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Feb
11

Headed off early this morning and grabbed a look at the Huka Falls which always amaze us. They are in the narrowest section of the Waikato River which is the only outlet from Lake Taupo and the volume of water there even at the end of summer is phenomenal. Then it was breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo and then we continued with what was a lovely ride through rolling farmland, high country resembling Scotland 1,035m above sea level and very chilly with the ground covered with what resembled heather interspersed with grasses and in the distance mountains with traces of snow on them. We had lunch at the little town of Taihape then explored more rugged countryside where sheep and cattle grazed on rugged hills or great plateaus and for good measure great cuttings of the waterways into the hill faces leaving what looks like massive clay faces. All kinds of spectacular.

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Huka Falls from the lookout above. To the right above the Huka Lodge, a runaway spot for the rich and famous is visible.

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Breakfast on the waterfront at Lake Taupo.

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And we weren’t the only ones having fun.

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Another shot a bit further along the Lake.

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Through the high country. You can see the mauve of the heather, but it’s blurred as Norm was mobile, but you get the idea. That's Mt Ruapehu & Mt Gotongariro in the background.

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Welcome to Taihape, a clever (big) Gumboot built from corrugated iron.

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A shearing shed with a very quirky mural.

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And when the hill is undermined by the water it washes down into the stream and leaves some spectacular cliff faces. We followed this trail for many kilometres and were staggered by how many we saw.

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From the Stormy Point Lookout on the way to Fielding.

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Norm having fun.

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And me as well.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Quest Rotorua Central

1192 Hinemoa Street

Rotorua NZ 3010

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A lovely spot to stay here. A 1-bedroom apartment with air conditioning, Yay! Plenty of room to move and sort out our gear and be self-contained if we wanted to be. Also, a hot tub on the balcony but we haven’t been inspired to try that. The bed is beautifully comfortable, Wi-Fi fast and heaps of free movies and all sorts of attractions advertised on the TV which the hotel can book for us so a handy service for visitors. Staff extremely welcome and helpful. All round nice spot to stay and handy to heaps of shops and spots for dining out. Very nice.


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Feb
10

We slept in until 10am then grabbed some breakfast at the farmers market just a short walk from our hotel then jumped on the bikes to explore the Californian Redwood Forest which was planted by a pastor many years ago believing with the NZ rainfall it would be a great source of sustainable timber. Unfortunately, because of the rain it grew too fast and remains too soft to suit the purpose but is an amazing forest to experience.

From there we headed out to have a look at the Blue and Green lakes then back into town to check out the Hot water baths and museum, had some nachos and beer at an Irish pub … that means we are really on holiday as it’s the only time we do that. 

Rotorua is renowned for its hot sulphur springs and baths and depending on which way the wind is blowing can influence the comfort levels. Norm has been reminding himself to stop attempting to apologise all the time …and that’s all I’m going to say about that.   

Rotorua is also a great spot for all sorts of activities if youre feeling a lot less creaky than me and you will just have to come and find out for yourselves.

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In the Redwoods.

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And again.

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And the two of us.

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The Blue lake is a favourite swimming spot for the locals.

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This was the view I was after …. A photo of a photo in our hotel. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong season for tulips and there are major repair works happening so the following is what we got instead.

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And looking towards the hot water baths.

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And a good-looking bike at the gate to the complex. The last time we stayed here we were in an historic hotel across the road from here. It was very quirky.


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Feb
09

Our accommodation last night didn’t have an on-site restaurant as such but thankfully with 3 hours’ notice a meal can be provided in the conservatory which was great since we were a few kilometres from the shops, and we like to get off the bikes after our day and stay off. The room was lovely and beautifully presented and we had a small balcony to sit on and chill in the breeze, well I did as I did the blog and Norm took the Mr Sheen to the bikes … as he does. I am a lucky girl!

Today we headed to Rotorua with a couple of spots of interest on the way. Apart from the great ride we checked out the Te Tapui Reserve trying to find a lookout and after a good distance on gravel roads were grateful to come across a farm worker who assured us unless we wanted to hike through forest we wouldn’t get there so we headed back to the black stuff and continued on to the Hobbiton Movie Set which was a great experience then headed into Rotorua for a couple of nights.

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Breakfast in Huntly and discovered it used to be a black coal mining town (there is still a large power station using coal and gas) until 1914 when an explosion, the second worst mining disaster in New Zealand occurred killing 43 and injuring another 19. Not surprisingly the mine closed soon after. The town appears to be still struggling with many empty shops. This is part of a 100-year memorial near our breakfast spot.

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Morning Coffee at Morrinsville, a tidy town amid a productive dairying area. Norm was a bit miffed that I parked up more easily than him.

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One of the more memorable buildings in the main street and 2 of many artistically decorated cows!

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Then to the Hobbiton sight and one of many Hobbit houses. Very quirky.

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The visitors in the only hobbit house we could go in because it was larger than a meter square space.

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A long view to the Green Dragon where we had a delicious ginger beer.

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The artificial oak tree since the film was filmed in winter and it needed to be in full leaf. A steel and foam frame and 200,000 + artificial leaves wired on…. now that’s commitment.

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The Green Dragon and my own hobbit taking a photo to the left.

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And a view back to the mill to the right of the bridge. Just loved the huge pine trees which gave an awesome backdrop to everything.

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And dinner at the Pig & Whistle in Rotorua which we discovered on our first trip to Rotorua.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Manor Views

24 Upland Road

Waterview Heights, Huntly NZ 3700

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A beautiful old building built in 1926 as a maternity hospital which has been lovingly restored into a boutique accommodation venue. The room is a standard king and the largest we have had so far. There is also a small balcony which was a nice spot to sit and take in the view in the distance and a cooling breeze. Free Wi-Fi as we have found everywhere but it is a good speed here where some haven’t been. Everything here is immaculately maintained and beautifully clean and the manager or owner was extremely obliging. We felt very welcome. The conservatory where we had our dinner (ordered 3 hrs before) and where you can have breakfast was just beautiful.


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Feb
08

A little cooler night and fine comfortable day today with light sprinkle of moisture only this morning. We had breakfast in Russell which by the way was the sight of the first NZ capital but was later changed to Wellington because the reputation of Russell, Hell Hole of the Pacific was not desirable and with the stroke of a pen Auckland was named the capital, and later Wellington and Russell was burnt to the ground. Hmm, it is a charming spot today. From here we wound our way down the west coast with spectacular ocean and island views before heading across the island on the Twin Coasts highway to get to Huntly tonight where we are staying in a lovely old building built in 1926 which was originally a maternity hospital.

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Heading off on the ferry to Russell.

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An appropriately named breakfast spot in Russell – Hell Hole Café in the street behind the Duke of Marlborough Hotel where we lunched yesterday. It was the first licensed hotel in New Zealand and as you would have seen in my post yesterday it had traded for a number of years before it was legitimised.

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Elliot Bay, one of many beautiful spots but I could stop to take a photo of this one.

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The bikes attract attention no matter where we go … here by tourists and chooks alike. Bizarre on the edge of the motorway but I suspect the chooks have learnt that tourists throw them scraps.

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Heading across on the Twin Coasts Road and an awesome view back to the east coast before we are really heading west.

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And an interesting bridge in Huntly.

Last 3 nights’ accommodation:

Dolphin Motel Paihia

69 Williams Road

Paihia NZ

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Short walking distance to the shops and shoreline and a nice green outlook. We are in the older part of the complex in a small studio suite with no air-conditioning, but a fan was provided (I really must read more closely and not skim) but well maintained and serviced. Comfortable bed and table and chairs on the balcony which is a lovely breezy spot to sit. Staff very helpful and friendly. 


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Feb
07

Rain overnight and patchy this morning so definitely made the right call for our cruise yesterday. Temperature a little more comfortable also.

The team split up today. Norm headed for Cape Reinga the northern most tip of the North Island, and I opted for a sleep in and a quiet day of wandering through shops, buying another book and generally chilling and making out like I’m on holidays.

The pics are a mix of Russell which we visited yesterday and will also take the car ferry to tomorrow when we head off and some from Norm’s ride today. Russell was originally established as a whaling town known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific with heaps of hotels and bordellos and no law and order. When the whaling left a lot of hotels closed and a few bordellos and gradually law and order arrived. Is a beautiful spot now.

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The Duke of Marlborough Hotel Russell, Operating since 1827 … legally since1840. A beautifully preserved building where we had lunch yesterday. Would love to stay here sometime.

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A view out to the harbour from the hotel on the Strand. Picturesque to say the least.

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Norm’s breakfast spot at Cable Bay.

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A little damp at Cable Bay and got more so as he headed further north. Got back to Paihia very damp but elated.

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Massive sand dunes visible from the Cape

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And a beautiful beach, but a long climb down to get to it.

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Not to mention the Cape Reinga Lighthouse which is a long trek from the carpark. This is the most northerly point of the Cape.


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Feb
06

So we were having a leisurely dinner and spoke to a gentleman who in fact was part of the motorcycle group we saw leaving this morning, so the name is ‘Tu Tansata’ which is translated to ‘Man Up’ and stands for 'Raising Fathers to save our children'. Love it. It was lovely to talk to him and share the fact that their values are also ours. Well done guys. This is the back of a T Shirt of one of their members. Not sexist or anything else … just about giving kids a go and keeping families safe. Love it!

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Feb
06

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.

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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.

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1 of 3 camera cars with them.

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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.

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A lovely Bay of Islands view.

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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. 

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And again.

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Coming out of the hole.

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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!

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Then a helicopter to ????

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And more beautiful views.


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Feb
05

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.

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Morning coffee stop at Orewa on the beach.

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

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Cute little Church in Dagarville on top of the hill.

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The road ahead.

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Coming through Waipour Forest.

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Out of the forest and heading for Omapere.

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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!


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Feb
04

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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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And what do you know…bike parking outside.

 

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Sky Tower.

 

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

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

 


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Feb
03

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.

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

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

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Coromandel street view.

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And again.

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Views as we headed down the Coromandel Peninsula.

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And again.

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And again, shame the tide is so far out.

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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!

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And again.

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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.


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