The hundreds of hours I have spent on the road, and hundreds more I will spend, give me plenty of time to percolate life and think about lots of stuff. Riding from Napier to Wellington I was mostly thinking how my self-raved waterproof Kilimanjaro jacket was not, in fact, as waterproof as I’d have liked. I first became suspicious when I got soaked riding north from Auckland on day 1, but put it down to a couple of zips I perhaps had not done up correctly. However, this time the zips could not be blamed as I felt my forearms and elbows slowly get colder and wetter. If there’s one thing that isn’t fun, it’s riding wet and cold, but fortunately the rest of the jacket seemed to hold up and I arrived in Wellington not completely soaked.
Earlier I had managed to get my usual 10:00 am start (kicking out time of most hostels), just in time for a healthy Subway breakfast on Napier beach; and very nice it was too, particularly as the sun decided to make an appearance for the first time. To the south I then rode to Cape Kidnappers where 3000 pairs of Australasian Gannets usually hang out, but I was late in the season and they must had already left for their holidays. This cape also boasts a famous golf course (voted 10th best outside USA) and was named by Captain Cook when local Māori tried to abduct one of his crew aboard HMS Endeavour during landfall in 1769.
I’d been told by the friendly lady at the Tourist Info Office that it was worth taking in the panoramic views atop Te Mata Peak, a 400m high hill not too far away offering views of Heretaunga Plains, Napier and Hawke’s Bay. She was right, and the views were spectacular, as you can see.
From there it was downhill all the way to the bottom, and I started my long 4 hour ride to Wellington in order to catch the first ferry to the South Island early the next morning. I managed to get in one good sunset that set the mountains on fire before the heavens decided to open up shortly after.
If Wellington only has a population of 400,000, then every single person living there must have been on the road sat in a traffic jam when I arrived. It was gridlock, and I’m sure the belting rain didn’t help matters. Luckily I was on a motorbike and took to ‘filter’ mode, weaving in and out of the gridlock (and maybe up a pavement or two) in order to fight my way through to the city centre where I was staying. Even luckier I had GPS (my trusty Zumo 550), so I actually knew where I was going!
My destination was the Cambridge Hotel in the centre of town, and I was glad to see her appear in the windy downpour like a life-saving lighthouse in the fog, or a McDonalds when you’re starving. Having nowhere off-road to park the Tiger, I left it on the road outside (the nice man on reception it would be OK there – honest Governor!) and, after a hot shower, installed myself at the bar with pie and chips and a pint of best, watching people get soaked outside. Lovely jubbly!