The mecca of New Zealand motorcycling has to be the South Island and anyone saying otherwise is deluded.
There are some phenomenally beautiful, absolutely amazing scenic rides in the North Island as well but traffic volumes, density of ‘enforcement’, short distances between destinations, makes it rather… yawn…. North Island, yep been there. So we have been down south for 3 days, and what a great time we had.
From boarding for Picton and chatting in the boat with other riders (total strangers yet instant brothers or sisters) as we tied the bikes down and readied for the sea crossing, to coming home we met nothing but friendly accommodating and interesting people.
It was so calm that I don’t think we would have had to tie the bikes at all, the boat never rocked once and that’s incredible for the legendary Cook Strait!
From Picton we rode with one of the Harleys off the boat as far as Blenheim where we parted ways and Kelly, Bonnie and I continued south at a steady, even pace. Kelly has decided our Ducati ST4s is ‘Bonnie’
Anyone who grew up in Wellington in the 70’s and early 80’s will get the reference if ‘bumble bee’ is thrown in as a description of the bike. (wink)
So with Bonnie purring along the highway we entered the region around Seddon.
Seddon was recently the epicenter of some major seismic activity, and it showed. We bottomed out on hard to see dips and raises in the road about 3 or 4 times.
Still it was great riding, even on boring old SH1. The thing is, SH1 in the South Island is not a boring highway, it is an adventure all in itself with massive numbers of interesting wee stops along the way.
Onward, and on to Kaikoura, to meet the legendary Natalie, the ‘bestie’ from Melbourne, Kellys mate, epic stuntwoman chick, and all round bloody good sort.
So cutting the boring stuff out we get to Kaikoura, check in to the Motel, get beer and wine, and bingo Kelly gets the message Natalie is at her motel across the street.
It was so cool to watch, the girls almost did the long parted lover run-into-each-others-arms scene for me, I loved it! Seriously though it was a very emotional reunion for these girls,although not one tear shed just pure joy at seeing each other again.
Within a few minutes I was pretty damn sure I had known Nat for years myself, she’s just that kinda chick.
Off to the Whaler pub and restaurant for dinner, and our mate AJ caught up for a beer as he passed through on his way home to Christchurch (our next overnight stop) and fun was had for all, with us laughing at AJ carrying his Buell in his van (seriously the never dying legend of the Buell Carrier evolution Mk II caries on!) and we sent Nat and her man off to bed as they were swimming with dolphins the next day (we piked on this lol)
I took Nat for a burn on the Ducati the next morning blasting a few minutes up the road, giving the Ducati a wee squirt, and back again.
Sadly all good visits end and her and Kelly said farewell again, it was time to hit the road.
On to Christchurch through some changing weather to find a most excellent motel called the Salerno, (the owners parked the Ducati in their personal garage for safety!) with awesome rooms and private spa baths.
AJ caught back up with us for dinner but we missed catching up with our other good friends in town, just time factors and unfortunate schedules.
Christchurch…what can I say. It is 3 years since I passed through, and my heart breaks for dear Christchurch.
The empty sections, the damaged homes unoccupied and awaiting demolition or restoration. Too many of these sights we met, and I must say it was quite emotional. Especially when we went into Kaiapoi looking for a public facility the next morning, where we found entire suburbs devoid of any sign of human occupancy.
Cut more boring stuff, we head off to Culverden which leads onto Hamner, tourist mecca central if ever there has been one to be had. Lovely roads, as Kelly said in a facebook post, ‘we are riding through a picture postcard’.
Yep, a freaking HOT one at that, temperatures soared and sweat was shed in massive quantities. Stripping down all our liners and gear at Hamner I was real glad we had so much excess space in the luggage!
Back through the inland route we found a popular biker stop by mere chance at Waiau, a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere, with two choices branching off to the coast. We took the easier one as Kelly was getting ‘tight’ from pillion seat position for too long. Next time we take the mountain route woooohooo!
Blasting back up SH1 again from Kaikoura via the inland route we were racing to get to our ferry ride, only to get there and find we had a lengthy delay and did not need to rush so much.
Next time we go south we go with no itinerary, no pre-determined destinations, and no less than 5 days to enjoy it.
Home late, tired, weary and travel sore, but with massive grins on our faces, and plans to return to Ducati Heaven one day in the future.