Skippers and Nevis trip

Day one

We left Clyde and headed for the Crown Range to Queenstown, Glenorchy and finally Skippers. Our ride went well with awesome weather and not too bad as far as traffic was concerned, after a quick stop at the Crown range mototoken site we headed for Queenstown via the back roads as the Frankton road route was bumper to bumper, we skirted Queenstown and hooked up with the Glenorchy road.

I grew up in Glenorchy so it was a rather emotional trip along lake Wakatipu on a now fully tar sealed road. As teenagers we prided ourselves on the fastest times from Glenorchy to Queenstown on what was a narrow gravel surface in those days, strictly obeying the speed limit of course. A quick ride around the township and the Glenorchy shed mototoken was bagged.

I payed a visit to my old house for a photo and we hit the road back towards Queenstown with Skippers road in our sights. An awesome ride into Skippers against the flow of tourist busses and river rafting vans saw us at the Skippers School camp site by late afternoon. After the tents were up it was time to explore the tracks close buy. Back to camp we enjoyed a good Irish whisky and a good feed followed by a very good sleep.

Bennets bluff lookout
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Glenorchy wharf goods shed
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Skippers road
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Skippers road
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Skippers school
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Otago hotel
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The camp site at Skippers School
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The Skippers road and Happyratcliff spoiling the view
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Airing up after the Skippers road to prepare for a few Ks on the seal

Day two

We awoke to another awesome Central Otago day. Our trip out of Skippers was also against the flow of traffic but fortunately only the last couple of Ks We had some fun at the road end giving the "holy cross" sign to the bus loads of tourists just to get them worked up even more about the most dangerous public road in NZ :) this was followed by a ride up to the Coronet Peak ski field base and lookout and then via back roads to Frankston for a pie and petrol stop.

The next stop planned was Kingston and then via the famous Nevis Road back to Clyde. It was all going well until "Gertrude" my 1990 BMW R100GS PD wouldn't idle and kept cutting out, this was to be a bad omen. We stopped for a lunch break at the end of the top flat and I attended to Gertrude's Idle issues with success. After an enjoyable trip through the Nevis we headed for Clyde via the Cairnmuir road. This is where it all turned pear shaped! Gertrude decided to break a shift pawl spring in the gearbox and even better I was left with only top gear. This was just before one of the more difficult rough and steep sections, so with much feathering of the clutch off I went with Chris behind as the sweep, needless to say I made ground on him pretty rapidly due to my lack of gear choices.

I made it through the worst of the rough stuff and was not far away from the flat going when it all turned bad, I heard a clatter behind me and turned and looked a what was going on only to be greeted buy the sight of my camping gear bouncing along the track. One of my panniers had decided to add to the fun by coming off the bike and splitting open scattering my billy, cooker and various other expensive pieces of equipment across the rocky track. I pulled up only to be enveloped in stinking clutch smoke, the amount would have rivalled a good burnout. This was the last straw for me, I dismounted unbuckled my helmet and very nearly threw it in a fit of rage, only thinking it was going to add another six hundred odd dollars to the ever increasing repair bill made me see logic. I calmly put my helmet down and went for a walk to get the blood pressure under control.

Chris arrived quite a bit later and was surprised I had made it as far in such a quick time with only one gear. After rounding up the gear and using a couple of ratchet straps to tie the pannier back on we were ready for the next phase of the recovery mission. Before I left I was looking at my gear doing the old should I take it or not packing dilemma, I had purchased a thirty metre length of eight mm Camo Chinese rope a few days earlier and this was one of the things I was considering not taking. I finally decided to take a ten metre length with me and I'm very glad I did!

Chris used his trusty 2011 BMW R1200 GSA and my quality Chinese rope to tow me the remainder of the distance home, what should have been a half hour to home took over four hours in the 30 plus degree heat. It was an awesome trip even with the breakdown and it highlighted the fact that adventure bike trips are just that, a totally awesome way for us to see the world around us. I can't wait to get Gertrude up and running again and hit the road with a good mate and do it all again, hopefully we won't need the rope next time :)

The signs at the start of the Nevis road
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Historic ski hut and massive view
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The Nevis valley top flats
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Lunch stop and a tune up for Gertrude
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Topher, Gertrude and Zelda. Nevis saddle.
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The gearbox saga
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The points show the positions of the gearbox malfunction and consequent tow from Zelda and Chris, cheers and beers mate.
Author of this article: Happyratcliff