11 am found me on the motor way and by noon I was waiting for Brian in Kumeu, just north of Auckland. Sadly in the agreed rendezvous car park I managed to drop the bike, not hard, just over balanced on completely dry and flat concrete. Luckily a very helpful chap ran from the cafe to help me lift it up.
Apart from my pride, which was pretty bruised, I'd broken one of the new and hitherto unused panniers. The plastic hook that stops it flapping in the breeze had broken and also a cosmetic but rather unsightly gash on the brushed aluminium. Much gnashing of teeth and wondering how the journey might be undertaken now. Cable ties?
Brian had the smart idea to nip into a local panel beater who claimed he could fix it. Castle Panel Beaters in Kumeu did the job for $15 and although it's rather unsightly , it is still hanging on the side of the bike, well actually it's in the motel here but you get the picture.
Weather wise the rain came out to play at this point, variable between drizzle and heavy with dry spells. We stopped for lunch in Helensville, the Art's cafe or some such name, with the best and biggest BLT I've had in ages. Sadly Helensville is looking somewhat down at heal, with derelict buildings covered in graffiti and altogether rather sad.
Eventually we could wait no longer for the rain to clear and headed North for Wellsford. No prizes for stopping there so onward to Dargaville. Frankly Helensville looks pretty good by comparison.
We found a two room unit at the elderly and optimistically named Parkview motel. This was our fourth try, we had passed the motor camp un-entered, one motel was owned by someone who expected to be back in 5 minutes (it had hallmarks of the Marie Celeste) and another only had two rooms at a high(ish) cost for rooms so old. Dargaville is apparently very popular although there is no obvious reason why this should be.
Since it was still quite early we decided to take a run through the country south to Pouto at North Head. After about 50km the tar seal ran out as did our enthusiasm so we retraced our steps back to the void that is Dargaville.
Lyricks Family Restaurant had been recommended as had 'Blah, Blah, Blah'. These turned out to be the only two restaurants in town apart from the bland and featureless New Asian who were selling some form of asian cuisine in a bland and featureless ambiance. Takeaways there are in abundance but where pray would we take them away too?
First stop was Lyricks and since it really seemed to have nothing to commend it, we passed it by. Even if you like the rough and ready playground for the kids, the trash in the back yard would be an off-put. 'Blah, Blah, Blah' further down the main street was much more the business but was astoundingly fully booked (so they claimed despite it being empty). We suspected a Christmas party from the seating arrangements but who can say, perhaps some tormented souls had found a way to leave town and was celebrating? Not wishing to tempt fate I'd have left it until I actually left I think.
Sadly back to Lyricks which turned out to be all that we had anticipated. The schnitzel had all the appearances of being out of a packet and although the menu claimed an association with beef it would be a stretch to imagine anything other than some form of meat substitute being involved. Very sad.
By 9pm the place was deserted, the other two groups of patrons having rather dejectedly wandered off. Other lost souls coming in of the street were summarily ejected and it was clear than the staff regarded us as more than slight imposition on on what they had firmly expected to be an early night.
Deciding that we could outstay our welcome no longer we headed back to the motel for a cup of tea and a moan about Dargaville and there being no obvious reason for it's continued existence. Tomorrow an early escape is called for but we might chance our arm with breakfast at 'Blah, Blah, Blah' .
If you are thinking of a trip up the Kauri Coast make sure you time it so that Dargaville is passed though. You and they will appreciate it.