Old Hat


Old Bike Australasia - - NEWS -

In the dozens of times I’ve vis­ited New Zealand, I have never been more than a few kilo­me­tres north of Auck­land it­self; to be pre­cise, only as far as the his­toric and vis­ually amaz­ing Puhoi pub, about 30km from the city it­self. This was a sit­u­a­tion that clearly needed to be rec­ti­fied, so as soon as we had is­sue 72 off to the printer, Sue and I were on the big sil­ver bird across the Tas­man Sea. Our great friends at Yamaha once again came to the party, this time with the loan of a brand new FJR1300 – one of my favourite mo­tor­cy­cles – and our trav­el­ling bud­dies Bob and Lynne Rosen­thal were sup­plied with a BMW R1200GS by my mate Martin Far­rand – a com­mit­ted mo­tor­cy­clist, pi­lot and in­ter­na­tional yachts­man – who de­cided to ac­com­pany us on the first leg of our jour­ney on an­other ma­chine from his sta­ble. Martin has flown light air­craft over the North Is­land for decades and knows ev­ery back road, so we hardly saw High­way One on the way up the east coast to the Bay of Is­lands. At this point he left us to our own de­vices and headed home, and we de­cided we couldn’t go this far north with­out com­plet­ing the odyssey, so we rode right to the top – Cape Reinga where the Tas­man Sea meets the Pa­cific Ocean – be­fore head­ing back via the West Coast to Auck­land. I am try­ing to avoid clichés, but this is mo­tor­cy­cling par­adise. Who­ever de­signed these roads knew how to ra­dius a cor­ner – ev­ery one a sweep­ing de­light – and be­cause the ma­jor­ity of the traf­fic, no­tably the log­ging trucks, stick to the main high­way, these roads are largely de­serted and in­cred­i­bly well sur­faced. And best of all, the Kiwi au­thor­i­ties have thank­fully re­sisted the Aus­tralian dis­ease to dumb down ev­ery de­cent rid­ing road with a pa­thet­i­cally low speed limit. Most of these roads are 100km/h or de-re­stricted, so you can main­tain a de­cent pace with­out feel­ing you’ll be ar­rested at any sec­ond. Com­pared to Oz, petrol is a lit­tle ex­pen­sive but every­thing else is pretty much on par. There’s good tucker, some of the best wines in the world, com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion, and su­per friendly peo­ple. And did I men­tion great roads? What’s more to want? Do your­self a favour. Take the North­land trip on a mo­tor­cy­cle – there are plenty of bike hire firms in NZ. We packed 1200 km into our five days which in­cluded lots of sight­see­ing stops, but we barely scratched the sur­face. A re­turn is al­ready be­ing con­tem­plated!

OUR COVER Bren­dan van­deZand’s SR500 at Lake Ped­der, Tas­ma­nia.. See fea­ture story on P58.

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