Beach, full moon and a lot of furry clowns

Things we learned: They call it call&talk for a reason

We love to listen to the radio here. They play good music, have some stations in Maori language and they pronounce the E so lovely.

And they talk a lot. They have a lot of call-in programs where they offer a subject and people can call and express their opinions on the subject. Even though the subject doesn’t really  seem to be of great importance. One day we listened to a show with “rodeo” being the topic. The show master was not really in favor of it as “this is the most terrible thing you can do to an animal” but encouraged listener who liked it to call “we want to hear from the ones who like it” she said, following by a 10minute rambling why it is terrible to do it. No rodeo-lover dared to call of course. But other people called. And they talked. About young people not showing respect to the elders. Problems with finding a job. “now I really want to hear from the people who like rodeo”. A lady who is knitting little patches that she sales was next on the line. Nothing really had to do anything with rodeo, but the show master just kept talking with whatever topic the caller came up with. A bit pointless really, but there were a lot of nice E’s in all the talking. So we loved it.

Stuff we saw:

Stuff we did:

We drove down the east coast of NZ to a little DOC campsite. Directly at the beach. We watched the sunset and returned after dark. The full moon reflecting on the pitch-black sea. The reflections on the little waves turned the sea to silvery lines all the way to the horizon.

Out of this world experience. Peaceful and wonderful.

We got up in the morning too. To see the sunrise. We really made most of this amazing beach that we had to us all the time.

ON our way down south, we stopped at another seaside attraction. There is a little lighthouse with 250 stairs up the hill. But that was not the attraction. The attraction are seals. They hang around there. On the rocks, swimming in the sea, on the grass and underneath the bushes.

We spent hours to watch these clowny animals. Watching them with their funny way to climb on rocks and slide on the grass I thought they probably really enjoy humans swim. As clumsy as these animals on land, as gracious, elegant and acrobatic they act under water.

For them, humans are probably the clumsy clowns in the water, and acrobatic on land.

An unknown road and a lot of blue

Things we learned:

The huge carrot and other fantastic sights.

New Zealand is an amazing country. The beautiful landscapes, unusual plants, wonderful animals and the friendly people are the attractions of this country.

A lot of Lord of the Rings fans travel around here too of course, even though there is little to see from the original sets beside Hobbington, which is a zoo apparently.

Even though it has too much to offer every little thing in New Zealand is made into an attraction. Every gurgling river that drops more than 1m is displayed as a waterfall and there are some really bizarre attractions: a fence hung with bras, another one with toothbrushes attached and a huge carrot standing around somewhere.

We stood in front of the bra-fence and thought how this had become an attraction with all the amazing landscape surrounding it.


The toothbrush fence even made it into a really funny New Zealand sitcom: The flight of the Conchords. “It’s amazing: a fence entirely full of toothbrushes. At least 50 or so. Your have to see it to believe it”

You just have to love New Zealanders for this.

Stuff we saw:

Stuff we did:

We wanted to cross to the coast. Napier and Cape Kidnapper caught our attention.

The road there is a thin line on our map. So, we made sure it is not a grave road before we turned into it.

It is 100km and it took us 3 hours. Let’s just say there were plenty of reasons to stop. Stunning views, lots of sheep and cows, some nice birds and an amazing landscape all the way.

We found an ok campsite an took a cabin to escape the pollen.

The next day we took a little spin on a Cessna 172.

I took a Flight Instructor since I didn’t want to do the whole license approval for NZ. It was an amazing feeling to steer the plane to the coast and crossing the shore flying into an all blue: blue sky on the top and a deep blue ocean below.

What an amazing time. “Pinch-me-moment”

We found an outstanding campsite at the beach for the night.

The next day we slept in (something I could write almost every day, but this day it actually had a little consequence: we didn’t make it all the way to cape kidnappers. The incoming tide made it impossible to do the hike along the shore to the amazing cape that we saw from above the day before.


Maori culture and some geothermal stuff: Te Puia

Things we learned:

We are not the only ones with 12-hour time difference

In many places, including Te Puia you can see Kiwis. They have a little birdhouse with massive doors. There is almost no light inside. In almost pitch black you slowly and quietly enter a room. One side is a big glass wall. Behind its Kiwi paradise: bushes, dry leaves on the ground, moisty earth with lots of worms. All lit in red, a color Kiwis don’t see very well. It is very dark though, so our eyes needed some time to adjust, but then we saw it: the stumpy body with the big feet runs around and hectically pushes his peak deep into the earth. Obviously, no worm here. Maybe here.. no, maybe her… no, maybe her… no…

It looks a bit grotesque this animal. The big clumsy animal on these large feet. You can hear it run around like a toddler who enjoys his new ability of using his feet.

Since the Kiwi is only active at night, they have changed the time schedule of the poor Kiwi, who is running on central European time now, so it is dark night for him when visitors come to see him: during the day.

Stuff we saw:


Stuff we did:

Te puia was one of the few things that were on our list to do from the very beginning. It is an area of geothermal activity and an important site for one of the Maoris big tribes.

We got a tour with a lady who was born in the Maori village that is just behind the park. She showed us to some of their gods, the language and the schools that they have here. The park and the entrance fee for it supports these schools, where the Maori art is taught (such as carving and weaving).

Since the Maori did not have a written language, the wood carvings show the history of their ancestors.

On the tour we crossed the workshops on a little walkway, so that we would watch the students and teachers doing their work. It was fantastic. Outside, in a shipping area they had a huge trunk with incredible carvings on it. It is about to be sent to Belgium where the NZ Army fought in WWI.

There are some geysers that we could watch with very few people around. It was fantastic to hear and feel the roaring of the water being pushed through two little blowholes for more than 30 minutes. There are wooden stairways all around so that the tourists don’t get to near the dangerous areas.

Our guide told us how she used to play with the geysers and how they would swim in the hot pools next to the geysers. She was a great guide and we got a good insight on how the Maori live was in the past and about her past in particular.

We stayed overnight at a nice camping at the blue lake where we met Jim, a 74-year-old guy whose wife has passed away 4 years ago. So, he is up to some new adventures and made his first attempt of camping. He had a very warm and hearty character. When it got nighttime, he crawled up in the back of his Ford Focus to sleep (“there is not much of me” he said, meaning he was small enough for the little car to sleep in). I the morning when we got up he was already gone. We hope he made it alright through the night. He was is really trying hard to get a good time out of his life without his wife that he lived with for over 40 years.

What a pleasure to have met him. We hope he is doing alright.

One of the nice things with Top10 membership is, that you get some goodies sometimes. At this site we got a free Hot Tub. So, we took a hot bath in the bubbling water before going into our tent.


Shipping Bikes to Ecuador

For our trip we have planned to start in Ecuador. After the trip I can say a great choice.

Now how did we get the bikes there, what were the problems, what the choices.

We decided to airfreight. To Ecuador by boat is really difficult and not cheaper when summing all up. I did quite some research on that. Here are the main reasons why we think airfreighting is better:

  • Shipping procedure super easy from home
  • Crate the bikes at home and have them picked up at your house
  • You know the exact date and time when they arrive (by boat that can be +/-2weeks)
  • Picking up the bike done in 1 day (boat: up to 1 week not unusual in Ecuador)
  • Picking up is really relaxed and no nightmare (boat: running around a huge port with papers you don’t understand and don’t know where to go next)
  • Bikes are safe

So we airfreighted. We used intime from Hamburg/Germany. A good solution. Olaf, the expert there for bike shipping helped us to get everything sorted out with very little effort from our side. We crated the bikes in boxes ourself which was the biggest trouble.

The costs:

The overall cost for shipping the bikes from Munich to Quito were:

  • Shipping F650GSDakar: 2425 Euro
  • Shipping G650GS: 2321 Euro
  • Transport Insurance (both bikes): 320 Euros
  • Pickup of the bikes from our house by truck: 275 Euros.
  • Crates for the bikes: approx 250 Euros each
  • Shipping paper in Quito: 18$
  • Customs in Quito 210$ for both bikes.

So to sum it all up: 5784 Euros for two bikes. You could have safed easily 500 Euros by taking the front wheels off, but i think it is worth to have as little to work on the bikes as possible once to get them out of customs.

Olaf told us though that this price can change a lot from year to year, so it might be cheaper or more expensive in the meantime.

Crating the bikes:

That was quite some work. Well, I am an engineer, and I was overdoing it a little bit. You may have used them as anti-tank obstacles as well, but i wanted to be on the safe side.

You cant use normal wood to crate the bikes. You either need specially treated wood (so that there are no bugs in the wood) or you use simply plywood, which is treated anyway and surely has no bugs. This means you need to make posts out of planks that you screw together though. You have to disconnect the batteries ( I secured the cables and batterie poles with plastic tape so they would not accidently re-connect with vibrations) and get the fuel out of the tanks.

Here are some pictures:

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The crates have been picked up, we got our gear together and flew to Quito. After our bike arrived (we planned it so that we would have one week without the bikes to relax and enjoy the city) we picked it up. Super simple if you know where to go (which WE didn’t but you will after you read this through.

Get the bikes out of customs:

Here is an overview of the different locations at Quito Airport.

Airport Quito

  1. Get the SOAT (see below); you may get it later  as well, but you have less trouble and discussions with the customs.
  2. Go to Cargo Area (there are signs at the roundabout)
  3. Go to your forwarder ( e.g. Iberia, Lufthansa Cargo…)
  4. You have to pay a fee there (for 2 motorbikes it was 18$ for us; cash only) and receive the shipping papers.
  5. Go to Customs
  6. 6. At the receipton there show your papers (you need passports, shipping papers, registration, SOAT)
  7. Be ready to wait … read a book
  8. They bring you to the crates and so you have to open them (bring the tools with you, there are no tools there!)
  9. They check the chassis and engine number (we always said this motorbike does not have a engine number “its the same like the chassis number”)
  10. After that be ready to wait some more (read another book)
  11. You have to pay customs (for us 210$ for both bikes) Have it cash! No ATM at customs, only at airport and you need a taxi to get there.
  12. Take your bike out. We asked the workers there if they would like the crates.
  13. You have to roll it out of customs. In the front there is a parking where you can work on the bike, but you are not allowed to work on the bike within customs.
  14. Connect batteries, fill up gas with a canister you brought.
  15. When leaving customs, the sign tells you to go left to Quito. Thats a really small steep , bad and very busy road. Take a right instead, pass the airport, and enjoy the ride into Quito on a new large and broad road.

It took us a whole day to get the bikes out, but mainly because we ran from airport to customs to cargo area because we did not know the procedure described above. Don’t expect european effectiveness though. Be patient and relax. Your trip is just about to start :-))


In front of customs filling up the bikes and reconnect batteries.


Get the SOAT:

Even if you have an international insurance you need to get the local insurance. It is very cheap and required. You need to have it BEFORE you get your bikes from customs. We did not know that and discussed with customs quite a bit before we were allowed to get our bikes from the airport.


It is cheap, required and (when knowing where to go to) a matter of minutes to get it. So here is how to get it:

  1. DON’T try to get it any other place than the one describet. A lot of places say they do it, but after waiting 15 minutes they find out that this is only for renewals (=locals) and that they can not help you.
  2. Go to QBE Seguros Colonial
  3. Adress: Av. Eloy Alfaro N40-270 y José Queri PBX
  4. Tel: (593)3989800 /(593)3989700
  5. Bring your passport, driving licence and registration of the bike. Also bring the paper that you get when entereing the country. It will say how long you are allowed to stay.
  6. There are different options you can choose from: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months , 1 year. We paid $6,85 for 1 month and 2 bikes
  7. The whole procedure took no longer than 10 minutes.

The last stretch…

Azul – Buenos Aires

We said good bye to our new friend Pollo and left the LaPosta around noon. It was boiling hot and the road to Buenos Aires was somehow unremarkable. This would be the last part of our incredible trip. Sadness slowly crawled upon us.

With the carneval going on the roads were surprisingly empty. Later we learned that the whole city goes to the beaches during these few days. That made the ride into Buenos Aires real simple and easy.

We found a hostel very close to the centre of town. We had a nice welcome from the great crew of the hostel and parked the bikes securely in the garden of the hostel.

The next day we went to DakarMotors who are very well organized in shipping the bikes. We spend an afternoon talking with Javier and Sandra and they gave us all the necessary information. All we had to do is to bring the bikes to the airport and pay the shipment the day after. The payment turned out to be a little bit a hassle. Due to the crisis in Argentina all major payments have to be made in cash. Problem is: you only get the maximum amount of 1500Ps (around 150€) at a time out of a ATM. So the next few days we ran around town to get the money for shipping the bikes. Since we had to pay around 20000Ps per bike we ended up with a whole backpack full of 100ps bills…. I never felt that rich!

In between we enjoyed Buenos Aires, good steaks, rode around the city on rented bicycles and did some sightseeing.

We enjoyed the last few days, even though our hostel wasn’t that good after all. The rotten smell in the bathroom didn’t hide long, but all the animals we shared our bedroom with only showed up one after one. At least the cockroaches seemed to have a sense of cleanliness. They took a bath in our shampoo..

After we have sent our motorbikes we switched to another hostel which was just on the other side of the road. Clean beds and airconditioned room made the last 2 nights a lot more comfortable.

On Thursday the 26th of February we finally boarded our plane back to Europe…

Our great adventure has finally come to an end.

It was fantastic and we are so glad that we did this.


Going east

Villa La Angostura – Azul

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The following day was offering a great surprise as we expected a little bit boring riding. Instead we followed the Rio Limay north in an amazing valley. Rocky needles and walls on both sides of the valley accompany a green winding river. The road is in good condition and so riding is a blast. When we stopped for gas the whole valley was covered in dust. The fine dust was everywhere in the air. A small and dusty dry riverbed crosses the valley of Rio Limay and the strong wind blows up the particles in the air and into the valley. We followed the cloud of dust for many kilometers until the valley opened up and formed a huge lake. The landscape became less and less hilly until it became what we expected: vast, flat, boring.

We stopped in little roadside hotels in little towns with nothing to offer. Except one thing: it is Argentina here! So we enjoyed the great steaks for dinner.

We past an area where they produce a lot of fruits. On both sides of the road endless fields of apple trees. Heavy trucks transport the fruits on the road. The heavy load is often secured very poorly on the trucks, so we keep our distance when we pass them. On one of the stops we meet Karl from Türkenfeld, not 30km from Munich. He is a great guy travelling the world without speaking anything else than Bavarian. We shared a coffee and had a great chat with him. He had quite some stories to tell.

The more east we got the dryer and vast the countryside became.

We stopped 2 more times before we reached Azul a little boring town with nothing to see, except La Posta and Jorge. But that is something for the next blog entry….

Back on the bikes

Puerto Montt (Chile) – Villa La Angostura (Region 7 lagos – Argentina)

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We are back on the bikes! Finally! It is fantastic! On a sunny day we leave Puerto Montt and ride the road back to the region of the seven lakes north of Bariloche in Argentina.

Christy is doing fine, but every time we stop we get funny looks from people. It is quite an unusual sight when Christy is taking her crutches off the bike and wobbling around on them in her biker dress.

We take it easy and stop for the night in a small roadside hotel. I will remember that place very well for the low door on which I bumped my head almost every time I passed it. Even though I got reminded of the low door with a quite painful event every time I just didn’t seem to learn it. It was great fun to put on the helmet the next day.

The boarder crossing to Argentina was quite busy but at least here Christy’s misfortune was good for something: we could pass the long line to get upfront so the crossing was done in no time.

We have seen it a couple of times on border crossings, that in between the Chilean and Argentinian customs there is quite some distance. But nothing like here. It is more than 30km from leaving Chile to entering Argentina.

Till here it was a pretty cold and cloudy day. But the Argentinian side welcomed us with nice and warm weather. We went 40km into the area of 7 lagos on the road to San Martin. The area reminded me a lot of the Black Forest, my home in Germany. There are many huge lakes and the road winds through them beautifully and making it a great day on the motorbike. A short gravel part stopped us (we didn’t want to risk too much gravel since for Christy’s foot it was still painful to get vibrations on the bike). So we turned back to Villa la Angostura. We found a nice campsite and had a relaxing evening with other local bikers.


Island of Chiloe – Chile

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After we gave back our truck we stayed in a hostel for a week. It was very nice with a great view on the harbor of Puerto Montt where huge cruise ships anchored and big birds flew by our window every day.

Christy was getting better every day, but the doctor we visited here said she should rest another week before we can get back on the bikes.

After a few days I got bored and I decided to take the bike for a little spin on the Island of Chiloe.

So I packed some things together and rode on south to the short ferry crossing that would take me to Chiloe.

It was great to be back on the bike again. After the short ferry crossing I took the road to Ancud and further to a penguin colony. The ride was fantastic. A curvy road, the sun shining, little traffic and finally the rocky coast of the island. The road ended in a beach from where little boats take the tourists very close to the penguins. I decided not to join them and instead enjoyed the fantastic beach that ended on both sides in huge rock formations.

In kept going south and rode great gravel roads through forests and farming areas. All very nice and enjoyable. When I finally ended up in the little town of Castro I had a day full of great riding and I enjoyed a beer with some life music that was played in front of the colorful church of the town.

The next day I headed southwest to Culcao and Quilan. The road got a bit sandy and I enjoyed playing with the bike in the sandy bits. It was never difficult there though. The road ends at a parking spot from where you could hike 45 minutes to an outlook. The guard at the parking told me I may go there by bike that I intended to do immediately. The track was wide in the beginning and easy, but soon it turned into a very steep narrow track with big steps. It was great fun to ride it, but it would be unnerving if I met hikers on this track. There was no way to bypass hikers. So after a while I turned around and rode the steep track down again.

The landscape was incredible. The steaming and roaring sea covered the coast in a mist of salty water. Steep cliffs and flat sand beaches formed the coast. Riding was a blast and so I returned back to the north with a big smile on my face.

Short stops at some of the beautiful wooden churches contributed to these great days I had on that island. It is really great motorbike country here.

Going north

Ushuaia (Argentina) – Puerto Montt (Chile)

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It was a strange feeling. After Ushuaia we would go north. Of course, there is no road going south from there…

We had arranged to bring the pick-up back to Puerto Montt. From there the roads to Buenos Aires are all paved and we hopefully wouldn’t hit strong winds. With Christy still hobbling around with here crutches we didn’t want to risk her not feeling safe on the motorbike.

We had to cover 2300km. It was mainly flat and vast country we drove through. Unusual for this area we had very little wind. And so it was a very relaxing driving. Little traffic, straight roads, no wind, nothing to destract you from driving. For some time even Christy took over, driving with cruise control. For me it was a nice break and I enjoyed not having to concentrate on the boring road.

But the landscape had its elements. The incredible vastness is something that just makes you dream and take it easy. It is like a visual relaxation program.

The last few hundred kilometers became actually really nice. The area gets hillier, and finally the hills become mountains. We didn’t stop in Bariloche but continued to a hotel next to one of the lakes in the Argentinian Lake District. A very beautiful area with dark forests and lots of lakes.

Finally we arrived in Puerto Montt where we dropped the car. For the next day we planned to visit a doctor another time to see what he says. He instructed us to wait another week and then we would have green light. Soon we would be back on the bikes again…




Even though penguins are are to be found many thousands kilometers north as well, the proximity to Antarctica is making Ushuaia one of the best places to see penguins.

So we book a tour on a boat to see these wonderful animals.

It was a fantastic day. Lots of animals, not just penguins on a relaxing boat trip.

We were really enjoying this a lot.