Joined: Oct 2005
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Queens Birthday Weekend 29-31 May 2009
The Otago Motorcycle Club (OMCC) has run the annual Brass Monkey Motorcycle Rally since
It’s located here at Oturehua, Central Otago, South Island.
It’s a region renowned for it’s hot summers and cold winters – tough farming country but surprisingly profitable farming of fine wool sheep, primarily Merino.
This will have been my 12th or 13th Rally but my first taking a dirt orientated route! My good friend Rob West (of Dirt Noob Shaggie Goes Offroad fame) reckoned it’d be a good idea for us to go by dirt!! Yikes! Being not very experienced off the pavement, this filled me with both trepidation and excitement.
Rob has quite the stable of offroad bikes from an elderly DT175 through to his latest acquisition a new DR400 that is equipped with a big tank, comfy seat and is currently located in Sydney – Rob rode the outback late last year and intends going back this coming July and August. He was kind enough to lend me his Yamaha XT660X for this trip and he’d be taking his trusty DR650 – veteran of a 40+ thousand kilometer trip from Alaska to Ushuaia!
Packing up the bikes at Rob’s place – I think I set a new record for me in packing light, that’s my new Ortlieb bag on the back of Rob’s 650
We’d decided to get a bit of a head start towards the dirt from Christchurch by heading about three hours down the road to Lake Tekapo. My mate Pete was going down to Tekapo to stop at his parent’s holiday home for the weekend and offered us a bed for the night – sweet!
We topped up the tanks in Ashburton, Rob reckons my bike will go 400kms on a tank….to a Superhawk rider that’s fantasyland! J
Rob’s trusty flask of tea comes out for the first of many warm-ups over the weekend – it was mostly in the 3-6C range with a low of 0C on the pass tops with the added bonus of howling winds!
I think this was as hot as it got all weekend
We arrived at Pete’s place about 515pm and Pete was due about 630 – I offered to turn the hot water on and light the fire.
Bike’s all tucked up in the garage for the night
Off to the pub for a Burger, fries and a couple of pints of Monteiths Originals! Mmm mmm
The lake is in an amazing condition regarding it’s capacity (as are all the South Island Hydro Lakes) due to heavy rain in recent weeks – this is the first time in the 10 years I’ve been going to Pete’s (family’s) bach (that’s kiwi for holiday home and pronounced batch) that the spillway has been anything but bone dry – it sure ain’t bone dry today! The rumble of water escaping the floodgates was quite loud.
This morning we had to come back from Tekapo about 10kms to Dog Kennel Corner to take the turn off to our first off pavement high country pass through the Black Forest Station.
Looking back towards Tekapo and the Southern Alps beyond
Rob pulling in a Dog Kennel Corner
Waiting for the off!
After about a few kays of tarmac it turned to gravel and the real adventure began!
Fog was the order of the day to start
The fog went on for about 20 minutes and was far thicker than the photo would suggest – at most times we struggled to see more than 50m ahead and often less – farm trucks (utes in local parlance, short for utility vehicle) appeared out of the fog with scary immediateness (is that a word? It is now!) The power pylons loomed out of the murk like characters in Stephen King’s The Mist.
We passed Black Forest Stations two holiday homes they rent out and arrived at the homestead and paid Joe the Station owner (i think that was his name anyway!) our $10 each for access on his land through to Lake Benmore – in return for the fee, Joe told us the combination lock code that would mean we didn’t need to lift our bikes over the gate at the other end! Deal!
The Rosehip bushes were putting on a display of red berries for us:
Sidenote: much as the pylons intruded on just about every photo we took, we decided that without the pylons and their maintenance roads existing, we likely wouldn’t have been riding here so we put up with them!
It’s been a year or three since my last stream crossing so am pleased to report that I stayed upright though all of the crossings encountered! There must have been more than 10 or 12 over the weekend.
Rob had promised me amazing view overlooking Lake Benmore hydro dam but when we arrived it was pretty murky – cool n spooky tho!
Then miraculously as soon as we had arrived it cleared up to reveal
If we’d arrived 5 minutes earlier, we would likely have carried on down the track, disappointed!
Rob took a couple of cool pics of me
In the distance in the above pic, you can see where the pylons cross through a dip in the ridge, we stopped there for a cuppa
Looking back up the road
We’re heading for that road down there on the left
Rob was waiting for me at the Benmore gate (he was ALWAYS waiting for me – he’s a saint….and a darn good rider) but while he undid the lock I snapped a couple of quick pics of the dam
that’s where we just came from up there!
here’s some info from Wiki about Benmore Dam:
“Benmore Dam is the largest dam within the Waitaki Power Scheme on the borders of the Otago and Canterbury regions in New Zealand’s South Island. There are eight other power stations in the valley.
The dam is the largest earth-filled water-retaining structure in New Zealand. Its core is impermeable clay-like gravel, supported by two massive shoulders of river gravel. Lake Benmore has a volume of 12.5 million cubic metres which is about 1.5 times as much water as Wellington harbour. The dam's spillway can cope with 3,400 cubic metres of water per second, about 10 times the mean river flow. With a generating capacity of 540 MW, Benmore Power Station is the second largest hydro station in New Zealand.
We then rode up the eastern side of Lake Aviemore
which is the next hydro dam in the Waitaki scheme before crossing over Aviemore Dam to the main road and down to Kurow for gas. Rather than stop for a Flat White in the local café we decided to have another one of Rob’s famous flask cup of rosey lea up on the top of the next pass, Dansey’s Pass. So it was a few kays down the road to Duntroon then a right onto the Dansey’s Pass road.
The sun was out (although not doing a great deal!)
but it was pretty windy at the top
so we went down the other side looking for a sheltered spot.
As we took onboard the warming elixir, a ute stopped to see if we were alright (nice folks!), a couple and their young fella in the baby seat in the back – now living in Coromandel up North they were both from the area (Kurow and Omakau) and were down on holiday. Nice people and impressed we were going to the Rally via the dirt passes. After they were happy that we were both okay, they carried on around the next corner:
Dansey’s Pass hotel was an overnight stopping place for the gold mining era horse drawn coaches and today was also a lunch stop for a group of vintage cars touring the region
The Danseys Pass Hotel was built in 1862 by Edwin George, its stonework apparently paid for in beer. The hotel served the local miners working the Upper Kyeburn River.
The Pass road finishes in Naseby, our overnight stopping point on this trip (the general thing with BM Rallies is that you camp at the site but we were treating ourselves this trip and so we were going to stay in The Pub!
We decided to head on to the rally site without unloading any gear so we could catch up with friends we expected to see there.
There was quite a good turn out this year
there were some interesting bikes there
(a good friend of mine in the 'States has just got one of these so I just had to take a pic! Hi Dave! )
Rob’s DR has a sticker of his route in North and South America on his windshield so that caught a few peoples eyes!
After chatting to a few people we knew (Hi Miles!) we jumped back on the bikes and headed down the road to Naseby and our lodgings for the
night, The Royal Hotel. I have to say I was a little disappointed with our room and the cost of the meals but the logs fires were lit and there was beer beer beer!
After a good nights sleep, we loaded up and headed the bikes back over Dansey’s Pass – this time however, road conditions were quite different to yesterday!
It was a very slow trip to the bottom! A couple of times the back tyre decided it wanted to lead the way which was interesting to say the least!
We had a nerve steadying drink at the bottom of the hill
Fueled up again in Kurow then took the bridge over the Waitaki and then the turn off up the Hakataramea Valley….did that sign say Haka Pass Closed? Nahhhhhh
The Haka has wide open spaces
There were stream crossings
Bl**dy cold parking spots
and roadsigns for other people……………not our illiterate adventurers!
We then took a detour up and over MacKenzie Pass, named in honour (as is the whole of the surrounding area) of
NZ’s most famous Sheep Rustler.
Looking over towards Tekapo
Up the Pass
It was pretty remote feeling in here!
Back onto tarseal at Burkes Pass – the dirt was over!
I was really pleased with my efforts, slow as they had been, I’d had no offs which was a major concern considering
I was on a borrowed bike!
Through to Fairlie for a large latte and a piece of sensational carrot cake here
I *always* recommend a stop at The Old Library Café!
We’d managed to stay dry most of the weekend but the last 80-ish kays from Ashburton to Christchurch were in the rain!
You’re not supposed to catch up on rain!!!
Well! All done – a fab weekend! I stayed upright, rode dirt, crossed (lots of) streams, told and listened to tall tales!
Cheers and hope yáll enjoyed this RR!
Edit: oh and the prize that makes all this fun really worth while!
Shaggie screwed with this post 01-06-2011 at 03:16 AM