I left Akaroa in the rain but it cleared by the time I hit Christchurch. Met Jimi at our house and hit the road about lunchtime. Headed south, had some food in Rakaia at the Meads Cafe and then went through to Tekapo where we had the first beers of the trip. Then had a great ride to Omarama and through the Lindis Pass (this road was made for motorcycles!). Ended up at the same campsite Malcolm, Max, and I stayed at last year by the river just outside Albert Town. We got in touch with Collie, a family friend of Jimis dad we'd met a couple of months back, as we knew he lived in the area. Collie and his mate Pug came and picked us up in his Valiant and took us for a cruise round Wanaka. Had a great evening drinking beers in the back and visiting various spots, eventually ending up back at Collie's where we checked out his very hot Harley. This thing is a fire-breathing monster with fucking rearsets! No wonder he has trouble riding with other local Harley owners! Got back to the campsite totally smashed and cooked ourselves nachos. Great night, thanks Collie & Pug.
Woke up feeling pretty good considering how drunk we were when we went to bed. Nachos worked their magic. Fucked around for a bit deciding whether to swim or not – river was beautiful but real fucking cold. Decided not to and regretted it for rest of trip! Headed into Wanaka for breakfast and I noticed my bike had a real bad wobble in the front end when I took my hands off the bars. It was bad enough that if I left my hands off the bars for more than about 5 seconds it'd start trying to get itself into a proper tank-slapper. Scary. Thought it was a misbalanced front wheel and so had it re balanced in Alexandra, but it didn't make any difference. Hoped then that it was the tyre, which interestingly enough had worn out sort of lopsided. This was all a bit of a bummer cause I had to then head to Dunedin for a new tyre. We didn't really feel like heading back to a city so soon, and the ride to Dunedin, even though it's a great road, felt a bit 'flat'. Got to Dunedin about 5pm and Jimi decided to go back to Oamaru where he could tighten up various bits of his bike nicely at his dad's garage. I stayed with Kreisler and Tara in Port Chalmers and had a great night of food, conversation, cats, and more liqour!
I got my bike down to the shop in Dunedin and then headed back to Port where Kreisler and Tara cooked up a mean breakfast. Went and picked bike up again at about 11.30am and hit the road to meet Jimi in Oamaru. Was great to have my bike running true again... I realised I think it mighta been fucked ever since that tyre was on there!? Anyway got to Oamaru pretty quick but found Jimi still working on his bike. Had some lunch and a cuppa tea and after a couple of unmentionable dramas (due to being in a rush) we were on the road again. We knew bad weather was coming the next day and I was keen to make the most of this days weather – hot and dry! We had a great ride back into Central Otago even as the wind picked up again. I did this Kurow rd a few years ago with Malcolm and it was all mist and rain, it was great to do it again and be able to see the landscape, it's pretty bloody amazing down there. Stopped briefly at the Waitaki dam where Jimi spent much of his childhood cause his dad worked there, checked out the house he grew up in. Then we stopped in Omarama for a couple of beers before hitting the Lindis Pass again, and strangely enough met an old ex of Jimi's mum's – the Moth!? The Lindis was even better today as the wind wasn't as bad as the first time through and we had an extra beer under our belts. Headed straight for Makarora as I knew we could get a cheap cabin there as the weather was about to shit itself. Malcom, Max, and I had stayed here last year also... we kinda ended up doing a reverse version of that ride from last year (minus Southland). We arrived in Makarora to find the rd was closed anyway (recent rain wrecking havoc on the Haast Pass rd) so it was good we hadn't planned to go any further today. Proceeded to have a great night at the bar in Makarora, on the piss again and playing pool with a couple working/living there, a Scottish girl and and Irish guy whose name I forget sorry!
Woke up to find it was, as predicted, raining. We had thought about spending the day at the cabin to wait out the rain, but decided to put our wet weather gear on and just get out into it. Then we actually had a pretty fun ride through the mountains of the Haast Pass in some of the heaviest rain I've ever ridden in. We stopped briefly in Haast for gas and then kept going to Fox where we stopped for gas again and realised we were pretty bloody soaked, despite the wet weather gear. Decided, hence, to stay in Fox and get a room again... where I thought we'd be able to dry our shit out. But when we got into the room we found a fan heater that didn't work and only the smallest column heater I've ever seen. Still it was good to put dry clothes on and head down to the bar. I should also mention I fell off my bike here, even though I was barely moving! I went to pull out of a park and, with the heavy rain and the incline of the hill, my rear wheel spun out and me and the bike ended up lying on the wet rd for a moment. That was fun. Anyway I was imagining having a quiet night in watching movies on Sky or something, but our room also didn't have Sky, just shitty channel 1 and 3. It was so lame I decided to meet Jimi in the bar and, needless to say I guess, we ended up drinking all night again! Had a pretty great night in Fox though as it was quite busy and we met a bunch of cool folk and a kea started wailing on Jimi's beer. Mostly we ended up hanging with this girl Kim from Belgium and an Argentinian woman she'd met on the bus, Liliana. We all got on it and had quite a wild night, which ended with Jimi opening cans of baked beans in our room with a screwdriver and a hammer. Yes we had noise complaints to deal with the next morning!
Woke up feeling not too bad thanks to the late night baked beans, but got sorta told off about the noise we made by the owner (who'd received the complaints already). We packed the bikes again, most of our gear had kinda dried out, had breakfast, and hit the road. It was a beautiful day with no rain but that wind was building up again. Regardless riding up the West Coast of the South Island is amazing. The landscapes are amazing and the roads are great for motorcycles... better even than the Lindis maybe? Now last time I'd come down the coast we'd stopped at this little motorcycle museum in Ross. I hadn't mentioned it to Jimi but on our way through Ross I pulled over right outside. Jimi's eyes just about fell right outta his head when he saw what was inside! Unfortunately the guy who runs it wasn't about, so we had some lunch and waited. We were about to bugger off when the guy's missus showed up though and realised she'd met Jimi before and also knew his dad quite well. We then got a pretty good free tour of the place, and man did this chick know her bikes! In fact some of them were actually hers. Very impressive. And they have even more bikes they're hoping to be able to display when they get a bigger premises sometime down the track. Anyway eventually we headed for Hokitika where I needed to find a place to use the internet and transfer some money. Once in Hokitika we decided to spend the night there. Which was a bit weird actually. The camp ground there is a bit shit, which I should have remembered. Hokitika is nice but it can also have a bit of a weird vibe? Jimi talked me into drinking more beer and even another whiskey but it wasn't working for me! We ate some pretty sweet pizza and then headed back to the tents where we made a cuppa tea and tried to think of tattoo designs... and then went to bed sober for a change. Was also feeling a little deflated as this was our last night on the road and we had to head home next day...
Woke up and packed up pretty slowly. Even though it was a really nice day and we had an amazing road ahead of us – Arthurs Pass – it's never an exciting prospect heading back to home and work etc. Had breakfast in Hokitika and then hit the road. Arthurs Pass is pretty mind blowing, and it was quite a buzz, especially once past Arthurs as there's not so much gravel on the corners. We pulled over for a bit after we saw Darryl fly past us on his wild hard-tail chopper, and expressed some real admiration for a man who'll ride a bike like that at high speed into the mountains! Had a pretty non-eventful ride home, except my hitting a bird, a sparrow I think, at about 135kph. That was messy. Got back to our house in Christchurch, let Jimi in, and then pretty much headed straight for Akaroa to pick up Nadz and the dog. Ride over! Bummer. I reckon it needs to be two weeks next year...