It must have been one of those days when the planets were in alignment or the Gods smiled down upon the little Yello motorcycle.
We’d had 10 days of rain, so to wake to beautiful sunshine was all I needed to say “screw work” and hit the road. Then an invitation came from my mate Boulder to pop over to the other side of the city to pick up some fresh fish he’d saved for me. How rude would it be to say no to that?
On a bog-standard CB125 with 9 tyre-shredding horsepower on tap, day-long rides tend to be short – no 500km blats for a coffee just because you can. Riding along the motorway to get out of the city and being out on the open road invariably means having a large truck uncomfortably close to your arse with dire consequences just a gust of headwind away. So you look for manageable rides that don't involve open road speed limits. It's a challenge I am prepared to take on - me and The Yello Peril.
Sculpture under the spaghetti junction
A visit to Boulder’s place opened up the possibility of riding up two of Auckland’s prominent volcanic cones, One Tree Hill and Mt Eden. An interesting day was shaping up.
Coincidentally a visit to Mt Eden and One Tree Hill was a challenge thrown to me by “Tenere Mezo” when I first got The Peril running – this was the days before an unfortunate altercation with the mods on this site saw him high-tail it out of Dodge City.
I’d been waiting for two things – for the rain to stop and for sunshine to happen. Photography is all about capturing light and the only light around here had been coloured a dark shade of grey with a touch of black thrown in.
Then some bloody volcano in Chile started behaving like a politician. The spewing of hot air sent a huge ash cloud right round the southern hemisphere that covered the country. It turned our watery winter sun into a thin grey haze that was so weak the roads were still wet late in the afternoon from the morning’s dew.
But on this single magical day the big yellow thing appeared in the sky and it was perfect for the little yello thing on the ground.
I could have taken the car to Boulder’s cave for the fish retrieval mission but where’s the fun in that?
However, taking the bike would mean conquering my last great fear – riding through spaghetti junction, NZ’s most complex and certainly busiest stretch of motorway. It’s quite a steep hill going south too, not The Peril’s strong point.
I did it, but let’s just say that when there is a Kenworth truck wheel spinning at 50mph just three feet from your lightly -clad shoulder, mortality has seldom felt so tenuous.
I got to Boulder’s, had a coffee with him, picked up the fish (I’d put a freezer pack in the tank bag to keep it cold) and went a-ridin. He lives a short distance from Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill.
Cornwall is a magnificent park, topped by One Tree Hill and a striking stone Obelisk. I stopped often to snap photos and dangnabbit the little Yello thing was looking so good I couldn’t resist photographing it. I’m learning about a foo-nah new camera that has a lot more buttons than my old point-and-shoot - so the results aren’t quite what I’d like, but I will get there.
Earthworks left by the Maori forebears who lived on the hill. Mostly food storage pits - the hill would have been fortified so they could retreat there to fight off other maurauding tribes. They did a fair bit of marauding, the Maori.
See the obelisk at the top?
It is a monument that signals to all the world that the Auckland Council are a bunch of complete tossers.
They had to put the granite spire up because they couldn’t work out how to plant a tree.
Let me explain. There used to be a single pine tree on One Tree Hill. From that you may work out how it got its name (there’s even a U2 song with the hill’s name as its title.)
Then, in 1994 the tree was attacked by activists with a chainsaw and not surprisingly it died. The equivalent of a medium sized African nation’s GDP was spent trying to revive the pine but it was finally removed in 2000. Eleven years later, the council has not been able to plant a replacement tree despite there being a special committee and dedicated staff to oversee the project. A local radio jock planted one a couple of days after the first one fell but this was soon removed as being culturally inappropriate (read: Not enough people have guzzled from the public money trough dedicated to this project.)
Nah, I'm just pulling yer tit. The obelisk was really built by Sir John Logan Campbell and commemorates the Maori people and his respect for them. Sir John also donated the land for One Tree Hill and the surrounding park, Cornwall Park. (But the story about the One Tree is true.)
He was rich, being one of the founders of New Zealand’s first significant brewery, Campbell & Ehrenfried (aka Lion Breweries. Steinlager anyone?)
Sir John is buried there.
Nice views from up there too.
Stay tuned, thrillseekers, there's more to come on this epic, 30 mile ride...