Like Scotland? Try New Zealand!

  • Gonna take me a while to sort out the photos, but here's a couple as a taster from my recent trip with the GS to New Zealand. Goood riding!


    Took the tent.

    The aptly amed Rainbow Road

    Did about 27 of these in one day on the Nevis Road. Neither of us fell...

    What December should look like


    Bike is still in Auckland, should be back here in Inverness in early May...

  • Quote

    A trip of a lifetime! Just a shame it’s not my lifetime!

    Ah, well now it may seem that I'm loaded, but I ain't - the bike is 21 years old after all, which is actually an advantage in some circumstances. What I do have is plenty of friends and relatives over in NZ, because Mrs Three Dawg is a Kiwi, and our daugter lives in Australia. Usually the expensive bit is getting the bike over there, but it needn't be. 8)

    You need to be over there for at least three weeks for shipping to work (we had about 10 :)) because shipping needs to be less than rental. We used a mob called New Zealand Motorcycle Adventures who organise everything including crating, the TIP (temporary import Permit), freight insurance, customs clearance, WOF (their MOT), ACC (a universal liability insurance for all NZ), registration (rego) and port fees. They also sorted out delivery to a friend's place in the northern sububs of Auckland. If you can't arrange this then there is storage available at a reasonable cost. I had to buy third party insurance (about 65 quid) and delivery to Tilbury (and return at some stage) by van. All in it was about two grand, or a little over two weeks rental of a 1200GS.

    The downside is that the bike is away for months, and if you can't store it for free (massive thanx to Jo and Neal for helping out with that) that cost has to be added in.

    Off it goes in September. It will never be this clean again. NZ biosecurity is super tough, and any dirt will mean incurring a cleaning cost, and that is not cheap.

    Crated up - the panniers and bag go in the tray on top. It has to be spotless to get past NZ biosecurity checks.

    And ready to be loaded into the container.

  • A few from the north island.

    First bit of gravel we tackled was on the Eastern Cape from Opotiki to Gisborne. This is known as the Motu Road and winds through thick bush.

    From Gisborne we took the road north towards Lake Taupo past Lake Waikaremoana. Absolutely beautiful. Road doesn't look that challenging, but I think it had been recently graded so was covered in ball bearings, or so it seemed. A firm hand on the throttle and gentle input to the steering did the trick.

    Stopped for a bite to eat by the water's edge

    One thing I was very keen to do was ride Ninety Mile Beach. You're not supposed to take hire vehicles on to the beach which is why I haven't done it before. We headed up via Russell in the beautiful Bay of Islands - it's the old colonial capital, now a quieter place to stay than Paihia over the water.

    One the ferry to Paihia - always happy to be on a ferry. :D

    The beach is firm and easy to ride on. Normal road rules apply - just don't stray too close to the dunes unless you fancy digging.

    Getting off the beach is another matter. You ride 3 1/2 km up a stream. Ordinarily not a problem as long as you don't plunge into a hole dug by a bogged tourist or have to avoid the charging 6x6 tour busses, but there has been little rain and about 500m of the stream was VERY dry and soft sand. I binned it on the loose sand (naturally) and sweated cobs pushing the bike out. The rest of it was a hoot though.

    The beginning of the stream to leave the beach. Mrs 3D bailed out and went in our friend's 4x4, sensible lass.

    After the soft bit riding the stream

    Then you pop out on to firm stuff! :D

    A bit further up the road is Cape Reinga, the northern tip of the country. The Maori believe this is where the spirits of the dead jump off on their way to the mythological lisland of Hawaiki.

    Reminded me a bit of the Stephenson Lighthouses up this way.

    Lastly, on another day, a bit further south I spotted this - check out the right hand sign!

  • Heading down to the south island we were joined by good friends on a variety of bikes: Neal and Jo on a very sensible wet head GS, Ron and Rachel on a slightly less sensible Multistrada and Neal's Brother Alan with his ol' lady Ann (ahem) on a Harley. Alan and Ann would only be joining us for the road bits, as you would expect.


    Nearly sensible (17" front wheel tho')

    Not sensible, but in Alan's hands pretty good on tarmac

    First up was the Molesworth Road fron just outside Blenheim to Hanmer Springs. This goes through the biggest station in New Zealand and is not very demanding, but the scenery was pleasant and the traffic very sparse.

    Looking back towards Hanmer the foillowing day

    It was actually bloody cold in parts on the Molesworth. As soon as we got to Hanmer we stopped for soup.

    The following day we were doing the Rainbow Road. It's a must do road and is a little more challenging in places...

    Looks easy...


    I have a big dent in my bash plate now ::)

    Go back up? On those tyres? FFS!

    Funny. Yeah... ::)

    At the end you need to pay a toll. This is now $20 because of the increased costs of maintaining the private part of the road.

    Having all fallen off on the Rainbow (no pix of Ron dropping the Duke unfortunately) we were all ready for a beer when we arrived in Murcheson, our overnight stop.

  • Cheers chaps, glad you're enjoying it.

    Quick transit stage now from Murcheson to Queenstown via Arthurs Pass and Lake Tekapo.

    Two that should have gone in the last post - the guy manning the toll gate at the end of the Rainbow ;D put us on to this 'swing bridge' over a gorge.

    Noticed a fork seal had gone just before we set out the next day. A dish cloth and some cable ties stopped anything more running down the fork leg

    River running through Arthurs Pass

    These things (it's a Kea) will rip open a tank bag and scatter the contents in minutes. No wonder they're endangered..

    The riders: L-R Ron, Rachel, Mrs 3D, Jo, Neal, Ann, some bloke, Alan.

    On the way through Arthurs Pass we stopped for fuel. Was quite surprised when a million quids worth of perfectly patinated Bentley 4 1/2 rolled in. Probably the coolest car I've ever seen. The owner (in oiled stained shirt) was happy to talk about it and show us round.

    I'd love to post some photos of Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook (circa 12500 ft) but it slung it down for about 36 hours. We did go up to the Hermitage hotel and dripped over the floor of their restaurant giggling like naughty kids. Rachel was easy to track from her wet footprints...

    From an earlier trip - Lake Pukaki and the Southern Alps. Not visible this time unfortunately

    Tekapo was an opportunity to do some washing. All the facilities in campsites seem to have combination locks on the doors to keep out the 'free' campers. These are not poverty stricken tenters but people in campervans. Campervans are just as much of a pain in the arse over there as here in Scotland. They should all be made to pay a tourist tax on each rental, cheap bastards. >:(

    Ron and Rachel were 'glamping' so we hung up our smalls in their tent. ;)

    Unfortunately this was the point where Ron and Rachel had to head back, and Alan and Ann on the Harley wanted to visit friends and family further south, so only four of us headed to Queenstown, or Little China as it has become ::) The view from the apartment was Remarkables (a wee joke there, ahem). The Harley couldn't have managed most of what we had planned for the next four days...

  • :) Right, where was I? After a night in Queenstown we headed off to Te Anau to go to the world famous Milford Sound, a place that has around 6.5 meters of rainfall each year. That makes Fort William look like the Sahara. The idea was that we would put the bikes on the TSS Earnslaw, a steam ship built in 1912 to cross the lake to the Walter Peak station for a ride along the Von road and the Mavora lakes. Unfortunately the lake level was too low - the ramp to the boat is short - so we were unable to do this. A damn shame, especially as I have done this in the past and had built it up as a bit of a must-do to Jo and Neal. Oh well. We did some of the Von up to the lakes, but it wasn't the same.

    There is a government run campsite here, not a bad place to stop, but you need to be completely self sufficient.

    We got lucky at Milford, no rain at all.

    You go through the mile long Homer tunnel to get to Milford. Hewn out of solid rock by hand it's one way traffic now which means a lengthy wait at the lights.

    After Milford we went back to the apartment in Queenstown ready for a couple of days proper adventuring. First up was the Skipper's Canyon road. This winds for miles through the back country, sometimes 500 feet above the river. There are no guardrails and your rental insurance is invalid. It was spectacular. Some of the road was a bit cut up and you need to keep an eye out for fast moving rafting busses, but it was spectacular and a bit scary. ;D

    Vehicle damage possible? Ooo err!

    The famous old sign

    No need to ride like a rabid KTM owner down here...

    Apparently lunch not available at the Welcome Home Hotel...

    Guardrails are for wimps.

    The end of the main trail.

    Health and safety..? Nah.

    On the other side was a refuge hut...

    ...with a library. Looks like the books went in the fire.

    The bridge from the hut side.

    Same place 110 yeas ago!

    Pretty impressive view at the start of the trail

    Later in the day we headed up the side of Lake Wakatipu which is a fine piece of tarmac to the Paradise Road from Glenorchy. Lovely run through shady forests - this area was used for some of the Lord of the Rings films apparently. But then, down here, where hasn't?

  • Now, the Nevis. :o It's the highest road in NZ (IIRC) at 4100 feet going from Garston to Bannockburn and is another must do route. It's classed as a 4x4 only road, but in most places the road is in in decent shape. There are about 25 fords to cross of varying size and the climb up from Garston is steep and spectacular. The road exists primarily because of gold mining in the 19th century.

    At the top of the climb from Garston, about 3500 feet.

    There's another refuge hut, in better shape than the one on the Skipper's Road

    Worth fifty quid a night in Inverness in August...


    Many fords...

    We rode round this one...

    Now, you might be asking, why is this person walking the ford? Well as any fule kno a 4x4 can dig a big hole if it gets bogged, and falling in to a hole is bad all round, especially with no mobile coverage.

    Old mining cottage and spoil heaps in the background.

    At the end, all back to Queenstown, when Alan and Ann turned up.


  • We were sad to leave Queenstown and the apartment, but we had to start heading north at some point. The weather forecast for the west coast wasn't brilliant, but we already had accommodation booked so that was where we went.

    Naturally we stopped at the Cardrona Hotel. Some git in a hire car nearly wiped up out just as we were turning into the hotel's car park (always look in the mirror just before you turn eh?). If the women hadn't been with us we would have gone after him. There are many tales of both citizens and police removing the keys from the drivers of hire cars, especially those from the emerging economies. Watch out for white Nissan Tiildas and Mercs driven by children and of course all campervans and you'll stay alive. Probably.

    A little further on we dropped in on some friends of Mrs Three Dawg and Jo who own a vast sheep station at the northern end of Lake Hawea. Mrs Three Dawg fed a piglet, as you do on a farm.

    The rain held off to Haast, but the following morning it was chucking it down, so not much in the way of pictures. Shame, because the west coast is a bit special.

    Franz Josef. There's a huge glacier just up behind the village, but we were more interested in drying out in front of a fire in the cafe. Ann was very wet so came up with a novel solution to the problem.

    See the radio mast behind the building? That prevented the Harley from starting - seems to operate on the same wavelength as the bike's immobiliser. Good job the AA bloke knew this. Wheeling it a hundred yards down the road was enough to allow Alan to light the fires again.

    After a night in Hokitika in a very fine Edwardian villa we pressed on north. The weather improved dramatically and visiting the unusual rock formations at Punakaiki was pleasant. The coast was pretty wild and our visors got well coated in salt.

    Unfortunately we had to go our separate ways in Westport, but while we were there we managed to catch up with our younger daughter who has been travelling around Japan, Australia and New Zealand after graduating in 2017. She's got very keen on surfing, so did a deal with the hostel owner where in exchange for doing a mural (she studied illustration) she got free accommodation and surf board hire. She'll probably want a VW Kombi when she returns...

    We were heading north to the remote settlement of Karamea, while the others were making for Picton to catch the ferry to the north island.

    Bye, then... :-[

    We were down to our last couple of days in the south island, camping in Momorangi Bay about 10km outside of Picton on Queen Charlotte sound. This was proper down home kiwiana, lovely spot, super friendly neighbours and lots of kids mucking about on boats, bicycles and paddle boards. Really refreshing to see that it is possible to go for hours without checking social media... (I am old ;))

    We decided to go up to Titirangi Bay. I don't think I have ever ridden a route with more corners. I was utterly shagged when we got back. The map doesn't tell the half of it.

    Great place to have a boat, the Marlborough Sounds

    Corners... lots of corners.

    Anyway, that's about it - I won't bore you all with pictures of the rest of it as it was mostly friends and family, although I did enjoy some more gravel riding in the Coramandel. On the way north, Mount Ruapehu near Taupo.

    Quick look at the back tyre. 10000km including some here in the UK before we left. Not bad I'd say.

    Looking forward to getting the GS back in early May. Few minor things to correct like the fork seal and a busted speedo cable, but it just keeps on going. Next? South America with Jo and Neal in 2019 if I can save enough. The bike will certainly be up to it! ;D ;D ;D

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