Alan'S Coromandel Ride

Day 1 Friday:

At long last the day dawned with predictions of rain for the coming weekend and thunderstorms at times. Did not look promising although the signs were good when I set out at 8am. Took the VFR as the CBX was unregistered – no way am I paying any more government tax than I have to.

Headed across the Harbour Bridge to meet Dave (Moffy) and his 1200 Bandit at the Pakuranga Burger King. Got there at 8:45 after electing to drive round the waterfront and through the ‘Burbs rather than slab it down the motorway in the morning rush hour. No sign of Dave and Burger King did not open until 9am. Peeled off my jacket as by now the weather was starting to warm up and the sun was out.

Hope this is an omen for the weekend!

On the dot of 9am Moffy arrived and after a quick coffee it was away to Clevedon with Moffy leading as he knew this road quite well. By now the sun was really shining and I started to enjoy the road which runs through a couple of Scenic Reserves and then alongside the Firth of Thames (between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsular). bike was running well and I started to move in the seat and hang off the bike a bit. Lefthanders seem more natural than right handers …wonder why? Must try to do this when the bike leans over too!

As we got further along the coast the corners opened out a bit more. That’s better I am not a real fan of the tight 25km jobbies. Probably a result of my running wide on one in the Mac Pass, Sydney and dropping the front wheel of Rockbiter (loaned VFR) into a drain and then on to my foot. But that’s another story.

Road surface here is top class, little loose gravel and well maintained and the view across the sea was to die for. Stopped here and took a couple of pix of Moffy running his bike thru some sweepers.

Good idea of mine to take the Friday off � bugger all cars so we were free to run at whatever speed felt comfortable. A couple of good straights saw 160 kph easily and bike felt good…… especially the Dragon Super Corsa on the front, despite being well down on tread at the shoulders. All too soon we were at the Kaiaua (pronounced K eye awa) Fish and Chip shop. This place has a reputation for some of the best Fish and Chips around and its great to sit on the deck or outside seats with a beer (its licenced- how civilised for a chippie!) after a quick blast over the roads. food or beer for us as it was still before lunch. Just a quick stop for a couple of photos and back on the bikes thru Miranda and joining the main highway at Waitakaruru. On bike temperature gauge indicated an air temperature of 27C so things were starting to warm up.

Need to be a bit more careful with the right hand now as this was a main highway and the cops just cruise it looking for more taxes. Only saw one Patrol Car and he had already bagged one for his daily take so we soon reached the Kopu Bridge. This is a long one way bridge and, being on one of the main routes to/from Coromandel and the holiday beaches is a real bottleneck at long weekends and thru the summer. Except if you are on a bike when you can ride to the head of the queue . Doesn’t make many friends out of the cage drivers but who cares?

Across the bridge. Bit tricky this as I was trying to take a photo at the same time…OK a bit silly but it was first gear only so not as risky as it sounds. There was just a short 5km run in to Thames. What a relaxed and leisurely pace of life…could get used to living here. No traffic lights, no parking meters. This was getting to be a very relaxing trip for a JAFA (Just Another F*&cking Aucklander) as the rest of the country calls us.

Time for a spot of lunch. Toasted Chicken and Camembert Sandwiches and a couple of Heineken stubbies consumed while sitting at a table on the footpath in the glorious sunshine. Report… Thank god they were wrong AGAIN!!!

From here on the ride was brilliant around the bays, alongside the sea all the way to Coromandel. Lots of 35/45/55 posted corners. Taken a bit faster on the bikes with good surface and a few short straights connecting them. Mainly 3/4/5 gear for the entire ride to Coromandel. Just out of Coromandel at Te Kouma we struck a patch of gravel repairs for about 1.5 kms. This was abit disappointing as it encompassed a couple of good sweeping downhill corners but discretion was the better part of valour. Arrived at Coromandel at around 1:30 pm having clocked up just on 198kms

By now my Woolworths Bladder was starting to feel the effects of the Heinekens so it was judged time for a comfort stop. was only now that we realised how hot (Air temp now 32C according to the gauge on my bike) it was becoming and it was soon off with our jackets. Spoke to a couple of bikers on Hardly Desirables heading the other way and doing the full loop Tauranga/Coromandel/Waihi/ Tauranga. They reckoned the road from here on was brilliant. Told them if it was anything like the section we had just done then they would be in for a blast too.

Had a look at the local Real Estate Office and they had some nice properties in the low $NZ400k range. Shit, these were getting up towards Auckland prices. Seems anything within 2 hours of Auckland and by the sea attracts JAFAS like seagulls to a rubbish tip.

Soon it was back on the bikes and out of town. Heading over the ranges to Whitianga. Man what a road. Steady twisty climb up out of Coromandel on a really great surface. Just had to stop and take a photo of the view then it was press on. Over the top and down the other side some great twisties and a couple of seriously tight ones that saw me running a bit wide. Don’t want to lay the bike over anymore with the front tyre I have � should really have put a new one on before I left Auckland.

Hmm, road surface quite good but a lot of tar bleed in the heat from poor repairs. Surface good but unable to stand up to the temps. These patches were a bit slippery and Moffy reckons his bike gave him a few Sphincter clenches to keep him on the ball. Still got miles of this to go. No wonder the Coromandel is a Mecca for Auckland and Waikato riders. Don’t know why I have not done it before. Soon we were cruising in to Whitianga (pronounced Fit-e-anga). Next moment there was a stinging pain in my neck � a bee under my helmet. A rapid stop, removal of gloves, sunnies and helmet ensued as Moffy turned around and came back to see what was up. “Thought it was a major the way you stopped” and then he proceeded to remove the sting which was still hanging out of my neck.

Don’t think I am allergic to bee stings… unlike Carey!! But I am about to find out. Motored slowly in to Whitianga and gassed up for the first time. Good fuel consumption these VFRs and then decided I had better get some antihistamine tablets just in case. Took 2 tablets and then back on the bikes for the run down towards Whangamata where we were due to spend the night in our caravan.

The road here was still good and the tar bleed seemed to be less of a problem. The road was never far from the sea but often it was not visible with big stands of native bush that the road ran thru. Made sure the helmet visor was well down, not wanting a bee inside the helmet although I seemed to be suffering no after effects of the sting.

Through Tairua, past Pauanui (Pa-Wa-New-e) and then down to the Hikuai turnoff to Whangamata. Only 25kms from our destination for the night. However these were roads I had ridden before having ridden my bike to the beach several times in the past. Great mix of uphill, downhill, fast sweepers and tight twisty corners and only a couple of shortish straights � good for 160-ish! All too soon we were in Whangamata and safely ensconced in the caravan. All mod cons for us though as we have TV, Microwave, Fridge and an amenities building with shower, toilet, another fridge freezer. Best of all there were a few cold beers in the fridge all ready for us.

Plan was to have a few cold ones, shower and then head for the Deep Sea Fishing Club, of which I am a member, for a meal a few more beers and to watch footy (Rugby) on TV. All too soon the effects of the days ride and the beers caught up with us so we elected instead to get a couple of Buttered Chicken Takeways from the local shop and stay in the ‘van and watch TV and get an early night. I wanted to mow the lawns next morning before we left so planned on a reasonably early rise.

End of a fabulous day and the weather was perfect but forecast for next day was again for rain and thunderstorms.

Day 2 Saturday.

Up at 7:30 with plans to mow the lawn before heading off further South. Wouldn’t believe it but no key to the mower shed so looks like that’s off the agenda… Bummer! Had some brekky and generally stuffed around enjoying the sun before finally heading off towards Tauranga & Mt Maunganui at about 10am. Dave wanted to call in to a new Suzuki shop at the Mount so we planned on making that our next major stop just over an hour down the road. Quite a decent road but a fair bit of traffic, on what is a main highway, so elected to ride it in cruise mode. No sign of the promised thunderstorms. Reached Katikati and gassed up and shortly after Dave suggested a bike swap for the rest of the run to Mt Maunganui. Sounded good so I hopped on to the Bandit and away we headed. Man… like an armchair after the VFR especially with Dave’s bag strapped on the pillion seat providing a backrest. Was a bit weird getting used to 5 gears instead of the usual 6 but with the torque from the big 1200 it was really effortless.

Motored in to Mt Maunganui around 11am and found the bike shop and, after a quick perv at the new Bandits went in search of the mechanics to borrow and Allen key and tightened my R/hand mirror which was loose and kept vibrating down until all I could see was my hip. Not good for passing. Think Dave enjoyed the VFR but missed the torque of the bigger motor. Oh heresy….. suggested he consider a Blackbird as another option!!

No pix on this leg as road was pretty boring although the surface was good.

At around 11:30 we were again back on the road heading South through Te Puke and heading towards Rotorua. I was looking forward to the next lot of roads but elected to follow Dave who was more familiar with the area. Original plan was to head to Rotorua by way of Whakatane but we agreed to cut out Whakatane and head straight for Rotorua. In hindsight I think I would have like to go the longer route and enjoy some more winding roads. This was still a major highway so we decided to continue with the easy pace and enjoy the sun and the sights. A pace around 120/140kph seemed ideal. Enjoyed the cruise alongside the various lakes for which the area is famous and soon the distinctive smell of rotten eggs (sulphur dioxide) from the Thermal springs was wafting under the helmet. Some people dislike the smell (RDM for one) but I don’t find it too bad but I’d hate to think what the sulphur deposits do to cars and bikes around the area. I always get a kick out of riding around Rotorua and seeing steam coming out of gardens, drain covers and other unlikely places.

By now I was starting to feel the pangs of hunger so we headed down to the side of the lake to get a spot of lunch. was full of young Japanese schoolkids doing the tourist bit. The light breeze was really nice and cooling but I’d have to say Lake Rotorua looked less than inviting. It suffers from a pollution problem in the form of algae bloom caused by the run off from the surrounding farms and was quite grey looking. Nothing like the clear blue lakes of the South Island and personally I prefer the sea anyway.

Lunch out of the way and we left Rotorua at around 2:00. By now we had covered 420kms since setting out. Moffy was familiar with this area having lived and worked in Rotorua for a while so he took point. Turned off at Reparoa and headed through the back way to Taupo. Heaps of big Loooooooong straights and almost deserted but with top class surface. Opened the VFR up a bit here and at 180kph Moffy zoomed past on the Bandit – reckoned he had 200km on the clock. I know this is not fast to some listers but its more than I have done before.

Got to Chantilly Motel in Taupo owned by friends Mark & Helen Faulkner. Helen gave me some white vinegar to neutralise the bee sting which by now had me looking like I had Goitre. Hate to think what would have happened if had been allergic. For sure my throat would have closed and I would have been unable to breathe. I can’t say enough about Mark & Helens generosity and any listers visiting our fair land of Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) could do a lot worse than stay with them- bikes welcome and they gave us a spot around the back of the office where we could chain the bikes up in relative seclusion and security. Mark is a bit of a car nut and has a very nice Porsche Cheyenne and a BMW M3. After a quick shower it was in to town for a feed, delayed somewhat by watching the locals endeavouring to clear up after an SUV was flipped by a Learner driver in a Mitsi coming out of a side entrance. The mother looked a bit of a mess but the most amazing thing was a toddler who had been sitting unbuckled between the two front seats had escaped injury free as had a small baby.

Back to the motel where we joined Mark & Helen for a few drinks before heading for the room and bed.

Another Great Day and still no sign of the rain predicted for tomorrow (Sunday) now.

Day 3 (Sunday):

Met. office finally got it right. Sunday dawned with the rain Pi**ing down. Original plan was to take a few of the back roads back to Auckland but, in view of the weather, it was decided we would stick to the major roads.. Eventually got underway at about 10am and, on Marks advice, headed around Lake Taupo and out towards Kinloch to meet up with the Western Access Road. This should have been the best part of the trip. Lots of fast twisties and a few long straights to get the kinks out, and almost no vehicles so the road is no good for the revenue gatherers, but the weather meant speeds were kept down. Did manage a couple of blasts up around the 160kph range but mainly enjoyed the twisties. This road eventually joins State Highway 1 at Kihikihi and then it is a fairly uneventful trip up through Te Awamutu, Hamilton and then on to Auckland. Once at Bombay it was on to the motorway for the final 50kms in to the city. Moffy peeled off at Manukau as he lives on the South side of Auckland. I headed into the city, over the Harbour Bridge and finally reached home where a hot shower was first on the agenda followed by a hot drink and a feed..

Last day not so good but still enjoyable. Total kms covered in the 3 days was just under 1200 and the VFR performed faultlessly. No idea of the fuel consumption other than the fact that Moffy was amazed how rarely I filled up compared to him. No photos of this stretch as we had forgotten to pack the underwater cameras.

Would I do it again… You bet but next time I’ll try it on the CBX750 for a change. Best of all I now own a section over the Coromandel way so in the next year or so I’ll be able to drive those fabulous roads as often as I like and time permits.

Alan Nicholson
98 VFR800
87 CBX750 Bol D’or