Saturday. January 28th, 2023

Distance travelled 152 kilometres

In the morning, Lucie turned on her rescued and re-charged iPad to discover two things.

Firstly, back home in the Czech Republic, the Presidential elections had produced, for us at least, the “right” result. The winning candidate, General Petr Pavel, had taken part in a couple of the annual Harley Challenges (albeit on a BMW) and also ridden a borrowed Harley in the Prague Harley Days parade. He was a popular figure with both us and with our HOG comrades. We pondered on whether he would still compete in the challenge in the coming year. We would have liked to think so, but I suppose he will not.

The second piece of news was a lot more alarming. Auckland, where we had recently been and would be returning to at the end of our trip, had been completely devastated by rain of almost biblical proportions. This included the airport and, among the pictures, we saw the tree under which Lucie had enjoyed her first cigarette in New Zealand. To do the same thing at the moment that shutter had clicked, she would have had to stand waist-deep in water (she probably would have !) It was also notable that a lot of the roads around the Coromandel Peninsular, on which we had ridden, had simply been washed away. If we had arrived two weeks later, we would have had a VERY different holiday, that much is for certain.

We called Ali at Bulrangi Motorcycles. She was surprised by the weather and admitted to a certain dampness, but she was safe and sound and it appeared everything would continue as planned.

Outside of our window, it was weakly sunny, but there was no suggestion of rain. We packed, well Lucie did – she really had it down by then, took back the key and began our leisurely ride in the direction of Dunedin. We drove without much urgency, we had only 90 kilometres ahead. It was, however, extremely windy again, quite capable of blowing us way off line if I relaxed for as much as half a second.

We stopped for breakfast in the Black Swan Café in Waihola (40 Greenwich Street, Waihola), where there is also a motel of the same name next door.

I would recommend the Back Swan to anyone who is passing through the town of Waihola. The food was good, bacon and eggs Benedict for me (yes, yes, yes … bacon again !) and pancakes with syrup for Lucie.

What the café also had was a really lovely “vibe”. The staff were all jolly (it was family run) and the walls were dotted with posters of positive messages. My favourite was this, as I feel it could apply to anyone who has ever been on a motorcycle.

As in Australia, signs at the start of a town in New Zealand usually tell you a fact about the place or exhort you to take some action whilst you are there. We had passed a notice that said “Welcome to Waihola and enjoy our lake“. Whilst, I am sure the lake is beautiful, “…. enjoy our Black Swan café “ would win the town a lot more friends !!

Because of the shortness of the day’s journey, when we made our second stop we were already in Dunedin. We had arrived at Baldwin Street, for many years the holder of the title of the world’s steepest residential street (1 in 2.86). Using modern technology, this title has now been claimed by a street in Wales (Fford pen Llech, in Harlech). Legal action is, apparently, ongoing !

Whatever the result, from either end, Baldwin Street looks fearsome. At the bottom, it seems inconceivable that you could get up it ……….

…….. and at the top, it seems implausible that you could get down again unscathed.

Oddly, though, local people appear to treat it with something approaching disdain, whichever way they were travelling and quite a number made the trip whilst we were there. So did a few intrepid tourists (who did it MUCH more cautiously). Call me a coward, if you will, but there was no way that I was going to try it on the short wheel-based and very heavy Harley-Davidson.

Here is what it could have looked like, had I been both a younger and a braver person …….

We walked up to the top and noted that a few more “offbeat” ascent attempts had also been completed successfully !

I could not resist including this cartoon. A friend sent it to me when I told him about Baldwin Street !

We moved on to our accommodation, the 555 Motel (555 Anderson’s Bay Road, South Dunedin) where we arrived around half past one.

Although we arrived early, we got a room at once without any problems. In addition, the receptionist switched us from the first floor to the “disabled” ground floor room, so that we could park our Harley right in front of the door. The receptionist was a nice guy and we had some cheery banter because he had once lived in England for some time and has been a frequent visitor to Prague during his stay in Europe.

We did not have time to take a rest, we had another program to follow. We changed into lighter clothing (it had again become quite hot), climbed back onto the Harley and rode the steep but beautiful road along the cliffs to the outskirts of Dunedin and Tunnel Beach (Tunnel Beach Road, Blackhead, Dunedin).

We left the Softail in the parking lot and took a gravel path downhill. The gradient was so steep, it warranted its own warning sign !

At the bottom of that first incline, there was a winding, serpentine path, even steeper in some places than the preceding gravel which finally ended on a headland dividing a large bay from a smaller one. There were the (by now) “usual” stunning sea views all along the descent.

At first, there appeared to be no access to the smaller bay, but there was ! The tunnel ! Beginning in a slight dip in the ground and partially obscured by a tree, there is a tunnel leading down to the smaller bay.

This was hand-carved at the behest of a rich man named John Cargill, solely in order to give his daughters access to the beach for their picnics. I wondered if the name Cargill would have some connection with the city of Invercargill. It seems that the Cargill family were prominent in the Otago district over a few generations – and were VERY wealthy too, but I could not find a specific connection to Invercargill anywhere.

The narrow tunnel appeared to go straight down. It was about 30 metres long and neat steps had been carved into the floor, which made the descent easy enough.


As we emerged, what greeted us was a confirmation of something I have already written several times, that there is always another splendour just around the corner. The beach, with its smooth, golden sand, flanked by huge rocks and high cliffs was like something out of a dream.

This picture, which I took with my iPhone, is absolutely iconic New Zealand.

The way back up to the car park was, according to a posted warning, supposed to be difficult and take around forty minutes (twice as long as notice at the top said the descent would take). Because, after the sweaty trek at Sterling Point, we had dressed more appropriately, we managed to get back to the top in half of that time.

During my “pre-trip” research, I had discovered that there is only one castle in the whole of New Zealand. It is called Larnach Castle and is on the Dunedin Peninsular. We drove there next. The road itself was beautiful, with views of the whole bay around Dunedin, which, it seems, is not a small city.

At the castle we stopped at the gate where a booth displayed the quite exorbitant fees even to just enter the grounds. We decided that, as we only wanted to see the outside and then leave, it was way too much money. We turned around and drove away….

The castle was, in any case, on the way to our final port of call, Portobello. This lay on the edge of the bay, far below and was, helpfully, a small port. We approached via a narrow lane whose steepness would have caused further consternation to those championing the claim of the incline at Baldwin Street through the courts and came to the sinuous road along the edge of the bay. We hoped to find a nice restaurant there (there was the Cove Café and the Penguin Café shown on the maps). We found the Cove Café, where there was, surprise, surprise, a “sorry, kitchen closed“, notice on display. So we had to content ourselves with a couple of cakes.

Then we set out on the beautiful coastal road, all the way back to the city. Lucie was excited about the sightseeing ride and told me later she had really enjoyed it. I was not quite so thrilled, because compensating for the gusting wind, still strong enough to move the Softail off track, took quite a lot of effort. Later in the evening the strength of the wind rose even more, it seems that high winds are probably a common thing there.

We still needed to eat and so, back in the motel, Lucie consulted her Apps. Immediately, no doubt based algorithmically on her previous searches, she was offered a restaurant called Plato which was only about two kilometres and a five minute drive away. We tried to make an online reservation for 18:00, but at 17:45, not having received any confirmation, we jumped on the bike and rode there anyway. The Restaurant Plato (2 Birch Street, Central Dunedin) is probably not a place you would just happen upon.

We pulled up beside a drab building beneath two curving access roads for an expressway. I have to say that, at first, I thought we had come to the wrong place. There as a small sign that did say “Plato”, so we went in just as they were opening. Of course, they had no reservation, but the owner said he could find us a table. We were the first people there and, ten minutes later, there was not a free table in the whole place. The culinary delights of Plato are obviously no secret to the folk of Dunedin !

The decor was slightly weird. Pots of all descriptions were everywhere !

I thought I could risk one beer (!!) and Lucie had her usual “mocktail“. Both were actually very nice.

We chose a starter of fresh (and still warm) bread, with a variety of interesting dips. These included onion, hummus and a tangy fish paste.

This was followed by pork with clams (an unusual but very tasty combination) for me and salmon with a pineapple sauce for Lucie, which she also enjoyed.

For dessert we both went for the orange and almond cake, (a slice each, this time) which arrived warm.

We spoke to the owner of the restaurant and discovered he was half French and half Italian – and that his grandparents were German. Quite a mix. Traces of the cuisine of all those countries had been blended into our truly excellent meals.

Satisfied and more than a little bit full, we more or less rolled to the motorcycle and drove home to the motel.