View Full Version : Touring NZ Roarin style

24-06-2006, 06:45 PM
Allrighty then. Where do I start? At the beginning I suppose. Seems like a reasonable enough place if you stop and think about it doesnít it?

I guess the beginning would have to be about 6 months ago. When I got an opportunity to ride my bike from Brisbane back to Geelong. The long way round. 5500kms long way round to be exact. Or there abouts.

You could do a search here for some of my excellent adventures along the way if you want to. (Actually, Iím just too lazy to dig up the links & post them) Besides, I donít really want to make it look like Iím blowing my own trumpet or anything. Thatís not really my style. Honest.

But I do like writing about some of the things that happen over the course of a trip & sharing some of them with you. When it suits me anyway. (Thatís the lazy bit coming out again) Which also explains why I never got round to finishing the last trip report. Lazy. Pure & simple.

So where were we? Aah yes. Going riding. The trip back from Brissy is the excuse I will use for this particular trip. Cause I had so much damn fun I had to do it again. A trip that is. Somewhere different this time though. And for longer. Much longer. Like a month. (Which to tell you the truth is still not long enough)

Again fate conspired against me & a discount ticket for motorcycle freighting to New Zealand became available. (Many thanks to Nigel) Which I had to have. It was a matter of life & death. Fair dinkum. Well it seemed like it at the time anyway.

Preparations were made in the motorcycle department. Things like crashing said bike about a month before shipping date. New tyres fitted. Valve clearances checked. Carbies balanced. All fluids & filters changed. Wheels bearings checked. Steering head bearings replaced. New brake pads. Etc etc etc. Everything checked. And double checked. Just to be sure.

Luggage carrying capabilities had to be considered. Now if you own a BMW or some other oversized overweight long range 2 wheeled touring device this poses no real problem. But I tend to do things a little bit differently. Like choosing a bike for the trip.

My favourite steed at the time happened to be my Honda VFR400R. Perfect. Well I thought so. What could be better for doing a month of touring on? Riding hundreds of kilometers every single day? A 400cc race bike right? Many would disagree with my choice. Most in fact. But I love that bike. And I was going to New Zealand. Lots of corners there. So it was settled.

I can still vividly remember on a number of occasions barreling into a decreasing radius downhill corner about 15km/hr too hot & thinking ďhell, I wish I had about 100 more horsepower right about nowĒ Hehehehe. Yeah right. Oops, sorry. Getting sidetracked arenít I.
I can honestly say that on my entire trip I never wished I had brought a different bike. Well -for more than 2 seconds anyway. Cause I was having fun. Heaps & heaps of fun. The time of my life in fact. Bugger me this bike riding caper is fun. And the longer you ride the funner it gets. Trust me on this one.

Funny thing is, I say that on every single ride I go on thatís longer than a couple of days. And Iíve been doing just that for the last 24 years. And never gotten sick of it yet. Seems to just get better & better. I suspect I may be saying the same thing for a few more years to come yet.

Righty oh then. Luggage carrying abilities. VFR 400. Hmmm. I ended up with an Oxford pillion seat bag. For about $60. Canít remember how many litres capacity but its not too big. Comes with a waterproof cover & a number of straps & clips to allow it to be carried in a number of different ways whilst off the bike. Simply ocky strap & velcro it onto your pillion seat & off you go. Damn good value in my opinion. The old gearsack waterproof tank bag I have owned for yonks also got the call up for active duty. All set then.

Let me give you a tip. It doesnít matter if youíre going away for a week or a month. The amount of gear you need (read socks & jocks) remains the same. As long as you are prepared to do a bit of washing along the way. Otherwise you will end up getting strange looks from anyone who gets within about a 10 metre radius of your good self. I suppose there could be some advantages. Like plenty of room to stretch out if you happen to go on a tourist bus or boat trip. Which is well within the realms of possibilities when you happen to be touring in another country. Not that I have any first hand experience along these lines mind you. Smelling weird I mean. For I know how to wash. Clothes & myself. Hahahaha. Thought you had me there didnít you?

So the nominated day arrives & I head off up to Laverton to drop the bike off at the shipping yard. And the longest 2 and a half weeks of my life begins.

Now I have read on this site from time to time about carrying helmets on airplanes. Itís fine. No one really cares. Trust me. Not even a second glance at mine even when splattered with a more than liberal application of bugs etc.

I have also read about people questioning why you would wear your leathers on the plane. Simple answer. Space. Or lack thereof. Anyone who has tried to pack a full set of leathers along with bike boots will understand. And what exactly do you do with a suitcase for a month whilst you are wandering around in another country? And they are heavy. Way easier to wear them. You WILL be guaranteed a few strange looks on your flight but who cares? Whoís having all the fun?

Now I can hear all the whinges about how uncomfortable they are on the plane. WTF? I have worn them for 12 hours at a time sitting on the bike & then slept in them for a further 6 or so hours here & there so whatís a few hours sitting on a plane sipping on an icy cold beer or 2? Chuck the jacket in the overhead locker & Bobís your uncle. Stop your whining & think of the fun youíre gunna have.
The plane ride is uneventful as they usually are (read boring as batshit) & we end up exactly where we want.

Next morning finds me at the shipping yard in Christchurch to collect my bike. Rego is already organised but a small wait for the dude doing the roadworthy (or warrant of fitness as they are called in Un Zud) has me getting itchy feet. Pretty good service though I must admit. Damn good value too I must say. Nothing like riding your own bike shod with your favourite tyres in my book.

And so the adventure begins. Ready to go then?
Straight into it my friends. No buggering about here let me tell you.

Now during the course of my travels I usually get around 180-200kms on a tank before I hit reserve. And thatís not exactly mucking around. So you can imagine my panic when the bike started sputtering & died at exactly 145kms. You must be kidding. Canít have burnt 12+ litres of fuel already. Thatís buggered me holiday. Broken the bike within an hour. Phark phark phark phark. Sit for a minute on the side of the road contemplating the meaning of life. Hmmm. I wonder. Flick the reserve switch, hit the starter & she kicks back into life. Hahahahaha. Must slow down a bit hey. Still 3 weeks & 6 Ĺ days to go.

Didnít seem to have too much of an effect though. For only about 10 kms down the road I had a nice policeman waving to me. Still donít know what he wanted to talk about cause I didnít stop to find out. I had places to go & things to see.

They must be real friendly policemen over there. Cause I had the same experience another couple of times over the next 9000 odd kays.
I guess I may have given an unsociable type impression during my time there, but I donít mind a bit of a yarn -honestly Ėas long as the time & place is right. Like sitting in a bar at the end of the day with a beer in hand. Not on the side of the road. Thatís wasting good riding time my friends.

Now where were we? Aah yes. On our way. Heading up over Arthurs Pass http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ%20Trip/Arthurspass1.jpg
Heres another.
One more.
And another
One more for good luck.
Can you tell I was quite impressed with that feat of engineering?

Let me tell you thatís one wicked piece of road. As my fuel economy will attest to. Or lack thereof.
On to Greymouth.
Looking in another direction.
Now one thing I must say is that I am a shithouse photographer. Well -maybe not that bad, but I have to confess -you are not really getting the best of the scenery. Cause I struggle to stop to take photos. Thatís wasting good riding time you see. So unfortunately you are not getting a true representation. Sad but true.

Iím also not going to bore you all with an account of every single days riding. So from here on in Iíll just post a few photo links & tell you the best bits of road to ride if you ever happen to be in that neck of the woods.

Grab yourself a map & mark these routes on it. Your life depends upon it. Trust me. Well, maybe not Ėbut youíll be sorry if you donít.

Greymouth to Westport. Absolutely brilliant 100kms of coastal twisties.
Wesport to Karamea & back. 200kms of nonstop corners & elevation changes that would put Reefton to shame. Honest mate fair dinkum. Its not that good Ėitís better.
From Westport head up the lower & upper Buller gorges to Murchison. 90 odd kays of never ending 140-150km/hr peg scraping sweepers. That was responsible for this.
And this.
Spotted this
whilst I was there. A naked Blackbird. How cool is that?

From there a nice loop back to Reefton (yes there is one there) & back to Greymouth. And onto the West Coast.

All I can say about the West Coast is that it is the most beautiful & picturesque countryside I have ever seen. Words & photos simply can not do it justice. I wonít even try. Combine it with some of the best winding roads you have ever laid eyes on & you have what I can best describe as heaven. But I did manage to stop & take the odd photo.
Inadequate I know.

And on to the Franz Joseph & Fox glaciers. I only managed to take photos of the Fox for some weird reason.
Another absolutely brilliant piece of road would have to be the section between those 2 glaciers. There is an advisory sign at the start which recommends you allow 45 minutes (I think -from memory.) Rest assured it doesnít take that long when youíre on a mission. Itís only 24kmís in length but would have to be one of the most intimidating, physically & mentally draining yet totally exhilarating collection of twisties I have ridden. I just canít begin to explain it. You simply have to ride it yourself. I did it 3 times in fact. There is however, one steepish downhill sweeper that will remain forever burnt into my memory bank. You peel into it at about 140km/hr, gently scraping the pegs, & gradually, gently roll on the gas, for what seems like an eternity, until you just absolutely slingshot out the end of it, the little 400 banging off the rev limiter at around about 190 as it gently pitches & weaves its way onto the straight. Straight onto the brakes, fling the bike on its ear, & it starts all over again. Pure unadulterated adrenaline pumping ecstasy. Well it does it for me anyway. Every single time.
To all those that cry about safety & speeding on the road Ėyou are truly missing out on one of motorcyclingís greatest pleasures. Believe me.

I press on down the West coast with eyes like saucers Ėtrying to absorb everything around me & concentrate at the same time. Talk about information overload.

Now grab that highlighter & your map & mark out this section.
Haast to Wanaka over the Haast pass. Absolutely superb. Just watch out for the cyclists. I must have passed dozens of them along that section. Pedaling like their lives depended on it. And some of them like to ride near the centre of the road. You have been warned. Blindingly fast road Ėnot straight mind you, but fast, -like bouncing off the speed limiter fast sweepers with the odd tight hairpin thrown in, along with brilliant views. Hills, no, mountains rising straight out of the water.

From Wanaka, head up the Cardrona Valley road. This turns into the Crown range road. Wicked. Switchbacks galore down into Queenstown.
And not a bad view either.

From Queenstown a fairly uneventful transport stage down to Te Anau & Milford sound. Oh ĖI nearly forgot about the Honda NSR400 & Yamaha R6 that got caught & severely dealt to through the sweepers near Lumsden. VFR 2, Locals 0. Hehehehe.
Another awesome ride from Te Anau out to Milford sound & back. I had 2 goes at it to try & get some better (read dry) weather -but it was not to be. Some pickies.
And yes Ėthat is snow falling on yours truly at the Homer tunnel. On the 3rd of January mind you. Middle of Summer huh. Makes for real interesting riding let me tell you. Especially when chasing a crazy German on a R1200 GS. He seemed to loose enthusiasm after a couple of small slides & tail flicks though. VFR 3, Others 0.

If you ever happen to get to Te Anau I would highly recommend the boat trip out to the underground power station on Lake Manapouri. A bus then takes you right down to the turbine room.
Awesome to see the water just cascading off the sheer rock cliffs into the lake.
An amazing feat of engineering. Imagine a power station 170 meters under a lake bored out of solid rock. A spiral access tunnel 2.1kms long had to be bored first. Big enough to drive trucks down. All machinery had to be shipped in via Doubtful Sound & a road built from there to the site Ėthe most expensive road in NZ. Grab your map & check it out.

On down to Invercargill & Bluff.
Oops, you donít want to see that ugly bugger. Hereís a better one.
On to the most Southerly point of NZ. Almost.

24-06-2006, 07:17 PM
Suuuuperb !!!!!!!!
Yeeeha, bloody brilliant !

Another GREAT Roarin-read...and they're going from stunning to simply fantastic (how can that be possible, what juice are you on, mate ? :D )

Many thanks for a truly enjoyable hour spent in front of the screen.

30-06-2006, 06:31 PM
Hi Andrew

keep posting mate, no probs here with what headers or how many posts you want to make it :shock: :shock: ...as long as we get the story. :lol: