Fire 'n Ice NZ'05 pt.6 final


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member


Out of Hanmer, across the Waiau River;clouds still low, it's through Culverden to Waipara and Amberley on the coast, just 40km short of Christchurch. We find a local Suzuki dealer who, for a little "donation", allows us the unlimited use of the steam-washer and we go wild on the bikes :).


They have to be CLEAN for the Australian Quarantine Inspection upon arrival in Melbourne.
Some lunch

and a fairly clean run through Christchurch to find our way to Lyttelton and we're back to where it all started, the Tunnelvision Backpackers.

Jimbo'd sent a message recommending the Roach 'n at pub opposite for a memorable Burger and a cold Guiness, of course we had to try that, aye?


Through the tunnel the next morning and into the shipping depot for the packing up,


the booked People Mover appeared somewhere in between , perfect timing to throw our stuff into the back for the next 2 days of cage-sight-seeing around Christchurch. Up the Summit Rd. first







and the backways to Akaroa,

the old French settlement.




Bungee-jumpers EVERWHERE...even in Akaroa ;D

Slipping out the back of Akaroa on a small single-laner proved worthwhile, a magnificent marae (Maori meeting-house) with exquisite carvings well worthwhile the short trip.




While still close, we slipped through the tunnel to Lyttelton again to have a look at Timeball Station:
A castle-style building...sadly right in the middle of a makeover so we couldn't have a look inside.
The guide was still there and told us about this weird contraption which was used by the old seafarers to re-set their GMT- timing to local timing.

The ball-shaped top of the tower was raised 10 meters and dropped at exactly 1pm local time every day, captain could set their timing then…
It also acted as a navigational message relay station…
Ingenious stuff!!
Taking the back-roads proved a good move, the scenery spectacular, a myriad of hidden coves and tiny, deserted beaches feast for the eyes.
Some steep single-lane dirt-roads added to things as well, no way we would've done that with a loaded-up road-bike.

Some great roads up there...another one for the next NZ-trip :)

Black skies and drizzle started our last day, which didn't really matter, it was off to the Antarctic Center…


Good stuff here, lots to see and learn…. best of all was the WILD ride in the Hagglund, what a hoot :))


Clouds had lifted a bit on the way to Sumner





and Taylors Mistake; some seaside suburbs of Christchurch, some of it precariously glued to the cliffs,
The chocolate-shop was a welcome surprise,



a walk through the Christchurch Gardens closed the day.



Next morning's early car drop-off went smooth, Virgin Pacific didn't goof this time around but still took the long way via Sydney Well, there it is: 5 weeks NZ, with 4.5 weeks out of that on the road.
What a trip it's been…. [grin]...and YES, we WILL BE BACK !!
A HUGE THANKS to all who came along, helped everywhere and made it an INCREDIBLE experience…
:) :) :) :)



Timing: We stayed away from school holidays.
Weather: Late Nov to April should be best, this year was a wet-summer and the good weather came late.
Shipping bikes: Ex Melbourne/ Sydney via Dave Milligan
General gear: spare gloves/ thermal underwear/ textile jackets with armour/ leather pants with armour/
It's a good idea to plan way ahead, keep some still decent but old stuff spare for a long ride like this, buy new gear for around home, then taking the old stuff along, dumping it at the end of the ride.

$$: Petrol was between $1.23 and $1.34 on both island, most expensive @ $1.90 in Milford Sound
Food in café's/ restaurants/ etc is generally 15-40% more than in AUS, Supermarket prices about even
to 10% higher
Alcohol is 20-30% higher
Accomodation: Sticking to Holiday (Caravan) Park Cabin-style accomodation , pricing was about even
to 20% less than in AUS.
Most other types of accomodation (I.e. motels…) are significantly more expensive. This is where the
majority of the plentiful overseas tourists spent their money. Typical tourist areas like Queenstown/
Rotorua/ Milford/ Te Anau etc etc are generally markedly higher again.
Backpacker hostels are VERY common/ usually clean and strangely exist in the most unlikely locations.

Food: Despite fantastic base materials, NZ-food in general (and at almost any level) is fairly poor and bland compared to AUS. Deep-fried stuff rules pubs/ café's/ snack- joints...with all the good and fresh stuff on the shelves of Supermarkets and fruit stalls it's hard to believe that only very few places can come up with something fresh/appealing AND tasty.

Wine/ Beer: Way better news here, particularly the Monteith on the South Island found friends/ the local wines are great (but again...not cheap at all, even measured on AUS price-levels).

Roads: Yeah, well… :)) Now we're cooking. Great stuff, VERY well maintained/ constructed…well cambered, most bridges, even on main Hwys are single-laned. Lose gravel is ever-present, no roos/ other furry stuff (apart from possums), but gravel could really be anywhere. Our group's "feet-down" warning system resulted in some days where the boots hardly touched the pegs at all.

Maps: best is a cheap, general NZ map, even a tourist pamphlet type will do as a rough guide.
For every day running and detailed planning the Hema NZ Touring Atlas was priceless!! Very accurate, very detailed, lots of usable extra info. Albeit bulky, it's worth dragging around if one wants to venture off the main highways. (Got our copy from the local RACV/ Auto Club).

Riding conditions: It varies greatly, it's not really beginners territory. Lots of lose gravel everywhere. Weather changes are RAPID and often very drastic.

People: A great mob those Kiwis, pretty inquisitive and always up for a yack. Very friendly and helpful.

Radar/ police/ speed traps: They certainly exist but are a lot more lenient than in "spastic-Victoria".
10% over the limit is usually the border line.

Bike Shops: A real friendly and helpful lot !! Didn't mind us milling around/ having a chat/ walk into the workshop to have a look etc.

Airlines/ Flights: A further experience with Virgin (Virgin Pacific this time), and this was decidedly the last one. Never again.
Swapping schedules frequently, getting stuffed around in Sydney on the way through, part of the group getting stranded in Melbourne on the way out, we've all had it !!!

Mobile phones: Between the 2 NZ networks there is only Vodaphone who offers pre-paid SIMS via the Supermarket counter. WAY more expensive than in AUS, the lack of competition shows. Telecom NZ only offers pre-paid if a phone is purchased through them. Network-problems marred the first 3 days of usage (Vodaphone wouldn't admit to it, of course), after that only the occasional SMS would get lost.

Other phones: Prepaid phone cards are aplenty. The best and cheapest turned out to be the Telstra-Clear.
A $10 prepaid lasted quite well, the 0800 number gave access from any public/ private phone, the usual string of PIN number/ then target-number to be dialed is slow but reasonably priced.
Telstra-Clear cards were sometimes hard to get onto, particularly on the North Island.

You’ve gotta be joking !!!
Let's try anyway...

South Island:
Arthurs Pass (Chch-Greymouth), Buller Gorge (Inangahua- Westport), Denniston-road and Karamea Rd. to Little Wanganui, North half of the SH6 Westport- Greymouth, The Gap between Franz Josef- Fox Glacier (SH6), Haast- Wanaka on SH6, Wanaka-Queenstown via Crown Range, Queenstown-Glenorchy, plenty of smaller stuff around Q'town, Te Anau to Milford Sound, Balclutha-Etrick loop via backroads is a beauty, Dunedin-Middlemarch-McRaes-Kyeburn-Alexandra for fast sweepers spiced with the tight/ tisty, Lindis Pass for some quick sweepers, SH80 Twizel-Mt. Cook for sheer stunning scenery and road, Culverden-Waiau-Kaikoura for sweet backroad-bliss, Lewis Pass, St. Arnaud-Murchison on SH6, Queen Charlotte Drive out of Picton, Havelock-Nelson on SH6, Motueka Valley Hwy (sth. of Motueka) for sweepy cruising, Motueka-Takaka via Takaka Hill is a ripper.

North Island (southern half):
Rimatuka Hills from Upper Hutt to Featherston is a scream, Masterton-Alfredton-Weber-Wimbledon-Waipukurau some very demanding and diverse riding, SH2 between Napier and Wairoa, Wairoa-Te Reinga-Gisborne a beauty of a backroad, around the East Cape SH35, SH2 running south on SH2 for about 70km to Rakauroa a good mix of Gorge-road/ sweepers and twisties. Ohakui-Wanganui for some awesome sweepers interspersed with tight sections.

There are more great roads around the area, like the West Cape, Te Kuiti-New Plymouth, a real humdinger between Taumaranui and Stratford (about 20km gravel framed by superb twisties either end)…

Related material:

Bike it worth it?

How did the gear stack up?
Top Bottom