3 August 2022
Ramble to Ruakaka & beyond…
Carolyn and Kel Rood designed their house in 2020 to provide original tailored accommodation for motorcyclists on an adventure. And helping with that adventure.
Kel, an experienced boatmaster who helms the Whangarei harbour tugboat, has been a rider for 50 years and is an avowed gravel junkie; loves the stuff, can’t get enough of it, and he has had a wealth of two-wheeled adventures throughout the length of New Zealand and internationally - encompassing Asia, navigating an Africa Twin to Alaska, and two-up through the South of France. Carolyn, comparatively new to riding, prefers pillion, especially on their beloved Moto Guzzi V85TT, and these days it’s Carolyn who’s the one likely to suggest going riding. She too is gravel road nut. A rare, but very happy combination.
The idea for Riders’ Rest came during an adventure in the South of France, when they often toured simply from point to point recommended by their hosts each night.
Since building the ‘Rest’, they have taken this theme and further developed the idea of motorbike-friendly accommodation throughout the length of the country. Carolyn admits finding the right people is the most important step, and their plans are well advanced.
So what is Riders’ Rest? In simple terms it is bike and rider-friendly accommodation delivered to a high standard, but at affordable prices in dream locations, with great facilities, and a vast knowledge of roads and secret byways that only locals know and share with good friends. They have recently teamed up with Mike Hood, owner of Dream Cycles, a fellow rider and like-minded thinker, and he too shares his skills and his home facilities.
He owns a Riders’ Rest right on the beach in gorgeous Taupo Bay in the far north, and they have plans to add other locations throughout New Zealand. Providing suppliers can come up to their standard of delivery, and are sufficiently motorcycle focused.
SPECIFICALLY FOR RIDERS
Rider’s Rest accommodation is tailored to fit with what we as Motorcyclists want to experience. It is both unique, and appropriate for rider’s needs. Unlike a bland motel or cabin, the idea is to deliver rest and recuperation, mixed with conviviality and shared experience. Both Kel and Mike have encyclopaedic local knowledge of great tracks, whether gravel or seal, and when they are not working are often only too keen to join you for a ride. Most certainly they will help plan your ride, with all the wealth of discovery that only extensive ‘local knowledge’ can bring.
Carolyn herself knows from her experiences riding around France what she was looking for in booked accommodation, and she has ensured this is exactly what is on offer at each Riders’ Rest location. She ensures that the standards are high with, professionally laundered top linen, sensationally comfortable beds, great pillows, air conditioning, or fans and fireplaces, clean and very modern private bathrooms with thick bathmats and fabulous towels. There’s a drying room and everything that a biker needs, including safe and secure undercover parking for the bikes. Carolyn creates a stay with likeminded folk who enjoy having you around, with a serious nod to keeping wives and girlfriends happy and content.
In keeping with this thinking of how to look after bikers, both locations could charge exorbitant prices for visitors - (local AirBNB‘s are $300 per night and more) however they have kept to a formula of $75 per person, per night, and this is year round, with no seasonal gouging. This minimal fee includes a continental breakfast that riders can help themselves to before heading off for a ride. However, Carolyn and Kel can also supply a cooked breakfast for $25-30 a head. These prices are indicative of the thinking behind how this operation runs - make it great, make it affordable, make it memorable.
I had the privilege of staying overnight in ‘the Nest’ room, and it was exceptional, the bed was like clouds, with views out over the fields to the gnarly Whangarei Heads, and beyond; the sky was clear and the stars were breath-taking as well. I woke to a beautiful dawn rising smokily over the ocean and was still grinning about it hours later.
Along with the great bedding there are treats like an excellent outdoor shower or bath, barbecue and fire pit, a huge macrocarpa table (known as the Game of Thrones Table) seating 10 or more ideally placed on the deck for those magnificent views.
RR also has a pizza oven, a Weber Q barbecue, and microwave that the groups can utilise. There is no kitchen, as such, but you can request a cooked meal. And there are a number of excellent local eateries nearby. Kel and Carolyn are happy to drop guests off and pick them up after dining, or even, as often occurs, join in for dinner.
RIDERS’ REST RUAKAKA
This has two bedrooms - The Nest which has a shared en-suite with the second bedroom called The Riders Room.
However the Rider’s Room is never utilised simultaneously - except to individuals or groups who are travelling together. The Nest has a Super King bed, which converts to two King singles, so will accommodate two riders, or one couple. The Rider’s Room has a Queen bed and that room also doubles as the lounge/kitchen, and which contains a Kent fireplace.
So whether a lone rider, a pair, three single riders, or two couples, there is a set up to fit. Kel and Carolyn are also expanding their offerings with another bedroom.
For larger groups they have connected with a number of friends who live locally (one being right next door) where any overflow or extras can stay. This next door property has two lovely self-contained bedrooms, also with fantastic views, and it’s a mere stroll through the gate to meet up. Bikes are kept securely and they run a ‘Riders Rest’ ute, to drop riders off to their accommodation, or even a dinner venue.
RIDERS’ REST TAUPO BAY
There are a lot of options for numbers at Mike’s place in Taupo Bay. Two bedrooms with King-size beds, a bunk-room for six (at a pinch) and a further bunk-room for four. There are also accommodation places nearby in Taupo Bay, so larger groups can be accommodated. Mike is another hugely experienced and capable rider, who knows every inch of the North, and his set up fits the Riders’ Rest mould perfectly. If you are looking at a Northland tour, these two locations should be starting and stopping points, number one, on every bikers list.
Bookings for all Rider’s Rest locations are handled by Carolyn herself and her car’s numberplate (Handle) reflects her incredible ability to look after everything seemingly without effort. To fully utilise both Kel and Mike’s experience and local knowledge, and to make the most of each location for riding purposes, riders should plan to stay at least 2 nights. Both places are ‘local hubs’ for riders to take day trips and to return to comfort (without having to book accommodation) at the end of the day.
This is an original idea, totally focused on our needs as bikers. It matches riders with great rides, great destinations, great people, great local knowledge, with superb locations for rest at day’s end - and at a good price. Kel and Carolyn have carefully curated this experience, and it’s not overstating it to say that it’s an act of respect and love for the biking community. It’s a cliché that we arrive as strangers and part as friends, but my brief experience with Mike, Kel and Carolyn made me feel like family.
Article kindly brought to you by Kiwirider
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