The Grand New Zealand Roadtrip ( 26th Dec 2009 to 19th Jan 2010 ) celebrates the freedom of discovering the world on a motorcycle. It has been conceived by xBhp, an India based motorcycling community where we encourage safe riding and photography as the two most important aspects of a roadtrip.
Countries like New Zealand are so hard (and rewarding!) to cover in a limited number of days and on a fixed days plan. The main reasons for this are:
The unpredictable weather and rain (Milford Sound is one of the rainiest places in the world). The inclement weather compounds your problems when you are a photographer working with expensive electronics.
One way trails. Places like Mount Cook, Milford Sound and Cape Reinga are dead ends and you have to retrace your steps (with a big smile though!).
The small area of the country is misleading; the whole country is dotted with places worth at least a look and ample planning is required to identify the best places/activities.
I had taken the above into consideration while designing my route along with a few things like inserting spare days which can also serve as rest day / emergency days (in case of a machine breakdown etc) / a buffer day for accommodating heavy rains.
My typical day while riding goes like this:
Ride for an average of 300kms
Stop in between the ride many places for photography
When I am riding solo I have to spend extra time setting up tripod and composing the photos and then pack the tripod again
Arrive in my lodge (if I haven’t booked a lodge for the day I spend some time hunting a suitable one).
Finding budget food for the night is often problematic too. I find it the easiest to get into a place like Subway and pack a foot long for the night.
Get fresh and start blogging and updating my road trip on multiple places. Read this page to see the gadgets and technology I use. Blogging involves a lot a proper flow which starts from downloading the images into the laptop, processing them, writing the copy of the blog, uploading the material and finally publishing it.
I often prepare the blogs whenever I have time in the evening and upload in batch updates once I find internet.
Being on the road itself is a mighty adventurous undertaking, especially if you are on a bike like the Suzuki BKing. However, some people might want to bond more with the country and take up activities which are on my list but I won’t most probably be able to do them due to the tight on road schedule I follow.
Nevertheless, here is the list of activities I would like to do and I assume someone as adventurous and with an artistic bent of mind might want to indulge in as well:
A Heli Trek in the Franz Josef Glacier
Zorbing in Rotorua
A Milford Sound short cruise
These are some of the things I can think of right now. Make sure you follow my blog to see what all I could actually do while being on the trip.
No matter how well planned anyone is things will go unexpected in any roadtrip. Bad weather, maybe a flat tyre (!) etcetra. This all adds to the experience and this uncertainty is what makes it so worthwhile. However, it does not mean we do not plan, knowing what we can do and see in any place we are visiting gives us ballpark figures of time and money to work with. Here are some resources that I use while planning my route and also while being on the road:
HEMA Map’s Motorcycle Atlas is indispensable for me. Written by a motorcyclist himself the highlighted routes make my life easier in forming the sub routes to be taken while travelling a whole country.
I highly recommend it even if you are travelling by car!
The web is truly an amazing thing! If you have access to the internet you don’t need anything while planning your trip. I use the following websites to do research on the places I intend to go and then book accommodation as well:
tripAdvisor.com : Worth checking for any lodge that you may want to book. I usually don’t go for a lodge which has no or negative reviews.
I then visit the individual lodge’s websites and get a general idea of their location by seeing the pictures etc and then I finally make a booking using a link provided on their individual websites.
Sometimes when in doubt I also check wotif.com for a comparison of rates between different lodges in the same area.
NewZealand.com : Has got some valuable information which might come handy.
On the Road
Again the Motorcycling Atlas by HEMA Maps.
TomTom Rider 2 GPS with a New Zealand map makes for a perfect all weather companion. In fact I am used this in the Australian roadtrip and it worked perfect! Just remember to keep the maps updated once in 6 months or so.
I will keep adding anything I learn and think is worth sharing about the routes and places I visited during the trip. Meanwhile here is a simple table where you can see my daily ‘planned’ route with the blogs that will eventually come up for them.
To go from North Island to South Island you have to load your vehicle on a ferry and sail. The point of loading on the North Island is Wellington and South Island is Picton. The ferry takes 3 hours for a 92 kms journey on water. I will be taking the InterIslander Ferry service both ways and penning down my experiences once I am through with it.
Day 0 : December 25th 2009
Land in Auckland from Melbourne Largest city in NZ. Prepare the BKing, setup the luggage and get ready to rock and roll.