My Kiwi-land Tour Part III
by Vic Paladini
Like they say in Hawaii … “Ho hum … Another shitty day in Paradise!”
The weather here (written in mid-January) is sunny and rain-free, so far. The roads are immaculately clean, without pot holes, debris, tar snakes or problems of any kind. There is an occasional construction zone or two, just like in the States but unlike in the U. S. the zones are short and there are people actually working on the roads in each area! A novel idea!!
I love their way or thinking. Kiwis conform to the European standard of driving > use common sense when driving! If you are on a steep mountain-pass roadway, there is probably steep grades on either side of the mountain road and it’s common sense that it’s probably NOT a good place to pull the motorcycle over to the shoulder (edge of the cliff) to view the scenery! There are some roadway guide rails and/or reflectors otherwise they do not need to post a stupid sign saying “Steep Grade!” like they do in the over-protective U.S.
My places of lodging, all prearranged part of my tour, have been definitely five-star! Some are beautifully furnished B&B’s, others are quaint clean country inns, scenic hotels, and some are very quiet, in the countryside overlooking the Tasman Ocean, coastal B&Bs. Thanks to my native tour operator (Ian Fitzwater) I really get to see and experience New Zealand hospitality as most motorcycling tourists do not.
I love the Self Guided Tour (SGT) concept! It’s just me, the F800GS, and a leisurely time schedule. I have no groups of riders to content with, riders (or wives/girlfriends) with bad attitudes, riders who complain, riders who have no motorcycle skills and/or drink too much the night before and ride with hangovers. Plus, I have no one to wait for, no listening to someone whine about its too-cold, too-hot, too-windy, or I need to stop and take a picture (or gotta go pee!) Heaven on earth!! LOL
Okay … you’ve been reading about this adventure and thinking, what’s the cost? I’m touring the south island for two weeks and paid close to $4,000 a week for a fully furnished Self Guided Tour. That includes a current-year, fully-outfitted with saddle bags, motorcycle of your choice, pick up and drop off at the local airport, two nights lodging at a 1895-era B&B in Nelson (to get over your jet lag from the 13-hour flight out of LAX), each nights reserved lodging – all over New Zealand, a full breakfast almost every morning, some dinners, and a comprehensive step-by-step SGT plan (mine being 92 pages!) listing each day’s activity. Of course, if you desire just to rent a motorbike he has that available as well he does conduct a guided group tour of this island-nation. Ian Fitzwater’s website is: www.GoTourNZ.com
As of January 2010, our U.S. dollar buys 0.75 of a NZ dollar. So, the exchange rate currently slightly favors U.S. tourists but gas costs and most food prices are higher here. So, it’s a ‘wash’.
Ian, my self guided tour (SGT) planner, is very protective of the mountain of touring data he obtained for my SGT, designed specifically for me. So he requests that I not share the actual data with other riders who desire to tour Kiwi-land. But I can give you my impressions – it’s wonderful!
You can even factor in a round of golf or two, go bungy jumping, sky diving, tramping (hiking), horseback riding, and/or many of the other outdoor activities if you are so inclined. Some of the things I have planned to do in the next week is a guided limestone cave tour, a Hello ride to two glaciers, a nature/wilderness jet boat ride, a tramp (hike) or two, a seaplane trip in the beautiful area of Te Anau/Doublful Sound, and a Milford Sound boat cruise. There are plenty of activities to do … or do nothing at all, just relax as you see fit.
Food! Boy, do these Kiwis really know how to eat! Of course, being on an island-farm their standard breakfast fare is thick thick, did I mention thick?, bacon, with a couple of eggs the way you like them, thick (Texas-style, as we call it in the States) toast with fresh butter, jelly, and occasionally other locally baked goods and/or a buttermilk pancake or two. And I was on a diet … well, not now!
And then there are the excellent wines, olives, kiwifruit, and what they call Pacific Rim Fusion food – dishes with something stir-fried. And then there is pasta, sushi, and always fresh and available fruits and salads. They even offer grass-fed meats like, steak, lamb dishes, and deer and elk venison. Due to the British influence, bangers (sausages) are popular too. Being an island with excellent harbors, seafood is always on the menu! Kiwi’s also love potatoes and beer, especially their Blue Cod (beer battered) “Fish & Chips”. Chips being thickly cut french fries.
Despite the country’s distance from any coffee growing area, coffee drinks are the current rave in New Zealand. They like their coffee thick; almost like espresso! Also, beer and rugby! Wow, they are fanatics about both beer and rugby! As mentioned before, there are 26 microbreweries here on the islands … from Three Boyz Brewery to Aotearoa Brewery to Wanaka Beerworks Experienced beer drinkers tell me they are all good!
Boy Kiwi’s are friendly! I’m a retired police officer and I met a NZ police officer and his wife at a coffee shop. I found out that some older Kiwi’s call the evening meal “tea”. I was invited over their house for “tea” and I thought I was going over their house for a cup of tea and some conversation. Instead, I was served a full-course dinner complete with homemade pudding for dessert. Luckily, I brought a box of chocolates for the lady of the house and a bottle of wine for host! What great people … to a total stranger!
As I mentioned, my tour started in the northern part of the south island in Nelson. It’ll take me south along the rainy west coastline of the island to almost the southern tip then over the central mountains and onto the eastern plains/coast line area, which is their dry region. I’ll then motorcycle northward back to Nelson. Overall, during my two week tour of the south island I’ll ride the F800GS about 1,600 – 1,800 miles.
Okay! Seven days down … seven days to go and then I’m flying onto the north island to see how the most populous area of this island-nation lives!
TTFN [ta ta for now] Vic Paladini in Kiwi-land !!