Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

September 5, 2001

One last Hurrah before Leaving the Land of the Kiwi

-- Story by Erin --

Leaving Queenstown felt almost like leaving New York.   We had planted tiny roots that didn't want to be dug up.  On Monday, August 27th we said a teary goodbye to Sharlene and Queenstown.  The only consolation was that it was a beautiful, crisp and clear day to be out on the bikes.   There was still a lot of grit on the road leftover from the winter road maintenance crews, which made me a bit nervous.  We had to be careful of both ice and the slippery grit in all the shaded corners.  About 3 hours into the trip north, and just before Lake Tekapo, I got stopped for speeding by a polite, good-natured police officer.  He could have given me a much bigger ticket for going more than 120 kms/hr (I was actually doing 125kms) and could have also given Chris a ticket since he was right behind me, but he was very kind and knocked it down to only one ticket between the two of us and a lesser charge of doing 120kms (a savings of $50NZ).  Before we parted ways we asked him if we could take his picture since he was now part of our trip.  He gladly obliged and we gave him our website address so he could check out other photos from our trip. 

Listen mate, you need to loosen up your grip on that throttle!

When we arrived in Amberley that evening we received a nice note from him on our Guest Book Registry.  It read:

NAME: Greg Sutherland
STATE / COUNTRY: Twizel New Zealand
HOW YOU FOUND US: You were both doing 125 km/hr coming towards me and my radar unit caught you.  That's how we met!   Sorry!
ABOUT YOURSELF: I am a Police Constable from Twizel New Zealand.  I'm the big meany who gave you a ticket but now I feel pretty bad about it.  Very nice to met you and I must admit you are the first people who I've met who want a photo with me after I have just issued a speeding ticket.
COMMENTS: You will be hard to forget.  Feel like joining you....but I couldn't keep up!!!!

It was just before dark when we found our way to our friends Nigel and Kitty's house in Amberley (about 50 kilometers north of Christchurch).  They had a big BBQ dinner waiting for us and invited several of their friends over, one of which is Chilean.   We bombarded her with the little Spanish that we've learned.   The next 4 days were spent tearing the bikes apart, getting essential parts, and running errands.  Nigel's friend Phil was also a huge help as he is a trained motorcycle mechanic from the UK.  Kitty supported the cause by cooking up some wonderful meals. 

Nigel, Chris, and Phil (background) are hard at it

Tuesday night we went to see a foreign film, "Gloomy Sunday".   It's based in Budapest, around the beginning of WW2, and is about a love triangle between 2 men and a beautiful woman.  One of the men is a pianist, and writes a beautiful song for the woman, titled "Gloomy Sunday".  The song is instantly loved by all who hear it, and bolts to the top of the charts around the world.   But, the song's melody is a sort of curse, and people around the world commit suicide after hearing the soothing tune.  It was a wonderful and mesmerizing film.   The bizarre thing is that 5 minutes before the end, a woman sitting 3 rows ahead screamed out for a doctor -- Apparently, her mother had just had a stroke!  We walked out of the theatre a bit stunned!

Thursday night we all went out for dinner and drinks in Christchurch for Tom Walsh's 35th birthday.  Everyone was there: Tom's wife Kirstin, Steve Collie and Anna, Rich and Beth, Jo Buckner, Nigel and Kitty and ourselves.  This was the core group of the original gang that went on the April Fool's Day ride. 

Top L-R:  Jo, Erin, Nigel, Steve, Rich, and Beth
Bottom:    Kitty, Chris, Tom, Kirstin, and Anna

On Friday night, our last night with them, Nigel and Kitty invited us to the races where Nigel makes the photo finishes for the racing club.  I was excited because I had never been to the races before.  This night there were the trotters and the greyhounds.  This meant a busy night with races going off every 15 minutes or so, alternating between the two events.  Nigel is well know around the place and introduced us to the announcers, the TV production crew and camera people.   We got to watch the announcers in action and were amazed at how they could keep all of those names in their head!  It's not like back home where most of the announcers call out the numbers.  We placed a few bets, which didn't place but loved the action all the same.

It turned to Saturday, September 1st, and we found ourselves saying goodbye again.  I was getting profoundly tired of saying goodbye to all of our friends.  Especially to those who we spent so much time with and shared many good memories.  I found myself saying that they would be seeing us back in New Zealand sooner rather than later!

We rode up the east coast, mainly in the rain, up to the ferry terminal in Picton.   Missed seeing Ross and Gretchen one last time because they got caught in the rain on the west side of the mountains.  Although the weather was bad the seas of the Cook Strait were thankfully calm!   We arrived in Wellington that evening and checked into the Ibis Hotel right in the downtown area.  Our friend Kris from Queenstown swung this deal for us through her Novotel connections.  Before we even checked into our room we went straight to the bar to watch the rugby match between the NZ All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies.   Unfortunately it was not a good outcome for the All Blacks and they lost the Tri-Nation's Cup tournament. 

The two days we spent in Wellington were purely sightseeing and enjoying the city.   We connected with a few old friends: Josh Landis, an American journalist whom we met in Laos and then again in Cambodia; and Gary Williams, partner of Jo Buckner and whom we met through the BMW Safari in March.  Josh had just returned from a recent trip to the states where he and a friend took a motorcycle trip down through Texas and Mexico.   Gary was working on a project in Wellington during the week and flying home to Christchurch on weekends.  Had two interesting meals with these guys.  With Josh we ate at a place called Fidel's which just happened to be located on Cuba Street, and Gary took us to a Belgian place called Luven's where we gorged ourselves on buckets of mussels, fresh brown bread and Belgian Beer.  Besides all the good food we really enjoyed the spring-like weather, walking around the waterfront in Wellington and our trip to the Te Papa national museum.  The museum is well known for its Maori cultural exhibits, showing contemporary marae (meeting houses) and canoes among many other things.  There is also a racing bike on display, which was built from scratch by an amateur Kiwi bike builder.  It ended up breaking speed records.

John Britten's famous bike, hand made in his garage several years ago, and still holds the speed record in it's 1000cc class.

When we left on Tuesday, the 4th of September, we only had a short drive up along the western coast to Murray Spiers and Renate's place in Waitarere Beach, about 10 kilometers past the town of Levin.  We originally met Murray and Renate through the TABS motorcycle club.  TABS is short for Trans Atlantic Bike Share, which we highly recommend to everyone to become a member of if you enjoy traveling.  When Murray heard we were looking to buy a used F650 a few months ago, he immediately contacted us.  Renate was doing less off-road riding and wanted to sell her bike and switch to a more road-oriented bike.  Now Chris is riding Renate's bike, appropriately called, what else, Renate.

Wednesday morning, 6:15am, September 5th = Tuesday 1:15pm, September 4th in New York.   The cell phone rings, and Chris bolts from bed screaming "No, No, No!"   You see, Chris's father was having heart surgery Tuesday morning in New York (he had bypass surgery 8 yrs ago), and his mother was going to call if there were any complications.  Luckily, it turned out to be our old friend Stephen calling from Hungary just to see how we were doing.  Of all the times to call.....Chris' heart was pounding (no pun intended), and was so happy it was Stephen!! 

Chris' parents were preparing for a trip to China, and Robi went to the hospital for a check up before they departed.  The doctors found one of his arteries was 99% blocked -- thank G-d he didn't collapse in the outback of China!  He has since had another triple bypass, and is recovering better than last time -- feel free to drop him a line:

After talking to Chris' mother, again confirming Robi was recovering well, we headed northwest to Hawera.  Around lunchtime, we arrived at Hawera Motorcycles, the New Zealand distributors for Ohlins shocks, to meet Robert Taylor (a.k.a. the Doctor) for final adjustments to our shocks. 

Hawera M/C Crew:  Wade, Chum, Shane, Robert (the Doctor), and humble owner Al (with the broom)

Robert was great and immediately set to work on them.  Alan Green, the owner of the shop, asked us where we were staying and we told him of our arrangements at a local Backpackers place.  He graciously and generously invited us to stay with him and his wife Janene at their house nearby.  Their house, complete with a big black cat called Caligula, is huge with lots of character and history.   It's the kind of house you expect when you stay in a grand-style B&B.  It even has a name, the California Bungalow.  Janene has done a lot of traveling herself and we discovered that we had both been to the same little bathhouse in Kusadsi, Turkey!   It was funny to look at her pictures as many were the same as we had taken. 

The kindness of Alan, Janene, Robert and the rest of the shop employees turned our routine stopover into a really lovely experience!  Besides providing us with a nice place to stay, Janene cooked up wonderful meals for us including a breakfast of white bait fritters.  White bait is a baby fish that is transparent to look at with only the eyes readily visible.  Kiwi's eat them like a delicacy and cook them up various ways.   They can cost up to $90NZ or more a kilo! Janene made a sort of pancake with them combining it with eggs and fried up in a pan.  After they're cooked they turn white and are very delicate in taste.  I'm glad we didn't leave New Zealand without trying them!

Robert worked hard for about 2 days trying to get our shocks just right.  Finally on Friday, we took the bikes out for a long ride around the volcano, known as Mt. Egmont, to test out the shocks.  Shortly after leaving town we stopped in for coffee and to say hello to Murray Sulzberger, a BMW rider, on his dairy farm outside Hawera.   Murray had invited us to stay at his family's bach (like a summer cottage) when we first arrived in New Zealand.  We tried to convince Murray to take a ride with us to New Plymouth but being a dairy farmer has its responsibilities-------like milking the cows twice a day!

We were able though to entice Murray Spiers and his friend John out for a ride to meet us in New Plymouth, about a 3-hour ride north of Waitarere Beach.  It was a nice day and we were able to get good views of the impressive volcano, which many compare to Mt. Fuji.  Mt. Egmont rises up out of a relatively flat looking plain high into the sky.   We met Murray (along with his dog Waka in the tank bag) and John at the BMW dealership, Callender Motorcycles.  Fred, the sales manager there recognized us from our website and welcomed us into the shop.  Callender's has one of the better views I've seen from a motorcycle shop.  They are situated right on the waterfront with views out to the sea.  After much looking around the shop at the bikes and the gear we set off back down south.

Erin and Murray pose in front of the bikes, while Waka checks out Mt. Egmont from the rear of Murray's Transalp.

On the way back we stopped in to the shop in Hawera to thank them for the job well done on the shocks and for their hospitality.  The weather was turning darker, so we made it a fairly quick goodbye.  We still had a good two-hour drive in the dark before we reached Murray's place in Waitarere Beach.  When we did finally arrive, Renate had a big roast dinner waiting for us!

  Previous Chapter | Next Chapter | Related Photos


TOP | About Us | Costs | FAQ | Journal Entries | Links | Motorcycles | Photo Gallery | Supporters | Guestbook | HOME

  Sure, send us an email E-mail Us

There are probably dozens of errors on this website (if not more).   
If you notice/have any problems, please send us an email: Webmaster

The goal is not the destination, it's the experiences along the way.