Invading southern part of South Island in 4 days

4/10/2013 to Tuatapere

First day we headed towards Tuatapere from Milford Sound through State Highway 94. We departed about 330pm. On the way we stopped at Red Cliff Wetland Reserve developed in year 1977. It is a good stop for a panoramic view of the wetlands from top. It is a picturesque area combining Winding River and forest. Our second stop at Clifden Suspension Bridge. It is spanning 111.5m above once the mighty Waiau River remains as a memorial to those involved in the design and construction from 1896-1899. It claimed fame as having the longest span of any suspension bridge in NZ. This bridge is made from concrete mixed by hand and poured inside boxing by bucket and windglass as height grew. We spent the night at Last Light Lodge Café and Backpacker. We were surprised to know that we are the second guest of the lodge.

5/10/2013 to Surat Bay

Second day, we had a breakfast at Yesteryears Museum and Café which is just few kilometers away. This is a privately owned museum of rural Southland history, set in a warm café atmosphere. We were greeted by Helen, the café manager and enjoyed listening to some familiar songs played on old back disc player. In the café aka museum, you will get to see Helen’s collection of green glass and kitchen goods from four families who lived in Tuatapere area, as well as artifacts from the town’s schools, churches and business. After that, we continued journey down towards Invercargill using State Highway 99. On the way we stopped by McCracken’s Rest near Orepuki. It is a rest area that provides spectacular panoramic coastal views from Pahia to the Waiau River mouth and further around to the former timber town of Port Craig. Our next stop is Monkey Island which is not far from McCracken’s Rest. It is a small island and mini lagoon off the southern end of the beach. It is also accessible during low tide, with a small walking track. This rocky knob, which becomes an island at high tide, has great significance to Maori as the anchorstone of the legendary Takitimu waka/canoe which was wrecked in Te Waewae Bay. Monkey Island was a traditional Maori lookout for whales too.

Driving on Orepuki Riverton Highway, we stopped by Cosy Nook. It is a delightful area, including Garden Bay is well worth the visit as the road in reveals a very picturesque craggy cove that today shelters several fishing coats & holiday cribs. Then we moved on to Invercargill town. There, we found “Indian” in Hammer Hardware shop. There are many old motorbikes displayed in the store apart from hardware selling as the main business. We are proud to behold the well known motorbike which is developed by the late H.J Burt Munro from a 1920 600cc Indian Scout. It was officially timed at 308 km/h reputed to have exceeded 322km/h therefore it is claimed to be the world’s fastest Indian.

We proceed to the southern-most town in New Zealand, Bluff through State Highway 1. We visited Stirling Point which is named after Captain William Stirling who established a whaling station for Johnny Jones in 1836. Standing like a sentinel at the entrance to the harbor is the Stirling Point pilot station built in 1912. The world famous Stirling Point signpost attracts many thousands of visitors each year. It was originally built of timber. Due to repeated vandalism it was replaced in metal and cemented in place. Today’s version gived directions to 12 locations including Invercargill’s sister city Kumagaya, Japan. After that, we continued journey towards Surat Bay using Chaslands Highway. On the way we stopped by Florence Hill lookout, Catlins. It is near the top of hill on the other side of Arno River. You may view the coastal golden beaches from top. We stayed at Surat Bay Lodge which is right on the beach in the bayside hamlet of Surat.


7/10/2013 to Dunedin

Next day, we woke up early morning to watch sea lion at the nearby beach. According to the lodge owner, there is a specific time to watch sea lion that is about 9am. You may try your luck in the bushes just in case you cannot find them on the beach. Surat Bay offers a rare opportunity to observe sea lions in a natural mainland environment. Sea lions use the sandy beaches to rest, sleep, pup, mate and play. They interact socially each other while ashore. Unlike fur seals, sea lions are not afraid of people. They can move quickly on land and can be playful in the water. However, sometimes they can be aggressive if provoked. We were lucky to observe a sea lion that was resting on the beach before giving up to find one. It was a heavy downpour right after the stroll on the beach. We waited in the lodge for about 30min before continuing.

Our next stop is Nugget Point which is located at the northern end of Catlins coast down the road from Kaka Point. This steep headland has a lighthouse at its tip, surrounded by rocky islets aka The Nuggets. The bike ride is a tough one due to the strong crossing wind. The whole bike was shaking wildly before able to stabilizing it. It took us about 3 hours ride to reach Nugget Point. The walking track to light house and viewpoint is about 600m of distance. On the way, we passed the viewpoint of fur seals’ nurseries. The tracks took us about 15 min to reach the light house where the “nuggets” scattered around the sea. It was about 4pm, we continued our journey towards Dunedin (which is known as student city) through State Highway 1. After checking in Elm Lodge, we went to Otago peninsular for sunset. Then we continued to check out blue penguins nearby then noticed it needs admission fee and the same to Albatross watching.

8/10/2013 to Queenstown

On the fourth day, we started the journey with the first stop at the world’s steepest residential street at Baldwin Street, Dunedin. The street runs up the northern side of Signal Hill, a prominent hill overlooking Otago Harbour at slopes of up to 1:2.86 (for 2.86m horizontal distance, a rise of 1m). The steepness was unintentional as grids were laid out by surveyor without proper regard for the terrain. Our next stop is Dunedin Railway Station which is set in Flemish renaissance style. We were amazed by the conservation of the architectural. The booking hall features a mosaic floor of millions of Minton tiles. From there we proceed to the next stop at Flat Top Hill, central Otago. Due to its geographical location, it is in a “rain shadow” with less than 350mm of rain falls each year. Summers are hot (up to 39 deg C) and very dry. The area includes historical evidence of European and Chinese settlement. At the end of walking track, there is a Butcher’s Dam. The dam is now private owned who have kindly allowed public access across the dam to the Flat Top Hill conservation area. We left and continued on a long winding road by State Highway 8. On the way to Queeenstown, we stopped by Bruce Jackson Lookout whereby there is a signpost pointing out to many different directions like Milford Sound, Christchurch, Invercargill, Mount Cook and etc. About 30min of ride, we stopped at Cromwell lookout. There is a dam named the Roaring Meg which is the turbulent stream that both drives this hydro electric power station and merges with Kawarau River. The weather is just right for a ride down to Gibbston Valley. It is a home of Winery, restaurant as well as the largest wine cave in New Zealand. Opposite the restaurant is a cheesery which sells good cheeses. Then we continued our journey all the way down to Queenstown and checked in Heartland Hotel for the 99th stay.

Adventure Ride from Auckland to Milford Sound in 8 days

17th Sep 2013, Tuesday  (Before starting the Journey)


We went for a ride up to Mount Eden, Auckland after getting Sertao BMW bike from Experience Motorcycle handed over and we were just in time for our first sunset.


Day 1 – 18th Sep 2013, Wed (from Auckland to Tongariro National Park)


It was an exceptional sunny day for a good start of bike riding. After breakfast at Olaf Restaurant, Mount Eden, Auckland we started our adventure riding at 1030am. From Auckland, we took state highway 1 towards Hamilton. We were looking for Highway 22 route on the way. It took us quite some time to find out before giving up. We asked for direction at petrol station and we were lucky to meet friendly bikers to show us the direction. We started the off road riding at Pukekohe.


Highway 22 is indeed a recommended unsung scenic route to explore the true beauty of North Island. There is about 30km of adventurous gravel road in the journey. It was a slow and careful ride due to the bad surface, full of potholes and animals’ crossing. From highway 22, it leads back to main road and heading towards Tongariro National Park. Mount Ruapehu is looming in front of us as we were approaching the destination. The total journey takes about 435km and 9 hours of ride included breaks in between. It gets darker and colder as we reached at destination at 7pm. We were totally exhausted after this ride due to the weather. We checked in Plateu Lodge for a good rest.



Day 2 – 19th Sep 2013, Wed (from Tongariro National Park to New Plymouth)


At 730am, we continued our journey after packing. It was a cloudy day. We took Forgotten World Highway towards New Plymouth. 12km of the highway is unsealed road and there is no petrol station on the way. Therefore we filled up the tank before moving. The total 155km of adventure begins at Taumarunui and ends at Stratford. It follows ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks, through ambitious historic settlements, untamed native bush and stunning natural scenery.


On the way, there is a detour along Moki Road leads to a 20 minutes walk to Mt Damper Falls. It is the North Island’s second highest waterfall and is the spectacular sight. Shortly after that, there is a single lane 180m long Moki Tunnel that was built in 1936 and is known locally as the Hobbit’s Hole.

From Forgotten World Highway, it merges to state highway towards New Plymouth.  On the way, we stopped at White Cliff for a short break

Walkway map at the entrance of White Cliff


The whole journey took about 380km and 6 hours to reach at destination. It was a heavy downpour when we reached at 6pm. We were lucky to have checked in Duck and Drakes Lodge by then. Following is the route map of Forgotten World Highway from Taumarunui to Stratford:



Day 3 – 20th Sep 2013, Thu (from New Plymouth to Wellington)


We departed at 9am for another 350km journey down to Wellington. When we left New Plymouth, it was foggy on the road. We have difficult vision and missed out some of the great views on the way such as Mount Taranaki.  However, the sky clears up in the afternoon. We were riding along the coastal route, taking state highway 3 towards Wellington passing Opunake and Wanganui on the way. We stopped at Wainui Beach for a break.


It was an easy ride and took us about 6 hours to reach at destination. It was windy and heavy downpour in Wellington as we reached. We checked in Kingsgate Hotel at 7pm.


Day 4 – 21st Sep 2013, Fri (From Wellington to Kaikoura)


We left the accommodation at 8am to catch ferry Interislander at 830am. It was drizzling in the morning. We checked in the bike at Deck 3 then chilled out at Deck 7.


There are lounges around which allow passengers to have rest and to dine while enjoying the views outside the ferry. It passes through Marborough Sound but it was a bad weather therefore vague visibility to behold the magnificent view around the islands. The journey took about 2 hours from Wellington to Picton.

After checking out the bike, we continued our journey and drove past Blenheim through state highway 1. It was a sunny day for a good start in South island. We stopped at Half Moon Bay for pictures.


It took about 5 hours from Picton to Kaikoura. At about 6pm, we reached and checked in Dolphin Lodge.



View from Balcony at Dolphin Lodge

Before night falls, we had a stroll along Kaikoura Peninsular and a walk around Kaikoura town center then discovered that there is a vintage car rally.


Day 5 – 22nd Sep 2013, Sat (From Kaikoura to Christchurch)


We departed to Christchurch at 10am and no back road this time. We drove past Cheviot and Waipara along the shoreline. We reached about 6pm just in time before the rain started. We checked in Jailhouse Lodge. This lodge used to be a female prison, which was built because of the overcrowding at Lyttelton.


Day 6 – 23rd Sep 2013, Sun (From Christchurch to Queenstown)


It was a great day to continue to the last town before heading to Milford Sound. We spent about 2 hours on bike service before continuing as it reaches about 1500km by then. From Christchurch, we drove down to Rangitata then taking highway 79 passing Geraldine towards Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo is located at 42km west of Fairlie, with an altitude of 710m. The most striking thing about Lake Tekapo is its extraordinary colour in which the light reflected from microscopic rock particles suspended in glacial meltwater lends the water an ethereal opaque-aqua hue. We stopped at the well-known Church of the Good Shepherd, an enchanting little stone church built in 1935 as a memorial to the Mackenzie Country pioneers.


We also photographed the Collie Dog Monument that is about 100m to the east of the church. It was erected in 1968 by local sheep farmers to honour the dogs that make it possible to graze this harsh terrain. We reached at Lake Pukaki after about 20min from Lake Tekapo. It is just located next to each other but it is an unsung destination with no sign of tourist.



From there we continued towards Twizel and Omarama then Lindis Pass. It was getting dark as we arrived in Wanaka and had a break at Lake Wanaka for sunset.

From there we drove towards Queenstown through the back road. It was about 8pm when we reached at A-Line Heartland Hotel.


Day 7 – 24th Sep 2013, Mon (Queenstown)


We stayed another one more night in Queenstown to explore further. We had breakfast at Post Office Café.


After that, the first stop is Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu 50km northwest of Queenstown. The scenic drive along Lake Wakatipu takes about 30km to The Wharf Shed. The lakeside drive passes Bob’s Cove, the best place to observe the lake’s seiche, a phenomenon which causes the lake level to fluctuate by around 150mm every five minutes.


The whole journey along the lakeside drive takes about 30minutes to reach The Wharf shed. The shed is originally built by NZ railway department as a goods shed for freight carried on the steamers between Queenstown and Glenorchy. There is a well-trained dog ready to play with tourists around the shed. The dog is smart to understand human, as it would play until you bid farewell. We manage to relax at the abandoned wharf under the sun. Then we proceeded to Moke Lake. The access is along the way but the it is about 20km gravel road.


We were in Arrowtown for sunset. The town still has the feel of an old gold town and retains the spirit of a living community with grocers’ shops, pubs and post office. After the short walk in Arrowtown, we proceeded for a dinner at Skyline by Gondola.

Day 8 – 25th Sep 2013, Tue (From Queenstown to Milford Sound)


From Queenstown, we took the steamboat, TSS Earnslaw to transport the bike across Lake Wakatipu to historic working station of Walter Peak. TSS Earnslaw is a magnificent vintage steamship believed to be the only coal-fired passenger- carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere.

From there we continued on the Mount Nicholas gravel back-country road along the Western Shores of Lake Wakatipu with few ups and downs all the way through to Mavora Lake with 2 river crossings. There is no other food or drink along the way or petrol station. 20km after the second river crossing, we reached at Mavora Lake where we had a break.

Then we continued our journey towards Te Anau after Mavora Lake on state highway that took us about 30minutes of ride. It was about 6pm when we reached at Te Anau and had a break at Pop In Café next to Te Anau Lake.


The journey towards Milford Sound from Te Anau took us another 1 hour of ride. It is a scenic route along the way through Homer Tunnel passes Mirror Lake, the Chasm, Milford Sound National Park and water falls.


Finally, the adventurous riding ended at 730pm at Southern Discoveries accommodation!


New Adventures will follow, for sure, If the Adventure bug hugged you, you are hooked, it will be difficult to relax