"the best riding I've ever done"
"Thanks so much. It was amazing, probably the best riding I've ever done. I will definitely recommend the trip and your services to my friend."
- Jeff Mercendetti - USA
"we were highly satisfied"
"I would like to thank for everything - we were highly satisfied with
your flexibility, approach, communication, bike and all the effort of nzbike
Thank You and I wish you as many satisfied customers as we were."
- Alex Sustekova - Slovakia
"The whole trip went well"
"The whole trip went well except for the GPS had a led us astray 1 morning but that was no real issue as after i powered it down and on again it was fine. I would strongly recommend you to anyone that was considering this sort of adventure."
- Jarvis Turczynski & Jodi-Lee Hartley - Australia
"Our trip went well"
"I meant to email you sooner after our bike rental a few weeks ago. I just wanted to let you know that our trip went well, and the staff in Takapuna were really nice and helpful in getting us on the road after getting briefed on the bike, ferry tie-downs, riding on the left, etc.
Although I had hoped to rent the FJR, the V-Strom 1000 was a lot of fun. As you would expect of a new bike, it performed flawlessly. I lubed the chain every other day, and all was well.
I was initially disappointed in the need for a one-way rental, but in retrospect I'm very glad that it worked out that way. We rode 3 days on the North Island, and then 4 days on the South Island. The ferry trip to Picton was fun, and the scenery and roads down south are FANTASTIC. We stayed in Westport, Wanaka, and Akaroa. Neat places to visit. We hope to come back to NZ in a few years, and we'll ride only the South Island and see the sights that we missed this time.
Thanks for your help in getting everything set up."
- James E Bixby - USA
"I so much enjoyed it!!!"
"My ride around NZ was really great, I so much enjoyed it!!!
It feels already a long time ago…
I will send you a few pictures separately. I don’t have many pictures of myself with or on the bike, but I hope among the ones I will send you there is something interesting enough to place on your website."
- Esther ten Hof - Holland
"I have had a Blast!"
"The bike is great, I have had a blast and will be back! NZ has the best roads I have ever ridden. Thanks for the map btw, it really helped."
- Ian Rowsby
"Trip was awsome"
"hi there, thanks for the service in chch, the trip was awsome , bike ran sweet, only hassles was the weather down south (and wind) i will deffinatly being using you guys again, and i recommend you to others also"
- Mark Galt - Australia
"Thanks a bunch"
"Good morning Ian, Sam and Brad.
I had a wonderful time riding around New Zealand. I hope to be able to do it again.
I wanted to let you know that your guys did a standup job at getting me a bike I could enjoy and I really appreciate the chance to experience the South Island on two wheels. Thanks a bunch."
- Michael Dalton - USA
"We really enjoyed our tour of NZ."
"Thanks for a well worked out itinerary, the GPS made life very easy and enhanced my enjoyment immensely. The route ensured every day revealed even greater beauty than the one before but I have a proposed modification for you, later.
I particularly like the run up the Moteuka river which I would never have planned in myself without local knowledge. The Buller Gorge was fantastic for one very special reason, it is not like anything I have seen anywhere else in my travels. For the most part the beauty of South Island is that it is familiar but bigger or better than the one like it that you have seen previously. The Buller Gorge however was unique in my experience. The west coast was probably as beautiful as expected but you only get one shot and much of our run from Westport to Franz Josef was through low cloud and rain. The view from the top of the Crown range down into Queenstown was breathtaking (big wow factor for that one). The run into Milford Sound was splendid (I kept expecting Gandalf to ride by on the white horse). We had bright sunshine and a clear sky while we were out on the Sound having left Te Anau in the rain. The Remarkables live up to their name but again it was only the fluke of a road traffic accident that re-routed us back up the Crown range on the way out so we got a second look at them in the sunshine. After our early start we crossed the Lindid Pass before 9 am and had time to run up the side of Lake Pukaki to the Sir Edmund Hillary visitor Centre near Mt Cook, this was a fantastic addition to our expedition, beautiful run through beautiful scenery and a cup of tea looking at the glacier.
The bike is probably not one I would have chosen but it was perfect for the task and we ended as comfortable as we began. This trip will live long in the memory.
I am sorting out pictures now and will visit trip advisor in due course."
- Brian & Helen Parish - UK
"It was great!"
"Now back at work in Sydney, thought I'd give some feedback of our recent trip to the South Island. In summary, it was great - thanks for a well organised trip. We even got mostly good weather.
The detailed itinerary and the routes were well planned, a good mix of everything.
The accommodation worked out well - special mentions to the Curio Bay B&B - terrific location and pretty classy, and the Lantern Court in Reefton - good rooms and friendly managers (who let us park the bikes in their big barn / garage). The rooms at the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans were rather basic, but the restaurant, bar and friendly staff made up for that.
The F700GS bikes were well suited to what we were doing - quick enough, handled well, comfortable and good equipment."
- Neil Oakey - Australia
"I have used NZ Bike twice now"
"I have used NZ Bike twice now. Once from Auckland in 2011 and the recent trip from Christchurch.
On both occasions the bikes have been well prepared and presented.
The trip to the South Island was an experience of a lifetime for me. The accommodation and route provided by you enhanced this experience.
The routes were spectacular encompassing all of the varied scenery of the island, and all of the varied accommodation worked well.
Many thanks for providing the basis of a truly wonderful experience.
PS did you book the weather as well."
- Ian Johnstone - UK
"Our tour was great"
"I am happy to tell you our tour was great over Christmas despite the accident. I am writing to ask you what other bikes you rent. I told my dentist and his wife about the trip and they have always wanted to tour NZ. His wife is short and owns a Harley sportster but had to have it lowered for her leg length. I was thinking that maybe the Yamaha V twin might work for her. Let me know.
Also I have been encourage to write up our tour for the BMW Owners News magazine. Do you want to be named in it if I do write it up. It might bring you a lot of business. Maybe too much."
- Doug Gregg - USA
"We had a ball"
"Just wanted to let you know we had a ball on our riding holiday - wife loved it. The bike was immaculate and the luggage was ideal for the trip."
- Colin Dawson - NSW Australia
"We just arrived back in the States today from our motor bike tour. After our last night in Akaroa, the bike drop off in Christchurch worked well with just a short taxi ride to the airport.
Thanks for your input on our trip and the last minute re-download in Auckland of the NZ maps to my Zumo which worked well and simplified locating our overnight accommodations. We particularly enjoyed our ride around the East Cape and the Gentle Annie Road west from Napier, ride down the Forgotten World Highway and stay that night at the Whangamomona Hotel.
We all had a memorable trip of great scenery, wonderful riding roads, lovely people and delicious food with good coffee choices at every cross road. The BMW 1200 GS's were a pleasure to ride two-up on New Zealand's twisty and sometimes, hilly roads.
Best regards and many thanks from all of us."
- Henry & Linda NEUMAN and Dave & Susan Brown - USA
"We hope you are well.
We arrived back home last night, safe and satisfied.
We would like to thank you from the bottom of our heart for the wonderful trip you arranged us in your great country.
The trip was perfect, we could not have asked for more.
The bikes were brand new, the hotels you booked for us were perfect, always in the best location and with the best view.
The route you planned for us was spectacular. We have been travelling with our bikes all around the world for many years , and I think this trip was the winner.
As you know we booked the trip without any former information and it turned out to be a huge success.
We were really lucky to find you and your company .
We all hope that we will have a chance to visit New Zealand again in the future.
Thank you again for everything and if you ever come to our little country, we will be very happy to welcome you here.
- Dorith & Ami Zucker - Roni & Racheal de Botton
"And here´s a little review"
"After +10,000km over 50 days, I´m left almost speechless. 30 Days planned and 20 days to free ride, the planned route was just perfect - great roads, great scenery and booked accomodation is just such a treat, you really can concentrate on and enjoy the riding in full, they even booked my activities along the the way just perfect . Rode the Suszuki Vstrom 650 and for the New Zealand roads it´s just perfect, the right amount of power for these winding and twisting roads and not to heavy for the gravel roads either. All the best and I will definitely come back to NZ and NZ rental & tours."
- Kristoffer Backman - Sweden
"Service was fantastic"
"First of all thanks for the excellent motorcycle holiday, the service was fantastic.
The trip was so great I'm planning a north island ride hopefully next year.
- Michael Kent - NSW Australia
"Great way to see NZ"
"What a great way to see New Zealand ! Sorry about all the dead bugs covering the bike. I had a great time though.
Do you keep any records of mileage as I haven't a clue how far I went having fun. It would be interesting to know.
Also thanks for the advice on jet lag, I think it worked !
Right I'd better start saving for a lap of the North Island now."
- Richard Muchmore - Suffolk United Kingdom
"We returned home to a record breaking 46 degree day and the air conditioner doesn't even feel like its working… back to reality. All is good.
We totally enjoyed the ride, the bike was very comfortable for me as a pillion passenger. Curio Bay was absolutely wonderful the apartments gorgeous. There was a seal at the end of our path to the beach- a lovely surprise but very noisy and elusive penguins at night. Dolphins swimming in the waves with the surfers. so gorgeous and surprisingly not cold. Milford sound was very windy to start with but very very beautiful. The whole trip was food for the soul such gorgeous scenic country you guys have- weird weather though.
Thank you so vey much it was enjoyable having you along to point out things along the way. Hope you got some good shots…. I took lots of photos :)) but I think you knew that. (PS I left my phone charger at Curio Bay so had to limit its use after that lol) So very glad we only got the real wet day on the last day and wasn't it cold - down to 6 degrees I think and it snowed at Lake Tekapo over night.
Overall its was WONDERFUL!!! Thank you"
- Brad & Cherrie Willingham - NSW Australia
"I would like to thank you very much for your superb service on my recent motorcycle ride around the South Island.
When the electrical problem occurred on my rental bike on the west coast, I was very concerned about its impact on our trip, involving myself and two other riders. I contacted you at about 4:30 pm on a Thursday, and you had an almost new BMW R1200RT delivered to me at Hokitika from Christchurch (207 kms) by Friday morning, so we had virtually no interruption to our trip. We were planning to spend the night in Hokitika anyway.
The new bike was a considerable upgrade on my previous one, and it was ideal for touring around NZ. It was smooth and comfortable, and the upgrade more than made up for the glitch with the earlier bike.
Ian, your service was excellent, and thank you for far exceeding any expectations I might have had."
- David McMahon - Queensland Australia
"One way great"
"Hi Ian, Thanks for the advice on the one way trip from Christchurch to Auckland, it worked a treat and the XT1200 was perfect for the trip (used no oil and shaft drive), once I had sorted the aerodynamics to suit me and Pat found it very comfortable on the back as well.
As I always say....If the wife's happy, I'm happy."
- Dave Keeling - United Kngdom
"The Route Was Perfect"
"We did a self guided tour that was set up by Ian and included the route loaded into the GPS and booked accommodations. The route was perfect with enough time to do some visiting, and the route that was picked clearly shows that Ian rides bikes and knows NZ very well’ We are planning a return in a couple of years but will take a month this time. This was our first experience doing a rental and tour away from home and we highly recommend the self guided tour."
- Steve & Jeannie Pelletier - Canada
"Thank-you very much for the excellent machine and service that you provided for me, giving me a memorable trip."
- David Hobbs - United Kingdom
"Had A Ball"
"I just wanted to say thank you for your help. We had a ball seeing the south island on bikes its the greatest holiday one can have. The bikes where excellent and very well set up and also as you said very economical. We will defiantly do it again but take longer next time."
- Dustin Wilson - Australia
"Hi Ian, we had a great trip, bike worked fine, thanks for all your help. We will be back in a few years, will look you up then and hire some more bikes."
- Rudy Koop - Canada
"hey ian thanks for the bike had an amazing time this place is unreal, south island west coast blew me away and the south literally blew me away. Thanks for your help samara's a pretty cool chick aswell and very helpfull. hopefully be back with dad 1day. cheers andrew"
- Andrew Eddy - UK
"Self Guided Tour - Christchurch to Auckland"
"Just want you to know that got home safely and are recovering well. Thanks for your help and all the organizational work that you and Natalie put into making everthing run smoothly. NZ is a wonderful place and we would certainly recommend the trip and your services to our friends."
- Glen & Julie Cavers
"Absolutely Fabulous NZ"
Chris went on a Self Guided Tour in Northland at the end of May (Autumn) 2012
"I had an absolutely fabulous ride. The routes were great, the roads exceptional, the scenery outstanding. The GPS made it very easy. Phil and the other guys and gals at the shop were very friendly, courteous and helpful. I really appreciate the customer service. It was an unforgettable experience. I rode in quite a few different countries and I think New Zealand is by far the best riding. Your company does a great job planning the ride. I will definitely be back to do another ride. Thanks again for all your help."
- Chris Bowling - Harrisburg PA USA
"Very Happy Customer"
"We have been out on the bike for two days now and things are going well. Sam did a great job looking after us in Christchurch. The bike (V-Strom) is well suited to the roads even with two up.
I have to let you know that your service has been first class, bikes are great and the personal touch is something that you don’t find often these days.
Thank you for your care!"
- George Folz - Canada
"Hello - I hired a BMW RT1200 from you last year at the end of September for a lightning 2 day trip North from Auckland. It was such a great hiring experience through your company and the ride was absolutely fantatsic -and I said I would bring my wife back soon. We are very interested in one of your 14 day self guided personalised trips in early January 2012"
- Warwick Adams - New South Wales Australia
"Spoiled for life after touring your country"
"Dear Ian & Phil, Just a note to thank you guys regarding my trip. I appreciate the help you gave me in adding a couple of days to my rental, etc. I had a great time and really enjoyed riding around the South Island. I think that I'm spoiled for life after touring your country for a couple of weeks."
- Peter Melby - USA
"I have been meaning to send you an email for a few weeks or so...
I wanted to firstly voice my satisfaction with your service and assistance with the Bike when I was over in September.
The whole experience was outstanding, so much so that I have discussed with a few of my mates about the excellent time we had, and as such I would like to get some extra details around the possibility of heading back over in March/April and investigating the possibility of riding from Christchurch to Auckland."
- Arran Coughlan - New South Wales Australia.
"Your routing was excellent as were the roads we rode. I await jonny to send me some photos and will then send them onto you. If you have any more advertising material I will circulate it on the BMW KTM adventure websites.
All the best and thanks.It rates in my top 5 rides and will be back to do South Island.
Meanwhile it's back to reality and some hard work for the summer."
- Michael Kaplan - South Africa
"North Island Tour"
"I feel that, the way we were welcomed to your very nice Country and also treated by your company, we should have sent some THANKS back after a very successful tour on the northern island on your bikes. Our trip took place in february 2010 (a couple from Norway) and we have discussed to come back for the Southern island. There were many nice trips, but i would like to meantion the trip on the " Forgotten Highway" in darkness and heavy rain. We were very happy then we came to the hotel in the midle of nowhere, the Whangamomona hotel. Met very nice people there and had a very great late supper...................Almost as in Norway in a way... I attach 2 pictures from this emasing place."
- Arne Mikkelson - Norway
"Kiwi Doug Living in Australia"
"I wanted to thank you for all your help with setting me up with a great bike for Brass Monkey this year. Although the weather was strangely warm the bike and the ride was fantastic. The weekender deal was excellent for my needs because it allowed me to pick the bike up on the Friday so that we could kit up for the early start the next day. Likewise, the Monday drop off meant that we did not have to rush back on the Sunday to get the back before Monday. As it turned out I had to make the drop off on the Sunday because of an early departure on Monday.
Your team in Christchurch were very helpful and made the pick up and drop off very easy. Please pass my thanks to the team in Christchurch for making the rental process very easy from a pick up and drop off point of view.
I hope you have this deal again next year; if you do please keep me in mind."
- Doug Keesing
"Hope to be back there soon!"
"All I want to do is share my wonderful experience with whoever is interested in any of it. Actually, all I REALLY want to do is riderideride - and hopefully in NZ again someday real soon!!! LOL!! Hope to be back there soon, and maybe this time on a one-way ticket!! LOL.
Note - Jamileh kindly provided a number of the photos we have used on this website, thank you"
- Jamileh Pott - USA
"Dear Ian, I would like to thank you for the friendly service I recieved when I rented the Honda Goldwing from you we had a excellent time seen a lot of great sites and enjoyed our stay in your country . Thank you."
- Ross Matheson - Canada
"Flawless fun... NZ Rocks."
"Just a word to show my appreciation for our recent rental, flawless fun. Just wish there were more days to have enjoyed the ride. NZ Rocks."
- Paul McQueen - UK
"Thanks for a great trip"
"Thanks again for a marvelous three weeks in New Zealand. Nancy, Sue, Mike and I really enjoyed ourselves immensely; even more than we had hoped. You did an excellent job of putting the trip together and making sure everything came off as planned. I hope you, too, had some fun, and I hope the drive from ChCh to Auckland was not too long. Our flight home was painless. We had a little time to stop and see Darren when we were in Auckland. We very much appreciate his help as well in putting together our trip, and we especially enjoyed meeting his parents. As a small thank you for a job very well done, the four of us wanted to give you a few items which will hopefully be useful and will remind you of the good as time we had on the tour. First, we dropped off a coffee grinder (I think it was the last one in Auckland! before we went to the airport. You will recall that one of my businesses is a gourmet coffee roaster, and to go with the coffee grinder I am having our company ship you a small selection of our products and a French press to use at the office. Being quite the coffee connoiseur, you should enjoy these.
In addition, we had mailed to you a gift from one of the places we stayed on the tour, and it should arrive in the next few days. Please let me know if it does not. Thanks again for an excellent vacation and please stay in touch."
- Phil Estes
"We can't thank you enough for all you did to make our vacation to New Zealand so wonderful. Everyone at New Zealand Motorcycle was so nice and made us feel so welcome. The bike, the accommodations, and the places we visited were fabulous. New Zealand reminded us of all of our favorite places to visit in the U.S. and Canada all lumped together on one great island. There is no place we have seen more beautiful than New Zealand. Everyone we talked to was so friendly and made us feel welcome.
We could not have asked for a nicer "tour guide". Malcolm was not only a lot of fun to be with, but he provided us with some great information and tips to follow for the remainder of our trip.
We're sorry we didn't get to say good bye to you before we left. We hope to see you at Americade. Thank you again from the bottom of our heart for everything you did to make our trip the best vacation we could have ever hoped for!"
- Mike & Marianne Morrison
"Robert Paulger's second trip to New Zealand"
Hi Darren, Thank you for your note. Yes, we did have a good time and the bike ran great. I was sorry not to be able to say goodbye to you too and I appreciate your note.
I also meant to mention one other little thing on the bike: The vinyl seat cover on the passenger seat needs a staple because the vinyl is peaking out at the back side. I tried to fix it - I removed the back plastic plate and rescrewed it down but it doesn't compress the vinyl enough to hold it. If you fix it now, you can probably save a bigger repair later. I'll let you know our plans for next year when they get firmed up. I anticipate we'll return to New Zealand about mid February to early March. Take care. I hope your business continues to prosper - you are great suppliers: product wise and service wise and friendliness."
"The answer is a resounding YES"
"We had a great time & would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hospitality & impeccable organisation whilst we were there.
When you only have limited time "to go out & play" clearly people like yourselves, doing what you do, in the way you do it, make all the difference.
Would we do it all again???
The answer is a resounding YES.....current game plan is 2006,
Hopefully we should be able to see all that we missed in NZ. In the meantime thanks again. Keep in touch & up to date with your activities we wish you well for the New Year."
- Sue & Richard Holt
"Semi Tour Fantastic - thanks!"
"We finally got home on Tuesday this week and am back at work - much to my disagreement - would love to still be out and about on the South Island.
We just wanted to thank you for all your help and say how impressed we were with the result of our semi guided tour.
Our guide for the first 2 days was awesome - we got on with her like we were old friends and she and Malcolm really helped us to get the most out of the tour with lots of great advice and tips on what to do and where to go.
The accommodation you had booked for us all the way around was "superb" we loved the variety and the style and standards and the voucher system was just so easy to use - we just turned up and handed it over and never had to worry - so that made the whole experience all the more enjoyable knowing we didn't have to hunt around to find somewhere to stay.
The folder / book you had made up for us was great - with the mileage and places to stay it was so easy.
Over all it was the most fantastic time and Adrian was really good to us at the Christchurch shop. When we dropped the bike off on the Friday night we actually then booked a one day on an 1150RT BMW - because Gavin is a BMW man and I am the Harley girl - so having spent 2 weeks on the Harley he wanted to try out the BMW - this time we went to Akakora as we hadn't made it there on the Friday afternoon - and we had a fantastic last day on the South island.
We would recommend (and have been) your company to anyone - it was a superb holiday, any little bit of doubt in my mind was alleviated by the end results.
Please pass our heartfelt thanks to Adrian and Geoff at the Christchurch shop and Doris and Malcolm as our guides and to you too Katherine for pulling it all together for me in the last weeks.
Our very best wishes"
- Mandy & Gavin
"Thanks again for perfect service on our recent trip. We had 8 days on your 2007 r1200gs. Great bike and great roads. We'll be back for sure!"
- Sue Walker
"Great semi guided tour!"
"I wanted to send a note saying how pleased we were with our semi guided tour.
All went very well!
Our particular thanks to our guides and the staff who got us on the road.
Thanks again, and....Hope to see you again some day."
- Steve Hoffman & Susan Langdon
"Thanks for NZP102!"
"The 3 weeks in New Zealand (NZP102) were the best holiday in my life!
Thank you for everything! Maybe I will come back in two years?!
- Johanna Fross (Austria)
I've ridden bikes in over 20 countries
NZ is number one ...no question!
Just as well you aren't so good at cricket or I might want to learn the funny accent and become a Kiwi."
- Ian Butler
"We're not riding in Kansas now"
"New Zealand – Our Rider’s Bali Ha’i BMW MOA’s Jim Shaw discovers “We’re not riding in Kansas now, Toto!”
The recipe for New Zealand is not simple. Take two large islands in the south Pacific, add flowery rain forests, lofty mountains, long sandy beaches, bright people who live a less complicated life, a growing economy reminiscent of the US in the 50s and 60s. Add an ever-changing weather pattern, and perfectly paved roads that are never straight. Mix in drivers whose first and last thoughts seem to be of courtesy toward you and others, and you’re part way done. Let this mixture stand for years with little concern for world political craziness; add religious tolerance and a straightforward concern for others. Blend a lot of smiles and good spirit. Needs no cooking at all, just a long night’s sleep in a Boeing 747-400 and you are there."
“Most people live on a lonely island Lost in the middle of a foggy sea Most people long for another island One where they would like to be…”
If there ever was an Eden, I am pretty sure it must have been near New Zealand. Americans started with much of the same thing, but long ago, the Yanks bit into the apple. We have been turned out into a world of frantic road rage, multitasking minds, and Dow Jones watching. There is a road back to the better life, and I found it last February.
For the last few years, I have pestered the guys who own New Zealand Motorcycle Rentals and Tours for information about their country. They take a purely Kiwi attitude toward the whole matter: why don’t you just come down and find out for yourself? Thus invited to sample the NZ style, I was pretty quick to agree. I’ve been many places in this world, having chased business deals on five continents. I’ve been to many countries, but I had never touched New Zealand. Now, it is New Zealand that has touched me.
In the early 1940s, Pulitzer Prize author James Michener spent much of his wartime experience in the south Pacific. Oscar Hammerstein later teamed with Richard Rodgers to translate Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific” into the musical (later a wildly successful movie), “South Pacific.” By far, the most enchanting song in the production is “Bali Ha’i” It tells of an island of that name, almost over the horizon, where everything is wonderful and beautiful. The people of Bali Ha’i are loving, and generous, and relaxed in their island paradise.
“Bali Ha’i may call you Any night, any day, In your heart, you’ll hear it call you, Come away, come away.”
It’s a personal thing, I suppose, but I found my Bali Ha’i in the island nation of New Zealand, seen mostly from the top of a nearly new R1150GS.
The road to New Zealand starts, not with a motorcycle, but with a plane ticket. For me, it read Cleveland to Los Angeles, to Auckland. In my case, frequent flyer miles allowed a business class seat, and I certainly didn’t regret that expenditure on the long ride over the south Pacific. Three meals and a nine-hour sleep later, we staggered off carrying satchels with helmets and riding suits. NZ Motorcycle Rentals had their man waiting for us at customs (a simple process, since New Zealand seems never to start wars against anyone else). We were brought to the NZMR offices, where we met our bikes and signed papers for insurance, etc. Thence to our hotel for a nap. In the evening, the guys met us for a good dinner on top of Auckland, in a revolving restaurant. There we met our touring companions (thirteen in total) and our guide, Stefan and van driver, Mike. Our group would ride three GSs, two RTs, three R80GSs, and a K1200LT.
I had selected NZMR’s ten day guided ride. Although I’ve traveled for thirty-five years in non-English speaking countries - and feel quite confident in so doing – I have also learned that it can add a nice dimension to a tour when you don’t have to waste mental effort over selecting hotels and finding good restaurants. Our guide, promised considerable freedom in how and with whom we rode to each night’s destination. For me, the tour was a wise decision. For one benefit, a cargo van carries your luggage to each night’s destination. I have well over a hundred thousand miles riding and camping with everything I need on the bike. That doesn’t mean I like packing all that gear, and strapping it to the bike every morning. And it doesn’t mean I enjoy staggering around mountain roads with all that extra weight.
On our second day of riding, my GS’s rear tire picked up a nail. Our guide plugged the hole and insisted on changing wheels with me from his GS. NZMR had a new tire couriered overnight to our hotel, and our guide was up early, mounting it on my bike before breakfast. If they hadn’t been there to support me, that episode might have cost me a day’s riding. I don’t trust plugged tires any more than you do.
The mechanics of the tour are fairly straightforward. NZMR provides a late model bike of your choice (as available), an experienced, riding tour guide who knows the best hotels and restaurants (not just bargain ones), a luggage and support van (and driver – in our case, the affable fellow Mike, who kept us amused with stories and New Zealand historical minutia at every stop).
“…Your own special hopes Your own special dreams Bloom on the hillside And shine near the streams…”
Riding New Zealand is, stated simply, a blast. Mountain roads lead to coastal beaches or inland pastoral farms and pastures. Cities are smaller by American standards, and that is a good thing. There is nothing to dread in riding a motorcycle through any NZ city, and the roads carry you right into the center of the town. Auckland and Wellington can be busy at rush hour, but compared to American, European, and Asian megalopoli, NZ cities are fun. In the cities (and on the country roads), cage drivers are generally friendly – and motorcycle friendly, too. Get balled up in city traffic and have to change lanes to make a right turn? Put on your turn signal, and the driver behind you will most probably drop back and make room for you. Following a cage on a mountain road and want to play? He’ll probably pull over, first chance, to let you pass.
Some benevolent spirit has taught the good folk of New Zealand the true meaning of the Golden Rule, and they practice it everywhere. Without a single exception, every Kiwi I met was genuinely friendly and hospitable. Even in some of the fine restaurants where we dined, wait staff were genuinely friendly and anxious to please, none expected tips, tipping is not practiced in NZ. Other diners and bar customers were openly friendly. The two guys who own and manage NZMR are the same. Darren (in Auckland) and Gordon (in Christchurch) may be sharp businessmen, but they take the effort to treat others as equals. The result? I want these good New Zealand people as neighbors and friends.
“If you try, you’ll find me Where the sky meets the sea Here am I, your special island Come to me, come to me...”
So, you ask, what is New Zealand riding about? Oh, how I wish I could tell you! I wish I could tell you of the beauty of mountain and rain forest roads with ever changing twisites. I wish I could tell you of long, sweeping beach roads, past rocky shores with water breaking on them - of mountain peaks with views for miles. If only I could tell you of pastoral farms with sheep and cattle pastures – and gladly stopping for a few minutes while New Zealand cowboys drive cattle herds across a remote highway – smiling and laughing as they hurry the animals out of your way. Can I find the words to tell you about taking a rest break on a high desert road, and having a pipeline helicopter pilot stop and hover, waiting for our signal that all’s well. Or can I explain what it’s like to go to the cathedral in Christchurch for Sunday’s ritual, and after, to meet (and be served tea by) the current Christchurch mayor, Gary Moore. Let me try to explain the laughter inside my helmet when taking some serious mountain roads, and the smiles no one can see when the GS speeds down a dirt road – just right.
“Bali Ha’i will whisper On the wind of the sea Here am I, your special island Come to me, come to me…”
New Zealand is about scenic beauty, dream roads, gentle winds, soft rain showers, flowers growing in high trees, brilliantly colored birds, and people who smile a lot. As a brilliant part of our tour, we stayed one night in a private home on the south island. The owners had a considerable apple orchard, and a magnificent home they had designed themselves and built in ever expanding directions. The bed was fine, the dinner and breakfast finer, and their good company was memorable. The gardens around their home were filled with roses. The garden pond was complete with lilies and birds, and a private garden had a near life-sized chess set and board. We walked in the garden, laughed and told stories at the dinner table, and slept like babies until awakened by the birds at morning.
Another night, we dined at a Maori (native New Zealanders) village. Before dinner, we were treated to a visitor’s traditional introduction to the village – drums, and dancing, and fierce postures to frighten prospective tribal enemies – followed by demonstrations of tool making, music, and the acting out of typical tribal village life. It was the touristiest event on the tour, but good fun, too.
Stefan, our guide, has a flair for selecting great scenic roads. You can ride with him (as the less experienced riders chose), ride the same roads at your own pace (as Court Fisher and I mostly did), or take your own alternate, long way around (a path chosen by some of our canyon-carving co-riders). Court and I may have pressed the limits of speed a few times, as will testify a couple of friends we met who are the local constabulary. I must be the sweet talker; my encounter was free of charge, compliments of a most courteous, but firm, highway patrol sergeant.
Distances in New Zealand are very scaled down from America, and the first lesson you must learn is that the twisty mountainous roads will more than make up for the relatively short distances you will cover. I think Court and I averaged about 250 miles a day, and I had no trouble sleeping like a quarry slave at the end of any day. Some days, we probably covered a good deal fewer kilometers, enjoying lots of stops along the way. If American riding is the fast food of the world, Kiwi riding is a gourmet picnic. Try to hurry it, and you will miss the essence. This is the land where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed because it is a fiercely beautiful and ever-changing 360-degree panorama. Focus on the centerline of the road, and you’ll miss it all. My two-time Ironbutt Rally placing friend Paul Taylor, and wife Tricia, rode much of the trip with us. Last night, I chatted with him about the trip: “New Zealand isn’t about Ironbutt riding, “ says Paul. “New Zealand is about smelling the roses, which is what made it such a great time for Tricia and I.”
“Some day you’ll see me Floating in the sunshine My head sticking out From a low flying cloud…”
Where did we go, you may ask? Our ride included both the North and the South Islands. Day one was around Auckland (North Island) and north into the mountains for lunch. Mostly, it was getting used to riding on the wrong (for Americans) side of the road. Day two, we left Auckland and rode out to a thumb of land known as the Coromandel Peninsula. Spent some time at a sunny beach, with swimming for those who wished. After lunch, most of us started to buddy-up with another rider of similar riding preferences. Court foolishly chose me.
Next day, we rode down to Wellington. Wellington is the jumping off point for a ferry ride to the South Island. The weather was turning somewhat threatening as we arrived. In the morning, we found the ferries were overbooked because, due to high seas, some of the fast craft were out of service. This was another time it was good to be with a well-known touring company. I’m sure a lot of travelers with vehicles were forced to wait for calmer seas to obtain transit. Our group rode right aboard, on schedule. The seas were as expected – pretty rough. I employed my time-tested seasickness prevention trick – I slept most of the way. In the afternoon, we rode south to the beach, for a night right on the Tasmanian Sea. He who sleeps near the surf knows the sleep of the dead.
After breakfast, we rode along the beach at Pancake Rocks, and into the rain forest near the coastal mountains. New Zealand has become somewhat overrun with Possums. Some special cooking and seasoning makes Possum tolerable eating, and I had to have some. Gourmet Possum is memorable, if not something I’ll rush back for. Not surprisingly, it rained in the rain forest. Wise riders take rain gear to New Zealand, for a little rain is inevitable. My Darien was ideal for the tour.
Wise riders touring New Zealand will likewise take a warm lining and gloves. These mountain passes get tall enough to see some low temperatures, even in the NZ summer (December through March). I had not taken this precaution, and my hands were really cold, after getting my summer gloves wet in the forest, then cold in the mountains. Caveat rider! Another essential item is sun screen (of the highest order). You will be reminded that New Zealand’s South Island is not all that far from the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The local television and radio weather reports remind citizens daily of the maximum recommended exposure time to the midday sun. In the summer, 10-15 minutes is typical. Thus, sun block is a must.
Our next stay was in Queenstown. This tourist area is popular with adventurers from all over the world. In the winter, it is a skier’s nirvana. In summer, it features hiking, bungee jumping, white water rafting, overeating (and overpaying for everything). Queenstown may be your cup of tea; it is not mine. Besides, the cold ride had brought on a flare of an arthritis condition I have, so I spent my time riding down to the nearest major hospital at the southernmost tip of the South Island. It is the farthest south in this world I ever expect to travel.
I rejoined the tour after they had enjoyed some of the best and most beautiful part of their ride – the ride to the sea via New Zealand’s southwestern fjord coast. I am told that Milford Sound is as beautiful as Norway’s western coast. I was sorry to miss it, because I hoped to make my own comparison. The boat ride (and a helicopter trip to the top of one of NZ’s dozens of glaciers) got universal rave reviews from my companions.
After Queenstown, we rode the Kawarau Gorge and Lindis valley – where much of “Lord of the Rings” was filmed. Director Peter Jackson must have filmed in winter, for I saw it as anything but the brooding, gray, misty and sinister mountains and valleys I saw in the film. A night on the edge of a beautiful lake provided a memorable sunset. Riders were starting to get nostalgic, at this point. The end was near, and no one was anxious to end their ride.
The next day, we rode to Christchurch, capital of the South Island, a beautiful and slow paced city, and the end point of our tour. I turned in my bike, and Court and I had dinner with Gordon Lidgard of NZ Motorcycle Rentals – trying to pay back some bit of the hospitality we had found at his company’s hands. The following day, my ticket read Christchurch to Auckland to Los Angeles, to Chicago, to Cleveland. It’s a long ride, but a small price to pay for ten days of pure riding pleasure.
“You’ll hear me call you Singing through the sunlight Sweet and clear As can be…”
Before I rode New Zealand, I was thinking it would be the singular ride of a lifetime. In every way it was, except one: I have no intention of making it one ride. I will be back. It is worth the money. It is worth the long airplane ride. It is a time of smiles inside my helmet, laughter only I need to hear, memories that only I can see in dreams.
Who among us could let this happen only once?
“Come to me Here am I Bali Ha'i…”
Lyrics to the song Bali Ha’i are by Oscar Hammerstein III, reprinted from the Internet.
- Jim Shaw from BMW MOA