NZ: Greenstone Track and Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is another of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”. It is a roughly 40km loop that was used by both Maori and early European settlers as a trading route and means of crossing to the West coast. The Greenstone Track was used by the Maori to carry quantities of jade to the West coast…

NZ: Akaroa, Lake Tekapo and Queenstown

My plan was to visit the south island of New Zealand in a camper van to allow maximum flexibility in planning. To this end, I had booked a “self-contained” motor-home (i.e. with shower, toilet and cooking facilities) for 25 days and would be collecting it on arrival in Christchurch.  I will admit to being slightly…

NZ: Rotorua and Mount Maunganui

Leaving Lake Taupo behind me to the south, I set a course for Rotorua. Scarcely was I post the Taupo town limits when a signpost informed me of the grandly titled “Craters of the Moon”. “Well, as far as detours are concerned, it’s just one small step of for man”, I thought and then laughed…

NZ: Waitomo, Napier and Taupo

Setting out from Auckland with a sense of adventure and a dismally underpowered Toyota Yaris, I headed for the first location on my printed itinerary: Waitomo.  Waitomo is renowned for its network of limestone caves and underground rivers. Thinking this sounded like a good holiday spot, a host of glow worms decided to visit. They…

“Auckland” or “The Belchers’ beneficence”

As you may have inferred, this tale takes place in New Zealand, a land whose first European visitor was not Captain James Cook, as many of my compatriots smugly claim, but a Dutchman called Abel Tasman, whence the name New Zealand, which is based on the Zeeland region of the Netherlands. Forgive me: I have…

Oaxaca – Try to pronounce it if you dare!

My bus journey to Oaxaca, although tedious, was mercifully comfortable. The only detail worth sharing was my buying a sandwich from an old lady purveying homemade eats in a lay-by at the midpoint of the journey. She offered me a ketchup bottle and I gave it a healthy squeeze onto my food. Turns out it…

Mexico City

I had little idea of what to expect of Mexico, a country to which my only exposure had been various film portrayals which invariably painted it as lawless and full of Danny Trejos threatening to kill you. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the reality was greatly different. I had booked a week of AirBnB in the capital, Mexico…

LA a note to follow SO

As you may remember, my trip along route 66 left me in Santa Monica. Having never visited LA, I decided to stick around for a week and see if I got talent-scouted to star as the villain with the British accent in an upcoming blockbuster. I’m giving away nothing about my success in this venture…

Route 66: the mother road – Arizona and California

I left you in Flagstaff, AZ. With only a few hundred miles left to reach my final destination of Los Angeles and with several days remaining on my Harley Davidson rental contract, I decided to take a detour to the Grand Canyon, about a 150m round trip from Flagstaff. I had twice been to Las…

Route 66: the mother road – New Mexico and Arizona

Leaving Texas to the East, glinting in the early-morning sun, my Harley and I crossed the state border into New Mexico, she of Gary Johnson fame. Route 66, as an icon of the automotive world, is littered with museums flaunting the riches of American vehicular history. En route to the Blue Pool at Santa Rosa…

Route 66: The mother road – Texas

If you haven’t read posts 1 and 2 of the Route 66 saga, the backdrop is that I’ve ridden from Chicago, IL, to a small town in Texas called Shamrock, on a rented Harley Davidson. Here we rejoin our story. If you look in any Route 66 guide under the entry for Shamrock, the headline location is always the…

Route 66: The mother road – Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma

At the end of the previous post I had made it as far as Springfield, MO, in my Route 66 ride from Chicago to Los Angeles. I awoke to an unpleasantly familiar sound. Rainfall. Heavy rainfall. I looked outside and, sure enough, the parking lot of my motel was bathed in liquid sunshine. This presented…