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Kia ora fellow motorcyclists, by now you already know New Zealand is a fantastic country for motorcycling, but when you arrive where do you go, you only have a couple of weeks to see the country, which places should you bypass and which should not be missed.
The South Island of New Zealand is where the best riding can be found, although riding in New Zealand is generally fantastic the South Island has the Southern Alps which provide mountain passes and the most amazing scenery, there is also very little traffic out on the roads compared with the North Island, there are just 1 million people in the South and over 3 million in the North, although with 4 million people in the entire country which is roughly the size of the UK, that can't be bad at all.
The North Island really is like a different country, the scenery is that of rolling hills, volcanoes and green farm fields. The roads are generally well maintained throughout NZ, but of course where there's more traffic there are more road works. The North Island is more cultural and has a lot of history with the Maori people who first settled in New Zealand before the Colonials arrived.
Top 10 Rides
So here are the top 10 rides in New Zealand, we'll start with number 10 and work our way down to our number 1 ride which you definitely can't leave New Zealand without experiencing.
#10 - Pyes Pa Road, Rotorua
When leaving Rotorua there's a great short ride along the top of the Lake from East to West before getting on Pyes Pa Road to Tauranga, it's one of a few great rides in the North Island and just makes it into our top 10.
#9 - Motueka Valley, Nelson
Motueka Valley (know locally as Mot Valley) is along the coast from Nelson at the top of the South Island and by travelling this way you bypass the main highway. It's a great ride through the Fruit Region, wending your way through the Orchards, beside tree lined rivers until you arrive at Murchison. From here you can link up to our #1 ride in New Zealand and loop back via our #5 ride across the Lewis Pass.
#8 - Catlins, Southland
The Catlins has only been tar sealed since the late 1990s and we're sure glad they decided to do it. This is an area usually left out by many but is a great way to get from Dunedin to Invercargill making it a great stepping stone to the wonderful Milford Sound.
#7 - Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel on the weekend is full of motorcycles from Auckland and surrounding areas, it's about a 2.5 hours from Auckland City and is the best local ride. From Thames to Coromandel the traffic can be terrible, but once you're into the hills the ride is fantastic.
#6 - Akaroa, Christchurch
The best local ride in Canterbury is to the French Settlement of Akaroa deep in the Banks Peninsula. It's 2 hours in, and 2 hours back with long sweepers beside Lake Ellesmere to the hills and volcanic crater rim ride to the town of Akaroa, a must do when visiting Christchurch.
#5 - Lewis Pass
The Southern Alps separate the West Coast from the East and what better way to get over them than by using the Lewis Pass, at one end of the Lewis is our #1 ride in NZ and at the other is the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs only 1.5 hours from Christchurch allowing a nice relaxing day in the hot pools before returning to Christchurch.
#4 - Glenorchy, Queenstown
Queenstown is a great destination, known as the adventure capital of the world there is almost nothing you cannot do there, however if you have some spare time Glenorchy is only 40 mins away, the road there is well maintained, the corners are banked perfectly and the scenery is amazing. Stop at one of the Cafes at the end then ride the same great 40 minutes back.
#3 - Milford Sound
The ride to Milford Sound is simply magical, it starts with open roads and provides sweepers to get you warmed up, the bends then become tighter and tighter till you reach the Homer Tunnel where you'll blast through a mountain to the steep valley on the other side. Take a cruise out on Milford Sound before another 2 hour ride back the same way.
#2 - Haast Pass
When riding from Queenstown to Franz Josef on the West Coast you must ride the Haast Pass, the whole day is brilliant but the Haast Pass gets the #2 slot. You'll start with the ride over the Crown Range to Wanaka where you'll ride beside Lakes, over saddles an eventually arrive at Haast Pass, climbing through the Pass you'll experience steep twisty sections with waterfall walks along the way and before you know it you'll be riding through rainforests on the West Coast to the Glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef.
#1 - Buller Gorge
From Punakaiki you ride up some of the most scenic coastal highway in the world before turning inland to Inangahua. Continuing to Murchison will take you beside the Buller River and through the Buller Gorge. The bends are endless and each bend is set up nicely to flow onto the next and so on. You climb up above the river and hug the walls of the Gorge as you ride the whole experience will amaze you, it's a favourite with all our tour guests, has a bunch of other great rides around it and this is why it makes the #1 spot.
We hope you get to visit New Zealand and hope you get to fit in all of these rides, there are many more great rides in New Zealand and many tour companies to help you plan your trip, a great website to check out is www.motorcyclerides.com.au select New Zealand. If you can link these rides together you've got a motorcycle vacation which will provide the most amazing memories. The only problem is, after this, nothing else will compare. Go on! Ride New Zealand, live the Dream!
South Pacific Motorcycle Tours is New Zealand's leading motorcycle touring company. Rentals, GPS-Guided & Fully Guided Tours for your New Zealand trip of a lifetime! Our expert Tour Planners and friendly team are waiting to help. Ride with the best!