It has been almost 10 years since we last conducted a tour to New Zealand, and we are looking forward to returning in 2016! Al Walker, of Wanaka, New Zealand, is along as our guide and has been intimately involved in planning this great trip.
After touring with Al for years in the Alps, traveling with him again in his 'back yard' will be good fun!
Explore New Zealand's North and South Islands. The Maori Meander is a Grand Tour with a one-way, three-week itinerary running from Auckland to Christchurch. Kick it off in the City of Sails. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, comes complete with bustle, noise, and crowds, as modern and cosmopolitan as any nation’s center of commerce.
Fortunately, there is much to the North Island besides Auckland. A ride east eliminates any recollection of aggressive city folk.
The Coromandel Peninsula is the scene of eons of volcanic activity. Violent upheavals and erosion formed the tortured topography, which the roads follow faithfully, thus translating to delightful up, down, over, and around riding!
Here we have the opportunity to lounge at "Hot Water Beach," where a shallow depression dug in the sand will fill with warm thermal waters, making an ideal place to relax by the seaside!
The entire North Island also has an abundance of thermal activity — geysers, bubbling mud pools, and active volcanos! This is an island visibly evolving. Sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where two of the earth’s tectonic plates meet, the North Island is somewhat "thin" in places. Around Rotorua huge clouds of steam billow from a vast underground volcanic reservoir.
Serious Altitude in a UNESCO National Park
Another impressive view of this underground activity is manifested when we overnight on the northern flank of Mount Ruapehu. This majestic volcano is the highest point on the North Island, and is capped with 8 named glaciers!
The view of the capital city, Wellington, unfolds as one crosses the Rimutaka mountain range. The big city is an enjoyable lay-by on the journey from the North to the South Island. After ferrying over the Cooke Strait, we ride down the east coast of the South Island to Christchurch.
It is a big day, but the reward upon arriving in Christchurch is worth it - more like minded people, eager riders just beginning their two week tour, to join you on the balance of your Grand Adventure!
A special place- the South Island
The sparsely populated South Island, with its lofty mountains flanked by icy glaciers, offers an ever changing scenic tone. Along the length of the west coast, the Southern Alps rise from the edge of the sea to dazzling, snow clad heights. Hundreds of mountains more than 7,500 feet high and a select few over 11,000 feet cluster protectively around the 12,349 foot Mount Cook which, in Maori, is called Aorangi, "The Cloud Piercer".
Subtropical rain forests, coastal fjords, vast grazing lands, deep alpine lakes bordered by thick forests, windswept headlands, and sandy beaches add to the visual drama. The lightly trafficked roads, twisting, rising, falling and rising again, spur a motorcycle rider to explore.
The South Island’s variety of scenery, climate, and vegetation is matched by seasonal changes more distinct than those on the North Island. It is possible to hack through the middle of a subtropical rain forest and emerge on a massive glacier.
For those less adventurous, it is also possible to walk up a groomed trail to the same glacier. Only in Alaska and New Zealand are glaciers so close to the sea!
And if, perchance, the riding in the rain is getting you down (yes, it does rain - mostly on the west coast - over 350 inches a year!), a short hop over the mountains will bring the temperature up 15 degrees and the airborne humidity down to nil — desert riding!
Only a small percentage of New Zealand’s population lives on the South Island which means sparse traffic on well maintained roads — perfect motorcycle touring. You can ride your bike for 20 minutes and not pass another vehicle, seeing only the impressive mountains, fjords, forests, rivers, and sparkling lakes.
New Zealand seems to have been created especially for the motorcyclist. No place on earth offers such a combination of scenery, great roads and old fashioned, down-home hospitality.
A highlight of the 2016 Maori Meander is the bi-annual Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow. This is the most spectacular Warbirds gathering in the southern hemisphere, and is truly a unique event.
Of course, tour participants are free to choose their day-to-day activities, and some may choose to ride on our free day in Wanaka. But for those who don't, this aerial extravaganza is certain to please and awe!
Riding in New Zealand
The Kiwis subscribe to the British notion of driving — on the left side of the road. This should be of little concern, as motorcyclists seem quite adept at picking up the habit. For the most part, the roads have little or no traffic, and nearly all are well maintained.
In some places, particularly on the South Island, there are few routing options for a day’s ride. There may only be one road from point A to point B. Fortunately, that road will be diverse, scenic and a joy to ride!
With few exceptions, the daily distances are not excessive — only 4 to 5 riding hours a day are necessary unless you choose alternate routes.
There is no high Alpine riding on the Meander. As with the Rockies, the mountain roads tend to follow the valleys. In short, riding here is fantastic!
Rider $9,149 (Includes BMW 650, Yamaha 660, or Yamaha XVS950/1100)
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Australia and Oceania New Zealand Outdoor: Land Rambler Motorcycle Tours