7:30 on the nose Joe returned the keys to the front desk and hopping on to his bike to pull out and warm it up on the street. We found a parking lot a block away to warm up without bothering anyone. Of course we got the typical accosted questions from a passerby, about what IS a KTM, wow it’s so ORANGE.. wow it’s so BIG! After the engine hit three bars we couldn’t wait to get outta there.
Joe: I love talking bikes, but every once in awhile I’d like someone that’s a KTM fan to come up and have a chat. Instead we always get people that don’t know what it is, and ask if we’ve seen that show with the guy off of Star Wars. In which next time I will reply, “Yoda did a motorcycle documentary?”
We set off on the east side of the lake, following the narrow banks to the southern end before ascending the tussock rolling hills of the “old desert road” The temperature dropped severely the further up we headed. Not expecting this much of a change we were ill prepared, and our hands froze to the handlebars as the cool easterly stung our left sides until the idea of summer was a distant memory. I could feel ice forming on the side of my helmet and when I breathed the inside of my visor crystallized my breath.
As we approached Taihape the temperature slowly became more manageable and we stopped to admire the massive gumboot in the middle of town. Around the corner we filled up with gas and a warm up at a local coffee house. I searched out the toilet and stuck my ice cold hands under the hot water tap until I could smell burnt flesh (just kidding) but my hands did take the rest of the ride to warm up!
Joe: The Central Plateau was cold, real cold. Elevation mixed with a brisk morning had me crying like a little girl for grip heaters. Guess what the first accessory I bought off of KTM when I returned?
Back on the road and the wind began to pickup. We were getting a good cross wind all the way to Wellington, passing was beginning to be a nightmare, pulling alongside double trailer trucks then nudging past them, only to be blasted by the wind into oncoming traffic. This was all unavoidable of course due to the many roadwork’s we encountered along this route, where traffic would pile up, large trucks at the front of course and it would be near impossible to find somewhere to get by.
By the time we made it to Wellington, we were ahead of schedule, the wind must have blown us halfway there and we motored along to the off ramp to the ferry terminal to check-in before boarding. We managed alongside a Triumph rider who was also south bound without a planned route. We were notified that the ferry was running late, this would make our time into Kaikoura now after dark.
Joe: Passing the time is pretty easy when there’s someone else to babble about motorcycles with. I have to admit the Bonneville struck a cord with me, it seems so simple and accentuates why we all do this. I hope the rider, who’s name escapes me now had a blast on his bike through the South Island. I know we did!
The Ferry finally arrived, and we waited a dog’s life to get on after all the mucking around of offloading large trucks, cars campers, a slew of Harleys and more trucks, it took forever. The loading was just a tedious, as we tethered our bike; a swarm of campervans stormed the slippery decks. Once secured, we ventured up on deck of the dastardly dilapidated ferry that had never seen better days; she looked haggard inside and out and never had tender loving care.
Joe: Earlier in the week I had called ahead and asked if the ferry had tie downs. The lady told me they did not, and I was to bring my own. Parking in the ferry, I spied a wall of a kabillion tie-downs. So, thanks to the lady that steered me to waste more of our precious space with four ratchet style tie downs.
We paced around the decks, trying to find somewhere comfortable to nest and have a bit of a nap. No such luck, it seemed this is where uncomfortable chairs went to die. They littered the decks, their reclining backs on par with airplane seats, with foam so old it cracked when you sat back. After an unsatisfactory meal at the main café, we headed to the Fo’c’le Bar at the front to share the foamy club chairs with everyone else on board. After numerous attempts to get any rest, we retreated to the aft, to bide our time before heading down to the car deck to unlash our beast. All ready to go and still they left the trucks off first! We already had daylight to battle, now we had to pass trucks all the way to Kaikora!
Somehow we managed to stretch daylight. The further south we went, the more light we seemed to have, though black rainclouds foreclosed around us, leaving not more than a sliver of daylight for us to navigate with. The clouds could not hold off anymore, as the bashed against the ranges, it spilled in our path, making the coast foreboding and a far cry from weather predicted the day before.
We raced on to Kaikoura, bound and determined to make it our camp for the night. The night was falling quickly around us, as we jutted around narrow cliff faces watching waves crashing on jagged rock. Somehow these conditions were ideal for Crayfish or “Kaikoura” and many Crayfish shacks littered the beaches, some dating back 30 years. It was a shame not to visit one of these local haunts, to have fresh cray. Perhaps another time, as ours was running thin, we wanted to be somewhere dry when it turned to night.
We rounded a wide bay and heading inland before making a bee line towards the main town. “Slow down” the sign stated. Dually noted, we let off the throttle and let the bikes wind down into town, as we trolled for a good hotel, somewhere off the main road, and with a good feed beside it. We found this all at the White Morph Inn, which Joe liked to call, the “the Mighty Morphin” either way; it was a bed for the night, and a delicious feed.
Joe: Don’t believe Flora, it was the MIGHTY MORPHIN.