Day One: Christchurch to Twizel
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to New Zealand! Set far out in the Pacific ocean, this nation boasts some of the most spectacular riding this planet has to offer. Unique flora and fauna as well as an incredibly welcoming population make this island nation a must on your bucket list.
Our first day riding takes us from Christchurch, the capital of the South Island, to Twizel, a former workers settlement for the local hydroelectric power plants that provide up to 20% of the nations electricity. We leave Christchurch via Summit Road, a small band of asphalt high up on the rim of an extinct volcano. Offering sweeping views of the coast as well as of downtown Christchurch, this road is a fitting introduction for what is to come over the next two weeks. Heading south we join the Inland scenic route and with zero traffic to hinder us we head for Geraldine, a small farming town and out lunch stop for today. With both bikers and riders refuelled we leave the plains of southern Christchurch behind and start our climb up to the Mackenzie Highlands. After a quick stop at Lake Tekapo and the world famous Church of the Good Shepherd we head to the Mount John observatory, the highest café in new Zealand. Suitably boosted by the caffeine and the breath-taking views of the Southern Alps we tackle the final miles into Twizel and our hotel for the night.
The latest in motorcycle fashion, proudly presented by Paul, Hank and Jon!
Aoraki/Mount Cook is out to welcome us!
Day Two: Twizel to Te Anau
We wake to a deep blue sky and long white clouds and with the aid of a hearty breakfast make our way on the road. Leaving Twizel we head for Lindis Pass and the Otago region of the South Island. Gentle sweepers turn into turn into grin-inducing turns as we dive straight in Kawaraum Gorge. This fantastic stretch of tarmac offers some of the best riding on the South Island. But we can not stay and play, as our Tour Guide Tom is waiting for us with one of the famous Edelweiss picnics. Located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu our picnic spot offers breath-taking views of the Crown Range and the Remarkable Mountains ( so named because they are, you guessed it, remarkable). But even an Edelweiss picnic cannot keep us from the next highlight, the fantastic road along Lake Wakatipu. Zero traffic, spectacular views and sweeper after sweeper leave us energised for the final miles to Te Anau. A beer (or two) in the sun of Lake Tenau spells the end of what was a day of New Zealand at its finest!
Tom and Ann doing it right! Dig in!
Lutz and Nicky prove that you don't have to be mad to enjoy single digit temps, but it helps if you are from North Germany
Hank shows us how it's done on this iconic stretch of road.
Day Three: Te Anau to Queenstown
We hit the road early as we make our way to one of the must-sees of New Zealand, fantastic Milford Sound. Bright sunshine and clear skies welcome us to one of the Wonders of the Natural World.
The Southern Alps are perfectly reflected in the Mirror lakes on the road to Milford Sound
We leave our bikes at the Milford Sound ferry terminal and board one of the cruisers for a short trip around the Sound. Home to Sea Lions, penguins and dolphins it is the spectacular scenery that impresses the most.
Ray and Paul with Mitre Peak in the background. For those who are interested we recommend finding out the translation of the original Maori name
After a quick lunch in Te Anau it's time to make our way to Queenstown, the Adrenaline Capital of the world and home to more ways to creatively throw yourself of a bridge than anywhere else.
The gang's all here at Devil's Staircase lookout.
New Zealand at its finest!
Day Four: Queenstown
Queenstown has so much to offer that we decide to spend an extra day in this beautiful town. A lazy breakfast is followed by one of the best rides on the South Island, the fabulous road to Glenorchy. Situated on the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu this small village is the gateway to Paradise, a beautiful region just a few miles further north. Unfortunately the road ends here so we relax for a while in the sun before heading up to Coronet Peak and then back down in Queenstown. The afternoon is spent zip-lining, tobogganing and, of course, trying some of the excellent wines New Zealand has to offer. We meet up for dinner at Winnies for some truly original Kiwi-style pizza (hard to explain but very delicious) and some beer may also have been consumed. With both bikes and riders refuelled we can't wait what tomorrow has to offer.
No explanation required
Day Five: Queenstown to Franz Josef
It it time to say good bye to the hectic madness of Queenstown as we make our way to the wild West Coast. Famed for its temperate rain forest and wild coastline this area of New Zealand is sparsely populated and offers endless open road for us to enjoy. But first, a last touch of insanity, Jetboats!
Edelweiss Bike Travel, we get you there, fast!
Designed to operate in as little as 4 inches of water at speeds of up to 80 km/h these boats are the ultimate Big Boys toy.
We leave Queenstown and head over the famous Crown Range, at over 1000m the highest road pass in New Zealand and continue on towards the coast. As we cross over Haast pass the scenery changes dramatically from the dry brush and scrubs of the central Otago into the wild green forests of the West coast. A few hours later we arrive in Franz Josef, home of one of the natural wonders of New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier.
Patty, Joanne, Anne and Tam. A sight for sore eyes.
Terry and Pat riding the Hog.
We would like point out that no speeding whatsoever occurred on this trip.
Our two wise men Ray and Tom taking a well earned break on Ship Creek beach.
Day 6: Franz Josef to Greymouth
We start the day in spectacular fashion with a helicopter ride to the Franz Josef glacier. A five minute flight through the rain forest and over the glaciers tongue and we land on the snow fields above the glacier. A stunning vista all the way down to the Tasman sea is the reward for our intrepid flyers.
Hank, Nicky, Lutz and tour guide Tony on top of Franz Josef glacier. 20 seconds after this picture was taken snowballs started flying.
Still awed by the fantastic beauty of the mountains we head back out onto the road and head north for Arthurs pass, one of only three passes over the Southern Alps. Home to the Kea, the incredibly cheeky mountain parrot, this road offers everything a biker could ever dream of (including some excellent ice cream at our coffee stop). We head back down the mountain and ride the last few miles into Greymouth and our hotel for the night, which is rumoured to have an open bar that just might serve us a few refreshing, cold beers.
The Kea on the prowl. Not a single cookie was safe that day.
Day Seven: Greymouth to Nelson
Greymouth is quickly left behind as we head north up the West Coast. Our first stop is at the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. Millions of years have transformed the sediment at the bottom of the ocean into spectacularly layered rock formations.
Another glorious sunny day on the West Coast.
The cast and crew of this fantastic adventure.
We leave the coast behind and thread our way through the Buller River Gorge, a road seemingly designed for motorcycles. Endless curves follow the crystal blue river as it winds its way through the hills and we are almost disappointed as we reach our goal, the small town of Kohatu, population 5. Tomorrow can't arrive soon enough.....
Day Eight: Nelson to Wellington
Soon it is time to say good bye to the South Island, but before we board the ferry we have on more highlight, the famous Queen Charlotte Drive. Fantastic views and never ending twisties make this a must for any serious biker.
Queen Charlotte at its finest.
A quick stop to let our pulse slow and to drink in some of the best views New Zealand has to offer.
A smooth sailing takes us in to Wellington harbour, a city with a higher density of restaurants per capita the New York City and our home for the next two nights.
Day Nine: Wellington.
A day just is not complete with out a motorbike ride so we head out into the New Zealand bush and head for the Southwold car museum, the largest collection of classic cars in the Southern hemisphere.
Randy, Terry and Jon, bikers extraordinaire!
Our spare bike for this tour, any takers?
We spend the rest of the day sampling the sights and some of the excellent food that Wellington has to offer. With stomachs bursting and big grins on our faces that we make our way back to the hotel.
Day Ten: Wellington to Napier.
We leave Wellington on what is the longest ride of our trip. 430km of twisties and hardly any traffic, a bikers dream. We take a short break to catch our breath and are surprised to see three police motorcycle approach. Mentally preparing for our "Honest officers, it wasn't us" speech we are relieved to hear that they are not on patrol but just out for a ride (also known as an assessment). Like any other bikers we end up swapping stories and soon it is time to get back onto our bike and head for Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand and our stop for the night.
Our speedfreak Joanne is given some friendly advice by the local sergeant.
The longest place name in the world. Please do not ask us to pronounce it...
Day Eleven: Napier to Rotorua
Early Morning in Napier. Many thanks to Hank for taking this excellent picture!
We say goodbye to Napier and head out for another bikers dream, the Taihape Road. 136km of twisties, sweepers and hearpin-turns without any traffic whatsoever.
We would love to stay and play but Tony is waiting for us on the shore of lake Taupo with a specially prepared Edelweiss picnic and who could resist that?
Lutz, Hank and Randy, ready to dig in!
Jon, Tam, Terry and Tom retreat from three rather interested black swans. The picnic is now theirs!
Heading north from Taupo toward Rotorua we pass through some of the most geothermaly active landscape on the North Island. Great clouds of steam line our route and the smell of sulphur hangs thick in the air as we reach Rotorua (lovingly nicknamed "Rotten-Rua" by the locals). The centre of Maori culture in New Zealand this is THE place for a traditional Hangi dinner. The food is buried in the ground and slowly cooked by the geothermal heat. This is followed by a show including traditional Maori song and dance, including the famous Haka, the Maori war dance.
Pat showing uncommon skill with Poi.
I would run, wouldn't you?
Paul doing the Haka, after which he was immediately elected as chief of our small band of bikers!
Day Twelve: Rotorua to Auckland
Our last riding day begins with a few drops of rain but the clouds move away and clear blue sky guides us north. We split our group as one team heads towards the Coromandel peninsula, home of some of the best roads on the North Island. Dense forests and sandy beaches flash past us as turn after sweeping turn takes us towards Auckland.
Our second group decides to one of the most famous attractions the North Island has to offer, the Hobbiton film set. Used for both the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" series this site is a must-visit for any fan of the movies.
Please welcome the new bar staff of the Hobbiton Green Dragon Inn. Jon, Tam, Pat and Terry will be happy to shout your first round.
From there it is just a short ride to our hotel Auckland and soon it's time to say goodbye to our bikes. The final highlight of our trip is a meal on top of the highest building of the southern hemisphere, the fabulous Skytower. As night falls and Auckland begins to light up we reflect on what has been a fantastic two weeks trip around one of the most beautiful countries on this planet. And we can not wait to return!