Wheel alignment

Friday, 24 June 2011

New Zealand's south island revisited, part 2

Following on from the last post, we continued on our merry way round the south island. We start this part of the tour at a transport and toy museum in Wanaka.  Amazing place, with aircraft, cars, toys - you name it, they have it!  We saw this sign in the entrance and wisely kept our mouths closed.

Oh dear......

Dave always wanted a part in Star Wars!

Yours truly on an NSR 50 - a touch small

Martin contemplating faster transport - a MiG

Jennie and I did our courting in a car like this!
A British Wolseley 6/110

A restored Polikarpov at the Wanaka Warbirds base

The spectacular Glenorchy road

At Wanaka, we took a jet boat up the Matukituki River and were met by a helicopter which took us up to Mount Aspiring national park and landed us on a glacier.  The chopper pilot was a gorgeous 25 year old with sublime skills.  The scenery wasn't bad either! As you might expect, a lot of Lord of the Rings was shot in this area.

V8-powered jet boat

River valley from the air.  The water colour comes from
suspended glacial rock particles

Approaching a suspended glacier

The photo below is of a suspended glacier at several thousand feet altitude.  To give an idea of scale, the front glacier face is 75 ft high!

Glacier in Mt Aspiring National Park

Chopper on the edge of the glacier

The 2 photos below are a post-publishing addition. They're for fellow blogger Ken who was disappointed that I hadn't published a photo of Alex, the pilot.  It's a bit hard to tell with her headset and sunglasses still on but you'll have to take my word that she was drop-dead gorgeous!

Transferring from the jet boat to the chopper
Alex, our pilot, is to the right

This photo of Alex was a sort of surreptitious one on the pretext of photographing the scenery.  Better than nothing though Ken!

The lovely Alex

The Clyde Dam just outside Alexandra is a superb piece of engineering, built to withstand major earthquakes.  We were fortunate to be given a tour through it as one of my long distance event riding partners is the production controller there.  It was quite an experience.

The Clyde River

Jennie and me at the Clyde Dam tail race

From Clyde, it was off to Milford Sound, a magnificent road into the Sound, followed by the majesty of the sound itself.  It doesn't matter what the weather is like as the character of the place completely changes - sunny or raining are both superb.  Average annual rainfall at Milford Sound is a staggering 6.8 metres, or nearly 22 feet!!!  At the Sound itself, the scale is so vast that you feel like an ant.

The vast expanse of the Milford Road

Entrance to the Homer Tunnel with temporary waterfalls from the rain

Moody, overpowering Milford Sound

The cliff on the left (Mitre Peak) is a mile high!

Yet more Milford Sound

Minerals and mosses on the Sounds rocks

Heading up the west coast, we came to the Punakaiki Rocks.  These limestone deposits have holes to the sea at their base and at high tide, they blast great fountains of water into the air.  We saw a bus-load of elderly tourists soaked to the skin because they were so busy talking to each other, they weren't paying attention to what was going on.  Honestly, you'd think lots of water running down the path would be a slight clue, wouldn't you?

Punakaiki Rocks

Beautiful city of Nelson cathedral

All tied down on the ferry for the trip home

I hope you've enjoyed parts 1 & 2 of the tour of NZ's south island by bike!  Save your pennies.....


  1. Really enjoyed these two posts. I've been to quite a few of those places, but many, many years ago. At the time I nearly flattened my Visa card (we called them 'bankcards' then!)just on helicopter flights!

    South Island of NZ is on my list and I have quite a few of the motorcycle rental companies bookmarked!



  2. What an impressive couple of posts! Great reading and eye candy. All I can say is that I've GOT to get out more.

    Had to use a different way to post a comment, by the way. Blogger is doing weird things again. Maybe it just hates me. :)

  3. Marvelous! The moody Milford Sound picture is my favourite. You really have to do this, do you? One of my new colleagues is heading out to Auckland on Sunday. And I might end up and come visit on my own tab...
    Thanks so much for sharing, it is breathtaking.

  4. So many beautiful places.
    Hard to pick a favorite, but I love the images of Milford Sound. Beautiful and so peaceful.

  5. Cheers Jules!
    The south island is a bit like that - so many cool things to do and see and they're all good value for the money. That's why the bank card does take a serious hit!

    Well, if you do make it back over, you won't want for company :-).

    There surely are! When Jennie and I went down in 2001, we spent a month there and still didn't see everything we wanted to! Milford Sound is just incredible. You can do kayaking/camping tours on it which must be amazing right up close with the dolphins and orcas.

  6. wow - beautiful! Such varied landscapes and gorgeous colours! Thanks for the stunning pics Geoff.

    Um, btw, that NSR50 looks about my size....

  7. Brought back some great memories we have of Milford Sound. Absolutely gorgeous - and the road in is amazing in its own right.
    And Punakaiki Rocks - isn't that also known as "pancake" rocks because they look like stacked pancakes?
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Canajun:
    That approach to Milford is something else! Doubtful Sound near Te Anau is almost as equally overpowering, but quite different in character from Milford.

    You have an excellent memory - pancake rocks is absolutely right!

  9. Dan:
    Thanks for the comments. I've got Blogger probs too - your comments and several other posters didn't appear in the normal way and I've only just spotted them through the draft blogger page.

    As I mentioned in the post, you can't lose with Milford Sound in any weather (unless snow blocks the road in)! We'll meet in person before too long hopefully.

    Hi Sue and thanks!
    At the same place that NSR 50 is located, there's also a 100cc sidecar racer. Something to put your shopping on ;-).

  10. Wow..thrilling pictures! But, not one of the pilot? :)

    Great post!

  11. Ken:
    You haven't been taking your medication again, have you? ;-)

    Sigh..... I wouldn't do this for everyone but will slip in a photo of Alex in a few minutes. It's not a good shot because she has her headphones and sunnies on so you'll just have to take my word that she was hot! Incidentally, she'd been flying fixed wing since she was 17 and helicopters for 4 years, all in alpine conditions which are incredibly demanding. She was one of the elite.

  12. Wanaka......such a great place, so looking forward to staying there this time round. Milford track, words and pics just dont do it justice. We went when it was pouring but it was spectacular, most unforegettable that is for sure.

    Pics like this just make me want to get on the bike and go.....

  13. Roger,
    I much prefer Wanaka to Queenstown to be honest. That jet boat trip is owned by the ex-SAS son of one of my colleagues at CHH. Can't speak highly enough of their operation. Even their website is fantastic with some great video footage: http://www.wanakariverjourneys.co.nz/.

  14. I think you must have succeeded in irritating Sonja because those photos are spectacular. Milford Sound alone makes me think a trip to NZ is a must one day. I have wanted to come for some time now and the idea is getting stronger in my mind....

    These two posts are very good.

  15. Thanks Gary!

    January and February are the best months to visit. Don't forget the north island too - then you can enjoy some hospitality in Coromandel and I might join you for part of your tour :-).

    BTW, here's a very good book on motorcycling in NZ: http://www.amazon.com/New-Zealand-Motorcycle-Atlas-Hema/dp/1877302325

  16. Geoff:

    Stunning scenery, one day . . . It's going to be very crowded at the James Residence during January or February now that the word is out.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  17. Great post and beautiful photos.

    I have to say the first one of the sign is one of my favorites followed by the River Valley from the air photos. Beautiful colors. Reminds me of the glacial lakes and rivers in Banff and Jasper parks in Canada.

    Oh, and on a blogger comment note - I can't post comments from Firefox - always have to use Safari. Mind you I'm always on an iMac.

  18. Bob:
    Hope one day...
    Our place is always busy over the summer :-)

    Thanks. We hope to see the Pacific north-west and through to Banff in the next couple of years so a personal comparison will be great.

    Firefox - that's what I use and the problem with Blogger seems to be worse since the latest upgrade.

  19. What amazing photos Geoff! Four good looking bikes there too, I showed Janet that Sign "Never critisize your husbands's faults" and that kept her quiet! I'm going to print out a large copy of that one! Wonderful reading about a great trip, thanks.

  20. Cheers Andrew

    I just keep my mouth shut - they can punish you in so many ways if they have a mind to :-)

  21. Mate !!!

    Next time your near Nelson let me know. Anita and I moved the family there at the end of 2009. Rural property 20k south of Nelson (near Brightwater). Would love to catch up with you both again.

    Haven't got an MV currently :( but I'm working on it ;)

  22. Mate yourself!!! How are you Matt? Rural Nelson and Rural Coromandel aren't that much different - both hippy country areas. Guess we'd better get scooters and beads :-). Good luck with pursuing the MV option again - that's going to cost an awful lot of brownie points!!

    Would love to catch up.

  23. Love the sign :-) Beautiful pictures, weird rock formation but amazing scenery. A mig 21, wow, wouldn't mind taking a trip on it at Mach2.
    Love the little bike, funny thing, I had just been looking at a dealer site and he had a Suzuki mini just like that, 50cc, check out this link:

  24. That's a beautifully-restored mini George! As a matter of interest, the smallest bike ever to have successfully completed NZ's 1000 miles in 24 hours Grand Challenge is a Suzuki RGV 50 - made it with 10 minutes left on the clock!

  25. Just catching up. Knew there would be lots of reading and dribble cleaning. Argh! The trip looked wonderful, but identical bikes?!? I know that wasn't planned, but it is strange. The area is absolutely spectacular. Thanks for the reminder. Roger keeps pushing for a move down there. :)

  26. Hi Lori!
    Regarding the identical bikes, Roger made a comment which I won't repeat here :-). Two of my riding partners still have them.

    Well, if you guys ever want to explopre NZ, there is always the offer of good food, good wine, comfy beds and disreputable company on offer!