POSTCARD FROMVIETNAM/NEW ZEALAND – PART IV

Fast Bikes - - YOUR LIFE ON BIKES -

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.

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