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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

NEW ZEALAND PART 4: NORTH ISLAND (WELLINGTON - WHANGANUI - TAUPO - ROTORUA - AUCKLAND)

27th Dec 2017: WELLINGTON - WHANGANUI

As soon as I entered highway 1, the road was jammed packed with vehicles. Everyone is going on vacation. Bill had warned me about this. It was a hot day today and after no movement after 15 minutes, I started to feel tense. However, I had no choice as this is the rule here. Even motorbikes had to queue just like other vehicles, but at least they had a roof above their head and air-conditioned to cool them. Unlike bikers, we had nothing to protect us from the sun.



The vehicles finally moved but at a very slow pace. This continued for the first 3 hours. I didnt even cover half of my journey for today yet. I became very restless, so did other bikers. When one started to ride on shoulder lane, I saw the others did the same, so I followed them as well. I managed to ride faster. The traffic lessened at Levin and I sped as fast as I could. Luckily theres no traffic police or else I might get a ticket for speeding. It took me 5 hours from Wellington to reach my destination, Whanganui even though the distance was only 190kms.

The small charming town on Whanganui was quiet. Only a few traffic on the road. Perhaps because today is Boxing Day. I met a guy who wanted to host me. His name was Damon. I was introduced to her Maori wife, Wendy. Damon was a policeman and they lived in a house on a hill overlooking the nice view of Whanganui River. Damon worked night shift so only Wendy was at home and she accompanied me during dinner. She was so sweet and friendly and we talked mostly about Maori culture. Wendy told me that its a good option not to stay at a marae as I had planned earlier because it had lots of ancestor spirits which can easily enter a human body. Euwww... thank god I didnt opt for marae stay.

Wendy, Damon and I

28th Dec 2017: WHANGANUI - TONGARIRO NP - TAUPO

I only had a chance to talk to Damon this morning. He gave me route advises as there were few options to Taupo, my destination for today. Wendy gave me some fruits for lunch. After thanking the sweet young couple, I rode on route 4 which was very scenic and much quieter compared to the national highway. However, there were lots of roads washed out due to landslides and I need to ride with caution on the narrow winding road. It was raining on and off and I felt very cold. So I had to put on my heated gloves and I felt much better after that.

Riding on quiet road always gv me a piece of mind
The funny lil tree caught my eyes
 The wind was pretty strong when I crossed Tongariro National Park on route 47 but fortunately it was from behind me, so I got a tailwind instead. These few days, the country experienced strong wind due to the southern wind blowing. I stopped for fuel at Turangi and met some local lady bikers. Then I proceeded to Taupo, stopping for a while at Taupo Lake (the biggest lake in NZ) to enjoy the breeze. Since this is a volcanic lake, the beach sand was greyish black in colour.

I checked in at Taupo Rainbow Lodge. I will be staying here for 2 nights (NZD26 per night). This was a very popular place and was fully booked when I was there. I made friends with three solo travelers, Tonya (Russian), Luca (Italian) and Fahad (Arabian) and we agreed to go sightseeing together tomorrow.

29th Dec 2017: TAUPO

We hopped in Fahad’s car around 10am and drove to Huka Falls. The falls were as beautiful as 15 years ago. We spent some time here watching the jet boaters. Later we trekked for 1:30hrs along the river. There were too many tourists as it was still holiday time for the locals.




After that, we drove to Crater of the Moon volcanic area. The entrance fee was NZD8 which well worth the price. We trekked for 1 hour in this area watching the mud pools and the steams coming out from the ground. It was impressive but very smelly.

The trek at Crater of the Moon
You can see steams everywhere

My treeking mates, Tonya, Luca and Fahad
Finally we drove back to Taupo and just lazed by the lake to watch black ducks and swans swimming. It was fun to watch them. We chatted and exchanged travel stories among us.
Later in the evening, I went to Countdown supermarket to buy chocolates to take home. To my delight, there were mussels sold here!!! I was very happy. I bought some and feasted myself with sweet n sour mussels for dinner. Mmmmm...



30th Dec 2017: TAUPO - ROTORUA

It was a short ride today to Rotorua via route 1. There were still lots of cars on the road but not as bad as the other day. The weather was fine, the road was good and no disturbing wind today. I was hosted by Tiana, a former lady biker and also John’s ex. Her house was near Lake Rotorua. After resting for a while, she and her boyfriend, Martyn brought me sightseeing.

I told them that I had always wanted to see a marae but never got a chance. The marae in Whanganui was closed when I stopped to visit a few days ago. What is a marae? Marae is the focal point of Maori communities thru-out NZ. Its the meeting ground in a complex of carved buildings which belongs to a tribe (iwi), subtribe (hapu) and family (whanau). Last time, travelers can walk in and stay at a marae but these days its only for big gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Its interesting to see the beautiful decoration of the marae. 

Martyh standing in front of a marae

The couple also took me to a burial ground at an evangelical church. Whats interesting here was the body of the dead was above the ground, not underground. Why was that so? Because Rotorua was a thermal land and the underground was very hot and burning. You can see steams coming out from the ground at many places here.

Evangelical church and the burial ground
After that the couple took me for early dinner at a Turkish restaurant in the town of Rotorua. Martyn’s daughter, Bronwen joined us. I had a rice meal with mixed chicken and lamb grill. It was delicious. We had baklava for dessert. When was the last time I ate baklava? At one of Fida’s AMAC party in Ankara I guess.


Generous Malaysians putting their Ringgits on the board :)
If you happen to see my note in this restaurant, plz take a picture and send it to me :)
Bronwen, Martyn, Tiana and I
We then went to Government Garden. I had been here before too but the building looks sobeautiful today since the sun was shining brightly and the sky was so blue.

Our last destination was Kuirau Park to see the boiling pools and mud. The smell of sulfur dominated the area.



Boiling mud pool
Thanks Tiana and Martyn for being my bestest tour guides. Not only I managed to see the attractions here but also I get to know the history as well. 


31st Dec 2017: ROTORUA - HAMILTON - AUCKLAND

Before leaving this morning, Martyn gave me a drawing book which he published as a souvenir. That was so sweet of him. 


I said goodbye to both of them and rode on route 5 – 1 to Hamilton. Its not difficult to find #MelayuNZ’s house, owned by Hj Ruslan. He was the brother of my Georgian friend, Rose Aini.  This was the one and only Malay house which I visited during my entire NZ ride. Even though I didnt know them, I was so happy to meet a Malay family and talked in my native language again. Mdm Azizah made delicious noodles in a special soup. We talked about lots of things. This family also made their house as an accommodation for Malaysian people who visited NZ.


Dap...dap...dapppppp
Hj Ruslan on the far right and his wife, Mdm Azizah is the one next tome wearing white hijab
After spending about 1:30 hours, I had to make a move. I said thanks to them and rode to Auckland. There were more cars on the road but still tolerable. I crossed the long bridge which had a fascinating view of yachts. It was easy to find my brother and sister’s house. John and Heather had been waiting for my arrival. I hugged them. It was like going back home. 


Its good to be 'home'
I had promised them that I will cook for dinner, so after sorting out my things from the bike, I went to work inside the newly painted bright red kitchen. Heather had bought halal lamb meat. As promised, I made lamb briyani with lamb curry and chicken in tomato sauce. We had a good time chatting and eating as I told them my NZ riding stories.







1st Jan 2018: AUCKLAND

It was raining on and off on my last day in Auckland which was also the New Year 2018.

Heather feeding the birds
 However, my lovely hosts, John and Heather brought me sightseeing around the city of sails in their bright red FUN and GO sports car. We went to the wharf to see fancy yachts which docked there. I was told the price of the yachts started from NZD25k to millions. I also managed to see a steamship and a float plane.


I rode on this bridge the other day
Sky Tower in the background

Later we went to One Tree Hill to see a monument. View of Auckland city can be seen from above the hill. We also visited a park nearby.





If you happen to spot the "FUN N GO" red sports car, thats my brother and sister :)
Then, it was time to say goodbye. The couple sent me to the airport. It was hard to part with them. I hugged Heather a looongg time. Both of them were like my brother and sister. Same goes to Bill and Cornish in Nelson, Ray and Joan in Kaikoura, Tiana and Martyn in Rotorua and Mary and Alex in Mosgiel. I felt so sad to leave. Heather assured me that the next time if I come again, I will have a home in Auckland.





Thank you very much to all for the warmth, love, hospitality, and kindness during my ride in NZ. God willing, we shall meet again.

Goodbye NZ. Goodbye, all. The ride had ended but the memory remained will be cherished forever...
From cape to cape
From bay to bay
From northernmost to southernmost
From blue oceans to desert drive to snow peak mountains
Four major passes (Arthur Pass, Lewis Pass, Haast Pass and Lindys Pass)
7500kms done

Until the next ride.....


NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')
HAK CIPTA ANITA YUSOF