TT2000 for 2022 – a South Island odyssey

Every August, or thereabouts, entry opens for the annual TT2000 and, at the same time, checkpoints are revealed. This date is eagerly awaited by the long-distance riding community, and from that date until the start of the rally, routes are planned, then re-planned, and accommodation booked.

The TT2000 is a rally (not a race) that requires you to ride your motorbike at least 2,000km in less than 48 hours. The route you take to complete the ride is completely up to you, but there are likely to be some compulsory checkpoints, and some mystery ones as well. As long as your checkpoints total more than the minimum required to be a ‘finisher’ then you’re as good as gold.

The ride this year was to start in Blenheim, and finish in Milton, south-east of Balclutha. The theme was country schools—each checkpoint (bar the mysteries) was at a school. Each school had a different point value. The aim was to get a minimum of 2,000 points, and ride at least 2,000 km.

My aim was to complete the DUX. This required

  • seven compulsory checkpoints
  • five mystery checkpoints
  • one school from each decile (1 to 10) and,
  • five “student of geography” checkpoints
  • as well as enough points to get you to the required total.

The points were spread right across the South Island, delineated by area: Tasman/Marlborough; Canterbury, West Coast, Otago, and Southland.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this ride. Having said that, this year, you needed to ride efficiently as possible. In other words, if you could complete the DUX riding the least number of kilometers then you’d be likely at the top of the DUX finishers. So, planning was everything.

How did I do it?

First up, I went through every checkpoint and renamed them so I could easily see the point value and the school decile. For example, Palmerston has a point value of 40 and is a Decile 6 school. So this was renamed Palmerston-40-D6 and given a unique colour according to the point value.

I input all the mandatories that would be required to complete the DUX: all compulsories, the five mysteries, and the five geography checkpoints. Once they were in, I imagined a route then joined all the dots to see what looked the most efficient. I only needed seven of the ten compulsories so I eliminated Karamea, Mt Aoraki, and Okains Bay. Karamea was a no-go after heavy rain and a closed road. The others were just too off the most efficient track I could devise.

Once these were all input, it was then a matter of distributing the 1-10 deciles throughout the route, and doing a few extra checkpoints to make up my points tally.

I did it once, and then tweaked. Right from the outset I was happy with the route and the distance. It had me arriving at the finish at exactly midday on Sunday and completing around 2,814 km, with two sleeps. I committed to this route early, then set about booking accommodation for my rest stops.

Day One – Start to Waiau Campground – 762 km

After the briefing, a huge swath of motorbikes attempted to leave Brayshaw Park, exiting north. I had forgotten to take a pic of my odometer, so pulled over 100 metres outside the gate. It was a long wait to get on the road and up to the first compulsory checkpoint at Waikawa Bay.

Waikawa Bay – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 5

When I got there, a queue of bikes was lining up to take a place in front of the school sign. There didn’t seem to be a system in place so I just decided to ride up to the sign and take my photo. Apologies if anyone felt I was pushing in. No-one seemed to complain.

From that checkpoint the road congestion eased, and I had a relatively free ride through to Hira, just before the road opened up around the Nelson Estuary. It felt weird passing two checkpoints at Havelock and Canvastown, but the simple fact was that I didn’t need those points. In past events, every point mattered. This time not so. That’s not to say it didn’t feel wrong.

Hira – 75 points – Decile 10

Heading across Nelson, my GPS took me up past the hospital. Instead of following the SH6 around the coast I took the suburban route through Stoke. Not the quickest route but also, no major hold ups.

The next stop was Mahana, a little school off the beaten track. Found it without issue, but there were a lot of school kids being collected and a few bikes on a very narrow road. The sign was up a short rise. I pointed my bike up the hill, took the photo then gingerly navigated down the road to do what turned out to be a badly executed three-point turn. Third checkpoint completed. I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Mahana – 75 points – Decile 9

Through Motueka to tackle the mighty Takaka Hill. I love this road, as most motorcyclists do. There was a threat of traffic lights and roadworks, but they didn’t eventuate, and I made it to Motupipi in quick time, maintaining my 30 minute buffer. This checkpoint was a compulsory to its partner in Waikawa Bay. So I had no option but to secure this checkpoint.

Motupipi – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 7

Not many bikes at Motupipi, so a quick stop for the pic and then back to Motueka BP for my first fuel stop. I had given my Spotwalla Track to some Nelson mates, and had arranged to meet them there, then we would ride through to St Arnaud and the fifth checkpoint. I had gained 5 minutes or so, so was now 35 minutes ahead. Met Pete and Glenn (both riding the Yamaha Tenere 7). Filled up, phoned my wife to check in on one of my sons who had had a lung operation that day. All good, and we were on our way to Lake Rotoiti. Local knowledge led us down the Motueka Valley. We arrived at 6.45 pm without incident.

Lake Rotoiti – 100 points – Decile 7

This was the first photo that I nearly made a mistake on. We needed to get the exact sign that was in our briefing notes. There was a sign by the road that looked like the right one, but right at the last minute I spotted the one inside the school grounds. Moved my bike, got the pic, said a quick goodbye to Pete and Glenn and headed down the Wairau Valley.

Wairau Valley – 75 points – Decile 6

Quick visit here, then off down the valley to the first mystery checkpoint. It was easily found. The only portrait-shaped photo I took all weekend, just to fit this checkpoint in.

Tasman Mystery – 1 of 5 – 150 points

I’d made up some time going down the valley – essentially a straight road, in perfect conditions, with no traffic. Now 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

Next stop was Ward. Easily found but it was getting dark. I overtook another rider just before Ward, and inadvertently led him to this checkpoint. He thanked me for it and said he would have ridden past it had he not been following me. The requirement was to get both signs in the photo. Duly done, no time to chat – I was already dreaming of getting into bed and having a kip.

Ward – 100 points – Decile 7

Still 45 minutes ahead of schedule I headed into Kaikoura for my second fuel stop. I had planned to go to Allied, and so stuck to the plan. Ended up putting 100 octane fuel in the ST, despite reading a sign that said to check with your mechanic as the fuel isn’t suitable for all engines. Well, my mechanic wouldn’t have appreciated a call at 9.45 pm, and I wasn’t exactly thinking straight, so I went ahead and did it. The minute I had, I started worrying that that was a stupid decision and that the ‘additives’ would, at that very moment, be eating through my fuel lines. To add insult to my fears, 500 meters down the road the BP station was open. I pulled in, cos I hadn’t had anything to eat, and bought a sandwich, ate a few nuts, drank some water. Off to find the Canterbury Mystery.

Canterbury Mystery – 2 of 5 – 100 points

Ok, I lied, this is the second portrait shot I took. This and the other mystery. I arrived around 10:08 pm, nearly an hour ahead. Looked like I was going to get five hours sleep instead of the planned four.

Next stop was Waiau where I would snap the checkpoint then head around the corner where I had booked a cabin at the campground.

Waiau – 40 points – Decile 4

It was bloody dark with very little lighting. The pic above is heavily edited to improve legibility. Snuck into the campground at around 11 pm, found the key to my room, cleaned my teeth, connected everything that needed charging, and tried to sleep. I highly recommend the Waiau Campground. They were super helpful to deal with, the accommodation was cheap, and the facilities spotless. But, and there’s always a but, the rooms were tiny, and the walls thin. My ‘neighbour’ was a snorer, and so I had a fitful sleep.

Day Two – Waiau to Alexandra – 1,370km

I took advantage of the extra hour, or thereabouts, leaving on Saturday morning at the prescribed hour that I had planned—around 5am. I arrived at Rotherham 8 minutes later. Pitch dark, I was greatly assisted by an early morning truck driver whose lights I borrowed as he passed the school. Onward to the next checkpoint.

Rotherham – 40 points – Decile 8

For the life of me, I can’t remember much about the next leg through to Awahono. The road over the Lewis Pass and through Springs Junction was uneventful, which wouldn’t have been the same if I had been there the weekend previous. All roads were open. There were some narrow spots where the road had slipped away but I made good time arriving at Awahono 30 minutes ahead, at 7:05 am.

Awahono Grey Valley – 75 points – Decile 5

By the time I arrived here, the expected rain decided to arrive. I pulled up near the office where there was a covered portico so I could pull on the wet weather gear.

Can I say, what a beautiful school Awahono is. There was a coat rack of raincoats, not under lock and key, for any child that didn’t have a coat. Clearly, there was a wonderful sense of community at Awahono.

From Awahono, it was a quick 30 minute jaunt down for my third refueling stop at BP Greymouth, then on to Kumara School just south of Greymouth.

Kumara – 75 points – Declie 6

I arrived here at 8:09 am exactly 30 minutes ahead of time. Nothing to report. I was alone, no other bikes, no traffic. It was damp, the heavy rain a bit further south. I took my picture and headed off to the West Coast Mystery, at Hari Hari.

Interesting fact. One of the first holidays I had with my now wife was to the West Coast. We both studied at Canterbury University. We had a 1969 Triumph Herald, and the road to the West Coast was long and tortuous, especially in a Herald—there was no Otira Viaduct. We stayed at the Lake Mahinapua Hotel, way before it became popular with Kontiki bus tours. Driving through Hari Hari there were houses for sale for $10,000. It would have been a stretch, but we probably could have managed it. Yeah, nah.

West Coast Mystery – 150 points

As the photo kinda shows there were a couple of other bikes there. We’d ridden into town together. Still no heavy rain, just general West Coast dampness. That was about to change.

I snapped my pic and took off before the others. I was now nearly an hour ahead of schedule. This was due to shortened times at checkpoints, plus no holdups on the road. I plan for 2 minute stops at checkpoints, and 15 minutes at each fuel stop. My bike can travel over 400km on a tank, and so that’s a perfect interval to have a break, a toilet stop, and something to eat and drink. Doesn’t really explain being an hour ahead though—I’ll leave other reasons to your imagination.

I played cat and mouse with a GS rider over those windy roads after Hari Hari. Eventually he pulled over to let me go. I think he was riding with someone else and that rider was behind me.

My next refuel was at Allied Franz Joseph. There was absolutely noone in town. The petrol station forecourt was devoid of travellers. I filled up, then went inside to pay. Noone on the counter. Had to ring a bell to get some attention. They’re doing it tough with no tourists.

I parked up on the road and had a bit of a snack to get me through the next phase. This fuel stop was to get me through to Omarama. Next checkpoint was Haast.

Haast – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 8

I can’t remember exactly when the rain started, but when it did, it bucketed down, literally. I’ve perfected staying dry on a motorcycle, and was thankful that the Honda ST provides very good protection against the elements. But this rain was something different.

Due to a failure of my previously trusty Garmin 595LM, just before the TT started, I had made the decision to replace it with the Garmin XT. This is a seriously nice piece of kit—you can see it in most of the photos. It has a super-bright display, but I did have some concerns that it doesn’t look as robust as the 595, which looks like it was made in an armanent factory. Some negative reviews on the XT suggested that in heavy rain the touch screen would change view, as if the rain was my gloved finger. I remember at the time thinking that I had seldom been in rain that heavy, and that the GPS is reasonably protected behind the windscreen. Well, it happened on the ride to Haast.

The rain was so intense it was like riding through a waterfall. Miraculously I didn’t feel the need to lower my speed too much. I’ve been running Michelin Road GT5’s on front and rear. ‘Everyone’ says they are very good in the rain. I’d have to agree. When I arrived at Haast I had made up 8 minutes on my plan, arriving at 11:40 am instead of the 12:48 pm I’d calculated.

I passed a few bikes coming out of Haast. The checkpoint was on the road to Jackson Bay. This is one of my favourite roads in New Zealand. Despite it being almost dead straight, it runs through what can only be described as tunnels of native bush. There was a rumour that this road was the start of an attempt to push an alternative route through to Milford Sound, but if you calculate the distance (107km as the crow flies), and the landscape, it seems improbable.

Three bikes pulled up while I was taking the checkpoint photo. There was no sign where it was supposed to be as there was some construction being done on the school path. I lined up what I thought most closely resembled the picture on the rally pack, and then hoofed it off over the Haast Pass.

I’d been told to expect big delays, but they didn’t eventuate. Maybe a four minute wait just before the bridge, and I think another traffic light delay a bit further on. I reached Makarora School at 12:49 pm.

Makarora – 75 points – Decile 7

There were two riders at Makarora, obviously riding together as a team. I was just over halfway through my Day 2 schedule, with a long way left to ride. I snapped the checkpoint photo in light rain, hopped on my bike and was off, next stop Omarama.

This was going to be my longest leg between fuel stops. As many will know, Tarras is the last place to buy fuel before Omarama, and Omarama is 78 km north. So, my advice to you, and any other rider, is to always ensure you have enough fuel on board to make the trip.

On a Honda ST1300 when your fuel gauge goes from two bars to one it’s safe to say you don’t have much fuel left. In fact, the tripmeter moves from ‘how far you’ve travelled’ to ‘how much further can I go on the remaining fuel’. 5km north of Tarras, or, 73km from Omarama, my tripmeter advised I had 80km fuel remaining.

My fear was real. The ST tank holds close to 30 litres. On a previous occasion, I parked my bike in the garage at home when the low fuel light was flashing. The following morning when I started it, there was enough fuel to ride 55km, more than enough to get to the Remutaka Caltex. I ran out of petrol only 12km down the Wellington Urban Motorway on SH2.

So, by my previous experience, I could maybe expect to run out of petrol around 25km from Omarama. That’s a long walk. For whatever reason, instead of retracing my steps to Tarras (which, by the way, was very busy) I gritted my teeth, and pushed on. In my head the whole time I was comparing the available fuel with the remaining distance to destination. I knew I had to get over the Lindis Pass, but I also knew that it was mainly downhill on the other side. Nursing the ST gently over the pass, watching the kms count down was kinda nerve wracking. Then, suddenly, the gauge, instead of flashing 30km remaining just moved to the terrifying ‘–‘. What the f$%k? Will I make it?

The answer is yes. I limped into the Omarama Mobil (where there was no 95 octane for sale) and filled up with 28 litres of joy. What a relief! Looking on blogs subsequently, there’s some unusable fuel that never gets transferred into the lower fuel tank, if you are riding on a level road. I can only assume that because I had ridden up a very steep mountain pass that that ‘unusable’ fuel had in fact transferred into the lower tank thereby allowing me to reach my destination, just.

After filling up, I retraced my steps 100m or so and snapped the Omarama school. The time was 2:43 pm. I was now only 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

Omarama – 75 points – Decile 7

As the picture suggests, it was still damp. Wet even. In fact, I found that since riding through the Haast Pass and then turning north that I was following the bad weather. Just my luck.

I returned to the café near the petrol station and ate my first and only pie for the trip. And my God, was it delicious.

With a full tank, full belly, and empty bladder, I scooted off to Lake Tekapo. No fuel anxiety. No anxiety at all. I made good time through the Mackenzie Country. By the time I reached Tekapo School I was 75 minutes ahead of schedule. Don’t ask me how. I wasn’t speeding – much.

Tekapo – 100 points – Decile 10

It was pouring, as you can see. Not particularly pleasant. But I was dry enough, apart from my gloves which were so wet I played this weird dance trying to get my damp fingers into the saturated finger holes. Onward.

Next step was Arowhenua Maori, out on SH1. The route took me through Fairlie along SH8 with a gentle right-hander just after Pleasant Point. I can’t really remember much of this. My recollection comes from following the Spotwalla track as I write this article.

I do, however, remember arriving at Arowhenua and being so impressed with the new building that was being constructed near the road. Stunning contemporary Māori designs on the front of the building. But hold on. Where was the sign? Added to this, it was still pouring with rain. I parked the bike in front of the architectural masterpiece, and then wandered around looking for the small archway that was the photo. I eventually spotted it down the path and over to the right. It was the right archway, but there was no signage. Then I realised that I needed to be on the other side of the sign to get the correct photo.

Back on the bike, ride past the old house, into the driveway, hang a left, and there was the archway proudly displaying the Te Kura Māori O Arowhenua signage. I was a happy chap—that was a bit of a tricky one to find. I could have easily come to the conclusion that the sign had been removed due to construction activity, but no. There is was, hiding down the back like an errant schoolboy. The time was 5:11 pm, and I was now 1 hour and 23 mins ahead.

Arowhenua – 50 points – Decile 3

Next stop Oamaru for fuel and then on to Kakanui.

Oamaru was uneventful, apart from some anti-mandate protestors soliciting support on the main street. I turned into Z and filled up. Leaving town I remembered that there was a prominent fixed speed camera, and so slowed to the appropriate and legal speed limit of 50kph, even though the urge to go faster was very prevalent.

The next stop, Kakanui, was a compulsory checkpoint that I definitely needed. Each time I do the TT2000 I print a small booklet of all the stops and have it wirebound, with a plastic cover. I also print the list of locations from Basecamp that show the departure and arrival times for each checkpoint. Both the booklet and the list said Kakanui was the next stop but it wasn’t in my GPS as a checkpoint.

Horror of horrors, I need to revert to doing a manual search and input into the GPS. This could waste minutes and valuable seconds. I didn’t know how to input the location using coordinates, so I just went to ‘Kakanui’ thinking “How difficult can it be to find a school in a small village?” Turns out, quite difficult.

Kakanui was a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and the town felt like it was split in two with a river running through it. I pulled over and zoomed in on the GPS to see if I could see anything resembling a school. I got my phone out and searched. I saw that there was a School Road 1500m away. Surely that has to be it.

I found the back entrance to the school. I remember visiting this entrance on Google Maps Street View when doing my pre-planning. It wasn’t the right sign. Next minute, I see a couple of bikes across the playing field racing down the street. They looked like fellow TTers. I was on the wrong side of the school.

I do a U-turn and head a block north. The sign was down the end of a small dead-end street. A few children poked their heads out of a nearby driveway to see what the hell I was doing. You can see from the photo that the rain had largely abated. That was because, after following it north for most of the day, I had then headed south, through the front and out the back into relatively calm and drier conditions.

Kakanui – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 1

The time was 6:47 pm, and I was now 1 hour 45 minutes ahead of time. Go figure.

Next stop, Otago Mystery. The ride through to Omakau was fabulous. I was overtaken by three riders who I didn’t recognise (at the time) and we played cat and mouse through to Ranfurly. At that point they appeared to take a different route to me, and I lost a little confidence that I was on the right track. I remember when planning this part of my route that I made some changes to travelling down SH85. Sure enough, I hung left and rode along the Ida Valley-Omakau Road. A lot of it was new seal which slowed me down a little. I remember thinking that SH85 might have been quicker afterall.

When I arrived at the Otago Mystery the three TTers that I’d been following were at the same checkpoint. Turned out it was Mark Waterson and his posse. From the quick chat we had on the side of the road it sounded like we had been travelling on a very similar route that day.

Otago Mystery – 150 points

I snapped the pic quickly, and then headed across SH85 to the Omakau School, my last checkpoint of the day before settling down in Alexandra for the night.

Omakau – 40 points – Decile 9

The time of arrival at Omakau was 8:41 pm. I was now 2 hours and 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Alexandra was only 20 minutes away. Day 2 was nearly over.

My motel for the night was The Centennial Court Motel, on the main road out of town. I arrived there at just after 9:00 pm, just as they were closing reception. They’d anticipated my late arrival (I wasn’t supposed to be there until 11:17 pm, so my room under the stairs had the lights on, and the heater humming. They’d also turned on the TV tuned to an easy listening music video channel. How did they know?

Alexandra at night is hilarious. For young-ish people there’s obviously not much to do, except lower the suspension on your car, throw some LEDs under the bodywork that change colour depending on your music, and cruise up and down Centennial Avenue. If you’re not doing that, you’re parked outside the only takeaway joint still open, sitting on the bonnet or the boot of your car, drinking beer and eating a hamburger or chips. It was all go!

I was starving so I walked from the motel to the aforementioned takeaway joint, eloquently named The Alexandra Pantry. I walked in to hear what could only be called Bollywood D&B (that’s Drum and Bass for the unitiated). The owner/proprietor/worker turned down the music before he took my order. I had the Farmyard burger and some fries. I waited inside (no vaccine passport requested) while the street show of crusing cars did their steady progression up and down the avenue.

The food arrived quickly and I retreated back to the motel and ate my dinner to Elton John, and Tears for Fears. Ah, life on the road. What could be better.

With my early arrival I was fortunate that I could take at least an extra hours sleep. I set the alarm for 3:00 am and went to bed.

Day Three – Alexandra to Tokoiti – 677 km

Out of the motel, and on the road by 3:20 am. I felt good. I felt refreshed. But there was pressure on me to ride a considerable distance in less than 9 hours if I wanted to be classified as a finisher by arriving at Tokoiti by 12 midday. My Basecamp said that I would get there at 12:35 pm. I wasn’t worried that this was beyond the midday deadline as I knew I’d make up time along the way. But I couldn’t afford any unexpected incidents.

When I left Alexandra it was cold. Around 4 degrees Celcius. I had expected it would be cold and the night before had zipped the inner back into my jacket, as well as pulled out a jersey for extra warmth. The problem was my hands. My winter gloves were still sodden from the day before. I couldn’t get them on. So, I reverted to my summer gloves and heated handlebars.

I rode through to Frankton in the dark, expecting to refuel at BP Frankton, but it was closed. Weird. I was sure it was a 24 hour petrol station. I was heading to Glenorchy for another compulsory checkpoint and I figured there’d be fuel on the way. Sure enough the Z station was open.

The ride through to Glenorchy was dark but uneventful. I saw a motorbike leaning up against a bank at one point, and heard rumours later that day regarding what had happened, but at the time I was intent on getting into Glenorchy and out as quickly as possible.

Glenorchy – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 7

You can see that the sky is starting to brighten. But there was absolutely no heat in a lightening sky. The time was 4:55 am and I was 13 minutes ahead of time. I had some time to make up.

Next stop was Mararoa, another compulsory checkpoint about 30 kms north west of Mossburn. I met two bikers there, who pulled up just after me. One chap was talking rather excitedly, and he kept on asking me questions and telling anecdotes, none of which I could hear because, well, I’m deaf, AND I had ear plugs in. I later heard him telling another rider at the finish that he was the first person to a fatal accident in Oamaru earlier that morning. No wonder he was hyper. The adrenaline must have been something wicked.

Mararoa – Complusory – 150 points – Decile 10

I slunk away, feeling a little bit guilty that I was largely unresponsive in my interactions with the riders. But what can you do?

Leading up to Mararoa the temperature had gotten as low as 2 degrees Celcius. And as you remember (if you’ve been paying attention) I only had summer gloves and heated handlebars. It was bloody cold. I remember praying for the sun to come up, and then when it did, it had absolutely no warmth in it at all.

Next stop Hauroko Valley, one of the Geography checkpoints, that would help me towards achieving the DUX. I arrived there 45 minutes ahead of time.

Hauroko Valley – 100 points – Decile 7

It was a long time since I had been anywhere near Hauroko. When I was a university student in 1982 a good friend suggested I join a tramping party of eight and tramp from the top of Lake Hauroko out to Dusky Sound. Only 300 people a year tramped that track, mainly because it was not much of a track. The notable thing about being there in November 1982, was that it was exactly the same week that Phil Doole and Mark Inglis were trapped in a snow cave on Mount Aoraki (Cook). Because our tramp was so isolated we’d had the good sense to take a CB radio, and at night we’d listen to the chatter about the climbers stranded in blizzard conditions.

Our tramp, while not as extreme as Phil and Mark, was nevertheless a huge, and at times dangerous challenge. The track follows the Seaforth River down to Supper Cove. On the way down the Seaforth we were regularly wading (often waist deep) through tributaries that ran into the main river. At one point we got to a tributary that we couldn’t cross, the water was rising that quickly. We decided to retreat only to find that the tributary before was now also impassable. That night, eight of us crowded into the only shelter we had—a two-person pup tent. It was not a wonderful experience, but at the same time, a wonderful experience.

But I digress. Hauroko Valley school was done and dusted. I headed off to find fuel at the Allied in Otautau. When I arrived there at 8:09 am I was 50 minutes ahead of schedule, and feeling confident that I’d make it the finish before midday.

Two final checkpoints required. Tokanui, the last compulsory, was supposed to be 1 hour 45 minutes away.

Tokanui – Compulsory – 250 points – Decile 10

There were a lot of bikes there when I arrived at Tokanui, including an immaculate looking ST1300, the same colour as mine. Then, just before I left, two more STs pulled up. I think that was Gary Polwart and his mate—well known ST riders and very quick with it.

I took my snap and left. The time was 9:18 am and I was 90 minutes ahead of schedule.

Final checkpoint was the Southland Mystery. People often talk about the Catlins as this place that takes days to drive through—at least that’s always been my impression. So it’s a bit crazy to think that I, and many other TTers zipped through here in around an hour, or two. The mystery was the Florence Hill Lookout above Tautuku Beach. What a stunning location. Quite a few bikes there but the photo was easy to take.

Southland Mystery – 150 points

You can tell I’m running out of stories to tell, desperate to get to the end of the trip. I left here around 9:53 am with plenty of time to get to Tokoiti School and the finish line. My Spotwalla track had me arriving on the tennis court at 10:48 am having ridden a total of 2,847 km.

Finish odometer

I parked up next to Chris Carey who was waiting patiently for 12 midday so he could show he’d ridden exactly 2,000km in exactly 48 hours. I dawdled up to the check in, and met Phil Biggs who helped me add up my totals and fill out my score card which I had neglected to do prior to my finishing. I felt damn good, but not really up to doing long addition and subtraction, so thanks Phil for patiently helping me out.

I then got in line to download my pics. Unlike some other riders it was a simple process of putting my SD card in and hitting copy, or download. Done and dusted in 10 or 15 minutes.

Spent a bit of time lurking, sharing war stories, taking about the weather that we had, or hadn’t experienced, depending on what direction or route you decided to ride. The crowd was thinning out, so I made the decision, after scoffing a sausage and a 7-Up, to head off to Oamaru. The next day I was heading back to Picton, so I had a lot of riding ahead of me.

I just want to say, thanks to Shannon and Mark for organising this event. It’s got to be the best long distance ride in NZ, given that it allows for you to plan the ride you want to ride—be it long, or short—arduous or relaxed. At the end of the day, we are all winners. A big thanks to the late great Mike Hyde for coming up with this crazy event. I’ll be back as many times as I can, as long as I can ride.

My score sheet (unofficial)

These are the points I secured by category and in the order in which I rode (within each category). Hope that makes sense 🤣

Compulsories (400 bonus)

  • Waikawa Bay
  • Motupipi
  • Haast
  • Kakanui
  • Glenorchy
  • Mararoa
  • Tokanui

1 to 10 Decile (300 bonus)

  • Hira (10)
  • Mahana (9)
  • Motupipi (7)
  • Hapuku (2)
  • Waiau (4)
  • Rotherham (8)
  • Awahono Grey (5)
  • Kumara (6)
  • Arowhenua Māori (3)
  • Kakanui (1)

Geography Student (400 bonus)

  • Motupipi
  • Ward
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Hauroko Valley
  • Tokanui

Mysteries (400 bonus)

  • Tasman Mystery
  • Canterbury Mystery
  • West Coast Mystery
  • Otago Mystery
  • Southland Mystery

General checkpoints (3,635 points)

  • Waikawa Bay
  • Hira
  • Mahana
  • Motupipi
  • Lake Rotoiti
  • Wairau Valley
  • Tasman Mystery
  • Ward
  • Hapuku
  • Canterbury Mystery
  • Waiau
  • Rotherham
  • Awahono Grey
  • Kumara
  • West Coast Mystery
  • Haast
  • Makarora
  • Omarama
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Arowhenua Māori
  • Kakanui
  • Otago Mystery
  • Omakau
  • Glenorchy
  • Mararoa
  • Hauroko Valley
  • Tokanui
  • Southland Mystery
  • Tokoiti

And what it looked like via my Spotwalla track, for anyone interested (including my trip back to Picton and on the ferry to Wellington).

You’re welcome. See you all in 2023.

6 thoughts on “TT2000 for 2022 – a South Island odyssey”

  1. Just looked at your route. A far better route for a Dux than I’d initially planned

  2. Great story! I am not sure if it is against the rules but for “range anxiety” reasons, I carry a 2.5L Givi Fuel tank in my luggage. But then my VMax only has a 120km range! Just an idea.

  3. No rules about carrying extra fuel. Many do this Peter. I guess I’ve never had an issue previously, and in retrospect, didn’t have an issue this time—yeah, right!

  4. very enjoyable read. life on the edge when the fuel gauge hit – %^&. What would you recommend to a newbie wanting to have a go but not done any large rides?

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