New Zealand may be the only country in the world that has a beach mapped
to be an official highway. Passage is only possible at low tide and every
tidecycle, the sea washes out the marks that were left behind. The beach
is called the 90 mile beach, but in fact is not much longer that 90 kilometres.
To ride the firm beach is great, but the way to get there is really spectacular.
I'm talking about the most northerly entry near Cape Reinga, where a
river runs into the sea which is used as a passage (about 1 km) through
the dunes. The river is about 30 cm deep and has a moderate current.
Rob took the XJ down the water, that is about 20 to 40 cm deep and has
a moderate current. I'd never been on a solo bike in so much water before
and just started the XT and went in. Water was everywhere, as off course
I'd gone in too fast in the knowledge that I did not want my engine to
Off course we had to try out the maximum speed of our bikes on the beach.
165 km/h was about it.
Every time we hit a spot green algae (is that the right word?) our rear
wheels started spinning, as you don't have any grip there. Coming off
the beach our bikes looked just horrible. The engine was green of the
algae and we hurried up to get to the steamcleaner. Taken off the tank
and the buddyseats and wash, wash, wash.
The kids in the school had told us already about the volcanoes on the
island, about the geysers and the mudpools that say 'blob'. In the area
around Auckland only already 50 volcanoes, dead and alive ones exist.
We joined Murray of Geotours NZ one morning, who taught us how to recognize
different kinds of lava rocks and we learned that there are many different
kinds of volcanic eruptions.
Another thing we really enjoyed, was to make a piece of art a la Maori,
from nothing more that a cow-bone (mooohhh). Rob made a silver fern, which
is the symbol of New Zealand and I made a fish hook form, which is a typical
Maori symbol for good fortune and prosperity. According to Ian, owner
of the Bone Studio in Whitianga on the Corremendel peninsula, this is
the only place in New Zealand where you can make your own necklace and
true or not, we had a great time.
All around the world New Zealanders are known for their crazy things,
like jumping of bridges with a bungee cord on their feet. "Yes, we
have to go bungee jumping," Rob had had the idea when we were still
preparing our tour back in 1992. In Christchurch we tried out the bungee-rocket.
You sit and are strapped down in a cage and are kind of shot into the
sky with a speed from 0 to 160 km/h within 3 secs (G5-force).
At this speed your face starts looking funny and you think hooooooooo...
sh..., this goes tooooo faaaaasssttt.
We were also invited by 'Fly-a-wire'. In this you are flat on your stomach
in a small rocket-like fly-thing, to which you are strapped. Behind your
feet you've got a 600 cc boxer engine that you can control with a lever.
First you are winched up and than backwards till you hang upside down
(hoooooo---scaaarrryy). You cut yourself loose from the wire pulling you
back and you whizz down reaching 140 km/h within 3 secs. After that you
have 7 minutes to fly around, powered by the engine. It was superb. 7
minutes is quite long and you really get the hang of it, trying to make
tight corners and reach higher speeds. Crazy they are, the New Zealanders,
absolutely totally crazy, the way we like them.
In Auckland we had to check out one more thing before leaving these
precious islands. There's Buckly Systems ltd, father and son Buckly and
a team of designers, engineers and mechanics, that in the past ca. 2 years
have developed and built a 3 cylinder GP racer. We join the team on a
testing day out on the racetrack where a new step forward is made. The
team is going to try real hard to make it's (re)entry during the GP of
Valencia and for sure be there when it all happens at Phillip Island (Oz).
It will not be the first time, but hopefully this time it's for real.
Our sidecar arrived two days later after we set foot on American soil
in Los Angeles. To get it out of the port was really just a piece of cake.
Not checks, no questions, just a few forms and we were ready to roll again.
We shipped our bike RORO from Sydney Australia with Wilhelmsen Wallenius
and all went well, although their service in Australia could have been
better and they should have given us at least a discount. Air New Zealand
made up for all of that though, being so generous to fly us from Sydney
to Auckland and from Auckland to Los Angeles for just 25% of the price.
We received a lot of mail lately (many thanx), which we enjoy reading
very much. We tried to mail everyone back, but it could be that we forgot
some of you. Our apologies!
Next newsletter will tell you all about our travels through bear country,
in which many times the humans are more dangerous.
A greeting and a smile!
Rob en Dafne
Ride-on World tour