19.01.2012 - 22.01.2012 25 °C
Riding out of Auckland I reflected on the fun I'd had and the new friends I'd made - a sociable, friendly lot the Kiwis.
The only fly in the ointment came at the Big Day Out music festival, held in six cities of NZ and Australia over two weeks - Auckland, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide & Perth. It was going to be the last one in NZ as logistically it wasn't working any more. Sadly (for NZ) the headline band pulled out when it heard it was going to be the last one but happily (for me) the replacement was Soundgarden who I really liked and had wanted to see for ages. Other bands in the line-up included Kaspian and My Chemical Romance (who I'd seen in Edinburgh with Oz and really enjoyed) along with displays of heroic skateboarding by the likes of Tony Hawk (who at the age of 43 is still the master of the skateboard) and his Vert Jam team.
I scampered along to the venue all excited about getting up close and personal to the boarders and hoping for some cool photos but alas, it wasn't to be. At the gate some little girl in a fluorescent jacket asked to see my ticket and to search my bag - which I assumed was to look for illegals. I opened my bag and she said, "You can't take that in here". Wondering who had planted some Class As or a gun on me during the walk from the train station I asked what she meant only to discover she was referring to my camera!!! WTF?? I can't take a camera into a music festival - are you serious?? Were they worried I'd photograph someone 'famous' ... like who exactly?? I asked (ok I admit, quite 'firmly') just what the f*ck she suggested I do with my camera while I’m in the festival, to which she looked rather like she might wet herself and shouted, "Dave!!".
Enter stage left 'Dave'. Dave was wider than he was tall and had a non-existent neck an All Black prop would be envious of. Couple this with a look which I think was supposed to be ‘menacing’ but actually came across as ‘constipated’! Dave 'explained' the policy to me in words of one syllable (I think more for his behalf than mine) and I reiterated just how stupid a policy it was, asked for an actual reason for the ban and added that neither the website nor ticket stated no cameras (in fact I later looked it up again and the website suggests bringing "water, sunscreen, phone and camera"). I told him I was a tourist not a terrorist and was not a journalist but journeyed. Sadly, reason and logic was lost on Dave and he just tried to look a bit more menacing and drew himself up to his full 5' 4"!! I was waiting for the, “You can’t come in” line but he said he could store the camera for me in a secure container. I told him my camera was very valuable to me to which the little girl (clearly braver with Dave stood beside her) squeaked, “We have much more expensive cameras in there than yours.”... I leaned in for effect and growled, “You are missing the point girly, the only camera that I give a f*ck about is mine.” I looked up to see Dave smiling at me and he said, “Come on I’ll show you the container”... I think I’d won him over! He even asked me when I was leaving if I had enjoyed myself!
I can report that the skaters were amazing, MCR and Kaspian great and Soundgarden suitably too loud... I cannot, however, show you any photos of the event. I did take some photos on my phone and would be eternally grateful if someone could explain how to get them off again as I’m buggered if I can work it out! Below is a photo stolen from the web of Tony Hawk doing what he does best at some other event.
I rode out to Corromandel the following day in the sunshine stopping for a hearty brunch at Thames. Corromandel is a small and interesting town with a mussel and fishing industry. I stayed at a motel with a resident Tuk-Tuk which brought back happy memories of India. I wandered about and went for a ride to the top of the peninsular on a 80 km dirt road. The road snakes up the over the hill to the east coast, then along past beautiful bays to meander back over to the west until reaching the tiny village of Coleville. I stopped for a coffee at the cafe /book exchange/ gift shop where I met one of the 20 residents, then poked around the post office/store/petrol station then trundled back to Corromandel for a beer and yummy supper which was a fitting end to a delightful day.
The following day I took a train ride at the Driving Creek Railway which was built over 30 years by one guy called Barry. The train is tiny and both the carriages and bridges are built to the owners design. It twists up the hillside through some of the 7,000 native trees he has planted and stops at the property boundary adjoining national parkland – stunning on a sunny day.
Moving on to ride down the east coast I rode across and through the town of Whitianga which reminded me of a rather down-market English seaside town. I made a quick decision not to stay there and moved on to Hahei which was far nicer. However, I hadn’t organised accommodation for the night (as usual) so started to phone round. The town is tiny and I slowly worked up in price range until I reluctantly called the most expensive only to be told they were full too! She did give me the owner’s number and suggested I tried calling him which I did. Richard suggested I stay at the guest cottage next to his house which was up on the hill just outside the town, perfect... or so I thought!
A possum explores my bike only to decide it wasn't for him! And a cool 1923 Norton I met in Corromandel
Views and coos on the Corromandel Peninsula dirt road.