A New Years in Port Jackson, New Zealand

Port Jackson, New Zealand

Camping in Port Jackson, New Zealand.

For the holidays after Christmas Michelle and I headed to Port Jackson, which is a DOC site on the coast of the Northern tip of the Coromandel. We had plans to meet up with some friends to camp for a couple days. It’s a small 70 (roughly) camp site that is about 4 hours away from Auckland. The road in from Coromandel Town is all gravel, windy and pretty tight. It’s the type of road that if you go off the road you don’t come back; you end up in the ocean. Michelle didn’t quite enjoy the ride as much as I did, but one thing is for sure it was beautiful.

port-jackson-beach

Lovely beaches, surronded by the rolling hills of Port Jackson.

We arrived on the 29th to some amazing weather. It took us a good hour to set up the tent, blow up the paddle board and unload the car. Port Jackson is well equipped with bbq’s, long drops and cold showers. You don’t really need much else! After unpacking and a look around we hit up the beach and met up with our friends. A quick swim and paddle board and the first day was finished with some cold beers.

On the 30th we woke up to rain, a lot of rain. It rained all morning and not just a sprinkle, I mean it came down hard. At some points the ground couldn’t absorb all the water. Now I was a bit worried about how the tent would hold up, but the inside never got wet, so all good. Our tent had a front area where we could sit and ride out the storm. What do you do to pass time when stuck in a tent in the rain.. drink beer. We started at about 930am. By the avo the rain had passed and things started to dry out… the tent that is. We kept on drinking and had a great rest of the day. We headed over to our friends tents where they were more of the glampers than campers. They had a big 4 room tent (for 2 pp) and a gazebo, which was great. You could attach walls and get out of the rain and wind. We all just hung out here drinking, eating and talking shit.. as we do!

Paddle boarding in Port Jackson.

Paddle boarding in Port Jackson.

We woke up on the 31st to blue skies and sun shine. It was going to be a great last day of 2012. We spent the day on the beach paddle boarding, swimming, body boarding and tossing a Frisbee around. Very relaxing. That night we drank and laughed our way into 2013.

  Unfortunately on the 2nd we had to go home as I was scheduled to work the Thursday and Friday. We packed up early and hit the road as I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic. On the way home we did hit traffic and were slowed up a bit, but not as bad as some mates who were stuck on the road form Port Jackson to Coromandel Town for 4 hours… it should take 1 hour. Yikes. Port Jackson is an amazing little spot that families go to. If you are looking for a huge party.. this isn’t the place. An ice truck comes through twice daily, so you beer will be kept cold. I hope to head back sometime as it is a pretty mint spot that not a lot of people go to.. a hidden gem so to speak.

A few things i learnt while up in port jackson:

  1. Michelle doesnt like camping in the rain
  2. dont blow into a self inflating mattress
  3. Just because I like roughing it, doesnt mean others do
  4. A good chilly bin is worth its weight in gold
  5. I cant surf my paddle boards in rough waters.. got owned
  6. A good air matress is our next purchase
  7. NZ has some amazing camp sites that are cheap as chips
  8. I need to do more camping

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The Longest Day Ride

In New Zealand the Arthritis Society runs an event called ‘The Longest DayRide’, which is where your ride your bike from Sun up to Sunset on the longest day of the year, Dec 21st. Basically you make a plan and then ride all day. Very simple. Some people do all day road rides, while other do a mixture of mountain biking/road riding and bar hoping. As soon as I heard about this event I knew it was for me. I asked a mate if he was keen and he jumped at the opportunity, so we went ahead and made an itinerary.

Not only was it the longest day, but it was supposed to be the last day of the world according to the Mayan colanders. What a great way to go out of this world – on your bike.

I got picked up at 5:30am and we headed out to Maraetai, where we would start our day. There was definitely an air of excitement. Your keen to go hard, but you also know that you have a long day ahead of you, so don’t charge every hill. Pace yourself is all I kept telling my self. Maraetai has to be on of my favourite placed to ride in Auckland. Great single track, with jumps, berms, roots.. everything you want in a trail. We rode there for 2 hours.

We then headed to Whitford Forest. It is only 10 mins from Maraetai and best of all there was a portable coffee shop setup, so we got an added caffeine kick before we hit the trails. Ive ridden here before, but found it hard to find tracks. I was hoping that my mate would have an idea of the trail layout, but he didn’t. We had a map and did some bush biking at the start and we eventually find our way around. Our plan was to spend about 1.5 hours there, but it was more like +2 hours as we got lost a couple of times. The trails we did find and ride were great. Worth the work and bush bash!

Two rides down; we had a schedule breakfast brake. A quick coffee and pie at the Brick Café and we were back in the truck heading on to our next ride; The Huna Ranges.

I’ve ridden Huna before and like Whitford, I got lost and didn’t overly enjoyed it as I did a lot of gravel road riding as I couldn’t find the trail heads. My mate had a good idea of the trails and had a map, which really helped! We did the Farm Track. It’s not a technical track, but it sure is a lot of fun. It goes through all this amazing native bush and you find yourself just in awe of the place. I really enjoyed this ride. I think it would be great to go back and do a night ride there as the trails I tight and the first is really thick, so it would be pretty crazy at night. About ¾ of the way through we stopped at a stream crossing and took a dip. It was just what I needed. The cold water just revigarated me and was what I needed to get on to the next stop in the journey. This ride took roughly 2 hours.
From Huna we had a bit of a drive westward to woodhill. We stopped in Keumu for a pie and caffine kick. Unfortunately we hit traffic on the way over and it took us almost 2 hours, which really made it tough getting back on the bike. You tighten up and you just tire out. We soldiered on, but you could sense the drop in energy levels. Luckily as we were about to ride at woodhill another mate pulled in. It was just what we needed; fresh legs and energy to feed off of. We rode Woodhhill for an hour and then headed off to the WCRC Compound.

At the Compound we had another mate turn up and join the crew. This was some of the fastest tracks of the day! It was a bit of a struggle up to the top, but coming down we all came a live again. Looking at our faces after that first ride down, you could tell we got out second wind or more likely our 20th wind! With the energy levels once again high, we ripped a couple more trails before heading on to our last ride of the day.

The last ride was going to be at Riverhead and it was a beauty. We knew we were in the home stage so we were leaving it all on the trails. There were some painful ups, but the downs paid for it. Here we spent a good 2 hours. Thing were getting a bit loose; corners were getting sloppy and line choices were all over the place, breaks weren’t being used – it was great!

With the sun dropping we made it back to the car before night fall. Here we high fived and had grins from ear to ear. We did it. We rode for over 10 hours in one day. It was now off to the pub for some well deserved beers.

What a great day! This will be an annual ride for me and I’m sure our group will only be getting bigger. I haven’t had a ride like this in ages, and I now cant wait to plan another one. Im thinking maybe doing a huge ride like this once a month… if im lucky enough too!

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Burgers & Bikes

After my last trip to Queenstown I started planning the next. I kept an eye out of some cheap flights on Grabaseat.co.nz and managed to score a mid week 4 day trip from the 16th to 20th of December.

Day 1
Up at 5:30 am and loaded into the car by 6:00am I was off to the airport. Now that I am not living on the airbus route I take the car and park at the airport – luxury! My flight was at 7:30am and I arrived in Queenstown around 9:00am. I did what I usually do; grab the bus into town, cross the road to the park and build my bike, then head off to the hostel to change and head to the gondola. By 10:30am I was on my way up for my first ride down. Usually I would meet up with my mate, but he was a no show, not sure where he was… maybe a cave.

The first day of downhilling is always a bit of a challenge. You have to get used to the speed. Things happen so much faster and if you don’t ride it all the time, there definitely is a warm up period. At first I just didn’t feel good.. kind of awkward, but after the next couple of runs you loosen up and start to lay off the breaks and you find your flow. I managed to get in 15 runs and packed it up at 6pm, rinsed.

I headed back to the hostel, checked in, dropped my bike and headed out for some fergburger! With a Southern Swine and with a quick visit to the dairy for some yogurt (breakie) I headed back to the hotel, devoured it and passed out by 9:30pm a happy boy!

Day 2
Up at 7:30 am I did a bit of a stretch as I was stiff and sore from my first day. I tend to feel it mostly in my forearms and hands. Going down a track is like doing 100 push ups and you doing those while your holding on for dear life. I had a big bowl of muesli and yogurt, two bananas and some tea. Today I decided to do something a bit different. I wanted to ride out to 7-mile and spend half a day there and then ride the gondie for the other half. 7 mile is a half hour ride out and is some pretty wicked single track. I spent 4 hours here, just looping the tracks. I was about to head back to town to ride the gondie when I found another track across the road, called Gold Digger. It was amazing track that went through native bush a long side a stream and had everything you would want; roots, steeps, rocks, switchbacks, berms… heaven. I loved it so much that I spent my avo there. I rode it 5 times! The ride back to the town was slow and pretty painful.. I was whipped. I never made it up the Gondie. I was back in town by 4pm, tired and hungry. Burger and bed.

Day 3
Today was a full out charge on the gondie. The body was feeling good. Taking the day to ride single track saved my body. I was first up the hill and was keen to get in as many runs as possible. Hammy’s to loosen up, vertigo, thingy-myjig, orginal, original vertigo, ants, rock garden, Armageddon, ben lemmond, world cup, fern hill.. I rode it all. By mid avo I was hauling. A mate had the avo off so he came in and we rode a couple new tracks that aren’t posted. We had to push up to them and it was well worth it! It was great to ride with my mate, as he had fresh legs and dude has some crazy lines, up over, on the side of things, popping of everything… it was great to watch and follow. At 7:30pm I had been riding for close to 9 hours.. I was rinsed and things were getting loose. It was time to get off the bike and have a beer. 2 beers, a burger later I was in bed.

Day 4
My last day in Queenie, I was keen to make the most of it. Once again I was first up the gondie and planned to ride hard for a half day. I hit up all my favourite tracks and managed a day of 13 runs. By 2pm my pass had run out and I had to get ready for the airport. I headed to the hostel, changed and then headed back to the park where I unpack to pack up my bike. Half hour later I was on the bus to the airport to head back to Auckland after another amazing bike trip in Queenstown, but of course I managed to also get in one more burger before I left.

Bikes and burger; living the dream.

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National Crate Day 2012

This past Saturday was National Crate Day. National Crate Day is the first day of summer in NZ and it is where you take a crate of beer to your mates and get on the piss to celebrate the end of winter, the upcoming summer and all your mates. It was a pretty mint day and im sure many a crate were drank around NZ. There are the 10 commandments of Crate Day. Let me share with you:

COMMANDMENT #1:
Thou shalt not drink and drive.

COMMANDMENT #2:
Thou shalt support the “Crate Of Origin” – drink the beer where you came from (e.g. Dunedin – Speights, Auckland – Lion Red)

COMMANDMENT #3:
Thou shalt open thy crate bottle with anything but a bottle opener.

COMMANDMENT #4:
Thou only beef that shall attend National Crate Day is thy beef for thy BBQ.

COMMANDMENT #5:
Thou shalt not turn up to thy hosts as a free loader, you must bringith thy crate and platith of meat.

COMMANDMENT #6:
Don’t bring thy mates to the big day i.e. fighty mate can stay at thy home.

COMMANDMENT #7:
Thou shall make sure thy mates get home safely.

COMMANDMENT #8:
Thy host shall keep thy mates well fed off the BBQ

COMMANDMENT #9:
All shall don thee attire of National Crate Day – black singlet and stubbies.

COMMANDMENT #10:
Thou shalt always keep rules 1-9 top of mind, to ensure we continue the National Crate Day legacy for years to come.

 

I think this is a day that Canada should embrace and make their own. What do you think?

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The DIY Guy

Last week I was inspired by the Kiwi way of life… the do it yourselfer. A mate of mine car needed a new water pump and timing belt, so he just did it. He had never done it before, but thought he would give it a crack. Yes it took the entire weekend, but he got he job done.  That inspired me to get off my lazy ass and fix my car. Now I will a do some small jobs ie oil changes and other simple maintenance  but usually I will let the professionals take care of the problem. My car windows didn’t work all of last year and I thought it was my fuses, I tested that and it didn’t work. It was then time for my car to get a warrant of fitness, so I asked the mechanic to take a look. They couldn’t find the problem and said it would most likely be an expensive fix, so I said ‘fuck it’ and just used the AC-. After a summer of just AC I longed to be able to have the windows down and the wind in my hair, so last week I ripped open my door. I figured, what’s the worst that can happen; if I break it any worse then I will pay someone else to fix it. Funny thing is, I didn’t break it. I fixed it and it was easy. I unscrewed and popped off the interior of the door and saw that my wiring was all frayed, so I just fixed that and boom my windows now work. Looking back, I should have gotten of my lazy ass and did it earlier and not trusted that bloody mechanics word.

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A Birthday Wine Tour

It was Michelle’s birthday this past weekend and she wanted to head to Waihiki to do some wine tasting. This is a far cry from last year’s paint balling escapades! We got a good group of friends –tim, craig, Sheridan and megan and hit the island in the early afternoon. We hoped for sunshine, but were given rain. This didn’t dampen the trip. You don’t get wet in the wine cellars! Upon arrival we hit a local restaurant for our first drink. We thought a couple more people may catch the later ferry, so we would wait there for an hour.  Soon enough we had a text saying they weren’t coming. Our waitress then order us a round of fish and chips… yes that is right she ordered for us. Friendly is an understatement when it came to our waitress.  She told us the specials and then proceeded to tell us a round of fish and chips were in order… all while walking away. Awesome.  After a mean feed, we were trying to figure out how we were going to get to the winery and asked the over helpful waitress to call a taxi. Of course she had her own plan, which was to grab a customer who must be a local guide, who just happened to be getting the fish and chips at this time to drive us to the winery. It was meant to be! He told us his van was on the street, unlocked and to go jump in. He will scarf his meal and be there in a second. Max, our new guide was awesome. He had heaps of interesting and quirky facts – that were most likely not facts, but his opinion, which really made the tour.

We asked him which wineries we should hit and he was quick to drop us at Jurassic Ridge. The back story was that the owner used to be a geologist, turned neurologist, who is now a wine maker – wicked! What I really loved is that the owner does everything; from the fencing to the marketing to the tastings we were doing. He was so friendly and really took the time to answer all of our questions, without making me feel like an idoit, as I don’t know much about wine.  For $10 we tasted 7-8 wines and they were all great. Everyone ended up buying a bottle from him. I would totally recommend visiting if you head over for a wine tour.

Our next stop was Mudd Brick, which was nice but I didn’t quite enjoy as much as Jurassic Ridge. I felt more at home and more open to asking questions at Jurassic Ridge then at Mudd Brick. Like wine, it’s all subjective, but I would definitely recommend both if you are keen for a tour. Both offered amazing wine.

By now there were no more winery tours as it was getting on in the day, so we headed back to the ferry and on to Auckland. Once back in Aucks we hit up Fort Street Union for some beers and food.

I have to say Michelle knows how to have a bday weekend. Great events, great people and great times.   Well done Michelle, I’m looking forward to next year’s bday celebrations…how will you top yourself?

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It started with carnage. It ended with carnage!

Recently I went to Rotorua for a weekend of riding which started with carnage and ended with carnage.   The plan was to get their early sat morning and make the most of the our time in mountain biking heaven.  I was picked up around 630am and was on SHWY1 by 7am, which meant on the trails by at least 10:30am. A quick breakie stop in Matamata and we were on the shuttle by 10:30am as planned. With the bikes loaded on the trailer we were sitting on the bus with anticipation of the trails to come, when a rider approached the bus driver with the news that a young kid hurt himself on one of the trails.

Luckily for the young fella one of my mates has pre hospital first aide, so we got dropped half way up the hill to go find him. About ¾ way down the jump track there he was with his older brother just watching helplessly. He was curled up, crying and in a lot of pain. My mate quickly accessed the situation. It seemed he could have fractured or broke his hip – not good. We knew we had to get him down the trail and to where an ambo could pick him up, so we ditched the bikes and scooped the boy up. The first thing you notice is how steep some of the tracks are when you are walking them with someone in your arms. On a bike, your moving fast and roll through much of it, but when you are walking it is a whole different story. About 15-20 mins later we walked him out of the bush and laid him down against a tree to wait for the ambo. Ive got to say he was a pretty brave little guy as he seemed to be in a lot of pain, but sucked it up while we took him down the track. Another ½ hour and the ambo arrived. They did their own assessment and loaded him on to a stretcher. We put him in the ambo and that was the start of the trip.

Another ride on the bus and we were at the trail head. I must say it was unnerving having your trip start with an injured rider. It doesn’t really make you feel at ease with what you are about to do, as you know it could easily be you laying on the ground in agony.  After a couple of runs you loosen up, forget about the recent carnage and just enjoy the trails. Saturday was pretty mint, other than starting it with the kid’s crash. No one from the group bailed and we all headed to the hotel stoked on the days ride. From my memory we did 7-8 shuttles – not to bad when the first 1.5-2hours were spent dealing with an injured rider.

The hotel had hot pools so we soaked our bones in the geothermal activity of roto-vegas.  A couple beers later, we hit the sheets as we had a big day of riding a head of us.

Up early, quick breakie and right to the bikepark. Everyone was flying. Maybe the rust was shed on Saturday or everyone was trying to make the most of the day, but everyone was hitting it. Instead of just shuttling we peddle up to corridor where we repeatedly hit that trail nailing the table tops, hip jumps and massive berms. I must have rode that track about 4-5 times.  After that we headed towards the shuttle pick up to do have some more gravity assisted fun.

We hit everything and even a couple sketchy secret tracks. I think the best combination of the day as jumps, to corners to jumps for the last bit of downs, which is where the end of day carnage happened. As always it was the last run that claimed one of  my mates.   He was behind on the way down and on the last of three jumps when he came out a bit too hot, which sent him over the bars and slamming into the ground. I didn’t see it as I was in front, but that is what he thinks happened. Me and another ride made it to the bottom and were hive fiving, discussing how much fun that was all while waiting for our other friends to arrive. 5mins, 10mins, 20mins.. we knew someone had an off.  Finally he managed to walk out with the assistance of our other mates, but was def worse for wear. He initially thought it was a broken wrist, but it was much more. After an x-ray he was diagnosed with broke his wrist, collar bone, shoulder and thumb. Shitty! His riding will be done for this summer, well before it even began. It sucks seeing one of your friends get hurt, but in a sport like this it happens and that is just part of it. You know it can happen, you see it happen and you then pray it doesn’t happen to you!

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