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Touring NZ; Roarin Style (New Zealand)

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Roarin, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. Allrighty then. Where do I start? At the beginning I suppose. Seems like a reasonable enough place if you stop and think about it doesn’t it?

    I guess the beginning would have to be about 6 months ago. When I got an opportunity to ride my bike from Brisbane back to Geelong. The long way round. 5500kms long way round to be exact. Or there abouts.

    You could do a search here for some of my excellent adventures along the way if you want to. (Actually, I’m just too lazy to dig up the links & post them) Besides, I don’t really want to make it look like I’m blowing my own trumpet or anything. That’s not really my style. Honest. But I do like writing about some of the things that happen over the course of a trip & sharing some of them with you. When it suits me anyway. (That’s the lazy bit coming out again) Which also explains why I never got round to finishing the last trip report. Lazy. Pure & simple.

    So where were we? Aah yes. Going riding. The trip back from Brissy is the excuse I will use for this particular trip. Cause I had so much damn fun I had to do it again. A trip that is. Somewhere different this time though. And for longer. Much longer. Like a month. (Which to tell you the truth is still not long enough)

    Again fate conspired against me & a discount ticket for motorcycle freighting to New Zealand became available. Which I had to have. It was a matter of life & death. Fair dinkum. Well it seemed like it at the time anyway.

    Preparations were made in the motorcycle department. Things like crashing said bike about a month before shipping date. New tyres fitted. Valve clearances checked. Carbies balanced. All fluids & filters changed. Wheels bearings checked. Steering head bearings replaced. New brake pads. Etc etc etc. Everything checked. And double checked. Just to be sure :oops: .

    Luggage carrying capabilities had to be considered. Now if you own a BMW or some other oversized overweight long range 2 wheeled touring device this poses no real problem. But I tend to do things a little bit differently. Like choosing a bike for the trip. My favourite steed at the time happened to be my Honda VFR400R. Perfect. Well I thought so. What could be better for doing a month of touring on? Riding hundreds of kilometers every single day? A 400cc race bike right? Many would disagree with my choice. Most in fact. But I love that bike. And I was going to New Zealand. Lots of corners there. So it was settled.

    I can still vividly remember on a number of occasions barreling into a decreasing radius downhill corner about 15km/hr too hot & thinking “hell, I wish I had about 100 more horsepower right about now” Hehehehe. Yeah right. Oops, sorry. Getting sidetracked aren’t I.

    I can honestly say that on my entire trip I never wished I had brought a different bike. Well -for more than 2 seconds anyway. Cause I was having fun. Heaps & heaps of fun. The time of my life in fact. Bugger me this bike riding caper is fun. And the longer you ride the funner it gets. Trust me on this one :wink: .

    Funny thing is, I say that on every single ride I go on that’s longer than a couple of days. And I’ve been doing just that for the last 24 years. And never gotten sick of it yet. Seems to just get better & better. I suspect I may be saying the same thing for a few more years to come yet :LOL: .

    Righty oh then. Luggage carrying abilities. VFR 400. Hmmm. I ended up with an Oxford pillion seat bag. For about $60. Can’t remember how many litres capacity but its not too big. Comes with a waterproof cover & a number of straps & clips to allow it to be carried in a number of different ways whilst off the bike. Simply ocky strap & velcro it onto your pillion seat & off you go. Damn good value in my opinion. The old gearsack waterproof tank bag I have owned for yonks also got the call up for active duty. All set then.

    Let me give you a tip. It doesn’t matter if you’re going away for a week or a month. The amount of gear you need (read socks & jocks) remains the same. As long as you are prepared to do a bit of washing along the way. Otherwise you will end up getting strange looks from anyone who gets within about a 10 metre radius of your good self. I suppose there could be some advantages. Like plenty of room to stretch out if you happen to go on a tourist bus or boat trip. Which is well within the realms of possibilities when you happen to be touring in another country. Not that I have any first hand experience along these lines mind you. Smelling weird I mean. For I know how to wash. Clothes & myself. Hahahaha. Thought you had me there didn’t you?

    So the nominated day arrives & I head off up to Laverton to drop the bike off at the shipping yard. And the longest 2 and a half weeks of my life begins.

    Now I have read on this site from time to time about carrying helmets on airplanes. It’s fine. No one really cares. Trust me. Not even a second glance at mine even when splattered with a more than liberal application of bugs etc :shock: .

    I have also read about people questioning why you would wear your leathers on the plane. Simple answer. Space. Or lack thereof. Anyone who has tried to pack a full set of leathers along with bike boots will understand. And what exactly do you do with a suitcase for a month whilst you are wandering around in another country? And they are heavy. Way easier to wear them. You WILL be guaranteed a few strange looks on your flight but who cares? Who’s having all the fun?

    Now I can hear all the whinges about how uncomfortable they are on the plane. WTF? I have worn them for 12 hours at a time sitting on the bike & then slept in them for a further 6 or so hours here & there so what’s a few hours sitting on a plane sipping on an icy cold beer or 2? Chuck the jacket in the overhead locker & Bob’s your uncle. Stop your whining & think of the fun you’re gunna have :LOL: :LOL: .

    The plane ride is uneventful as they usually are (read boring as batshit) & we end up exactly where we want. Ready for the adventure to start in earnest :wink:
  2. And....and???? come on, spit out the rest.
  3. Nah, that's as far as he'll get. All this writing's got him all excited and he's buggered off for a 4-day ride. We'll see him on Friday covered in mud and with 400 bugs of all descriptions squashed in his teeth. :grin:
  4. lucky bastard
  5. lol - much enjoyed the beginning (I do assume there is more :) of your adventures. Cheers, bb
  6. Yes, there is more. Fortunately -or unfortunately depending on your perspective. I even have some photos this time :shock: But this one fingered typing caper is hell, let me tell you. And Rome wasn't built in a day was it? :LOL: :LOL:
  7. Come on - even a 9 yr old can type with 2 fingers! :p :grin:
  8. Ok roarin, get with the story!

    Blow the two finger typing stuff... the answer is home keys. Home keys... ASDF JKL; cover those keys with ya fingers and you'll be typing like a pro in no time flat.

    So what did they do with your bike for 2.5 weeks??

  9. I guess the 2 1/2 weeks covers actual shipping time, customs & quarantine clearance time & gives a bit of a safety margin for unforseen holdups etc. I imagine there would be some pretty pissed persons waiting around for a week or so if things went astray :evil: :evil:
  10. I'm just waiting for the version narrated by Patrick Stewart to be released on interactive DVD, complete with selected pictures, helmet-cam action of the best roads, and a "life and times" biography bonus section. Screw this typing caper.
  11. And.... a quarter....




  12. rocking story andrew.
  13. Roarins NZ touring continues

    Next morning finds me at the shipping yard in Christchurch to collect my bike. Rego is already organised but a small wait for the dude doing the roadworthy (or warrant of fitness as they are called in Un Zud) has me getting itchy feet. Pretty good service though I must admit. Damn good value too I must say. Nothing like riding your own bike shod with your favourite tyres in my book.

    And so the adventure begins. Ready to go then? http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Readytogo.jpg Straight into it my friends. No buggering about here let me tell you.

    Now during the course of my travels I usually get around 180-200kms on a tank before I hit reserve. And that’s not exactly mucking around. So you can imagine my panic when the bike started sputtering & died at exactly 145kms. You must be kidding. Can’t have burnt 12+ litres of fuel already. That’s buggered me holiday. Broken the bike within an hour. Phark phark phark phark. Sit for a minute on the side of the road contemplating the meaning of life. Hmmm. I wonder. Flick the reserve switch, hit the starter & she kicks back into life. Hahahahaha. Must slow down a bit hey. Still 3 weeks & 6 ½ days to go.

    Didn’t seem to have too much of an effect though. For only about 10 kms down the road I had a nice policeman waving to me. Still don’t know what he wanted to talk about cause I didn’t stop to find out. I had places to go & things to see.

    They must be real friendly policemen over there. Cause I had the same experience another couple of times over the next 9000 odd kays.
    I guess I may have given an unsociable type impression during my time there, but I don’t mind a bit of a yarn -honestly –as long as the time & place is right. Like sitting in a bar at the end of the day with a beer in hand. Not on the side of the road. That’s wasting good riding time my friends.

    Now where were we? Aah yes. On our way. Heading up over Arthurs Pass http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Arthurspass1.jpg.
    Heres another. http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Arthurspass2.jpg
    One more. http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/OtiraGorge.jpg
    And another http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/StoppedGorge.jpg.
    One more for good luck. http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/OtiraViaduct.jpg
    Can you tell I was quite impressed with that feat of engineering?
    Let me tell you that’s one wicked piece of road. As my fuel economy will attest to. Or lack thereof.

    On to Greymouth.http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Greymouth1.jpg Looking in another direction.http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Greymouth2.jpg

    Now one thing I must say is that I am a shithouse photographer. Well -maybe not that bad, but I have to confess -you are not really getting the best of the scenery. Cause I struggle to stop to take photos. That’s wasting good riding time you see. So unfortunately you are not getting a true representation. Sad but true.

    I’m also not going to bore you all with an account of every single days riding. So from here on in I’ll just post a few photo links & tell you the best bits of road to ride if you ever happen to be in that neck of the woods. Grab yourself a map & mark these routes on it. Your life depends upon it. Trust me. Well, maybe not –but you’ll be sorry if you don’t.
    Greymouth to Westport. Absolutely brilliant 100kms of coastal twisties.
    Wesport to Karamea & back. 200kms of nonstop corners & elevation changes that would put Reefton to shame. Honest mate fair dinkum. Its not that good –it’s better.

    From Westport head up the lower & upper Buller gorges to Murchison. 90 odd kays of never ending 140-150km/hr peg scraping sweepers. That was responsible for this. http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Touringtyres.jpg And this. http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Reartyre.jpg Spotted this http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/NakedBB.jpg whilst I was there. A naked Blackbird. How cool is that?

    From there a nice loop back to Reefton (yes there is one there) & back to Greymouth. And onto the West Coast.

    All I can say about the West Coast is that it is the most beautiful & picturesque countryside I have ever seen. Words & photos simply can not do it justice. I won’t even try. Combine it with some of the best winding roads you have ever laid eyes on & you have what I can best describe as heaven. But I did manage to stop & take the odd photo.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/WestCoast1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Westcoastbridge1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Westcoastbridge2.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Westcoast3.jpg
    Inadequate I know.

    And on to the Franz Joseph & Fox glaciers. I only managed to take photos of the Fox for some weird reason.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/FoxGlacier1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Foxglacierclose.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Fox3.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Fox2.jpg

    Another absolutely brilliant piece of road would have to be the section between those 2 glaciers. There is an advisory sign at the start which recommends you allow 45 minutes (I think -from memory.) Rest assured it doesn’t take that long when you’re on a mission. It’s only 24km’s in length but would have to be one of the most intimidating, physically & mentally draining yet totally exhilarating collection of twisties I have ridden. I just can’t begin to explain it. You simply have to ride it yourself. I did it 3 times in fact. There is however, one steepish downhill sweeper that will remain forever burnt into my memory bank. You peel into it at about 140km/hr, gently scraping the pegs, & gradually, gently roll on the gas, for what seems like an eternity, until you just absolutely slingshot out the end of it, the little 400 banging off the rev limiter at around about 190 as it gently pitches & weaves its way onto the straight. Straight onto the brakes, fling the bike on its ear, & it starts all over again. Pure unadulterated adrenaline pumping ecstasy. Well it does it for me anyway. Every single time.

    To all those that cry about safety & speeding on the road –you are truly missing out on one of motorcycling’s greatest pleasures. Believe me.

    I press on down the West coast with eyes like saucers –trying to absorb everything around me & concentrate at the same time. Talk about information overload.

    Now grab that highlighter & your map & mark out this section.
    Haast to Wanaka over the Haast pass. Absolutely superb. Just watch out for the cyclists. I must have passed dozens of them along that section. Pedaling like their lives depended on it. And some of them like to ride near the centre of the road. You have been warned. Blindingly fast road –not straight mind you, but fast, -like bouncing off the speed limiter fast sweepers with the odd tight hairpin thrown in, along with brilliant views. Hills, no, mountains rising straight out of the water.

    From Wanaka, head up the Cardrona Valley road. This turns into the Crown range road. Wicked. Switchbacks galore down into Queenstown.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Crownrangeroad.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Remarkables.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Remarkables2.jpg
    And not a bad view either.

    From Queenstown a fairly uneventful transport stage down to Te Anau & Milford sound. Oh –I nearly forgot about the Honda NSR400 & Yamaha R6 that got caught & severely dealt to through the sweepers near Lumsden. VFR 2, Locals 0. Hehehehe.

    Another awesome ride from Te Anau out to Milford sound & back. I had 2 goes at it to try & get some better (read dry) weather -but it was not to be. Some pickies.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Homertunnelsnow.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/MilfordView.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Milfordsoundroad1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Milfordsound1.jpg
    And yes –that is snow falling on yours truly at the Homer tunnel. On the 3rd of January mind you. Middle of Summer huh. Makes for real interesting riding let me tell you. Especially when chasing a crazy German on a R1200 GS. He seemed to loose enthusiasm after a couple of small slides & tail flicks though. VFR 3, Others 0.

    If you ever happen to get to Te Anau I would highly recommend the boat trip out to the underground power station on Lake Manapouri. A bus then takes you right down to the turbine room.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Manipouriferry.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/LakeManipouri1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/LakeManipouri2.jpg
    Awesome to see the water just cascading off the sheer rock cliffs into the lake.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Powerstationinlet.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/PowerSchematic.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/170metresunder.jpg
    An amazing feat of engineering. Imagine a power station 170 meters under a lake bored out of solid rock. A spiral access tunnel 2.1kms long had to be bored first. Big enough to drive trucks down. All machinery had to be shipped in via Doubtful Sound & a road built from there to the site –the most expensive road in NZ. Grab your map & check it out.
    On down to Invercargill & Bluff.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Bluff1.jpg
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Bluff3.jpg
    Oops, you don’t want to see that ugly bugger. Here’s a better one.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Bluffbike.jpg

    On to the most Southerly point of NZ. Almost.
    http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c172/Roarin/NZ Trip/Curiobay.jpg
  14. Megnufisunt Andy, keep going! Choice brah!
  15. wow, i WANA GO
  16. Good read, those roads look sweet from the pics, I can hear the vfr just begging to go...

    Hey roarin', are they gpr100's you're running? How were they?
  17. Cammo, yes they are GPR100's. I find them excellent. In the dry they have plenty enough grip to scrape the side stand, fairing lowers & occasionally the pegs in about that order. Occasionally I will take the sidestand off & then the frame mount starts grounding :LOL: :LOL: This is with the preload pretty much maxed. I still run the 18 inch rear with no ride height adjustment. Have not taken them to the track yet so can't comment on the suitability there. I manage to wear out the front & rear at the same rate -at around the 7 -7500km mark so always start with a nice matched profile front & rear. As a comparison -I could not get a GPR100 front at one point in NZ so slotted in a D208. It was worn to the wear indicators within 3000kms with no noticable difference in grip levels.
    A word of warning -once they wear down fairly well you will have to take it easy in the wet. Moreso than other tyres I have run.
  18. Thanks for the info. I used to run gpr80's and they got quite 'tail happy' also when worn down. I've since changed to '70's, and can't complain at the grip level but like to get more miles out my tyres.

    100's next then it is.
  19. That's the best roarin diary to date....

    As usual better than most of the drivel in Aus Roadrider, MC News and all the other bike mags. Who wants to know what colour Woose's undies are, or how pissed Borris got at a nudie bar?

    Roarin's Touring Quarterly is where it's at. :)
  20. Great ride report Andrew...just made me want to be back there. As you descrobed the roads, I was able to relive them so vividly!! Krutch munkey and i thought the new Zealand holiday: 5 weeks riding around New Zealand was one of the greatest trips ever...I'm sure there are many more, but I too, can attest to how great the New Zealand roads, and countryside are!!