Touring New Zealand


New Zealand Exposure… 


Most of us have undertaken a tour of some sort on a motorbike whether it’s a couple of days with your mates somewhere for the weekend, or a couple of weeks around the country.  For motorcyclists more often than not its the journey which is more interesting than the destination. 

How many of you though, have shipped your bikes to a pre-determined destination, ridden for a few weeks and then shipped them back home again?  One or two I’m sure, but an increasing number of motorcyclists are doing just that to experience motorcycling in New Zealand, or taking the easier option and renting a motorcycle on arrival in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ to commence their touring experience. 

For many New Zealand is the land of sheep and the mighty All Blacks rugby team, but for those in the know NZ also represents motorcycling nirvana.  New Zealand is roughly the same size as the US state of Colorado or  just under one-quarter the land mass of South Africa – big enough to see plenty of varying terrain and small enough not to have daunting distances.  Both the North and South Islands are roughly of similar size and there are regular inter island car-ferry (similar in size to the English Channel car-ferrys) sailings traversing the three hour journey of Cook Strait.  Foreign motorcyclists are always pleasantly surprised how readily kiwi motorcyclists return a wave or acknowledgement.

 If you have ever considered motorcycling in New Zealand, you will be in for a treat.  The North Island has the volcanic activity, great beaches with many awe inspiring coastal roads, whilst the South Island has the majestic mountains, sweeping forests and relatively uncongested roads and wide open spaces.  If one is pushed for time, two weeks motorcycling can adequately cover the major points of interest throughout New Zealand.   Summer is the main touring season from November through to March, and indeed in the month of February both islands are jam-packed with touring motorcyclists.  Highways in New Zealand are classified by a State Highway (SH) numbering system and virtually all are tar-sealed.  Whilst there are thousands of kilometres of gravel roads in the rural parts of New Zealand, nearly all arterial roads are tar-seal, though in the more remote areas motorcyclists do have to pay attention to the locality of fuel stations – petrol is currently (Aug 2012) about $NZ2.10/litre.   Two recognized must rides routes within the New Zealand motorcycling community for the North Island both starting from Auckland are:  the 1000km Northland three day loop and the four day 1200km Round East Cape Run. The volcanic plateau 150km day ride loop passing the three central North Island volcanoes of Mount Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu  is also a whisker behind.   For the South Island the must ride routes are the world rating 120km State Highway 94  - The Milford Sound Road- which is hard to beat with majestic mountains and alpine scenery, along with SH6 which goes the length of the South Island and includes the remote Westland coastal forests and accessible glaciers.  One thing you can not escape in New Zealand is the rain and even if your planning to ride in the height of summer expect to encounter rain at some point of your motorcycle vacation.

New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Suzuki is regularly the annual top selling motorcycle marque, and with Honda second, they both have dealerships in nearly all the provincial main centres of  the country, should any problems be encountered.  Like any tour, failing to plan is planning to fail, however having said that New Zealand is an easy country to ‘wing it’ and to motorcycle tour on a day to day basis.  There has never been a better time than the present to motorcycle tour the country that are the Rugby World Cup Champions!

Robert Scott

Auckland,  New Zealand

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