|West Coast trails 3rd – 4th January
We say a fond farwell to Doug and Hilary, we have been made so welcome here they have treated us like family, as have most of the New Zealanders we’ve met. We are not going far, we are off for tea and cake with another contact in Hamilton.
Dennis is on the drive as we pull in having heard us coming. We spend a pleasant hour or so in their company. Dennis and his wife have been to Australia so give us a few good pointers on things to do out there.
Back on the road we back track to route 31 where we left it then hug the coastal route 37 towards Piripiri. It is all tarmac but consists of swooping and twisty roads crossing the harbour and winding round the hills, to top it off it is a beautiful day so we stop many times for photos. We arrive at Piripiri caves and digging out the torches head for the entrance. It looks as though we are the only ones prepared as many just stand at the top not venturing into the inky blackness. Descending the steps in darkness I try to get my eyes used to the dark but have to turn on the torch before I reach the bottom. It is a shame the beam does not penetrate far as it contains some nice stalagtites. We are able to capture a few in photos with Kev’s new camera which has a much more powerful flash.
Next stop on route is Marokopa falls a short 10min walk to a view point. They are quite spectacular and the water hitting the pools at the bottom creates a rainbow. There is yet more on this route, a natural bridge the board announces, we muse over what it could be something similar to a clapper bridge in England? rounding the corner on foot it is revealed to be something completely different. This region had massive caves whose sides now form the gorge we are in, over time the roof had caved in all except a large chunk which now forms a natural bridge over the gorge. It is too huge to capture in one photo.
Returning to the bike we resume our journey. Although it is a twisty route though the gorge with drops one side and bush the other we manage to strike lucky and make use of an old road builders camp. It is a gem just out of sight and on lush grass. We had to use the winch to drag the tree that was felled to block the entrance out of the way but it worth it.
After a good sleep we wake to a gorgeous day and we have more of this lovely road to explore. We are trying to find a show man who goes by the name of Billy Black. Doug recomended him and we know his show starts 1.30pm near Waitomo caves. We get to the caves about 1.15pm, I ask the receptionist she gives me a blank look, luckily a lass in the office behind her pipes up and we are directed to Woodlyn park. We scrape through the door 1.33pm but we needed not to worry Billy Black was as laid back as they come. His show is an absolute must see, full audience participation including me helping to ‘blow’ a log apart and Kev manually operating the machinery to shear a sheep live on stage. Billy being the joker he is fooled Kev into cranking the handle long after he had finished shearing the sheep, just a little bit more, nearly there, don’t stop now. I also didn’t escape the tomfoolery and ‘needed’ to go back to relight the fuse.
Along with his sheep he involves a very cute trained pig, a donkey, a huge bull and hens amongst others.
As a quirky side line he also has a boat, aircraft fuselage and hobbit ‘hotels’ which all looked rather funky but a bit beyond our means to stay in.
We head off in the direction of New Plymouth after stocking up on fuel for us and the bike.
We don’t get far as the bike suddenly will not run beyond quarter throttle it is running too rich and needs down jetting again so progress is slow especially up the hills. I spy a good camp spot just off on the old road where it hugged the river and they have built the new wider route just across the bluff. We pull up for the night. Kev begins to rejet the carbs again making them even more lean (New Zealand petrol is different again, for a start it’s pink! ) whilst I cook spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. It is great to have the river nearby for washing up etc. Kev works till dark but will have to finish off in the morning, it’s not a big job but the spare jets are all mixed up so it takes a while to sort them out.. We gaze at the stars, here there is no light polution and it is a peaceful and idyllic spot. We shall sleep well.