In about three hours, the ferry sails from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island. The ride west from Picton to Nelson is one of the best I have experienced. Some very tight curves to start off with followed by some winding hillsides. Much like Coromandel… Only better!?! Our home-away-from-home today is Kershaw house, a 4* B&B in Richmond just outside Nelson. Recommended! It seems that it is the B&B*s you want to stay in NZ, not any chain hotel! Take note!
On the norther shore on the way to Collingwood the ride along the Tasman bay and over the mountains to Golden bay was magnificent. Perfect weather, sunshine, plenty of corners over the hills and lower 20’s. Some fantastic scenery over and under ground. Wineries and vineyards and we also had an opportunity to visit stalagmite caves with Moa-bird skeletons and a nature formed cathedral under ground.
On the way back we visited the oldest pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn, est 1850! Topping the evening with local wine and cuisine in Richmond near Nelson.
One of the world’s best motorcycle rider? ABSOLUTELY! The ride east from Nelson/Richmond to Punakaiki on the western shore unfolds in sections of very different scenery and road style. Starting off through very beautiful agricultural landscape approaching mountains, then a wonderful gorge following a stream (Owen river?) leading through the very northern section of the southern alps and suddenly coming to the seaside with palm trees and tropical scenery. Curve after curve in very good road conditions. Dramatic cliffs to the ocean, tropical forests and long beaches. An unbelievable ride!!! We are staying right by the beach at an old country & western style Punakaiki Tavern. A short walk to pancake rocks & blowholes – a rock formation by the sea at Paparoa National Park.
…is a thermal spa town in a valley in the midst of the mountains. The route from Punakaki was again really enjoyable. Some seaside riding next to great cliffs, then some agricultural landscape, perhaps a little less interesting but with the mountains in the distance the ride was filled with excitement. Nothing I have seen in Europe prepared me for entering the mountains and the really dense tropical forests. Combined with winding roads, some sharp turns and great valleys, the day’s ride was perfect. Entering Hanmer Springs, sun was shining and temperature hit 24c. Great for an end-of-day’s-ride-beer and some bathing in the springs at the town’s popular spa.
Forecast for the northern parts of the island is gale force winds and heavy rain, warnings issued. Our evening at Hanmer Springs was warm and calm. Only to change during the night. Early morning I woke up for very strong winds and heavy rain. Around 9 AM we headed out with all the weather gear on. We hit a good opening in the clouds and rain was just moderate. Heavy clouds following and us trying to escape! Only a little drizzle and temp 25c – 28c. In rain gear! The scenery was out of this world. Nothing could dampen the feelings and the ride was just magnificent. Some 20 km before Kaikoura we pulled off, jumped out from the excess gear and got some deserved breakfast by the seaside! There were two colonies of dolphins jumping at sea just outside the cafe and two boatloads of tourists watching them play.
Again we got some drizzle but did not bother with rain gear. A good choice since the rain soon stopped and we can change into shorts and t-shirts and enjoy the summer!