After 40+ hours flying from Indiana to Auckland, New Zealand via Washington DC, San Francisco and Sydney, Australia, I finally got a few hours sleep at a late night airport hotel (yuk). First thing in the morning the lovely girl from TNL Shipping, Deanne, picked me and my luggage up from the hotel on her way to work to take me to my bike.. so nice! They had everything organized, I only had to sign a paper, pay the bill and leave.
Unfortunately the bike was still not functioning from the breakdown in Uruguay, but not a worry. I had organized well in advance to have the Auckland KTM dealership pick me and the bike up in a truck and to the mechanic to see if he can perform a miracle. I’ve come to this country only hoping!! Fingers crossed I didn’t waste heaps of money in shipping!
While I was waiting in the office, Dick Hubbard called me.. What? Who knows me here??!! I had just missed meeting Dick and his wife Diana in Ushuaia as they were riding the tough roads on their epic Alaska to Ushuaia journey. They’d met up with Mark Donham along the road in Chile, whom you’ve seen a few times in this blog. He introduced me to his Kiwi friends online. Even though I had not met the Hubbards in person, there they were on the phone saying, “Sherri Jo, welcome to New Zealand. Now we’re coming to pick you up to spend Easter weekend with us..” Okay!!
I left my KTM behind at the shop and then we went to the BMW shop to see the Hubbards bike which had also just arrived from Buenos Aires. Dick is proudly showing me his stickers from the Americas.. and we start comparing notes!
They live in the most beautiful modern home with superb views of Auckland and I can’t feel more lucky. Dick and Diana are so incredibly kind and generous and treated me like family the moment I arrived. And thanks goes to Mark for introducing us. In this photo Dick wanted me to sit in the same chair with the same pose as he took of Mark a few weeks ago. He even made sure we had the beer bottles lined up exactly right!
I can not tell you how wonderful it feels to be in such a civilized clean modern country! I do not discredit my amazing experiences over the last 16 months from Mexico down to Argentina. They have their own character which I love, but New Zealand is feeling very good at the moment!
Dick takes me on one of his daily super power walks. I’m always up for a great morning walk!
Then he drove me down to Piha.. a very popular beach for the locals.. We stopped for a cup of tea.. because we can!
Another day he gave me a tour of One Tree Hill, which is actually at the top of one of the 46 volcanoes in the Auckland area. One Tree Hill is also the site of a long gone Maori fortification. The one tree that used to be on the summit was cut down by a Maori man to bring attention to the injustices he believed had been inflicted upon the Maori people by the New Zealand government.. It has now been replaced with a concrete monument.
Bronze statue of a Maori warrior at the site of their ancient fortification on One Tree Hill.
Easter time! When I had booked my flights last January to arrive New Zealand, I had not even considered the holiday calendar. It was really bad timing for me to arrive now, but the Hubbards have made this an Easter to remember. Being that they’ve created and own Hubbards Cereals and Muesli’s – the top brand for all of New Zealand, a morning doesn’t go by without my favorite brekkie. They’ve just released 6 new flavors in the supermarkets and I will have to experiment with all of them, just to give proper first-hand feedback, right? I think the only thing they heard come out of my mouth was, “Oh man I love that one! Oh man, that one’s good too!” Really fun flavors, soooo yum!
They also have a chocolate Easter Bunny on a motorcycle.. how perfect is that?? Love it!!!!!
Easter services at church with their son, Gavin.
After lunch we went out for a wander around the neighborhood with Diana. She is so friendly and outgoing.. she walks right up to this guy who is cooking a meal for his family in the park. She found out his name, where he’s from and how long he’s been living in New Zealand. Then she thought, “hey, there is a fantastic cooktop we can use!’ When we returned home Diana says to Dick, “You know there is a free cooker in the park, we can walk down there anytime and make a meal!” Dick says, “Or we can cook here… in our house!” Right there, clearly the difference between Man and Woman.. ha!
The lovely churchyard we strolled through is full of settlers history.
This beautiful sunset view to Auckland CBD photo I took from their house and marks a perfect ending. Tomorrow morning is an early rise to ride the bike out the Coromandel and join Mark on the road for a couple of days before continuing on my own journey around the country.
Good morning sunshine!
I savor my tea in this beautiful place quietly in my Rukka gear.. before anyone else gets up.
I have to include this photo I took from inside. It’s so funny. Dick was the Mayor of Auckland for 3 years (2004-2007) and this is a political cartoon from that time.. his opponent was John Banks.
Farewell photo.. I always hate to say goodbye to people I really enjoy. I never seem to get used to it. Thanks again for EVERYTHING!!!
Now I need to go meet Mark Donham. Mark and I both have local sim cards from New Zealand so we are able to keep in contact as I ride out to Coromandel. I let him choose where we meet up and where we’ll be staying tonight and he gave perfect riding instructions.
When I pulled in to the site.. I didn’t even get my helmet off yet before he hands me a beer! The last time I saw Mark was in Ushuaia Argentina for Christmas and New Years..
We will be staying here at Hot Water Beach, where he’s been advised the beach experience is worth checking out. There is an underground hot water river that flows through here to the ocean. At low tide, you can dig out the sand and the water will fill like your own personal natural hot tub. You couldn’t dig too deep though as the water is unbearably hot! The trick was to get the right mix of some ocean cold water flowing in to your hot hot-tub.
Then we went for a ride to the north of Coromandel, a peninsula on the east coast. Lots of curvy roads. The guys at the motorcycle shop in Auckland all tell me that these are the roads they prefer to ride on the weekends.
It wasn’t the most ideal day weather-wise for touring the Coromandel.
We did stop at a cafe, which was well worth the desert I shouldn’t be eating in the middle of the day!
We decided to keep the same camp site and just leave the gear behind near the base of the peninsula. The following morning is another opportunity to walk on Hot Water Beach at sunrise. Just gorgeous!
Time to pack up the bikes!
As we were leaving the little cabin, I did a double take on the beer bottles we’ve left behind. They were perfect for washing down the local fish and chips.. It’s been 3 years since I’ve had fish and chips!! I can’t take half credit though.. Mark had a bit of a collection going before I arrived.. right?? 😉
That’s the end of our little reunion. Mark wants to go back to Auckland for several days to prepare his bike for shipping. Then he’s flying home again to the United States for a while before returning to travel on his bike in Australia. He just had a home visit before coming to New Zealand as well! I’ve been to USA to visit my family, but my home is in Australia, and I’ve not been home since I rode my bike out of the garage on June 1, 2010. It’s a different way of thinking, but I have done that on purpose. When I set off to achieve this goal, it will feel that much bigger when I ride my motorcycle in to my driveway not having seen it since I left, goal complete (hopefully!).
I wizzed past Mark, waved goodbye.. and I’m headed to the north of the north island!