Orson’s Travel Blog


Posts Tagged ‘Milford Sound

New Zealand

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December 2001

I rented a BMW 1150RT from the nice folks at http://www.gotournz.com. Started the trip in Auckland but due to camera malfunction, my pictures from the North Island didn’t turn out 😦 From Auckland I headed south to the hot springs of Rotorua then along the remote east coast to Te Araroa. I liked it there. Very quiet. Then down south through gisbourne then the wine country around Napier.

On Christmas day, I was wondering if I would find any restaurants open for lunch. I needn’t have worried. As I passed through a small town, I saw a sign that said “Tea room OPEN”. I pulled in and boy, I’m glad I did. They had a Christmas feast laid out. Tables and tables of food groaning under the weight of all that succulence. Ham, turkey, roast beef…you name it. And all the fixings. Another table for desserts alone. Needless to say, I waddled out to my bike.

The following day is Boxing Day and in New Zealand, that means the Boxing Day Races at the Cemetery Circuit in Wanganui. This is considered the Isle of Man TT of the southern hemisphere as it has a long and storied history since at least the early sixties, maybe more. Racers such as Randy Mamola and Graeme Crosby raced there on city streets that cut through the city’s cemetery, hence the name. The circuit is nowhere near as long as the Isle of Man as it takes the riders maybe 1 minute to complete a lap. Excellent atmosphere. Everything is low key in New Zealand harkening back to earlier times.

After the races, I made my way to Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and like San Francisco, it’s one of those places where you find yourself thinking,”Yah, I could live here easily.”

The ferry arrived on the South Island a couple of hours before dark. Here is a picture of Marlborough Sound…

I found my hotel just south of Blenheim in the heart of wine country. The next day, I headed for the west coast at Westport before turning north to Karamea where the road ends. I stayed at a comfy cabin and explored the remote coast.

From there, I proceded south along the west coast of the island on Highway 6. They consider this the Pacific Coast Highway of New Zealand and rightly so. It’s a beautiful stretch of road.

I stayed the night at a bed & breakfast just south of Greymouth. The next day, I continued south on Highway 6 to the Franz Joseph Glacier. I was gonna take a helicopter ride but the weather didn’t cooperate.

After the town of Haast, the road turns inland towards Queenstown through some impressive mountains. Here is the Beemer resting in the Haast Pass.

The road along Lake Wanaka is enjoyable and scenic

Near Queenstown along Lake Wakatipu, showers threaten

Stayed the night in Queenstown before continuing south to Milford Sound. Half way to the South Pole…

Penguin crossing…

Milford Sound has been compared to the fjords of Norway and I’d have to agree. Rain or shine the views are spectacular. When it’s raining you get spectacular waterfalls and when it’s nice you get unparalleled views.

From Milford Sound, I ventured to the southern tip of the island to the city of Invercargill before turning north back to Queenstown but not before I froze my butt off through some highlands.

On towards Mount Cook, the highest peak on the South Island and where Sir Edmund Hillary cut his teeth before conquering Mount Everest.

Near Mount Cook.

From there, I raced up the east coast back to the bike’s home base in Nelson..and…that’s about it. 🙂