Saturday, January 25, 2020 | Anthony Fairweather | Pacific
It's our last day on tour and the weather is just as spectacular as always. The ride takes us north towards the Coromadel peninsula. a mecca for for motorcyclists with almost unending twists and turns along the coast and across the hills. Our first stop is at the excellent Flat White Cafe in Waihi Beach, where clear blue waves break against a long, sandy beach. It takes a monumentous amount of willpower to pull ourselves away from this beautiful spot. Next the real riding begins. The Coromandel lives up to its reputation as a motorcycle playground, full a beautiful sweepers and turns all the way to Tairua, a charming seaside village and our lunch stop for the day. As the day growes hotter we decide to skip the last ride along the Firth of Thame in favour of a quick blast into Auckland, where a cold beer does wonders after a hot day on the bike. We celebrate our arrival in Auckland, and the end of our tour with a lovely meal with stunning views in the highest restaurant in Auckland at the very top tof the Skytower. It's been a blast!
Once more it's a fantastic day, with clear blue skies and balmy temperatures. Today we have two routes. The first one takes onto the Thermal Explorer Highway towards Taupo, one of the most beautiful lakeside towns on the North Island and then on towards Rotorua. The second route is a riders dream. Gentle Annie awaits, 140km of twists and turns, far removed from the traffic of the large highways. The road ends at Waiorou, in the heart of the North Island. Next we head north along the shore of Lake Taupo and into Rotorua, where we arrive just in time to head out for our Hangi, a traditional Maori meal and show.
We had a fantastic time in Wellington but it's time to say goodbye. Our ride takes us up through the Rimutaka Range on a beautifully twisty band of asphalt and down to Martinborough in the heart of New Zealand's wine country. Next we head out onto Highway 2 and make our way to Mount Bruce, home of Manukura, the famous white kiwi. Our next stop is Woodville where we are sure to stop at the Yummy Mummy Cafe for some of the best cheesecake in New Zealand. From here our ride takes us through the wine fields of Hawkes Bay and onto towards Napier, our final stop of the day.
Welcome to Wellington, capital city of New Zealand and our second rest day on this trip. Home to Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, beuatiful botanical gardens and more restaurants per capita than New York, there is a ton of things to do. We decide to go for a ride on tiny back country roads towards the Kapiti Coast and the Southward Car Museum, the biggest collection of classic cars in New Zealand. Staring at the beautifuly restored cars makes us feel like kids in a candy store and it takes a strong effort for us to leave the museum. We hit the highway into Wellington and arrive back at our hotel in time for a late lunch and a stroll through one of New Zealands most interesting cities.
It´s a short but beautiful ride as we make our way to Picton and the ferry that will take us across the Cook Strait towards Wellington. Leaving Nelson we climb into the hills on an epic road, full of tight turns and beautiful forest views. Our first stop of the day is in the small fishing town of Havelock, located on the shore of Pelorus Sound, where we find one of the best coffee stops of the trip so far. From here it´s only another 30km to the ferry port, but they are some of the most intense riding of the trip. Queen Charlotte Drive hugs the shoreline of Queen Charlotte Sound and we soon find ourselves scraping off the last remains of our chicken strips. In Picton we board our ferry and settle down for the 3,5 hour sailing to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and our home for the next two nights.
It's another stunning day on the coast. Our first stop is just down the road from the hotel, the world famous Pancake Rocks. We are almost alone as we explore the beautiful rock formations, then hop back on the bikes for the stunning ride towards Cape Foulwind, named after the resident seal colony. Then it´s time to say good bye to the coast and head inland. Our route takes us along the twists and turns of the Buller Gorge, one of the riding highlights of the South Island. The twisties continue all the way to Nelson, a charming seaside town and our stop for the night.
Today is a shorter day, but an excellent one nonetheless. Leaving Fox Glacier we start our ride over Cook Saddle, a fantastic stretch of asphalt just made for motorcycling. Tight turns and stunning views of the rain forest and the Southern Alps. After a well earned coffee in Franz Josef we continue north on Highway 6 towards Hokitika, the heart of the jade trade in New Zealand our stop for lunch. Here we split up, with some of us heading along the stunning coastline north of Greymouth and some of us heading up towards Arthurs Pass. Regardless of the choice, we are guaranteed a fantastic ride to Punkaiki, our stop for the night.
Goodbye Queenstown, hello West Coast! Its another beautiful day as we set out from Queenstown and head towards the Shotover Canyon. Here we board a traditional Kiwi form of transport, the jet boat! 500+ hp push us through the tight canyon at exhilarating speeds, what a way to start the day. Our next highlight is the stunning Alpine Scenic Route that takes us over the Crown Range, then a quick picture stop at the famous Cadrona Hotel and finally our first coffee stop on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Here we join Highway 6 and head over Haast Pass to the West Coast, where we are greeted by stunning blue skies, empty beaches and a gentle breeze off the Tasman Sea. We take a relaxing stroll through the rain forest that covers much of the West Coast, then hop back onto the bikes for the final 100km to Fox Glacier.
What to do on day of Queenstown?. How about skydiving, bungee jumping or jet skiing? Or why not go for a ride on one of the most beautiful roads in the world? So that´s what we did. Welcome to the road to Glenorchy, the gateway to Paradise!
Today was AMAZING! A very early morning start sees us on the road to Milford Sound, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the true highlights of this tour. We ride through the morning mists that shroud the valleys of the Southern Alps to the highest point at Homer Tunnel, then descend down a series of switchbacks cut into the dense rain forest back down to sea level. Here we board our cruise through the fjord and spend the next two hours admiring the stunning scenery that makes Milford Sound a Must-See on any trip to New Zealand. Next we head back towards Te Anau and onwards along the shore of Lake Wakatipu towards Queenstown, the Adrenaline Capital of the World and our home for the next two nights.
Our second day on the road an it's a blast. First Lindis Pass, then Kawarau Gorge and finally the stunning ride along Lake Wakatipu. All combined with clear blue skies, warm temperatures and cool breezes. An excellent day to be on a bike.
Our first day takes us out of bustling Christchurch into the farm country of Canterbury. Rolling hills and green fields combine into a charming landscape that offers a perfect introduction into riding in New Zealand. After lunch we climb to the top of Burkes Pass and stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd for an amazing view of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps. Next we tackle the narrow switchbacks up to the top of Mount John for a coffee at the highest cafe on the South Island. From here it´s just a few more miles to Twizel, our stop for the first day.