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Mrs N E Rhodes and I have just returned from a 10 day ride to and from the Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill, New Zealand. We live just outside of Rotorua in the North Island so we had to cross over to the South Island on the interisland ferry.

In planning the itinerary I tried to keep each day's ride to a fairly manageable 400km - shorter where there was scenery we wanted to take in. I am riding a 2015 Chief Vintage and Mrs NE Rhodes is on a 2016 Scout 60 and is less experienced - only 2 years on a full license. It is really important to know your bikes and your companion's riding skills. I also learned along the way that there a certain non-verbal clues you can pick up from bike to bike that are important too.

We went down the West Coast of the South Island. During the week before our trip a major storm had taken out some of the roads and with slips and downed trees. There was some doubt we would get through. However with the volume of tourist traffic down that way the roading contractors are scrambled quickly to get these things sorted out. Apart from being one way and slow through some sections of road there was very little disruption.

On our trip we headed through parts of the South Island I had not visited before, but now recommend. All of the West Coast is beautiful - impressive scenery. As a forester, I was impressed by the change in vegetation, beech forest in the Buller Gorge, nikau palms through the Punakaiki area, rimu/podocarps south of Hokitika and then back into beech forest in Haast pass. We didn't stop and visit the Franz Josef or Fox Glaciers - another time.

We rode over the Crown Range Road (I loved it with the switch backs - Mrs NE Rhodes was not so impressed).

We also rode into Milford Sound through the Homer tunnel. The Milford Sound road is "infested" with tourists who have no driving sense. It is not uncommon to find rental vehicles parked on blind corners while the occupant takes photos of the impressive scenery, or for them to round the corner on your side of the road because they are taking in a waterfall and not concentrating. There are also many, many tour buses on the road every day. Riding through the tunnel is interesting - it is a quite a steep gradient downhill going into Milford Sound and you don't realise this before you enter the tunnel and your eyes have adjusted. The road surface is also a mess. But it is a great experience. We absolutely recommend Milford Sound for the scenery and the experience of that road.

On our return journey, we rode up through the McKenzie country (Omarama, Tekapo) and the Inland Scenic Route through South Canterbury, The roads are great - in terms of surface and traffic volume. Lots of long straights (which Mr Ben D Rhodes does not favour).

From there we went through Kaikoura, which experienced an earthquake which closed the roads about a year ago. The roads were reopened late 2017 but there are still lots of road works going on. The road is closed at night. We went through on a particularly hot day and the stops for one way traffic were long and frustrating - tiring in the heat. But Kaikoura is worth the visit and the scenery is fantastic. (Koura is the maori word for crayfish (lobster) and kai is food/eat - so going through Kaikoura we always stop and buy a crayfish to eat while we wait for the interisland ferry in Picton).

So my bottom line - south Westland is beautiful and the roads are great. Definitely a trip to do on a motorbike. I loved the trip into Milford Sound both from a riding experience and for the scenery. If any of you are contemplating a trip to New Zealand it is definitely worth doing (and taking your time over).
 

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Bikes fastened down for the ferry voyage to the South Island. There were hundreds on board our voyage, and every other voyage south. I think there were only 3 motorcycles left in the North Island.

Road Asphalt Mountainous landforms Mountain pass Mountain range


At Franz Josef. Had to incorporate a photo of my riding buddy, and the obligatory Indian logos.
Body of water Coast Shore Sea Beach


Bruce Bay - south Westland. Stunning.

Mountainous landforms Highland Mountain Mountain pass Valley


From the summit of the Crown Range Road (Queenstown faintly in the distance). That road lures you in. When you get round the corner and into the switch backs you have one of two reactions "I hope this never ends" or "When will this end?".
Mountainous landforms Highland Natural landscape Mountain Nature


Mitre Peak in Milford Sound - one of the most recognised tourist attractions in the world, I believe.

Water resources Body of water Waterfall Water Nature


A waterfall alongside the Milford Sound road. Beautiful (even if you can't run it in a kayak).

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Motorcycle Mecca Museum in Invercargill. My favourite exhibit - a line up of Brough Superiors - mainly SS80s, But at the far end is an SS100. One of the major curatorial blunders of all time is that the SS100 is next to stairwell and you cannot admire the dual exhausts (should be a crime). There are also two three wheel Morgans on the exhibit - oh and lots of Indians of course.
 
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