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All good things must come to an end? I hope that’s not true … but this trip has.

I got up for my last day in the Southern Hemisphere and had a lengthy breakfast with Lynn, Gord and Brenda. I had one errand to run which Lynn helped me with. Then everyone left me to tackle the packing while they went and saw various sights.

I wrapped it up pretty quickly and, after a wee book break, headed up to a restaurant that I had seen on the corner called Malt. I wanted a big burger in me as I did not know about timing of the food on Air New Zealand.

Gord and Lynn were gracious enough to drive me to the Auckland airport. So I arrived in style and on time. It turns out that Air NZ has a 23 kg limit. Opposed to 25 or 27 on various Aussie airlines. Needless to say, there was some shifting of stuff between the “wee beastie” and my hand luggage. Technically, you were only allowed one piece of hand luggage but, luckily, it was not enforced so I could get my new motorbike helmet home as well (it was the item most on the cusp).

I had planned well and booked a seat right behind the bulkhead so I had extended legroom. Genius idea, Alex-of-2-months-ago!! The flight was ok. I watched The Darkest Hour. Pretty good Gary Oldman-Winston Churchill flick. Sleep came sparingly.

I landed in Vancouver and whipped of the plane and thru the nexus line. I was the second quickest through the process and then had to wait for 20 for my bag as it was one of the last off.

Bion was kind enough to pick me up (with lovely Ella, no less) and I has through my door before 4pm.

It is absolutely fantastic to be home.

Thanks for taking the time to be with me on my travels.

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I have to describe my very generous accommodations in Auckland. Lynn has some Canadian friends arriving to stay today so for the last two nights I have been in the back up bed in the garage. Oddly, I’ve never slept on a more comfortable pullout couch. So firm!! One of the amusing things about the garage/bedroom is that it get bombarded by falling fruit throughout the night. Either small bangs of hazelnuts potter patter on the thin roof. Or the are monster bangs as the ripe avocados give it up and fall from 10m up. Boom! I had a few overnight. Very shocking though amusing.

So … my last partial day with the bike. I decided to break my fast with a non-Benedict Egg extravaganza at a local coffee shop called “Honey Bones”. It was one of the best breakfasts that I have had in my travels. Well done, Grey Lynn area in Auckland.

My game plan with the bike was to head west to one of the infamous black sand beaches. I picked Piha as my beach if choice. With my suspect nav-system in play, I was guaranteed a couple of missed turns etc. I did not disappoint myself as I zipped into a very turny, scenic road that ended at a dead end at the lovely beach at Huia. A little backtracking led me to the actual scenic route to Piha. This looks like a community where people come for a summer of surfing and then just check out for the rest of their lives. Very bo-ho and granola. Sorta a fun vibe.

To took an nice long walk on the beach with my feet in the NZ sand and then headed back to the bike for the next leg. I continued the scenic coastal route north until it swung eastward into the mess of communities to the north of Auckland. I jumped aboard the 1 and fired southbound.

Nav-system what it is, I guessed at when I was far enough south to start heading east onto the peninsula that has my bike-return destination at the North tip: Mauratai. I was way short. I zigged and zagged but the signage on these NZ roads can be surprisingly unhelpful.

Eventually I gave into the need for the phone to guide me in and strapped the phone into my jury-rigged handlebar mounting and proceeded. I landed back with Randal and Auckland Motorbike Hire. He organized at trip down to the local Ferry so that could take me back to Auckland proper. We grabbed a “good bye / thanks much” beer at the docks and then I took a solo-ride on a 50 passenger Ferry into Auckland.

Lynn had given me good advice on the bus routes that returned me to Grey Lynn and her house. The Canadian friends of Lynn had been successfully picked up in Rotorua and returned to Auckland. Soon after my arrival, I sat down with Audrey and Gord, Lynn’s Edmonton friends, for a sumptuous chicken dinner that Lynn had prepared in advance. The Edmontonians turned out to know some of the original investors of the Grizzly Paw so it was a bit of a catch-up. It’s a small world.

Dinner led to chatting into the eve and bed called to us all around 11pm.

Only one huge Avocado bomb hit the garage overnight.

https://www.facebook.com/alex.burnett.1000/videos/10155256545066128/

HK-AU-NZ-2018-D42-Apr2

I was up earlier than expected and had a leasurely tea and Hot-composed buns combo with Lynn. Then I hit the road for the second last day with the bike.

I had a false start at Auckland Hospital. I had been misinformed. It turns out that the present Auckland was not ever the National Woman’s Hospital. I was helpfully directed to Greenlane Medical Center, the actual site of the National Woman’s Hospital in the 60s. I found a good site at a bench shaded by trees for Dad Resting Place 5 (NZ).

Then I walked across the cow pasture and around to make it to the summit of One Tree Hill. It turns out that you can drive to the top. Not me, I wanted to walk it. A good hot 1/2 hour climb. The summit, which I am certain that dad would have done, was the location of Dad Resting Place 6 (NZ). Good view for Pops.

I walked back down to my bike which I was able to leave at the ex-Woman’s Hospital. I drew a line for the downtown core and whipped thru NewMarket and Parnell into the core. I found a good place to park for a few hours and a good place for lunch called “Amato” in the reinvigorated Quay area of downtown. Bocconcini and tomato salad with a crayfish tortellini pasta entree. Yes please.

Après-lunch, it was time to explore DT Auckland a little bit. The New Zealand Maritime Museum was closeby and drew my attention. The $20 fee was a bit of a surprise as it is the first museum in NZ that has had a fee. I threw caution to the wind and $20 on the counter.

Not surprisingly, the start of the exhibit had to do with the origins of the Maori coming to NZ. There twin covered canoes must have been truly impressive. Some of the big ocean-going ones could hold 200 people and supplies (including livestock). The celestial navigation that they used was interesting as well.

The history of the introduction of Europeans to NZ was a picture of competing Powers in a race to chart and understand the land masses that they were discovering. The documentation of various waves of European emigration. They had displays of the settler’s quarters throughout the 1800 and 1900s. There was a cabin that would have been similar to what my folks would have voyaged in when they went to NZ in the mid-60s.

The last display that caught my fancy was a display of the legacy of Kiwi Competitive Sailing. Well presented hands-on displays and Very very cool mini-documentaries. All in all, big thumbs up to the $20 Maritime Museum.

I walked around and explored a little of DT Auckland. I found a Vulcan Lane so that’s always good.

I headed home and Lynn was kind enough to provide food. She works at the AUT (Auckland University of Technology) and there is a cooking program offered by the school with two attached restaurants. These restaurants also sell frozen product from the classes. Lynn takes advantage of this great food often and I was the beneficiary tonight. Beef stew with Bulgar Wheat. Delicious.

Apres-dinner, some of Lynn’s neighbour/friends came over and we all chatted for some time. Basically, we burned off our energy and were asleep by 10.

A-OK

HK-AU-NZ-2018-D41-April Fools

I was outta the Quest in Hamilton quicklike … after posting two days worth of travel details. First stop was Metropolis for a Benedict and a latte. Good riding sustenance.

I mapped out a lengthy tour into Auckland today. Technically I could jump on the 1 and be at my destination in 1.5 hours. I am going to zig west to Raglan and then come in via some smaller roads until I am forced onto the 1. The roads were spectacular. I quickly witnessed numerous other motorbikes (and sporty cars) on the road that I had chosen by chance. This was obviously recognized as one of the better rides around Auckland.

Everything was going swimmingly until I rounded a corner and saw a loose black dog who immediate started barking at me. This is a rural area of farmland with little to no residences right on the road. Why would there be a dog off the lead who was aggressive towards vehicles on a road that definitely saw motorbikes? There was a rarity coming towards me around a bend in the road ahead. I veered as far to the right a safely possible (without going into the oncoming lane) and this hound matched my trajectory. He hit me/I hit him. Admits all the barking, there was a squeal. I saw the open-mouth expression on the lady who was driving towards me. I came to a stop and turned around. The sound that the day was making now as he trashed around in the middle of the road was brutal. I pulled into the farm-driveway and turned off my engine. The dog stopped barking and a slim farmer gent came down the drive. I explained that the dog had charged towards me and I could not avoid him. Obviously, the man was distraught. He said “don’t worry about it” and his wife came down from the house. She started speaking to Bob the dog, who had made it over to the reeds in the ditch by the driveway. The dog had eventually walked over though I suspect that something was broken. Brutal. She told me that it was his fault. Their kids were across the highway and had not controlled Bob. She said that I should continue on my way. I did.

I went a couple of kilometres and pulled over and drank some water and steadied my nerves. The remainder of my ride was very slow and steady. Twas a rather unsettling experience. Onwards.

I had been using my phone as a navigation-aid for the trip west and north. Unfortunately it started showing a low battery just as I was about to get on the highway 1 into Auckland. That would be the time that I would need assistance to get to Cory Faulkner’s family friend, Lynn Grant’s house. Oh drat.

I fumbled and had a stop & start entry to the city. I find that Auckland is. It great in sign-posting. Once you are on a road, they tend to mostly mark the cross-streets … but not always. So often you have no confirmation of which street you are on and sometimes the cross-Street is a mystery as well. A little frustrating.

I made it to Lynn’s house on time at 2pm and met the nice lady. She settled me in for a chat and a few glasses of water. Friends of hers had invited she and I to their house for Easter Sunday Dinner.

After a few hours, we headed out and, after a 20minutes Drive, we pulled into a great house that backed into a nature reserve. Simon and Jean-Pierre were old friends of Lynn and, these meals are something of a tradition. I was very pleased to be invited. The part was rounded out by a nice couple named Jean-Marie and his wife, Helene. A tour of the garden and wild greenery was offered and accepted. It reminded me of the area on Memet & Murray’s property known as the “Troll Bridge”. Wild and beautiful. Dinner was a Swiss raclete (I am misspelling it ,I am sure). This some great cheese imported from Swizerland, Jean-Pierre’s home country. The atmosphere reminded me of a classic French Salon. The hosts stirred the conversation and poured the wine. Very gracious. It was a singular treat.