Women Inspiring Women – WRWR 2019 – The New Zealand Relay 2 months on, Part 1…

Two months have passed since I took part in what I can only describe as the most incredible 8 day motorcycle trip of my life with the most inspirational lady riders. Here’s looking back on that epic trip….

Friday 6th September Cambridge – Waitangi 384km

After a year in the planning, it was finally time for me to take part in Women Riders World Relay in New Zealand.

With my panniers filled to the brim and my gear all loaded, it was time to don my leg warmers and Wonder Women Pants ready to set off on this epic adventure…

Today’s journey would see me travel the 384km North to the start point in Waitangi. But not before meeting my friend Jo at Drury Motorcycles and getting our bikes a quick once over before we set off.

From left to right: Jo, I & Aida from Drury Motorcycles

It was a fairly straightforward ride with only a few light showers to contend with and the day went without incident until we got to Whangarei. Where we quite literally got caught up in an armed incident and were unable to leave the petrol station for a short amount of time.

Upon arrival at The Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi, Jo and I were finally able to meet some of the awesome ladies we had been working with for the last 6 months to help organise the relay. Along with women we were meeting for the 1st time, including the amazing Auckland Harley Davidson support crew, who would not only be with us for the whole four days in the backup van but also providing us with professional photographer Shay Ron. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about meeting Shay as I knew she was awesome at what she does and I was only coming in as an amateur but she instantly made me feel at ease. With her infectious personality we soon became good friends on the trip.

Shay and I in Waitangi

It was then on to a delicious feed and rider brief before bedding down for the night.

Saturday 7th September Waitangi – Hampton Downs 297km

It was an early but beautiful start to the day with the sun slowly rising up over the waters edge.

Sunrise on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Collette had arrived during the wee hours with the baton and we were soon to start the WRWR NZ relay.

As the sun rose you soon came to realise the diversity of all the different women riders and this was made super special with the traditional Karakia and Haka blessing with the entire group, before the blowing of the Conch shell to signal the start of our journey. One of the most moving and heart warming starts to any journey I have ever taken…

Traditional New Zealand blessing in Waitangi

The energy was electric, the sun was beaming and the sight of approximately 80 bikes leaving Waitangi along the coast was breath-taking!

It was then onto Puhoi Tavern for lunch after a quick fuel stop and baton handover on the way.

Wahine Riders at Puhoi Tavern

What a welcome at Puhoi! After another good feed, prize giving and baton signing. It was then my turn to have the honour of carrying the baton to Hampton Downs which would see our biggest line-up of bikes on the relay.

Baton handover at Puhoi

Saturday 7th September Hampton Downs – Taupo 245km

OMG! The sight coming into Hampton Downs was just bike after bike, what an awesome turnout. The Litas Waikato had done an incredible job marshalling us all in.

Hampton Downs

But there wasn’t too much time to stop and admire the bikes. By the time we had fuelled up, had a rider brief and I had done my photographs and videos and handed the baton over, it was straight back on the road again.

Baton handover at Hampton Downs

The difference leaving Hampton Downs was because there were approximately 150 riders, we needed a police escort to get everyone onto the main road safely. It was a sight to be seen, subscribe to my YouTube channel to see the vids coming soon…

It was then a lush ride snaking down through the stunning Waikato on our way to Taupo. A mixture of showers and sunshine meant for some beautiful rainbows coming into Taupo. Absolutely stunning!

It was my friend and one of the mothers of the baton, Jo who had the honour of carrying the baton into Taupo.

Jo with the baton at Taupo

Unfortunately my helmet cam died just as we were arriving into Taupo, so it was some dodgy riding on my part whilst filming on my phone of us arriving. Who said this filming malarkey was going to be straight forward!

After settling into our motels it was onto our next dinner event at Cossie Club where we met with the day 2 team and more ladies that would be joining us for the onward journey.

Just some of the kiwi organisers at Cossie Club in Taupo

We were also met with a very special guest, Audrey Henderson and her husband Ian. Audrey 86 years young was the very 1st New Zealand member of WIMA and has been involved in motorcycles throughout her entire life and absolutely loves bikes. Unfortunately she couldn’t join us on the relay but was able to come to dinner. She was a lovely lady to talk with and we have since stayed in touch.

Audrey Henderson & I at Cossie Club Taupo

Sunday 8th September Taupo – Bulls 221km

It was a bleak, damp start to the day. We were due to take the desert road down to Waiouru army museum before heading onto Bulls but were advised that the road would be closed due to the weather conditions. However, just as we were about to leave Taupo, the road was re-opened.

The snow covered desert road was spectacular but with the temperature dropping below freezing and already being slightly damp it was one of the toughest rides yet. But the baton had to go on! It was on this road that I ticked over the 1000km mark, 3 days into my trip…

Desert Road New Zealand
Desert Road New Zealand

By the time we got to Waiouru, we were all so cold and wet, that a few of us decided to carry on in our own individual groups. But despite the conditions, the spirit amongst the girls was inspiring.

I was one of the few that carried on with another lady. But despite our head start, I had huge issues with my side stand. As the bike had been lowered the stand was still a little long which made it difficult to put down on most surfaces. By the time I had fuelled up, eventually parked and took pics, it was pretty much time to leave again. Skipping breaks for me was to become a regular theme on this trip.

However the girls 100% made up for it. In Bulls we met up with Jenny the WRWR NZ ambassador and the lovely ladies who had come up from Wellington to meet us. Their energy was contagious.

Sunday 8th September Bulls _ Wellington 152km

By far our shortest leg in the last few days but very welcome after an already very challenging start to the day. It was a very cruisy ride along the Kapiti coastline into Wellington.

But what an end to a ride, 150 lady riders rocking up outside parliament on our bikes! It was incredible. But with limited time to get photos done and a pre-planned photo shoot inside the beehive, it was all systems go for Shay and I.

Shay & I outside parliament photographing the girls
The Beehive photoshoot

A very welcome surprise was seeing an old friend, Ricky, from England who did the restoration job on my Yamaha a few years back and had come to New Zealand travelling with his girlfriend.

Ricky & I outside parliament in Wellington

With all the chaos of photographing at parliament, my pre-planned accommodation ended getting mixed up. But no stress there as one of the girls immediately stepped in to offer me a bed.

However, no rest for the wicked! Shay and I were due to get all our photos so far ready to show on the screen at the dinner in only a few hours time. So another mad dash to get changed and out the door.

The dinner event at Petone Working Mans club was the grandest so far and they had pulled out all the stops to put on a fabulous dinner for us.

Unfortunately after hours of trying, a technical glitch meant Shay and I were unable to show our pics. By this time we were both exhausted and only just had time to grab dinner before they took it away. Hasten to add neither of us took many pics on the night as we pretty much ate and went back to our rooms.

The WRWR organisers bibs at Petone working mans club

A very intense but amazing 1st few days.

Watch out for Part 2 of this trip which sees us cross the Cooke strait into New Zealand’s South Island.

Also in part 2: we get invited up to the bridge of the ferry with the baton, meet Avalon Biddle, ride the earthquake stricken coastline of Kaikoura, spend a might in jail, loose some of our group and support van in Christchurch and me nearly loose my luggage in Oamaru….