Ride to Akaroa


  • Cruiseman
    started a blog post Ride to Akaroa

    Ride to Akaroa

    This morning we wee met at our hotel by Neil, Operations Manager of South Pacific Motorcycle Tours (SPMT). We drove about 15 minutes to their headquarters, which just happens to be located on the same property where Mike and Carole Lester, owners of SPMT, live. A three-car garage is filled with BMWs, and a couple of Hondas, including our 2010 maroon Level 3 Goldwing, aptly named "Ronda". Carole greeted us upon our arrival and offered us coffee, tea and cookies while all the paperwork was completed for our 3-day rental. Rickee and I also rented riding jackets and helmets for the ride. They had a selection of jackets, rain gear, boots, gloves and helmets in all sizes. SPMT offers a wide range of guided group tours of the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

    Visit their website at: http://www.motorbiketours.co.nz/

    With all the paperwork completed and signed, we were asked to view a short safety video. Then, it was time to gear up, fire up Ronda and hit the road. Carole has included some suggested routes and maps for us in the trunk, and Neil pre-programmed the GPS with the routes. We headed out of the gates to their property and were on our way to Akaroa, a seaside community that now serves as the cruise port for Christchurch. It does not take long to adapt to riding on the left side of the roads, but there is some stress initially remembering how to react at intersections and roundabouts. The hardest part is remembering to look right instead of left for traffic in the lane you are entering.

    It took about 30 minutes to get out of Christchurch proper and onto the rural portion of Highway 75 South. The first portion of the ride was a long straight road (100 kph) with a few sweeping turns, but after about 45 minutes, things get more interesting, and fun. As the road begins to twist and turn, the scenery also start to get more amazing. Neil recommended a short detour onto Summit Highway which we of course did not hesitate to do. Summit Highway is a scenic route that takes you up to the top of the mountain via a myriad of twisty roads, including a few hairpins and switchbacks. The road is in excellent condition, albeit narrow. However, there are very few places to pull over for photo taking, and no shoulder. There are a few pullover spots designed for slower vehicles to allow others to pass, but it is not safe to stop and park on these. I found myself riding much more carefully on the winding roads and allowing some other bikes to pass us. An unfamiliar bike combined with unfamiliar roads and still concentrating on staying in the left lane made me slow down a bit. Plus, I have a passenger!

    By the time we reached the "summit" of Summit Highway the cool breeze was feeling pretty good. We still have the liners in our jackets and the temperatures outside are steadily riding to about 80 degrees (F). The ride down the mountain and into Akaroa was a bit less challenging, but still great fun. The little town of Akaroa is buzzing with tourists on this Saturday. We find a good spot to park the bike, shed our gear and begin walking through town. We find a little Thai restaurant and have an excellent lunch with a view of bay. The weather is near perfect with only a slight breeze, sunny skies and 80 degree temps. After a leisurely lunch, and a brief walk through town, stopping to do a little souvenir shopping, we are ready to ride back to Christchurch.

    On the ride back to our hotel, we decided take 75 all the way back without the side trip on Summit Highway. Even the "normal" way back has a lot of nice twisties and spirited riding. About 60 kilometers out of Christchurch a stiff wind began pelting the right side of the bike. We got back into Christchurch about 5pm. We stopped at a local bottle shop to pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy at our hotel. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying a nice New Zealand wine and looking over our photos from the day's ride. Tomorrow, we will embark on another ride on the beautiful South Island of New Zealand!

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    Last edited by Cruiseman; 01-24-2015, 11:51 AM.

    • RaConnol
      RaConnol commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Chris,
      Having just returned from NZ from the 12th trip down under. I find it really helps to tie something bright and very obvious to the left handle bar as a reminder to keep left. I don't have much of a problem with the marked roads or even in the roundabouts, however, in unmarked parking lots or very narrow and twisty roads, there is always a instinctive feeling of wanting to pull to the right when a oncoming car quickly pops into view.

      Queensland and the Remarkables are a must see, IMHO. One year I took my mom (in a car) for her first visit to NZ and from Queensland we took a small plane ride to and back from a great boat tour around the Milford sound. The road into the sound looked like an excellent MC ride, however, tons of bus and car traffic as well. I have also been told that best time to take a boat tour is in the morning before the wind picks up and the boats stop running,

      Mind the coffee and restaurant prices and though there is no tipping, food is not cheap in NZ... trip adviser, and talking to the local helps.

      Have fun.


      BTW do you notice how almost every MC Rider is wearing ATGATT? Check out how sharp the seal coat is on most of the NZ roads. They just don't get the traffic we see in North America which wears down the seal coat into a more smooth and less jagged surface.

    • Kiwi
      Kiwi commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Cruise. Welcome . If your keen you can do the Arthurs and the Lewis passes as a day trip, with lunch at Reefton. Its a big day and you should get an early start..

      Its about 7hrs riding , + stops and 600k or so.

    • Cruiseman
      Cruiseman commented
      Editing a comment
      We did Arthurs yesterday, but just up and back. Great ride!

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