Time for the Northern Odyssey again. This is a ride around parts of the North Island where you have to stop frequently to answer questions. You get a list directions to various places and when you find the place you need to answer a question. This year there are 34 questions and it was a circular route around the mid North Island.
This years route actually comes past my home time so no need to ride 3 to 4 hours just to get to the start of the route.
For me the Odyssey started the day the email arrived with the instructions. My first part is to look at the directions and find the locations on Google Maps and get the GPS co-ordinates. I then transfer these to Basecamp and make a route out of them. I then adjust the route to get the best way around the locations. It took about 3 hours to get all the locations and get the route made up. For me this meant starting at question 13 and working my way backwards around the loop.
I decided to do this ride on the 21st December due to the forecast looking better for that day. I grabbed the answer to question 13 on the day before as it was just up the road here at Manaia. I then planned for a 5am start Friday morning.
Friday came, and breakfast out of the way. The stars were out and looking good I headed for my first stop of Pukiti Gardens. The road to the gardens must be the worse road in New Zealand. It is very windy, narrow, and makes a goat track seem smooth but I got there and had a search for the answer before taking a photo and moving one.
Next stop was to fill up with gas before hitting the Wind Wand but some turkey had been through on the road and put down some very fine metal without any road works signs out. I discovered this just as I was about to turn into a rather sharp bend. I tried to slow by gently squeezing the front brake but the wheel immediately stopped rotating and I felt the handle bar twist as though it was going down. I let the brake go and pulled hard the opposite way and managed to not drop the bike mid corner. This was the closet I have ever been to dropping the bike (while riding anyway. the stationary drops don’t count) and I counted my lucky stars. and around the next corner what do you know, road work signs. Gee thanks.
Anyway filled up with gas and stopped off at the Wind Wand and got anther answer and another photo. Next stop was the Rearewa Bridge in Fitzroy. I actually road on the walkway as it was early and no one around and it was only a short distance. Had to get that nice shot with the bike and the bridge. Another question answered and on to Waitara marine park motor camp. Found it but could not find the answer. Was going to take the photo and then saw it had a “under new management” sticker on it and this actually covered the answer. Could just make it out. Shot!
Mount Messenger was the next stop on the list and it wasn’t long to get there. Answer found and photo taken. Back in the saddle again.
Next had to find the three sisters and see what they were made of. Couldn’t see them from the stop area but a sign soon told me what I needed to know and it was off for the next stop at the Mokau museum. I had been in Mokau the previous Saturday for a spin up the river on the Jetski. We ended up about 50kms up the river before it got a bit low. For my trouble I got a sun burned head so was rather itchy under the helmet the whole ride. Found what I needed at the museum and was off.
A quick stop at Piopio which someone told me their kids called it P10 P10. That has always stuck with me. Te Kuiti was next on the list for the Colin Meads statue. Was down to question 4 at this point and was doing well.
Otorohanga main street was the next stop and I was keeping good time at this point. Was able to park right outside the question and got a good photo and back the way I came a short distance and hang a right for Pirongia Village to find an old trig station. It was duely found and off down the road to find a roundabout at Temple view. This was a hard one as the question had to do with words written on the roundabout. Had to park the bike on the footpath and wonder around the roundabout to read it. Got some weird looks from people but got the answer and was off.
Now I was back to question 34 and found the Classic car museum in Hamilton and found the answer and a photo before going to the Hamilton Gardens and tried to find the answer to the question. I hope I got the right answer here as it appeared to be more than one. Gassed up (didn’t really need it but what the hey) and zoomed off for the next stop.
Next stop was Hobbiton and my GPS deviated here from my planned route but it was probably faster. The road was a bit twisty but nice. Hobbiton was extremely busy with about 6 staff just directing cars for car parks. They tried to park me 4 times while I was circulating looking for the answer. Finally found it and parked on their driveway and immediately someone came and asked if I needed help and if I was a visitor. Nope just needed a quick photo thanks.
Okoroire Pub was the next stop and not far away. Plenty of visitor here as well playing golf on the course on the opposite side of the road. Another 50 odd kms down the road and arrived at Hamurana for another photo shoot and another answer. Redwoods Treewalk was the next stop on the list and was quickly found and dispatched. Waimangu was next on the list at question 28 and the small carpark was rather full so had to find a spot on the end or walk a mile. Took the spot on the end as it was quite warm still.
Aratiatia Rapids were next and had been there before so was easy to find and a quick stop to get the answer. Also noticed at this point the battery on my camera was mighty low and was on the last bar so was not looking good to finish out the day. Taupo main street was the next stop and it was another quick one. Was loosing time however on all these stops as it was taking time to find some of the answers. Rangitaiki was the next stop and it was a electric vehicle charging point. Tried to charge the bike but couldn’t find a plug to fit damn it. Te Pohue School was the next stop and it was just starting to spit a little rain here. Easy answer to find and was off to Napier.
At Napier I had to circle the square a couple of times to find the right place and there was no parks so parked on the road as I had the answer in sight and could be off before a parking warden could swoop. It was also raining here so not pleasant. Hastings was the next stop. Man I thought Auckland traffic bad but Hastings has them beat. Roundabouts everywhere and everyone waiting giving way to everyone else so no one moved. Took nearly an hour to work my way to the answer and back out of town after filling up.
On the homeward leg now across the Gentle Annie and the down the Paraparas to home. First stop was Cameron Carpark though and I shot past this one as I had marked it slightly out on my GPS. It was raining so road was wet and slippery. Got the photo and answered the question and was off to find the Springvale Suspension bridge. Have been through this part plenty of times before so was easy to find. Road was very greasy being wet and bike was slipping all over the place so had to slow down heaps. Got to the bridge and there was a camper van and a ute parked there. I photoshopped them out of the photo for practice.
Next stop was the clock tower at Taihape and the rain was getting worse. It was supposed to be showers not full on rain. After Taihape was Waiouru army museum and this was a quick jaunt up SH1 and both done. Tangiwai memorial was the next stop and it was getting chilly as well as wet by now but not far to go. Down Fields Track to find the bridge over the Whangaehu river to find the answer to question 16. Just after I snapped the photo the camera battery yelled no more so no more photos.
The road was very wet now and had to slow even more allowing more rain to get past the fairing and onto me. I was starting to get wet on my chest by now. Soon made it to SH4 and the paraparas. There must have been some big sudden downpour along this road as it was in a bad state. Came across at least 4 slips with crap all over the road. One cockies driveway was all across the road and the road had rivers running across them but the otherwise it was in good condition. Had to get an answer at the turn off to River Road and after that the final question was answered at the top of Dury Hill in Whanganui.
I then went to Burger King to dry off a bit and have some dinner. It was about 7:30pm and had been on the bike 14.5 hours at this point. After that I left for home and through town cam across a dude doing 25kph in the middle of the road. I was wet and didn’t want to hand around so was a bit naughty and under-passed him and half way past he saw it and accelerated and served towards me but I was already past. He then sat on my arse about a foot away flashing his lights and blasting his horn. Concerned he would hit me I passed another car and put it between us. Just outside of Whanganui the car turned off and he again was about a foot behind me flashing his lights. I was sick of that so I opened the throttle and left him behind. Tosser.
Anyway apart from that and the weather at the end it was a great day. Covered 1100kms in 16 hours and saw a few more roads I had not covered before. I must make sure my camera is charged before I go next time as this is the second time I have done this.