Bay of Islands
The motorcycle was very heavy at first, you could really feel the weight in the rear panniers and top box make the bike feel top heavy in slow turns. I took my time to get acquainted with bike as I headed towards Helensville, checking the brakes and best engine revs for cruising and overtaking.
I wasn’t familiar with the TomTom Rider GPS, and realised after a few unplanned detours that you had to remove off road trails from any planned itinerary. When I’d sorted out the GPS it was a case of relaxing in to the ride to the Bay of Islands.
My first day of riding in New Zealand was a real contrast of inland riding and sweeping coastal roads, keeping a steady pace all the way to Opua to catch the ferry Paihia. After a short trip on the ferry it was cool ride in the setting sun as I reach my hotel just before dark.
The first time unpacking the bike on a trip is always a good indicator of your preparation, and I was please that I’d managed access everything I needed, before finding a local restaurant for a well deserved beer and supper.
Free day in Paihia
I had a couple of options available for my free day in Paihia, a trip to Cape Regina and drive along 90 mile beach, or a cruise around the islands, including the ‘hole in the rock’.
I decided to take the cruise around the islands, but also managed to squeeze in some riding during the morning to Kerikeri and Kawakawa. The Kerikeri local market was superb, a real community vibe with freshly baked cakes and live music.
The islands cruise departed shortly after lunch, and included a stop-off at one of the islands for a walk and refreshments. The cruise culminates in the cruise ship passing through a hole in an island, which provides lots of photo opportunities. The cruise back to Paihia was very relaxing, and I also decided to take option to stop at Russel for a few hours before taking the local ferry back to Paihia.
The sun was low in the sky when I arrived in Russel, and I quickly found a friendly bar along the waterfront for refreshments. Russel is a lovely waterfront town, and felt very much at home. I took the dusk ferry back to Paihia, and decided to have an early night in preparation for my journey tomorrow.