Day 2 of our annual ride started with gassing all the scooters before breakfast at a local café Industriale. Everything is possible from a simple coffee through pastries to a full on cooked breakfast. Between us we covered most of those options.
Our route was to circumnavigate the three volcanos in the middle of the North Island, Ruapehu, the tallest and still active, and Tongariro and Ngaruahoe, an almost perfect cone.
After breakfast we headed south from Taupō on State Highway 1 heading for, initially Turangi about 50km (30 miles) south of Taupō. This stretch of road has been destroyed by over zealous officials imposing a variety of speed limits from 100kmh to 60kmh depending on how bad their coffee was that morning I suspect. We soon negotiated that and continued south past Rangipo and on to The Desert Road, 63km (39 miles) of fully tar sealed road through an alpine desert on the North Island's volcanic plateau. There's a number of challenging corners, one of which I realised half way through I was running a little wide on. Later analysis found I felt my wife not lean quite as far as me, and she realised she had looked over my right shoulder rather than the normal left. No damage done. We stopped at the summit of the Desert Road at 1074m (3536ft) for a photo op then carried on south to Waiouru. This town has for years served a military base but is also now part of the tourist trail. We turned right and headed across the south end of the volcanos . we stopped at the Tangiwai Memorial which commemorates New Zealand's biggest train disaster on Christmas Eve 1953 when a lahar from Ruapehu's crater lake weakened the rail bridge which collapsed under the weight of the train throwing it and the first six carriages into the Whangaehu River at 10:21pm. 151 people died in the accident. It's a very moving memorial.
We pressed on westwards to Ohakune, a small town that hums in the ski season. Our destination was a famous chocolate eclair shop! there's chocolate eclairs, then there's Johnny Nation's chocolate eclairs. Longer than the normal, wider than the normal, filled with real whipped cream and iced with real chocolate. D.E.L.I.C.O.U.S. Some of the team had pies as well, but the eclair was enough for me. Next we stopped at a wreckers yard that featured in a famous NZ made film, Smash Palace from the early 1980s. Amongst its memorable moments was the lead character testing his F5000 race car on the Desert Road and passing through a Police radar check. Much laughter from the audience. Onwards we went to ride up the road to the Whakapapa ski field, a 7km diversion from our route. We rose to 1636m (5366ft) and had a coffee on the way down before making our way back to base along the over regulated road. Home after 300km we had a quiet drink and snacks before heading to town for Indian for dinner.
A few tired bodies slept well that night.
At the summit of the Desert Road.
At the Tangiwai Memorial.
Home for the night.