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Thread: New Zealand and yes you want to ride there!

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    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    New Zealand and yes you want to ride there!

    I wanted to share my ride report with everyone after receiving great advice and hints here on the forum earlier in the fall before planning the trip. Thanks to all those who helped.

    First let me say that my style of riding is to tour and I've managed to rack up some pretty great roads and places since I started riding. Just to name some for reference, I've been to Cape Briton, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Beartooth Pass, Glacier National Park, Colorado Rockies, Canadian Rockies, etc. Let me just say whether we're talking Kootenay or Tucomcari, there's simply no place like southern New Zealand. Best I can describe is it's as if Glacier National Park was the size of a small country.

    Since limited on time, we only rode the southern island and tried to cover the best places. The southern island only has 25% of the population so very wide open with mostly sheep farms. I wish I knew more about geology to better explain what's going on there, but in one small country there are ice capped mountains, glaciers, desert , rolling hills, rivers and incredible lakes. The color of the water is astounding. If you've ever been up around Banff or Lake Louise the water takes on an aqua color. In New Zealand the water is this incredible turquoise blue. I'm sure it has to do with minerals.


    Before I go further, let's talk basics. It's truly the other side of the world. Only thing south of New Zealand is Antarctica. Oddly enough when the winds are out of the south, it gets cold. It's seasons are the opposite of the US. The warm months are from the end of November and it gets to be summertime in January and February. It's also a day ahead which is weird. It's ski season in July. Getting there takes a lot of flying. Many of the flights go out of LAX and land in Auckland on the North Island. From there you either ride for a day or two to take a ferry to the south island or fly for another hour to Christchurch.

    Once there there are numerous tour companies. With most you can take a guided tour with the owners taking you everywhere on bikes and often in a group. They have everything planned out for you and you follow along. Second option is an "Unguided tour" where they make all your reservations and give you a planned route. Third option which is what we did is a "Self" guided tour. You rent the bikes and make your own way. With much planning, it's pretty easy. For one thing there are few roads and most accommodations are on the web.

    They speak English there with an accent identical to a British accent unlike their neighbors in Australia which is slightly different. I know you've heard this about a lot of places, but the people there are incredibly nice! No one there is uptight. I mean really really nice. There's one kicker: They drive on the left side just like in the UK or Japan. It's a bit of a learning curve, but it helps being on a bike plus there's no traffic.

    It's like riding in Utah as far as traffic so plenty of time to contemplate situations. The problem is you can ride correctly on the roads and then get hit by a bus walking across the street if you let your guard down. Definitely doable though you have to stay focused.

    As for the south island, from north to south it has a spine of spectacular mountains. Because of this, the weather patterns can change in a very short distance. The weather on the west side tends to be colder and wet while the east side tends to be warmer and sunnier. Some of the lakes are like a thousand feet deep since many were carved out by glaciers. Also no snakes and I believe no poisonous insects there.
    There are these Parrots in the cold regions called Kia's. They're large and smart with a curved beak . I mention this as one of the main precautions when riding there. These parrots love to tear out the rubber gasket around car windshields and love to tear up a vinyl seat on motorcycles. They're aggressive so you have to sometimes cover your seats. Just their claws will damage your seat if they land on them. Everyone thinks they're a big nuisance, but they are protected.

    In planning a trip I'd say there are a good dozen "Must ride" or see places to try and cover:
    Northern town of Nelson
    "West coast" to include Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph (neighboring towns)
    Queenstown - Tons of activities here from bungee jumping to hang gliding
    Te Anau on the west side which is a launch point to ride to Milford sound. Take a boat tour here and I recommend the Mitre Peak since a small intimate boat.
    Mount Cook at the north end of Lake Pukaki.

    Food is good all over and typical breakfast is bacon and eggs. If you like coffee, you're big time luck. They make killer espresso drinks including designs with the foam.

    So much for the intro. Now for some pics.
    Last edited by RTRandy; 12-18-2009 at 03:28 PM.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

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    El Cid franze's Avatar
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    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    First stop Christchurch

    Christchurch is lovely though really a jump off point to start a tour.

    I wasn't kidding about the coffee

    More Christchurch in rush hour traffic

    Finally a pick up of our gear to head for our bikes

    Fully equipped and new 2009 RT's I had to take the silver which is what I own here in Dallas. Id say plan on roughly $200 for a rental of an RT or GS



    Mike Lester's home and B&B for South Pacific Motorcycle tours


    Bring your beads and the bikes typically have a mount for a Zumo. Bring that for sure and yes you'll need to buy a New Zealand Garmin map.


    Wasn't kidding about the color of the water there.



    Out on the road









    Continued:
    Last edited by RTRandy; 12-18-2009 at 03:32 PM.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

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    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    One of many stops for coffee or a quick bite. This is my dear friend Marlon who helped me make this trip.



    View from the parking lot. Really. I'm not making this up.



    Homemade pastries everywhere and serious about scones and meat pies.


    We sat outside to soak up the day and enjoy or cappuccino and lattes.


    The roads weren't the only thing that looked good.



    Just sipping coffee and checking it out from our table.


    Our trusty and patient RT's just waiting to run. Both were well tuned. The blue had new Z6's and my silver one had new Pilot Road 2's. Pinch me I'm dreaming.



    Just thrilled to be there!!


    These flowers are all along the roads like our Texas Blue Bonnets. They're called Lupins.



    I mean everywhere!







    It's like the Grand Tetons on Steroids over there



    Views like this everywhere. Photo is untouched. I swear!




    Just remember to ride on the left side.





    Forget everything you thought about Glacier Park



    To be continued:
    Last edited by RTRandy; 12-18-2009 at 03:34 PM.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

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    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Hard to show the scale.





    Feeling on top of the world even though standing on the bottom.







    Heading up the west side of Lake Pukaki going to Mt Cook.



    Outside our hotel at Mt Cook.


    Stopped at small airport and Marlon took a glider ride.





    Getting briefed:



    Ready!



    Time to fly.





    South end of lake Dunston



    Looking at Hwy 8 along the mountain and hwy 6 coming towards us.



    Got separated from Marlon so parked my bike near the road so he's spot me.







    View inside. I'm not making this up!



    You guessed it.



    To be continued:
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  6. #6
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Loving the trip!






    Our B&B in Te Anau: The Te Anau Lodge







    Two hours north to Milford Sound. Kind of socked in that day, but beautiful.
    Typical tour boats.





    Milford Sound:





    Looking out the back of our boat.



    Waterfalls evrywhere.



    Leaving Milford Sound. Flowers everywhere.





    View out my hotel in Queenstown



    Queenstown bay about 9pm. Sunset was around 10 o'clock while sky had light at 10:30 pm



    Heading to west coast with much rain the next two days.










    Pouring here and typical rain forest on the west coast. Old faithful just waiting for me.



    To be continued:
    Last edited by RTRandy; 12-18-2009 at 07:28 AM.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

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    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Wow, Randy!
    I mean . . . . . W O W!
    That is some seriously beautiful scenery.

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    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Amazing photography!

    Paul and I are going in January! Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks so very much for sharing

    Voni
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    Once there was a Tavern PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Brings back wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing.

    Which camera(s) did you use?

    Thanks again!
    Paul Bachorz - F Twins Moderator
    RA Rallymeister - Pownal, Vermont
    Click here.

  10. #10
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAULBACH View Post
    Brings back wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing.

    Which camera(s) did you use?

    Thanks again!
    I like to ride with a small digital camera that easily fits in my pocket for an easy grab and shoot unlike bringing a fancier SLR type camera. Mine is a Panasonic TZ5 so nothing real fancy.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  11. #11
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Last two days of the ride were mostly in rain so hardly any pictures. Word to the wise: bring your best rain gear and be sure to include glove covers.

    The island has every kind of riding situation: tons of sweepers, changing elevation roads -ALWAYS! (just a blast! ), super tight mountain passes with 10mph switch backs, and some generally flat areas. One catch is due to severe winter weather in some regions, they tend to repair roads in the summer as we do here in the states. While I'm not an expert, it pretty much resembles chip seal. Our luck we had pouring rain while riding mountain switch backs with new chip seal.

    One other factor was to be some very intense cross winds. Sometimes only in some areas as if the mountains were causing winds to be funneled through low areas. Much of the time the wind speed was constant and not gusting which made it easier to work with.You could ride along and lean into it or make some great turns heading away from them. Just a guess I'd say 40 and 50 mph in some cases.

    Highly recommend staying in Franz Joseph to see the Glaciers though pouring rain for us the whole time. We stayed at the Alpine Glacier Motel in Franz Joseph and we were able to pull right up to the front door of our room and under an overhang.

    We stopped in Hokitika for some lunch at the Cafe De Paris on our last day heading back to Christchurch. Really quite good if you get there.


    Downtown Hokitika



    Just super rain, but managed to pull over near the Arthur's Pass. The road below is where we just went through and the overhang allows this waterfall to go over the road. I swear riding some parts where more like an amusement park ride. That's not clouds, you're looking at rain coming down in sheets.





    Finally back over the east side and out of the hard rain. At least better visibility:



    Marlon futzing with something. Probably looking for something dry.



    Heading back to Christchurch. Be sure to ride on the left cause you never know what's coming around the bend.





    All this New Zealand riding had me craving lamb chops for some reason. Yum !!

    Luck favors those who are prepared.

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    Great ride report and photos. Thanks for jogging the memories of my favorite motorcycle tour ever to this point. My wife Susi and I spent January '05 touring both islands, 3 weeks on bikes and a week in a car. I'd love to go back tomorrow, especially with a foot of snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow here in Richmond.

    Roy F

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTRandy View Post
    Hard to show the scale.



    Stopped at small airport and Marlon took a glider ride.





    Getting briefed:


    RTRandy,

    Don't know if you already know this but you stopped and took a sailplane flight in one of the Premier soaring sites in the world for high altitude mountain wave soaring. I'm green with envy. That sailplane you're in is a Grob 103. I spent a lot of hours flight training in one.

    Nice Indeed. Great trip.
    Frank
    '86 K75C a.k.a Magic Carpet

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    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gawga_boy View Post
    RTRandy,

    Don't know if you already know this but you stopped and took a sailplane flight in one of the Premier soaring sites in the world for high altitude mountain wave soaring. I'm green with envy. That sailplane you're in is a Grob 103. I spent a lot of hours flight training in one.

    Nice Indeed. Great trip.
    I failed to mention that this was in Omarama which we had heard was famous for being a top gliding spot in the world. I had actually marked it on my GPS route before we made the trip since I love anything aviation. That's my friend Marlon sitting in front getting his first ever ride in a glider. It was overcast and cool that day so not the best thermals. They towed them to 5,000 feet and pulled the cord so they still had a pretty good glide down. Luckily the pilot weighed only about 150 pounds or it would have never worked.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  15. #15
    Amma Holly's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting your fabulous pics. I am green with envy.

    Holly
    Volunteer for the 2014 Rally in St. Paul. rallyvolunteer@bmwmoa.org

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