is going to be one very hot summer.

Viewing achieved here,  we journey out and our experienced group enjoy a nice farmland stretch that leads out and into the famous 42nd Traverse. 

The group is off and buzzing with excitement.  The weeks leading up has been dominated by conversations with regards to this very famous DOC land track.  Over winter months this track is highly utilised by many 4 x 4 attendees, and as such track conditions will be deemed unrideable by our big bikes.  WE do not recommend our big bike riders to tackle this track over wet conditions.  Once inside of this area under very wet conditions,  you may need to be hellied out again.  WE personally know of friends who have been hellied out of this area.  The track here will revert to deep and thick mud and you just will not get through it with our big bikes. 

The Stream Crossing on the 42nd Traverse

This weekend offered to us exceptional conditions all around,  the tracks relayed to us by our local farmers as being MOTORWAY conditions.  They refer the 42nd to us as MOTORWAY. 

 Amazing if you had seen it as Jim did a little over one month ago.  We would not have even envisaged taking our Ride Group here.  We have friends also that work for DOC and they have detailed to us that if you wish to enjoy the 42nd traverse,  it is now or never.  Work has been extensively carried out here, so enjoy it whilst you are able.   With our experienced group enjoying this route,  our Mid Rangers also enjoyed a brief circuit amongst the adjoining Forestry park taking in many pumice based trails with adorned with a very light gravel coating. 

Excellent riding here,  and much to be explored also.    Heading out to the very bottom of the Forestry Park we made a brief stop to view the Caves here.   The time has passed us by just tooo quickly and our day had come to a very quick end.  We leave this area and we are headed out to Raurimu area, to await the arrival of our Advanced Group of Riders.  All has gone exceedingly well and it is not long before our group is seem emerging from the bridge exit and into the Owhango Hotel car park again.   Approximately 2:30 and our riders are now parking bikes onto trailers and many are riding away with new found friends and acquaintances.  It is very pleasing in looking around to see so many new friendships have been formed.  This tells me that our season has been one of a very huge success.

Merry Xmas and We wish you all a fantastic New Year of Holidays to be enjoyed amongst our Ride Group Members and their families

Sue and Jim Denham


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