NZ Safari wrap. January 15, 2013

WestCoastSafari211

The Safari is over for another year, and what a great ride it was!

To fill in the background for those who may not know of the event, it’s a three-day, non-competitive, dualsport navigation ride in NZ sponsored by Yamaha  and run by Britton Motorcycle Adventures, and it runs in a different part of the Shaky Isles each January.

For 2013 it was the “West Coast” Safari. Past years have included the “East Coast”, “Mackenzie Country”, “Hanmer Springs” and “Lakes And Mountains” Safaris, and they’ve all been fabulous.

The locals jokingly refer to the West Coast as the “Wet Coast”. It’s a little like far-north Queensland in that it enjoys a great deal of rain, and the rivers and streams rise and fall fast. The scenery is no less spectacular than anywhere else on the South Island, though maybe not as mountainous as some parts, and Mike Britton and his team set a fabulous course. A fair chunk of the original course was lost to flood damage on one side of the road and fire hazard on the other – believe it or not – but the ride was still amazingly, awesomely brilliant.

Here’s a few pics to tell the story. If you’re keen to find out more about next year’s ride – which will be in the very far north of the North Island – log on to www.adventurerides.co.nz.

A huge thanks to Mike and Angela for inviting us over, and Yamaha NZ for supplying a sensational WR250F, and an apology for jamming that bike into a smallish rock tunnel. We were pretty sure that with a run-up we’d scrape through. Sorry about that.

Day One – St Arnaud to Reefton: 300km. Raining and a tough optional ‘Trail’ section.

The Kiwis are mad! They hurled their big dualsporters at the tough section and spent the whole time rapt in how tough it was. Any normal rider would’ve chosen the softer route, or at least spewed about taking their big BMW or 990 into such ridiculous terrain. For the Kiwis, challenges like that make the whole ride worthwhile…

Lake Rotoiti, walking distance from the start/finish at St Arnaud.

Lake Rotoiti, walking distance from the start/finish at St Arnaud.

A rainy day just makes the scenery even more spectacular.

A rainy day just makes the scenery even more spectacular.

The Porica track kept the big-bike guys on their toes.

The Porika track kept the big-bike guys on their toes.

Water in the route-sheet holder adds to the challenge.

Water in the route-sheet holder adds to the challenge.

Day Two – Reefton to Greymouth: 228km. Rain in the morning, glorious sunshine in the afternoon.

Raining in the morning for a run up to an historic mine. The two-way traffic on the narrow trail was interesting, but the ‘Trail’ section was a serious challenge with bikes being bashed, bulldogged and jammed in deep, muddy ruts for several kilometres. I’ve never seen so many smiling, happy Kiwis. They LOVE this stuff! The afternoon included a run down a man-made watercourse which diverted a stream to an area where it could be used for sluicing and so forth. It meant riding down the actual riverbed, not on the banks on either side, and went for several kilometres, finishing with negotiating two hand-hewn tunnels through the living rock. It was one of the most spectacular riding sections I’ve ever seen…

The rivers rise and fall fast, and the bottoms all seem to be big, rolly, round rocks.

The rivers rise and fall fast, and the bottoms all seem to be big, rolly, round rocks.

The whole area is dotted with historic mining sites, and time was allowed to stop and explore.

The whole area is dotted with historic mining sites, and time was allowed to stop and explore.

The 'Trail' option had some serious terrain to negotiate, especially for the big dualsporters. The Kiwis take it all their stride and never stop smiling.

The ‘Trail’ option had some serious terrain to negotiate, especially for the big dualsporters. The Kiwis take it all their stride and never stop smiling.

The ride down the hand-hewn, redirected riverbed was unbelievably spectaular.

The ride down the hand-hewn, redirected riverbed was unbelievably spectacular.

The tunnels marked the end of the trail and were complete with flowing water and rocky, tricky floors.

The tunnels marked the end of the trail and were complete with flowing water and rocky, tricky floors.

Just like home!

Just like home!

Day Three – Greaymouth to St Arnaud: 300km. Sunshine in the morning. Rain starting just as most had finished.

The high point of the final day was really and out-and-back loop that included a river crossing with an exit up a steep, loose, rocky hill. There were a few drownings and a lot of boggings, but, as always, the New Zealanders seemed ecstatic about it. Everyone was keen to jump in and help everyone else, and that seems to be a big part of the Kiwi psyche. It was a really inspiring atmosphere to be in.

The loop allowed for a road-ride to return if tired bikes and riders didn’t want to return on the trail, and some took the option.

From there it was back to the finish. It’s definitely one of the world’s best dualsport rides. We’re already saving for next year!

The water's not deep, but the bottom was very tricky.

The water’s not deep, but the bottom was very tricky.

Helping each other seems to be part of the national culture.

Helping each other seems to be part of the national culture.

There were a few pillion couples, and they didn't shy away from much. This pair on the 800 were incredible. They didn't just do the entire course, including the challenge sections, they made it look easy.

There were a few pillion couples, and they didn’t shy away from much. This pair on the 800 were incredible. They didn’t just do the entire course, including the challenge sections, they made it look easy.

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