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

In the previous article we looked back on our New Zealand North Island adventure of Women Riders World Relay (WRWR), with the largest group of approximately 150 women motorcyclists leaving Hampton Downs. We also saw the girls battle zero degrees on the snow covered desert road.

In this article we cross over the Cook Strait to take on the South Island and ride the earthquake stricken Kaikoura coastline.

Monday 9th September Picton – Kaikoura 156km

It was another early start for those of us who were heading to the South Island and had to catch the ferry across to Picton.

Wellington ferry terminal

Unfortunately the night before, I came to realise that I had mis-placed my waterproof jacket and my windproof Revit top, two of my key layers to keeping me dry and warm. But as usual the girls rallied around and sorted me out some extra gear. Diamonds!

It was quite straightforward getting on the ferry and all the girls helped each other with their tie-downs to ensure our bikes were secure. As much as I was looking forward to riding the South Island, I was also keen to get a couple hours rest on the ferry, it had already been an intense 3 days riding over 1000km.

We had a smooth sailing and a huge highlight being a small group of us being invited to the bridge of the ferry with the baton to do some photos.

There was also plenty of time to compare Wonder Women attire with Collette, stage a Titanic like photoshoot with Jenny and of course, sign the baton…

Signing the baton

It was a drizzly arrival into Picton but great to see the South Island girls ready to start our next adventure.

The weather soon picked up and the ride to Christchurch was quite something, especially riding along the earthquake stricken Kaikoura coastline. They were making huge progress after the 2016 earthquake which destroyed huge parts of this region and the road workers were just lovely, constantly smiling and waving us along.

Arriving in Kaikoura was breath taking with the mountains in the background.

But truth be told, this was my 1st proper chance to have a hot meal on a stop, especially after a friend gave me a koha to buy food back in Bulls. The photography could take a back seat this time around.

Monday 9th September Kaikoura – Christchurch 182km

After a good feed it was then onto Christchurch, arriving a First European in the evening. This was not only our dinner stop for the evening but also where we got to meet badass New Zealand motorcycle racer Avalon Biddle, an incredible experience for all the girls after another long day of riding.

Jenny and I meeting Avalon Biddle
First European Christchurch

But the most unique part of the day was our accommodation, literally spending a night behind bars at Jailhouse in Christchurch, formally know as Addington prison. This was also our last night with our New Zealand ambassador of the relay, Jenny. as she was to head back to Wellington in the morning. So bubbles were a must!

The girls behind bars at Jailhouse Accommodation

After sorting through the days footage, it was another late bed down and we were due for another early start ready to complete the final leg of the New Zealand relay in the morning.

Tuesday 10th September Christchurch – Oamaru 252km

It was an early start with over 600km still to ride to reach the finish line. Everyone was buzzing, this was our final day of the relay! With our engines revving it was time for us all to be realised from our jailhouse accommodation, or so we thought…

After stopping briefly for fuel on the outskirts of Christchurch, it wasn’t until we were about to leave that I realised we were missing a few people and our support van. Unfortunately with everyone about to leave, there was no time to phone through to the support van and check if everything was OK and no time to speak with the group leader or tail end Charlie. Hopefully they would catch us up on the next stop…

The ride coming into Geraldine was spectacular, the sun was shining and the mountains were crystal clear, it was stunning! (Subscribe to my YouTube channel for the video footage coming soon) Our local Bobby was a great support escorting us in and he was such a friendly chap.

We had a lovely little welcome coming into Geraldine but I couldn’t believe how small our group had become overnight. I was able to phone through to Shay our support van and she confirmed she was with the other riders. One of the girls had trouble with her kickstart just as we were about to leave Jailhouse, unfortunately they were right at the back of the group and for some reason tail end Charlie didn’t check to see if the whole group was ready and the leader headed off without them. Naturally they were a little upset about being left behind and as they weren’t quite sure of the next stop, decided they would make their own way to Invercargill. I was quite sad about this as I had started the relay with my friend Jo and now wouldn’t be riding the final leg with her. But I was hopeful they would be at the finish line when we got there.

Geraldine stop

Our next stop was the beautiful seaside town of Oamaru. I decided to go ahead slightly so I could film the girls riding into the brewery. But somehow I took a wrong turn. However I soon got my bearings and just as I was coming down the hill the girls started arriving. perfect! It was a great location to film the girls coming in, spot on!

But no sooner was I off the bike than a man from Otago Daily Times had come up to me and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing a quick interview. I was not prepared at all, sleep deprived and hungry but it was funny after travelling the length of New Zealand that my Wonder Women pants made it on the front page of the newspaper, read the full article and interview here.

“Donna Powell has been roaring around the highways of New Zealand in her underwear – Wonder Women underwear, to be exact…”

However, it would be another quick stop on my part after the unexpected interview and photos still to take. But I was used to it by now and capturing the girls on film in this historic event became a huge highlight of my trip.

Oamaru Stop
Oamaru Stop

Just like that, it was time for us to get back on our bikes for the final leg of the WRWR New Zealand relay.

Tuesday 10th September Oamaru – Invercargill 328km

An absolute stunner of a day and we had just 328km left to reach the finish line.

Gear on, engines revving and everyone moves into place ready to leave. Final check of my mirrors and oh buggar! One of my panniers is literately hanging off it’s bracket. Loopy our tail end Charlie comes and speaks with me but I don’t want to hold up the group, so tell them to carry on without me. As they make their way out of Oamaru, I’m attempting to fix up my brackets. One of the bolts has completely rusted out and is nowhere to be seen. But as usual, no drama, a couple of girls who weren’t going to Invercargill are on hand with some cable ties and do a marvellous bodge job to fix up my pannier and get me back on the road. The true spirit of this entire trip has been the amazing women who have constantly been there looking out for one another. However, I am now 10/15 minutes behind the group so will need to make up ground to catch them up. There was absolutely no chance in hell I was going to miss crossing that finish line with them.

Despite several trucks/tankers the roads were really good and the skies crystal clear. 113km and 1 1/2 hours later with my guardian angel on my side and some rather remarkable albeit slightly illegal riding on my part, I finally caught up with the group at a petrol station in Dunedin. That was one hell of a solo ride! By now my luggage was barely holding on and the other panniers were also hanging off. I was lucky to have caught up with the group and even luckier to still have my luggage. A few guys attempted to help fix up my panniers but we didn’t have the right size bolts. As if lady luck hadn’t done enough to help me on this day, along pops an unexpected support vehicle (we lost our original support van in Christchurch after leaving them and a few others behind) who offer to take all my luggage to my motel in Invercargill. Magic!

A few chaps helping to fix up my luggage in Dunedin

Bobby and I were back on track with the group and we only had a few hundred km to go.

Our last and final stop before Invercargill was Gore and what an awesome last stop this was! We stopped at Curson Motors where Gail and her awesome team of staff came out and gave us all hot pizza and free tea/coffee. After the day thus far and the non-stop 4 days riding these guys were like angels sent from heaven. They were just incredible.

Curson Motors in Gore

Only 65km left to go and it was Ann Mcdonald who had the honour of carrying the baton into Invercargill with an incredible group of women motorcyclists right behind her, including a small handful who had rode the whole four days. Shay Ron our original support van cheered us on as we arrived in Invercargill, unfortunately my other friends weren’t at the finish line, after a hard days riding they had already gone to their motels which was sad. But what an incredible feeling after the most intense five days of riding in all weather conditions, it was overwhelming, exhilarating and I was an emotional wreck lol.

The finish line of the WRWR in New Zealand

A soak in the tub was well needed. My guardian duties were done…

My guardian duties were complete

I finally managed to meet up with the friends we had lost in Christchurch and had arranged to get my panniers fixed by a local mechanic in the morning. The following day I would start my way three day trip home, 1488km to Cambridge.

The ladies who completed all four days of the relay

In total I would end up travelling 3758km in 8 days across the length of New Zealand where I met the most awe inspiring women. One of the best trips I have done to date. A huge thank you to all those amazing ladies who I rode with and supported me along the way. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch the relay videos coming soon….