It might still be a ways off, but the trans-Tasman travel bubble will happen eventually and we’ll be able to visit New Zealand once again to ride those wonderful roads and enjoy the company of our Kiwi compatriots. Somewhere I have a t-shirt I bought in Auckland that says, “I don’t care who wins as long as Australia loses” but they’re really not that bad.
The temptation is going to be to spend your time in the South Island, particularly riding the Arthur’s, Lewis and Haast passes and hanging around Queenstown, with an excursion across the Crown Range Road. I can’t say I’d blame you; all of those are among the destinations I’d tackle, as well. But there is more to New Zealand than that slice of the South Island.
Two summer roads for anyone who likes to get off the tar are the Rainbow and Molesworth roads. They both begin in Hanmer Springs; one ends near Blenheim, the other near St Arnaud. Some will tell you they’re hard going, but I met a couple of learners who did the Molesworth on Groms.
A short but very enjoyable run out of Christchurch is Akaroa, a Frenchified little town with good cafés, on the edge of an ancient volcanic crater.
On the other side of the island, many motorcyclists turn right just before Westport after riding the admittedly brilliant SH6 up the coast. Take a little extra time and continue the hundred kilometres up the coast to Karamea. You’ll find some superb riding over Karamea Bluff and a pleasant overnight stay at the Last Resort and Café.
But let’s not forget about the other island. While it sometimes seems as if all the motorcycle rental places are in Christchurch, you can find rentals in Auckland as well.
Head over to the relatively quiet roads of East Cape by way of the Coromandel Peninsula with its tourist attractions, or ride south instead to New Plymouth and then inland by way of the Forgotten Highway. That will take you to the volcanoes that dominate the island.
If you like motor-type museums, drift south by way of the optimistically (or is that pessimistically?) named Desert Road to Waiouru for the QE2 Army Museum and onward to Paraparaumu for the amazing Southward Car Museum which has a few remarkable motorcycles, as well.
After years spent faffing around with old Harleys, The Bear rode a Honda XL250 around the world and then decided he might as well keep writing about bikes. Three books and endless magazines later he now spends his time looking for those special bike roads.
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