Motorbiking, the best way to travel

Today is a traveling day. No plans other than get from Geraldine to Kaikoura where we are staying for a night.

It is another windless, sunny day. Daniel chooses the route we will be taking – state highway 72, the inland scenic route through the Canterbury plains. Just out of Geraldine, Mr. ‘never gets lost’ takes a wrong turn. He realises pretty quickly though and we are back on track in no time.

I’m not complaining, it’s a rather pretty wrong turn.

Heading north, we pass golden pastures (aka, hasn’t been any rain in a while and everything is so dry) framed by mighty mountains in the distance. We pass over Rakaia gorge and stop to take some photos (and awkwardly try to ignore the 2 women having a very loud argument in the car park) There is also a walkway at Rakaia Gorge, that according to Google, is an easy 2 hours walk which you might like to check out.

The rivers and lakes in the south Island are so mesmerising. The colours are incredible and I am speechless every time I see them. The photos don’t really do them justice.  I don’t recall seeing rivers this vibrant in the North Island. (Might need to do a bit more exploring)

Carrying on, we pass lots of small country towns, some so small you would miss them if you blink. We make a stop in a place called Oxford for some lunch. I had a rather delicious tomato and herb soup.

I think motor biking has got to be one of the best ways to travel and explore a place. You have the convenience of a vehicle, but are far more engaged with the environment around you than you are in a car. You experience the elements; the sun, the wind the rain. You can smell the forests and feel the warmth of the sun in the air coming in through your helmet. I feel far more connected to my surroundings on a motorbike than I do in a car.

Arriving in Kaikoura we check into our backpackers and have a bit of a rest before heading down to the beach.

It’s quite a wild beach.

Stony and rugged it has an untouched beauty about it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Kaikoura is famous for its marine life. Tourists flock here to go whale watching, swim with dolphins and seals. We have chosen not to do that this time.

On our South Island trip back in 2012 I really wanted to do the whale watch. We had an early evening ferry to catch so we didn’t have time for the boat trip and instead choose to do the Wings over Whales flight, a short 30 minute flight with amazing views over Kaikoura. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales on this trip (still and awesome experience though) and have since learnt that the best time to see a variety of whale species in Kaikoura is during winter months when they are migrating up to the warmer waters of the pacific.

We are staying only a couple of minutes’ walk from the beach so I decide that tomorrow, I will get up early to watch the sun rise. I am not sure I have ever watched the sun rise before. (We tried to at Lake Bled in Sloveina, but that was a bit of a fail)

The road to Glenorchy

The weather is looking a lot more promising today as we head out to Highlands Motorsport Park for our second attempt at a fast lap. Unfortunately the Ferrari isn’t running today, they have the Porsche out instead.

I really wanted a ride in a Ferrari.

I am given a helmet to wear, and then get into the car and seatbelt up. Before we can do the fast lap, we have to do a slow lap around the track. I assume this is to warm up the tires and check for any potential hazards that may have found their way onto the track.

The track is 4.2Km long and the design takes inspiration from some of the world’s most famous racetracks. It was a very quick drive, only a couple of minutes but thrilling!

I was told we reached speeds of up to 220kph!

We have quite a powerful motorbike, so I am used to fast acceleration, and found the acceleration in the Porsche a similar experiance, but the corners are quite different. Braking happens far later than you expect so there were several moments where I thought we might not make it around the corner.

My favourite part was going over the bridge, we went flying over and I am sure the car left the asphalt for a moment. It is a unique experience and a must for any speed lover or automotive enthusiast.

After all that excitement, we decide to grab a quick coffee in the café while we check out Google maps and decide where we want to explore today. We settle on Glenorchy and The Crown Range.

We head towards Queenstown and then carry on straight through.

It is so busy!

Queenstown is known for being pretty touristy and expensive. We rode past the crowds of people, the traffic and straight past the famous Ferg’s Burgers, with its queue going out the door and down the street. We past more tourists taking selfies on the lake front , and then..

Wow!

What a ride. Spectacular scenery and an empty road. 

Just beautiful.

This easily ranks in my top 5 most favourite motorbike rides I have ever been on. The road is in good condition and follows the lake edge of Lake Wakatipu, twisting and turning along the way. There were so many wow moments on this trip, so many photo worthy spots.

We reach a sign that says ‘Glenorchy, Welcome to Paradise’ I believe it. This place is gorgeous! Glenorchy is a peaceful lakeside town, quite a contract to its flashy Queenstown sister. The mountain ranges are dusted with snow, the sun is shining, no wind, cool fresh air, the place is quiet and relaxing.

At Glenorchy we find a pub to have some lunch and sit in the sun warming up. We sit by the lake for a bit, watching the tourist head out on jet boats and then go for a wander to the old boatshed and jetty. There has been recent flooding; the water is up to the top of the jetty, giving the sense of walking on water.

Daniel was happy to be here!

Honestly, this place is just amazing.

Inside the boatshed are a series of old photos and information about the area. Tourists began visiting Glenorchy in the 1860’s, however the road didn’t open until 1962. Up until then, the only way to get passengers, mail, food, cattle and more to and from Glenorchy was by boat, one being a twin-screw coal-fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, which you can still take a ride on today.

This place really is paradise. I wish we were staying here longer. It’s certainly a place I wish to visit again.

On the way back we make a stop to get some photos across the lake of The Remarkables and they are just that  – remarkable!  Long, jagged and pointy, they certainly have a presence! Even when they are not covered in snow.

On our way back to Alexandra we take a couple of detours. The first being up the Crown Range. A series of hairpin bends, twists and turns, leading up the mountain side. There are uninterrupted, spectacular views of the Queenstown basin. It is well worth the little side trip.

Queenstown Basin

We also make a stop in the historic little town of Clyde for a fruit yogurt ice cream, which we eat in the shop courtyard amongst the lavender.

The Leaning Tower of Ice Cream
Clyde

A perfect ending to another great day.

The Details

The SuperCar Fast Dash at Highlands will cost you $179. It is usually in a Ferrari 488 GTB but this can change from time to time. You can book this experience online.

The ride out to Glenorchy takes about 45 minutes from Queenstown each way. The road is in great condition and the scenery along the way is magical. On a motorbike, this was amazing. It would also be great in a car.