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Old 06-24-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
Haroon OP
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Route & other advice for a 7 day ride in South Island

Greetings from India.
Having already done separate week long bike rides on 4 different continents, myself & wife riding pillion with me have set our sights for doing a 7-8 day ride hopefully this coming December (2012) in the South Island of New Zealand on a rented bike (probably an R1200RT). I have been researching the net, spoken to a few foreign riders who have visited New Zealand and also visited the FAQ thread here in the NZ section and got some nice pointers. However, New Zealand being regarded as one of the best biking destinations on the planet, we want to make the best use of our limited resources & time for such a trip and hence I would be grateful to hear from the ‘local New Zealand riders’ who can give us some good riding route advice based on our below requirements:
  • Normally most of our global rides are 7-8 days with a rest day in between to take a break and stop at a location that has many activities to see/do like a regular tourist. So we are looking at a broad route suggestion for 7-8 days
  • We ONLY ride tarmac roads (no off-roading).
  • Riding route we are looking for is a round loop starting & ending in the same city- Christchurch
  • In the route we are looking to cover a combination of scenic mountain drives/passes, little of beaches, other natural beauty/wonders, history etc, all connected with tarmac roads. Ideally, we like to skip any expressways or freeways (if they exist) and stick to B-roads that are tarmac ofcourse.
  • Max riding of about 200-300 kms per day for 7 days. Daily we start early & finish well before sunset. Is that do able with relaxed riding, lunch & photo-stops included?
  • Can we find budget category Bed & Breakfast/motels that are not flashy, but clean and safe (for us & the bike). Need attached toilet. Is pre-booking required in December or can we just walk in and find a room (maybe bargain also!).
  • Typically in December what are the sunrise/sunset times in the south island. Also, I looked up Christchurch & it says 7 days of rain/season, so does the same hold good for the whole of south island?
  • Lastly, I always carry a GPS, but also like to always carry a conventional paper map. What is the best suggested road map for the South Island and since I like to purchase it well in advance for my preparations where can I buy it online?
Thanks for your time and eagerly looking forward to all your valuable inputs- big or small :-)


Regards,

Haroon
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:00 PM   #2
Padmei
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Hi haroon
we are a Sth pacific island - y. Start from chch & ride up to kaikoura across to Nelson via the queen charlotte drive, over to golden bay, back out again & down to Westport/karamea then down the west coast to Queenstown, Down to the Caitlins then back up to CHCh.
Every where you go you will see beautiful scenery. there is good cheap accomodation everywhere. Long days Daylite till 10pmish. We don't have any motorways really down & our roads are pretty quiet here. Any map will do - The only thing I find riding down south is the road signs don't say North or South or give major destinations but rather the closest smaller town. Don't overthink it or overplan it & you'll have a good time.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:28 PM   #3
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Ive done a couple of 7 day rides around the SI, but found the distances were more than we thought (and I grew up there). Some days were more like 4-500 klm in the saddle. Padmei's advice about not overthinking it is spot on. We just had a list of places we wanted to go, (Queenstown, Fox glacier, Franz joseph, Wesport, Moleswoth, Hanmer) but ended up zig zagging across the Island a few times to avoid some classic westcoast rain You might find covering the length of the SI "leisurely" to be a bit of a stretch in time you have got especially at 2-300 ks a day. Map wise, most any road map of the south island will give ya enough info, ya can't get too lost as your never far from a town. We used KiwiMaps (www.kiwimaps.co.nz) which you can pickup at most gas stations plus I had a garmin zumo 550 gps. The most boaring bit of road is south of CHCH to Timaru through the canterbury plains, but once your over that it gets real interesting.

You'll have a blast, theres lots of small towns with classic old pubs that are cheap az to stay at and know how to put on a good cheap feed for hungry bikers
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:52 PM   #4
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you should try to visit early in december if possible
between christmas and new year is a national holiday and the traffic will increase tenfold with many campervans and boats being towed about the area
from timaru north to christchurch try the inland route via methven a nice winding road with much less traffic
enjoy
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:58 AM   #5
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Thanks Padmei, Night Falcon & zhu for your inputs. Have taken it all into consideration for the planning.

Based on Padmei's suggestion, I plotted google maps. And this is how it looks. (OK, I just added Dunedin- dont know if its worth or should I take a shorter route with something interesting on the way back to christchurch).





Few more queries:

While I love riding & riding & riding into the horizon, my wife sitting idle on the pillion seat sure will enjoy the scenery but we also like to know of some places to visit. I mean any suggestions on the places & specialties that we could briefly visit and place(s) that we need to take a day off in between to visit & enjoy...

In the above route, do we have some nice high mountain passes like the European Alps? As per google maps, I dont find paved roads when I did a search for 'New Zealand Alps'. Is it in a different place? BTW, what are temperatures in the higher ranges we ride thru on the above map.

We should be riding in NZ hopefully middle of December and finish before christmas.

What are the speed limits on the highways, towns, school zones etc?

I am a law abiding person and we are teetotalers, but for general knowledge- What allowances do the cops give for speeding? What pisses them most (other than speeding I mean)? In towns & cities, is parking allowed everywhere or do they have motorcycle designated parking areas?

Thanks
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:01 PM   #6
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We don't have any high alpine passes like Europe, Our passes are short in comparison as the Alps are fairly narrow. All our roads are tar seal apart from the ones you have to hunt out if you like gravel. Around Queenstown the mountains are lovely.
The cops are very strict on speeding & 104 is the max permissible before getting ticketed during a holiday period. I have been stopped the last 2 times I went over Arthurs pass - ticketed for 116 & let off on my bike for 123 (I argued that my bike wouldn't do that speed). Towns are 50k.
Expect rain & winds at that time of year. it can snow at any time in Summer down South. modify your route daily wityh the weather.

If you google thiongs to do in NZ you'll come up with the usual touristy things to do - whale watchiing, shanty towns, luges, The puzzle house ion Wanaka is a favourite.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:16 PM   #7
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Your route looks ok apart from between G & I, like Night Falcon says, SH1 from ChCh to Dunedin is about the only boring piece of road on the island. Unless there is something you really want to see in Dunedin, take the inland route via Mt Cook, Tekapo etc, use the extra time to hit Te Anau & Milford, or Golden Bay at the top end.

Queenstown is a nice place to take a day off. I'd leave the missus there to do some shopping & go for a blast to Milford Sound & back if it's a nice day & you don't get there otherwise.

You can park most places, car parks are ok & most big towns will have some dedicated motorcycle spaces too. Parking on the footpath is not strictly legal but if you are not in trhe way no one minds in most small towns.

In Dec the tourist season is starting to warm up but it won't be crazy until after christmas. I would get the Jason's & AA free accomodation guidebooks & call a day ahead to book accomodation if you want B&B/motel type beds, maybe 2 days ahead for the weekend.

Cheers
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:29 PM   #8
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weather options

The weather can sometimes be pretty wet that time of year but generally if it is wet on the East coast it is dry on the West and vise versa I would make a couple of alternate plans one clockwise and one anticlockwise of the same route. When you collect the bike check the weather forecast for the next week and decide then which direction you go
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:07 AM   #9
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Thanks Padmei, clintnz & Timbatrader for the important tips. All well noted & will act accordingly.

I am now programming myself with 3 words - Dont Over Plan
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Old 06-28-2012, 02:04 AM   #10
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All good advice above.

I'd reccommend something like this:


View Larger Map

I'd stay an extra day in either Queenstown or Wanaka. Queenstown if you want shopping restaurants, touristy exreme ride stuff. Wanaka if you want a more relaxing scenic stop.

Te Anau & Milford sound are stunning. If you've got the time & cash i'd reccomend a scenic flight over any of Fiordland, Milford sound, Lake wanaka or Fox glacier.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:18 PM   #11
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Thanks a lot for the route suggestion Kiwipeet. Cost of the helicopter ride looks steep, but let us see how it goes..

Ideally, our concept of rest day is to stay in that place and do 2 or 3, 30-40 kms in various directions to visit some special places of tourist interest around the city/town we are staying for the night.

Also I read on google most Hot Spings are located on the North Island. Is there any worthwhile ones on the South Island?
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:40 PM   #12
Padmei
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Hamner Springs is a great alpine (for NZ) place to visit. Very busy & lots of commercial pools but nice.
I would recommend staying at Queenstown an extra night & head way down south for a ride to the Caitlins & back - very nice.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:27 AM   #13
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I just had a quick look on google... seems like there's quite a few in the South Island as well.

http://www.nzhotpools.co.nz/
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:40 PM   #14
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If you can fit a trip thru the Catlins (south East corner of the South Island) its well worth it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:50 PM   #15
Haroon OP
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So there are a few good hot springs down south.

Thanks Mathias52. Seems its a long detour to the south east. But let me see how the final route shapes up.
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