Branstrans Blog Home

Category List


It was a public holiday today, as it was the last time, we were here but it was on Monday that year. This is the day February 6th when hundreds of motorbikes make a pilgrimage ride to Cape Reigna the northern most tip of the North Island and we unknowingly drove there on this day on our last trip. There were hundreds of bikes there and we saw hundreds coming and going as well so we’re not missing that traffic today.

Our plan today was to explore the Bay of Islands as this areas is known as, from the water and ultimately to visit the most eastern tip of the island and see the Hole in the Rick as well and it couldn’t have been better weather with sun and calm winds, thankfully especially for Norm who is an even more green faced sailor than me.

It really is a spectacularly beautiful place and one which Captain James Cook mapped and said at that time it was the most populous place he had found in New Zealand. Sort of hard to imagine all the islands here being so inhabited since they’ve pretty much all gone back to bushland except for one which is part bush and is the only one open for camping … and has resident sheep to keep the grass down to minimise the fire risk. Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up.

Anyway, I’ve mercilessly culled many beautiful photos and have included just a free for an idea of it.


On our way to have breakfast and catch our boat we came across a couple of hundred bikers heading out for Cape Reinga. They were members, we are told of a Brotherhood and Sisterhood which was formed to support and encourage traditional fatherhood, eradicate domestic violence and to save young people from alcohol and drugs. I have been unable to find the name online as there has been such a history of very scary bikie gangs here. In any case I wish them well.


1 of 3 camera cars with them.


The only bottle nose dolphin photo I got, I was too busy looking at the real thing and there were many. This pod are semi-permanent residents here, but the species usually roam up and down the east coast fishing. I guess these ones have figured it’s no longer necessary to roam. The regulars are all known by the crews of the tourist boats and many of these have been here for over 20 years with regular newborns as well.


A lovely Bay of Islands view.


The hole in the rock and yes, we did motor through it. They only manage it about 30% of the time as it depends greatly on the swell and weather. Today was a perfect day. 


And again.


Coming out of the hole.


A long view to the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi the birthplace of the New Zealand Nation, a short distance from Paihia where all the festivities were held complete with the Prime Minister apparently. We could witness the traffic jam from the water, and it wasn’t much better on our return from Russell after lunch.

And there was supposed to be a pic of the Wellington which we passed on our way out this morning and which we witnessed giving a 21-gun salute as the flag was raised this afternoon....but after over 15 attempts it wont happen so I'm over it!


Then a helicopter to ????


And more beautiful views.

View Comments


We headed off in good time and changed our itinerary a bit, not the destination just the journey and had a picturesque ride traversing lots of country reminiscent of the Lismore area in northern NSW and into the hinterland as well as dense semi tropical rain forest (or at least it looks like that to me). Was reminiscent of the Tarra Bulga National Park near home just with Kauri trees instead of eucalypts and dense growth of varying varieties of ferns tree ferns and palms. Oh, and not to mention lots of coastal beach views along the way which look wonderful. Lots of bendy roads so largely a slow travel day but lovely.

A few pics below.


Morning coffee stop at Orewa on the beach.


Paparoa general store established 1884, a random shot from Norms bike!


Cute little Church in Dagarville on top of the hill.


The road ahead.


Coming through Waipour Forest.


Out of the forest and heading for Omapere.


And into Paihia.


Last nights’ accommodation:

Oaks Auckland Harbour

16 Gore Street

Auckland NZ 1010

Mmm took a pic of this one as well but cannot find it so Google this one as well if you want to see it.

Building getting a little tired but pretty well maintained overall. Handy to shops in Queen Street and lots of boutique shopping and dining options in the BRITOMART train and shopping precinct as well as right down to the harbour. We had a studio room here which was well equipped to self-cater with hot plates microwave dishwasher and fridge washing machine and dryer along with everything else you would expect in a small studio space but it’s saving grace for me was the high-speed Wi-fi. The downer was the lack of air-conditioning and only a small window to open and a fan to recirculate warm humid air. Cannot believe that in 2019!

View Comments


Was nice to get in yesterday early enough to have a shower and walk to dinner in the daylight. Almost had a sense we could think which was a change to the last couple of days. Slept well considering there was no air-conditioning and there was a very small window to open. Cannot believe that in 2019!


Anyway, to today, Norm headed off with his bike to a Triumph dealer (Holeshot Motors Takapuna) as his back brake was feeling a bit spongy. They bled them and topped up the brake fluid. So far so good so he will keep an eye on that. He appreciated them squeezing him in at no notice.


I wandered down the street to get some breakfast and some cream to stop the itch of the wasp bite and take a few pics. Already very warm and humid out at 8.30am but nothing compared to home I suspect with Watch and Act warnings out for Bushfires and horrifying pics of billowing smoke over the hills. Hope everyone is okay.


A few pics below.




We are only a couple of streets to the Port area which is filling up with restaurants shops and apartments. A couple of cruise ships are in as you can see.




A yummy breakfast spot again in the BRITPORT shopping precinct (the travel hub is underneath).




And what do you know…bike parking outside.




Sky Tower.




And Melbourne is not the only place with cute laneways though this looks pretty up market to a lot in Melbourne .. and relatively empty.

 IMG_1564 (2).jpg

And a view across the city skyline from the road as Norm headed back into the city proper.


View Comments


Well God provided more rain last night to wash some of the dirt off the bikes but what remains will require a fair bit of elbow grease to remove. Even so it was nice to have a comfortably cool night to sleep and hearing the ocean was a bonus as well as the cool wind ahead of the rain.

While our ride started off with wet roads, we soon got to dry ones and we thoroughly enjoyed the picturesque ride around the Coromandel Peninsula again with lots of 25 35 and 45 km corners and even a few 15 km ones thrown in for good measure and long stretches with no signs and just mosey along and ride accordingly. We stopped for breakfast at the Coromandel Village and watched all sorts of  people walk by then headed for Auckland via the east coast but somehow got onto the road to the motorway so when there was an accident and 5km of queueing traffic we slowly moved up the edge of the road to the detour before we fell off the bikes in the heat and managed to get back to where we wanted to be and enjoyed the ride as well as lunch under a shady tree at a little pub in Kaiaua. Then into Auckland through Clevedon and suddenly it seemed onto the motorway which was an assault to the senses after so much country riding. Checked in now and will try and catch up with the blog before we head out for dinner while Norm has a crack at cleaning his bike up a bit. He plans to go to a Triumph dealer tomorrow to sort an issue with his bike.


A beachside view soon after leaving Whitinga. Shame about the overcast conditions.


 A view of mountains in the distance as we headed for Coromandel.


Coromandel street view.


And again.


Views as we headed down the Coromandel Peninsula.


And again.


And again, shame the tide is so far out.


Near our hotel in Auckland heading to the BRITOMART Shopping Precinct a revitalisation of the port area and yes I did notice that the sign said Tiffany & Co!


And again.


And again.


Last nights’ accommodation:

Oceans Resort Whitianga

18 Eyre Street

Whitianga NZ 3510

Oops forgot to take a photo!

We had a lovely 1-bedroom apartment here complete with a washing machine which was great as we hadn’t anticipated using as much clothing from our cases as we did sitting in Christchurch for an extra 3 days waiting for our bikes so it was good to get that done. The owner was very welcoming and showed us to our apartment and how to drive everything. Spacious living and dining area and a balcony with a glimpse of the ocean and it is lovely to sit here and just hear the ebb and flow of the ocean. Feels like we are on holidays! Everything is beautifully presented in the apartment and the complex has a pool and tennis courts as well as free Wi-Fi which everything has so far. I think I also saw chairs outside what looks like a café. There are many apartments here even larger than ours as well as studio units so lots of options and ideal for families. Everything in town is booked out being the end of the school holidays but in peak holiday season and so far, we have spoken to French and German tourists. Glad we booked in advance.

View Comments


Well we didn’t have to worry too much about getting last night’s bugs off the bike, God took care of it with rain overnight and then this morning…shame about the sloppy roadworks we rode through that sort of mucked up everything so the ultra-clean bikes now look very ordinary and my travelling companion I think is even more annoyed than me.

Being able to head off nice and early in the day meant that this 1 ½ days’ worth of riding was at lest achieved in daylight which was good. We had an awesome ride winding up and down from high country to seaside and back, riding through productive farmland and orchards and even down the Waiakea Gorge which was spectacular. We headed down from the top and travelled down following a stream which became a river amongst cliff faces and canyon walls dense with ferns and palms and all sorts of trees and other vegetation and for good measure sights of occasional hilltops and whole sides of hills which have just slipped off down the hillsides to the valley below. Immense power! Lots of 25 35 and 45km corners today so extended the time of the ride a fair bit but very enjoyable.

Checked in then headed down to the Irish Pub for dinner which we have been to before with Harry & Lorraine Heathcote. Lovely meal as always but very noise with a very enthusiastic ‘Hens night gathering’ in progress. We bolted as soon as we could.

IMG_1476 (1).jpg 

On the hill heading out of Wairoa and looking back. A litle bit damp!


Heading down the gorge.


Down on the water.


Parked up at a rest and stretch stop for us.


Little war memorial in a town at the bottom of the gorge.


View a bit before Whitianga.


And an example of some buses we've seen.


Last nights’ accommodation:

Wairoa Motel

Cnr Clyde & Campbell Streets

Wairoa NZ


A handy spot to drop for the night. Immaculately clean and well presented. Very comfortable bed and nicely appointed kitchen space with a hot plate if you wanted to self-cater but it was a bit late for us. We were extremely grateful for the owners working in with us and leaving the key for us so we could retrieve it well after check in time.

View Comments


Eeeeh haah we got our bikes and rode to the VTNZ to get a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) equivalent to our RWC and temporary registration for the bikes and were the 1st Aussies to get there then went back to the hotel to collect our bag and suitcase and headed north. Was chuffed to have the roadworthy guy say, ‘I hope all the rest of the bikes are in as good a condition as these two’. All the staff at the centre were terrifically helpful as were the guys at the Transport Company ably led by Clint who was a real gentleman. A shame we had to keep determinedly pedalling to make it to Picton by a reasonable hour tonight so we can head off on the ferry to Wellington tomorrow, but it was a blast to finally be on the bikes.

Ever since we got our bike licences, we’ve known New Zealand was a country just begging to be ridden around and yep it sure is. Awesome sights today weaving between coastal views and further inland amongst rolling grassland, intense grape vines and lumpy bumpy hills and mountains in the distance. Just beautiful.

We were originally supposed to stay 2 nights at Napier once we got to the North Island which is one of our favourite spots being the Art Deco capital of New Zealand but to keep as much of our itinerary on track without further cancellations, we decided to head for Wairoa tomorrow night.


A bridge near the airport as we headed out of Christchurch.


Exploring off the main highway but lost interest when the seal was lifting off.


A couple of many tunnels as we headed for Kaikoura.


Beachside view in Kaikoura, site of the earthquake when we were last in Wellington.


The Bay at Picton.


A cute litte apartment building in Picton called Art Deco Apartments for obvious reasons.


And the Oxley Hotel, built in 1870 and still a good spot for a meal

Last 2 nights’ accommodation:

Equestrian Hotel

6 Tower Street

Hornby NZ

I've tried to load a photo a dozen times and it wont work so I'm over it! Googe it if you want a photo.

An ageing but determined suburban pub which started off as a community owned establishment. It’s working hard now at offering a comprehensive service for all sorts of people even Aussies who cannot collect their motorbikes. New management is trying to overcome an air of previous neglect plus quake damage with new paint and carpet in the hallway of the area we stayed and a small but newly tiled bathroom. Generous sized room and comfortable bed but lacking an armchair. Wi-Fi slow and frustrating but adequate for checking mail. Staff terrifically friendly and helpful. On site ‘Ironhorse Garden Café’ named after the model railway which used to run in the garden with very nice meals as well as a bar and pokies if that appeals and multiple function rooms. Good community resource. Best bit for us is that it is in walking distance from the transport company (PF Transport) where we had to collect our bikes.

View Comments


Another relaxing day of our holiday in New Zealand……yeah well in theory. We enjoyed one another’s company, I got myself another book to read to distract myself and we tried not to get too distracted with the need to cancel and rebook accommodation and ferry options and commiserated with the locals about the heatwave sent to them by Australia…..only high 30’s here but big for the locals and there are dry parched hills in the distance so very concerning for them…..and we felt like locals standing in the shade of traffic light poles on our way back from the transport office this afternoon waiting for the lights to change. It was effective so it didn’t matter that it looked ridiculous.

We have been assured that the Biosecurity people WILL clear our bikes for pick up in the morning and then we will hotfoot it to the VTNZ to get our Warrant of Fitness (WOF) same as a RWC then get the short-term registration for them. The paperwork already filled out plus the necessary attachments of registration certificate and copies of licences as well as the Customs / DPI clearance certificate we will be given in the morning. After that it will be back to the hotel where we will collect our bag and case and then we will head north. Yay!

So, we have again delayed our accommodation at Picton now for tomorrow night as well as the ferry crossing the following day. We have had to cancel our 2 nights in Napier and rebook another 1 after that booking and cancel 1 night at Whakatane between there and Whitianga and then we will be back with our original itinerary…. well that’s the plan at least so we will see.

I decided I wasn’t strong enough to tackle the photo thing again today so added another couple on our ferry trip across to Wellington.


A shot of what remains of the previously tallest building in Christchurch (22 storeys). Chilling.


And the Rollickin Desserts Cafe in New Regent Street from the balcony of Casa Publica. We didn't get to try an icecream but I think everyhone else in Christchurch as well as visitors did. There was a constant queue. Hope to try one on our return.

View Comments


Well we slept in until just before midday (okay so that was only just before 10am Australian time but it was still pretty impressive especially by Norms usual standards) then we headed off for a leisurely breakfast and rest of the day. We wandered the streets, hopped on the tram which was great, visited the Earthquake Museum then had a beer and chips on our way back to the hotel. The temperture has been comfortable all day with a cool breeze getting a bit more brisk by this evening.

As everyone knows Christchurch experienced a serious earthquake in 2010 (the first there for 110 years) and that was followed by another in 2011 which was devastating and resulted in catastrophic damage and loss of life (185). There are still whole blocks empty and signs of rebuilding and repair everywhere and the whole town was evacuated for 3 years afterwards but my goodness what a tribute to the resilience of New Zealanders (Cantabrians - residents of the Canterbury region) in the massive repair and rebuilding which is ongoing. There is a staggering amount of money being spent to revive the city and entice people back. 


The Cathedral, very sad. The last time we were here we were sitting under the cathedral tower drinking beer at a little cafe. They anticipate it will be 7 to 10 years before it's repaired.


The Library one of many new buildings. 


Revived shopping areas.


And more.


Older timber buidings overall fared better in the quake being more flexible than bricks and mortar, other than chimneys of course.


My man as we wait for our beer and chips. This was at the OGB Bar voted best bar for a couple of years. It is part of the Heritage Hotel which is in what is known as the Old Government Buiding hence OGB Bar. It was built with a Shooting Range and Swimming Pool in the basement. The Shooting Range is long gone but the swimming pool survives. We enjoyed our beer and some live entertainment.


And that's the bar right there.


The park areas were a welcome relief to the bustle of building and the desolation of empty blocks


More cool respite spaces in parks throughout the city.

View Comments


Well we loaded Norm's Triumph Rocket III and my Indian Scout into a container on January 4th and now the countdown is on until we fly out on Australia Day (January 26th for those who don't know the date). We are working our way through our list of 'must do's before we head off and trying to not add extras to it as we go and cannot wait until we get to Christchurch and can start exploring New Zealand on our bikes when we pick them up on the 28th. Whoo hoo!

We are grateful to our house sitters Rose and Bear who will look after things in our absence at home and all the crew at BRANSTRANS who will keep on keeping on.


The Rocket heads into the container.


Then the Indian.


 All tied down for the trip.

View Comments


Well we achieved what we wanted to today in spite of the smog. California apparently has the most stringent air quality rules in the country and it would seem they need it. We checked out Chaparral Motor Sports in San Bernardino then came back into Griffith Park to catch a glimpse of the 'HOLLYWOOD' sign then onto Bert's Mega Mall to sell our bikes so we're ready to depart tomorrow. Job done. Bert's Mega Mall, 1151 N Azusa Avenue, Covina, CA 91722 are the largest dealers in the world and it is massive with motorbikes, ATV's, jet skis and all sizes of motorboats not to mention a huge apparel and parts range, café and lounges. Very impressive and all the staff we came in contact with (many) were all friendly and helpful. They are clearly serious about how they do business. You can find them here


A miserly selection of pics tell the story below:


We thankfully managed to be heading in the right direction while we were on a variety of freeways today which was good but the 90 kms from San Bernardino to Griffiths Park made me pine for my foot pegs given we had removed them for me to bring home. This is a shot of one of the spaghetti (cloverleaf) type intersections of a number of freeways from many directions. Signage has been good so not as daunting as it looks.


And an interesting wide trailer we followed for a bit before heading off the freeway this morning.


Check out the Police Bikes parked up at Chaparrel in particular the guns, radar guns etc. All ready to go. BMW bikes you'll note, not Harley's.


And the 'HOLLYWOOD' sign from the LA Observatory approach road.


And a second shot to prove it was us there, bottom right hand corner you can just see the bikes (well more Norm's being blue). Glad we could see it from here. It was too hot to hike to it!


The LA Observatory we couldn't go through since it had been closed. This queue is to the restrooms. As we were leaving three coaches arrived so perhaps they had tickets, who knows. We had bikes to sell!


And a miserable shot of the LA skyline, at least what I could see of it and it was worse on the other side of the observatory so I didn't bother taking a shot.

View Comments

Get this feed