Posted On 20 Mar 2024
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This entry is part 29 of 33 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#24

WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU, the letters are among the most keenly read parts of the magazine. Please try and keep letters down to no more than 300 words. Then you can read many, not just a couple. We do reserve the right to cut them and, unless you identify yourself and at least your town or suburb and state, we will print your email address instead. Please address letters to or Australian Motorcyclist Magazine, PO Box 2066, Boronia Park NSW 2111. All opinions published here are those of the writers and we do not vouch for their accuracy or even their sanity!


The winner of the Andy Strapz AA Bagz for this issue is David Morrissey, who warns of the dangers of inexperienced drivers on tour in New Zealand. This is a very real danger, and not only in Unzud – all of the roads on and around Mt Tamborine in south-eastern Queensland pose the same danger, and for the same reason – tourists who think they have some kind of exemption from common sense because they’re on holidays. In Queensland, we’re told, they are often Europeans.

Anyway, David, enjoy your terrific AA Bagz, the one that we use ourselves – but please send us your postal address so Andy can dispatch one to you?


Hi Bear et al,We’ve just returned from a month on the FJR around the South Island of NZ. A little cool and windy in spring but fabulous nonetheless. BUT…

There is a hazard emerging on those famous rolling blacktop roads, mostly so in the Otago highlands. The latest generation of self-drive tourists is taking a toll on themselves and others. Some examples from recent news, and from talking to locals:

• Woman heading south on the challenging Crown Range Road in Spring 2012. Loses it on a bend, overcorrects into the path of 10 riders returning from Burt Munro Challenge. Two riders killed. Woman is aged 20, from Hong Kong, licensed one month. Police had been told of her bad driving and were already looking for her. Judge remarks Government needs to act on such drivers.

• Driver on same road filmed repeatedly crossing double line on curves. Defends himself in court on grounds his wife gets carsick if he takes curves, and that in Japan he is allowed to do this! Fined $500 and loses license for 3 months (for NZ!).

• Woman on Ducati Monster heading towards Mt Cook from Christchurch. Tops a ridge to find a car parked sideways across both lanes while driver takes photos. Slides aroundhim by inches and comes back to protest. Driver from Asia seems perplexed that there is an issue.

• Two rented vans with eight adults traveling towards Wanaka arrive at the T-intersection a few km from town. First van pulls out straight into path of down hilling B-double. Three dead, all from Hong Kong.

Now I’m not being racist here, these are real cases, and yes there are other countries involved as well. Looks like the rising middle class from our Asian neighbours is loving NZ as we in OZ and thousands from Europe and the US have done. Some proportion of this new wave has an issue of driver competence, ability ability to read road conditions and signage. Perhaps people from crowded cities and countries hitting an open road for the first time have trouble reading them. Perhaps their licensing is lax or corrupt. Either way the toll is rising. The percentage of accidents involving overseas drivers was quoted in The Press as 2% for NZ overall, but a massive 25% for Otago.

Media, judges and pollies are talking about measures to test people, qualify access to vehicles or whatever it takes to reduce this growing epidemic.

In a quiet month there we only witnessed one or two crazy drivers and one prang (t-intersection).

Oh and one hotshot from the Subcontinent who I had to shout at to get off my parked bike before he broke it and his leg while the wife took the heropic! But we sure heard about lots more mayhem involving rising numbers of inexperienced and/or undereducated drivers from Asian countries.

Our advice to riders heading that way: learn fast what all the rented vehicles look like, not just the campervans; approach intersections with no assumptions about driver behavior; hug the left of the road against oncoming traffic; use secondary roads where you can; be prepared to brake or avoid anytime; moderate your speed so you’re not part of the problem; double your wariness and double it again.

Oh, and enjoy some of the best riding on the planet!

David Morrissey Haberfield NSW

Thank you for this letter, David, and the concern you’ve shown. I know it takes a certain amount of courage these days to even risk being seen as racist. While I am always cautious about identifying specific groups of drivers as a threat – for example, bowling ladies – there is an argument that says different road conditions need different reflexes.

And I’ve ridden in enough countries to know that I have to learn fast to stay alive when conditions and the expectations of other drivers change. But there is also an argument that says if we encourage tourism, we need to work out ways to keep the tourists (and ourselves) safe. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

I welcome comments from other readers – The Bear


Hi, Bear

Here a photo of a neat little café racer taken in Sydney’s Rocks district. I have no idea whose it is or who customized it, but doesn’t it look tidy? Not too much, not too little, and starting with a bike that most people would probably reckon is too boring, small and plain. Er… it is a TU250, isn’t it? I know it’s a Suzuki by the tank badge.

Mick McCarthy

(not to be mistaken for Mike McCarthy) I presume you’re referring to the bloke who edited (and still does, for all I know, he always seemed indestructible) Sports Car World? Say hello if you know him. Meanwhile, yes, a tidy bike – The Bear


Hi Peter,

Great to read Australian Motorcyclist, it’s very similar to the early days of your last magazine which is wonderful. And it’s great to read Lester’s brilliant stories. Hopefully we will see you in Bombala.

Steve & Donna Far south coast NSW

And we did meet in Bombala, didn’t we? Next year will be even bigger and better, too – The Bear


Hi Peter,

I have been reading through the Dec 2014 issue and the story Back to the

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