Posted On 05 Apr 2024
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This entry is part 32 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#27


You thought we’d seen some sights already? Well, our wet start to day 4 – Te Anau to Milford Sound for our boat cruise – was to test many of us, as Mother Nature unleashed her fury, but it was also more spectacular than ever.


A relatively short ride today, as we set off for the west coast. It was raining from the outset and we got reports of snow at Homer Tunnel, the high point on our way to Milford Sound.

The road out to Milford Sound is simply stunning. Huge mountains line the road, with just about all of them snow-capped. Ambient temperature was very low. Initially it averaged five to six degrees but on the climb up towards Homer Tunnel, this quickly dropped to zero and even -1degrees.

I waited for the group at the entrance to Homer Tunnel and went for a walk in the snow that was falling thickly.

Stories of how the tunnel was chopped out by pick axe and wheelbarrow make it all the more impressive to ride through – although there are some modern enhancements along the way, like the lights.

At the tunnel entrances, especially on the western side, there was a lot of snow and ice on the roadway. I shot off and rode off through the tunnel ahead of the group, who hadn’t turned up yet. The workers scraping the road hadn’t got to the other side, which made for some exciting sideways action. Of course I had turned the traction control off on the F 800 GS, but that was the plan.

Our boat cruise out to the heads and back through Milford Sound was wonderful. Thanks to the rain, lots of long waterfalls were cascading down the sides of the huge mountains around the water. We went with Mitre Peak Cruises who were excellent. They got right in close to some of the larger waterfalls, which saturated the boat and those standing outside the cabin. I was reminded of my trip on the Pieman River in Tassie; the water of Milford Sound and almost out to the heads is changed to a tea brown colour by the tannins from the trees in the rainforest.

Stoneridge Winery, just outside Queenstown

Just before we set off for the ride back to Te Anau, a coach driver told me that the road up to Homer Tunnel had turned even worse than when I’d come through earlier. A couple of the guys had lost confidence on their way into Milford Sound, which had left two bikes deep in the snow area. Andre (one of our tour guides) and I went up to retrieve the bikes and rode them out to the other side of the tunnel. They’d been covered by about10cm of snow, so I rolled up some snowballs and threw them at Trevor (the other tour guide) and some of the group in the support van. A bit of fun in the freezing cold!

One thing we did get to see up close for the first time was Kea birds. Andre and Trevor had told us stories of how they love to eat windscreen wipers on cars, motorcycle seats, tyres and just about anything else soft on vehicles. Of course, most of us just thought these were old wives tales, but that changed once we’d got to Arthur’s Pass!

Stoneridge Winery, just outside Queenstown


A short ride today, but a simply stunning one over to Queenstown.

Starting off you are surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks, then as you get closer to Queenstown, around 40km, you reach Lake Wakatipu, which you follow all the way around to Queenstown. An amazing fact about the lake is that is rises and falls around 12cm every fi ve minutes.

Scientific research suggests it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressure, while legend states that a Giant’s heart, which is impossible to destroy, causes the rise and fall. One of the most amazing sights of this stretch is The Remarkables, mountains which line the Frankton side from Queenstown.

I was riding along in the middle of the group today and I thought, “What an amazing sight! Seeing so many motorcycles snake along this road past The Remarkables is a sight to see all by itself.”

Throughout the trip so far, the mass of bikes had drawn its own crowd.

Paradise Motorcycle Tours certainly put a stamp on the South Island with this tour, let me tell you!

One of the main reasons to get to Queenstown was so that we could have a full day and a half to explore and enjoy. Most of the group decided to do the Shotover jet boat ride on the afternoon of our arrival. An absolute awesome activity, zooming past rock walls at only a handful of centimetres is something you have to experience. Well worth the $129 per person. Check out Eating out in Queenstown caters for all the extraordinary tastes you might have. On our first night we went to the iconic Winnies Gourmet Pizza Bar, the second night we all looked after ourselves, but Andre, Trevor, Alan and I went to Pog Mahone’s Irish bar down by the waterfront for a great hearty feed and pints of beer. I also recommend Botswanna Butchery who offer an exquisite menu, the Skyline Restaurant up on Bob’s Peak (voted number one restaurant with a view in the world),and for lunch, the world famous Fergburger is nice if you get in before the queue gets too long.


A free day in Queenstown can involve all sorts of fun, but we’re here on a bike tour and Queenstown is surrounded by some of the best roads you’ll find. A group of us who wanted to have a bit of a fang decided to ride Queenstown to Glenorchy, back to Queenstown, then to my favourite road – the Crown Range Road, where we went to Cardrona and the old pub for lunch. After many stories of how amazing the ride and roads had been, with a couple of the guys mentioning that today’s ride has been the most spectacular of their life, we rode back down the Crown Range Road to our accommodation at the Oak Shores, Queenstown. An excellent way to add that little bit more spice to the tour for those wanting a bit of road enjoyment, not just the visual assault from everything there is to see while in Queenstown.

Queenstown – The Remarkables


One of the best days for the group. We went up the Crown Range to Cardrona and everyone had a blast climbing the stretch up the side of the range, over and along to Cardrona.

From there we made our way over to Wanaka, alongside Lake Hawea on the right, which then changes over a rise to Lake Wanaka on your left – a simply stunning ride with clear blue water.

Once you get past the lakes, you enter Mount Aspiring National Park. Basically a rainforest with a road through it! The Gates of Haast are certainly worth a stop along the way for a walk to right down beside the fast fl owing clear blue river, or just to take some pics from the roadway back up to the high peaks above.

We were to take helicopter rides over the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers upon our arrival, but as is a usual occurrence in this area, the clouds came in and made the flights unsafe.

Our night at Franz Josef was spent at the King Tiger restaurant. We ate great food, drank plenty of wine and most of the group talked all night long.

Our own, “King Tiger”, Pete decided to commandeer a scooter that was in the carpark. It was the most “powerful” two wheeled machine he’d ever ridden. He even asked where the clutch and gear lever were, not realising it was a CVT setup. This of course turned everyone into a barrel of laughs.

Even though the weather had started to close in again, this didn’t dampen our spirits to have a great time!

Milford Sound



Extremely heavy rain confronted us today. But we all took it in our strides (so to speak) and rode like troopers on a mission. When the group stopped for a break I continued on, filling up at Greymouth and taking the lovely coastal road to Punakaiki. Unfortunately I had a bit of misfortune with a rail line across a bridge at Taramakau River. As I was

crossing the bridge (a one way bridge, and I had the right of way) a car came onto the bridge from the other end (admittedly it was pretty hard to see who was on the bridge until the last minute, especially in the pouring rain), leaving me to try and get over to the side for both of us to pass.

Either that or he or I would have had to turn around somehow. My misfortune was that the cutaway around the rail line was just wide enough to swallow and lock the front tyre of the F 800 GS, throwing me clean over the handlebar as the bike stopped dead and both of us then spun around onto the ground.

Not a great feeling and the guy coming the other way was really non-compos about what had happened in front of him, especially when I asked him why he had come onto the bridge when I was there. I bet you can guess the answer… “I didn’t see you, bro.” This bloke did ask if I was okay and as much as I was quite angry, I was okay. I picked the bike up and continued on to Greymouth, filled up and rode on to the Punakaiki Resort.

A while after I got into my room (over looking the beach) and started to dry out, the rest of the group started to arrive, just in time for some of the heaviest downpours of rain we’d had. I was certainly glad I was inside getting warm!

We took the short trip to the Punakaiki Pub from our accommodation for some good pub grub. The money “stuck to the roof” is a bit of a trick by the bar staff, so if you want to lose some money, try them out. I won’t spoil it for you, visit there one day and see for yourself.

Fiona who was her husband, Mike’s pillion in a million, used to be a leading opera singer and she sang two songs after our dinner. The amazing tunes stopped the entire pub with rasps of clapping and cheering after she’d finished.


The final day; we were all sad to see this amazing trip coming to an end. We also thought this was a bit of a transport day to whip us over to Hampton Motorcycles in Christchurch to finish the tour, but were we in for a treat as we rode through Arthur’s Pass. One of the most eye opening passes you’ll ever ride. Mountains that seem to stretch to the sky along the roadway are quite staggering. I would love to see them covered in snow, but then again, it would be very cold and we’d had enough of that!

We did stop at Arthur’s Pass Store for a bite to eat and this is where we got to see the “ferociousness” of the Kea bird.

This particular “friendly” chap took a liking to a bicycle rider’s front tyre, then the rear. While we all laughed, the poor bike rider had a fun time trying to keep his newfound mate away.

From here you hit the Canterbury Plains and finally Christchurch. It felt sad to end the tour, but as they say, “all good things must come to an end.”

Trevor from Paradise – Top Dog!

We had a bit of time in Christchurch so a group of us went into the centre of the city to see the devastation from the massive earthquake back in 2011 that is still obvious. On the upside, lots of construction work is going on and will make Christchurch an amazing place.

Our final night together was our farewell dinner and awards night. Trevor, one of our tour guides, got the “Top Dog” and a “Dumbass” award. Pete, Allan and Sam both got Dumbass awards, while Rick and I got Clown awards. Don’t know why.

After speaking with most of the group, one thing stood out for me. Just about everyone commented on the professionalism of the Paradise crew and the way everything was organised, with top level accommodation and places to eat sorted very well. The professional riding by the tour guides was also mentioned and the pace they set, which was a good mix forthe wide variety of skill levels.

The Gates of Haast

Guided tours also bring an atmosphere you won’t get going out by yourself. If you like company, then a guided tour like this is right up your alley. The evening of Day 4, after our trip through the snow and ice, really brought everyone together.

Even Trevor and Andre commented on how great a time we all had.

I can only rabbit on so much about the stunning views we saw, but most of the time you are left breathless. I promised a trip of a lifetime and that’s exactly what every person got from this tour.

The things you will see on a tour like this really do make you think to yourself, “What a wonderful place New Zealand really is. Can it get any better?” We did that every single day!

Start of the Crown Range Road

If you’d like to experience a trip of a lifetime, just like this one, we are already preparing our 2016 AMM Paradise Motorcycle Tours NZ tour…

We hope to see you on it. You will have an unbelievable time, I can promise you that. Many of the group on this tour have mentioned coming back on the next, so I can only say this so many times.

Book early to avoid missing out. For those who came on this tour, Paradise has something up their sleeve to make it different next time. So, what are you waiting for! Book, book, book! And I’ll see you there in 2016, ready and raring to go for the best time of your life!

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