Motorcycle riding safety: Riding on the left and dealing with jet lag.

Riding a motorcycle in New Zealand is one of the most amazing things you will ever do.
Learn how to ride on the left, and what to do about jetlag.

Unlike a car there is no obvious point of reference on a motorcycle to give you a clue what side of the road you’re supposed to be riding on. We ride on the left in NZ and give way to the right.

For those of us that travel in Europe or the USA, anywhere in the “drive on the right side of the road” world, but live in the drive on the left regime, we get used to switching our heads when we get off the ‘plane.

I guide tours around the World during New Zealand’s  winter, and a trick I use is this. If I’m riding on the right, my throttle or gas hand is towards the side of the road, and I’m giving way to the left.
If I’m riding on the left, in New Zealand say, then my throttle or gas hand is to the centre of the road and I’m giving way to the right. It’s easy.
Most people get used to the change of sides quite quickly, although statistically the third day of riding is the most dangerous. This is the day you think you’ve got it all sorted out, and start to relax.

One of the biggest issues will be looking the wrong way on a quiet rural intersection, and then pulling onto the wrong side of the road. When you approach a junction you need to have your head on a swivel, way more than you do at home. You need to be looking in all directions and taking all the visual clues, road signs, direction arrows, even give way road markings, anything to affirm your choice on the side of the road you’re going to pull away onto, and don’t forget the throttle. Is it to the centre of the road?

Let’s throw jet-lag into the mix. If you travel from Europe or the East Coast of the USA you may have travelled 30 hours or more to get here. It doesn’t matter what class you have travelled, you will have crossed time zones, and maybe the International Dateline. You will be jetlagged!

Adrenaline will get you through the first few hours, and rightly so, this is an exciting place to be, but it won’t last long, and eventually you will hit the wall, and feel overwhelmingly tired. You really don’t need to be riding or driving at that point in time. You need to stop and rest until you feel better. Dont ride or drive anything on your first day, stay up as long as you can, try and eat at the nomal time for the locale you're in and then get an early night.

Uniquely, if our clients have flown in long-haul, we will not allow anyone to have the keys to a motorcycle until they have had a nights sleep in New Zealand. Its cost us business I’m sure, but after 10 years plus in this industry, and as far as I can ascertain, we have the best safety record within the motorcycle tourism industry globally.

Enjoy your Ride in New Zealand and stay safe



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