After riding on the North Island for two days we made it to Rotorua, the Maori Capital of New Zealand. The city is also famous for the top-quality Tequila, approved by Jose (Spain) and Gilberto (Mexico):
Our dinner in Rotorua always includes a traditional Maori Hangi Show. We seized the opportunity to pose for our group picture with the lead singer:
After a relaxing / exhilarating rest day in Queenstown the group went on to get some more adrenaline rushing. A good way to achieve that is to ride a jet boat through the famous Shotover Canyon. This is Jose from Spain, showing off his jet boat outfit.
19 out of 24 tour members were fearless enough to ride the 550 hp jet boat. It was great, great fun!
Then it was time to leave Queenstown behind and ride to the We(s)t Coast. The rain forest greeted us with, well, rain of course. But it didn't matter, a walk through this amazing forest is a special treat at any time.
Otira Gorge viewpoint is a good place to spot the rare and elusive Kea, a mountain parrot that just loves to destroy things. The have very strong beaks and they use them to tear out windshield wipers or other things made of rubber.
This guy is even trying to steal the tire valve!
Then we went on to Arthurs Pass, New Zealand's highest town. The local cafe is a popular hangout for the Keas, because stealing people's cookies is much easier than hunting. And the coffee is soooo tasty!
This is tour guide Alan, working hard to protect the bikes from the destructive force of the Kea's beaks.
Back on the West Coast we headed for our hotel when we came across this beautiful viewpoint. Michael and Hana from Israel just couldn't get enought and took dozens of pictures.
Another great view, just north of our hotel at Punakaiki Rocks:
We left the beautiful West Coast behind and headed towards Nelson. The groups always split up here and spend the night on farms and B&Bs, spread out over the valley. This beautiful place on the Pearse River was home for one night for the Efirds from California and the Findlays from Canada. It is called the Mountain Retreat, and that is exactly what it is!
Heidi's Cafe in Havelock was unfortunately closed for the day, so we had to get our usual shot of coffee in another one of the numerous cafes in Havelock. Still, some of us were happy to see the Bavarian flag flying over Heidi's...
Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful and amazing places in New Zealand, but also one of the wettest. About half the group decided to ignore the weather forecast and tackled the spectacular Milford Road. Despite the rain they embarked on a cruise to have a close look at what Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Here are some impressions:
The other half of the group didn't want to get wet and went straight to Queenstown. The lunch at Winnie's Pizza Bar was a great substitute!
The next day the sun came back, and the fresh snow on the mountains glistened in the bright light. A great day for a ride, along beautiful Lake Wakatipu to the pretty village of Glenorchy.
In the afternoon the conditions were still favorable, so some of us seized the moment and took a plane to Milford Sound. It's hard to tell what's more beautiful: the ride on the road or the trip through the air.Sunderland Falls, the 5th highest waterfalls in the world Milford Airfield, with Mitre Peak as a backdrop
The less fortunate among us had to stay in Queenstown, but that's actually not such a bad thing. It is a pleasure to hang out in this beautiful town, to go shopping or just drink coffee in the sun.
While it is too cold right now to ride a motorcycle in Europe and in most of North America, conditions here in New Zealand are just perfect. The tour is already well under way, and the first two days were just gorgeous. Tour guides Tom, Katharina and Alan are determined to show the group - 24 people from 7 different nations - a good time.
The Maori call their country's highest mountain Aoraki, which means Cloud Piercer. But there was no cloud anywhere to be pierced when we were there. An incredible view, don't you think?
Our next highlight - literally - was Mt. John, at 1,031 metres above sea level one of the highest points in New Zealand accessible by motorcycle. The views from up there are pretty amazing!
The peak of Mt. John is also home to New Zealand's highest café: the Earth&Sky. Could there be a better place for a coffee?
This is one of the famous Edelweiss picnics. On the shore of Lake Wakatipu Katharina served a variety of local specialties and Michael from Israel couldn't believe his luck: he was the first one on the scene...
Don't you get hungry just by looking at this? Hmmmmm.....
At 85°F / 29°C everybody was looking for shade. Fortunately Katharina had prepared plenty of ice cubes...