Wellington Area Rep – Ride to 2018 National Rally at Cromwell.
Seven Wellington members on 4 bikes (Peter & Anne Tibbs, Dave Ross, Dave Oldershaw & fiancee
Julie, Peter & Jenny Nash) assembled for the 08:30 sailing of the Interlslander Ferry Kaitaki and were
joined by Ray and Ann Senior from New Plymouth. Given that it was Wednesday 3 January the Ferry
was full of both vehicles and passengers for the smooth crossing of Cook Strait.
Some of the riders needed to refuel one refuelled in Picton and two others topped up in Blenheim
before continuing through to Murchison for a coffee stop and then onward to Westport for an
overnight stop. The condition of the road through the Wairau Valley and Buller Gorge as far as the
turn onto SH 85 for the run through to Springs Junction shows the wear from the truck traffic
resulting from the Kaikoura earthquake however, a lot of maintenance has been done but still more
The 300km ride to Westport was uncomfortable in heat between 25 and 30 degrees as always, the
ride through the Buller Gorge is very scenic and with enough twisties to make it interesting and in
medium traffic particularly beyond Murchison. As a loose group we were not all staying at the same
accommodation however were able to meet for a meal at the Cosmopolitan Hotel with the usual
good natured, banter making it a great night.
The second days 400 km + ride was to Haast and again was in hot conditions of 25 to 30 degrees. The
ride between Westport and Greymouth has been described by an Australian Motorcycle Journalist
as one of the Worlds best motorcycle rides and on a fine calm warm morning it certainly is a
stunning ride and certainly up there with the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. The ocean views, bush
clad landscape and winding road make it a unique NZ ride. We stopped for coffee between Hokitika
and Ross and further south at Harihari for lunch and a leg stretch.
One of the uniquely charming South Island ride features is the one way, bridges and we had our fair
share of them as we progressed south to Haast. Somewhere between Ross and Harihari we caught
up with a group of cyclists who were well spread out and clearly on an organised cycling tour. Some
of these riders were riding 2 abreast on these winding relatively narrow roads being a danger to
themselves and risk to the rest of us. Several of us refuelled at Franz Joseph and had a brief leg
stretch before continuing south. At one point we caught up with a vehicle towing a trailer carrying
spare cycles the driver of this vehicle was unable to drive even close to the speed limit and refused
to pull over when the odd opportunity arose. It took us a little while to get past with one of our
riders indicating to the driver that she might like to check the mirror to see the traffic build up
We were all pleased to see the long one way, bridge leading into Haast again we were not all staying
at the same place and missed out on having dinner together due to the lack of cell phone coverage.
Day 3 the 244km ride was from Haast to Cromwell the phone coverage issue also impacted on the
departure with two riders having to catch up between the Gates of Haast and Makarora. The road
through this area is a must for any serious motorcyclist. The writer has been through here 5 times
and only once in torrential rain it is beautiful part of the southwestern NZ.
The day was cooler between 18 and 25 degrees, cloudy and more comfortable we bypassed Wanaka
and headed up the Crown Range road for a planned stop at the Cardrona Hotel. The fuel gauge on
one of the bikes was indicating a need for fuel so this rider rode into Wanaka and topped up and the
amount of fuel needed indicated that gauge had given an inaccurate reading. The rest of us waited
at Cardrona and had a coffee. As we were preparing to leave there were a few rain spits which
amounted to nothing, we crossed the Crown Range and rode into Arrowtown for lunch. Arrowtown
was full of tourists and holiday makers but Tibsy led the group into the main street and scored a
park which we could all use. Lunch was taken at a local Bakery where weight watchers food was
consumed, that is, eat the food and watch the weight go on. The ladies were able to have quick look
at the shops before we departed for Cromwell.
The ride through the Kawarau Gorge is another great scenic road even though the traffic was
heavier. We arrived in Cromwell early enough to register for the rally but to early to get into our
accommodation, so it was into the bar and a catch up with other members not seen since last year’s
Rally – Great.
Peter Nash – Wellington