On the 2nd of November I boarded a plane in Boise Idaho and landed in Auckland on November 4th, love that international date line. Air New Zealand made the 23 hour trip all most pleasant, but at 73 trips of that length are hard on the body. The trip started from Christchurch on the south island and ended 19 riding days later in Auckland. This was my second Edelweiss tour, the first was Iceland in July 2022. These tours are first class with a selection of bike in excellent shape, on both trips mine was a R1250GS, experienced guides, nice hotels and eateries, well though out routes and depending on the tour great sight seeing along the way. The Trip: 2023 - New Zealand by Motorcycle / Official Guides Blog of Trip: NSZ 2302 New Zealand Tour / Link to 2022 Iceland Tour
As you can see if you follow either NZ link, this was a tour that saw a lot of the New Zealand riding both the north and south islands. In all the 21 day tour is a bit over 3,200 riding miles. The roads were 98% paved, the 2% was construction and chip sealing. Official speed limits are 100KM and below. Speed signs ending in 0 are the official limit, signs ending in 5 are suggestions and are yellow. In general the NZ drives are the most courteous I have ever encountered, I think road rage is almost unknown, and speeding is rare and the local police take speeding seriously. There are mostly round-a-bouts, some well designed and some completely weird with up to six exits. The roads we rode, mostly secondary are narrow, twisting and have more turns per mile than any you will encounter out side of the Alps or Tail of the Dragon. I live in Idaho and ride mountain road all the time they are freeways compared to some of these. Blind corners are common! Hazards, most RV (which are driven mostly by tourist) as they can be doing 10 kph around a blind corner, think riding into a wall, farm equipment, farm animals (mostly sheep), rocks on the road, road damage due to earth quake or flooding. On our tour we had four rain days, three of them it really came down at times, so have a good rain suit or water proof gear. Expect the roads to get slick and limited visibility.
Tour Group: We had 15 guest and three guide for the first 14 days and 5 guest and two guide for the last 7. The guides were all Germen - Austrian and a number of the guests were also from Europe. The rest of us were from the USA this time which I guess was unusual as past tours have mostly been from Europe and the UK. The group naturally broke down into two riding styles. I will refer to them as the Racers and the Tourers. The racers were mostly interested in the RIDE, tended to take the corners faster and didn't seem to be all that interested in being tourist. The Tourers, tended to want to ride slower and wanted to stop for pictures, visit places of interest and not pass the car, truck or RV in front just because you could. By the way passing with a group of 8 riders on these roads is Russian roulette in my opinions. If you haven't guessed yet, I was a staunch member of the Tourers.
Sightseeing / Riding Balance: Of the two tours I have taken with Edelweiss I think the Iceland tour got the balance better, we rode between things to see each day. In NZ we rode and occasionally stopped to look at things many day. Some days could be defined as great roads with coffee stops at 10:30, lunch at 12:30, coffee stop at 15:00 and hotel between 17:00 & 18:00 with dinner at 19:30. I felt we rode by a number of places that I would have stopped on a self guided trip. Don't get me wrong we did stop and do some really interesting things, I would just like to have ridden a bit less and seen a bit more.
The northern extension had 5 guest (4 racers & me). After a day of chasing tail lights in a heavy rain, I went to the guide and said I wanted to switch to self-guiding which is always an option. My bike was equipped with a GPS (Garmin XT) and the planned routes. I also had the hotel address which if the GPS died could with Google Maps get me to my bed for the night. While I rode like the NZ drive and stopped for more pictures and at time just to look around and talk to people, the rest of the trip I arrived within + or - 10 minutes of the group, generally before. Why, I didn't take 30 minute coffee / nicotine breaks and much shorter lunches. Generally I ran into the group, or more likely they drove by me 4 or 5 times a day as we were doing the same route. They were happier to not be waiting for me and I didn't feel the stress of racing to keep up. All future tours my bike will have a GPS, knowing where you are going and the next turn out of a round-a-bout make a huge difference. Speaking of tours, my next is Scotland in August 2024.
Rental Motorcycles in New Zealand since 1987
This is another excellent option if you want to ride in New Zealand - They provided the bikes for the Edelweiss tour!