POSTCARD FROMVIETNAM/NEW ZEALAND – PART IV
You guys may remember Lisa went off to Vietnam, bought a bike and headed off into the sunset? Now she’s biking in NZ, and still checking in with FB… I’ve had the privilege of touring the best roads NZ has to offer over the past couple of weeks on a BMW F700GS. Every day has been a new adventure creating memories firmly fixed in my mind. There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road.
I landed in New Zealand after a manic few weeks touring across Vietnam on a little 110cc Honda replica. I bought myself a GN 250 for the economy, but mainly because I couldn’t afford to buy a bigger bike. The second-hand market in NZ simply isn’t comparable to the UK, but the one advantage is that bikes over here are well looked after, refurbished and retain their value.
I had the opportunity to ride a GS and jumped at the chance. The two weeks I have spent on the BMW F700GS (courtesy of Paradise Motorcycle Tours), has been an experience which I won’t forget in a hurry.
I tried my hand at off-roading with a group that had a much better clue than me when it came to water crossings. Explored rem mote and dusty tracks, which ev ven the guys said were not of a bbeginner standard and I have th rown my heart and soul into ev very bend of the sealed tarmac on n the best road in the world, in my humble opinion.
The road to Milford Sound, U NESCO World Heritage Site is de eemed the most dangerous ro oad in NZ. Why, I asked? BecauseB of ‘tourists’ apparently. It t didn’t particularly inspire me withw hope... As long as I can remember I have wanted to visit Fiordland National Park. The road became exciting from Te Anau. With the water glimmering off the surface of the lake I could make out the innermost peaks of Fiordland. Featuring long wide stretches of pretty empty roads, which seemed to disappear at the foot of the mountains only to bend around expanding into another valley. The river followed the contours and I disappeared into the forest through arches of beech trees with light strobing through the leaves. Bend after glorious bend the tyres clung to the road, the clouds whisping below the summits and my heart beating emphatically in my chest. It was a mystical experience, the sun creating a yellow haze through the clouds and the river rumbling in the valley.
Looking up, on either side grey granite faces shimmered and ice sheets hung from the peaks as though they might bellow down and crush me. I was looking up 1,000m and it made me feel small! Reaching the Homer tunnel at 980m altitude I entered on the green signal. 1.2km on the other side I was greeted by a Kea bird, swooped down to check me out. I gazed down at the view where the road appeared and disappeared at angles which looked as though they didn’t belong to the same road at all.
I laughed out loud, shook my head and began the descent into Milford Sound. That night I stayed in Milford. One road in and one road out. I took a boat trip on the Fiord the following morning and marvelled at the place from a different perspective. This is one place everyone ought to put on their bucket list, if only for the amazing ride itself.