How Was It?
So, how was it, what worked, what didn't?
It was huge fun, think Tassie is great? Tassie is an entree, a tasting plate, something to tantalise the touring tastebuds. New Zealand is the Mains, a big juicy steak with all the trimmings (plus bacon).
All up we covered 5,500km, mostly on excellent roads, with scenery that just keeps on giving. Accommodation is plentiful (season dependent) with options to cover all budgets, they do tourism well. The locals might speak with a funny accent but are very friendly and good at humour (they give as good as they get).
For the adventure riders there are a bunch of gravel roads that can take you exploring into some really wild country.
If taking the ferry between the islands, bookings are essential, one of the biggest boats is still not online and the others are consequently pretty full.
Fuel is a bit on the dear side by Australian standards, ULP is $2.15 to $2.30 per litre, Diesel is around $1.47. On a bike though a full tank will set you back around $40.
Be aware though that bike servicing may be scarce in the more remote areas of the South Island, the larger centres can cater for most Japanese brands but if you are on something exotic or need a specialist tyre for example you may have a bit of a wait.
Mobile phone coverage is good in population centres, depending upon which network you are on, out in the boonies it is silent. I carried a dual SIM phone, with my home card set for roaming (without data), NZ Telecom sold me a pre-pay plan for around $30 that gave me 90 minutes of calls back home, heaps of texts home and 500mb of data. Having both cards meant that if there was a mobile tower around one of the cards would access it.
The SPOT Tracker worked a treat, apart from one weekend when the monitoring service had a slow down. My record of the trip has little dots all over the country. It is comforting to know that if everything turned to custard out in the wilderness the SOS feature will get through via satellite and have the monitoring people calling the closest emergency services, with your precise GPS position, plus a message to your nominated contacts.
Having a riding partner along that knows the place is always an asset, Doug knew where to stop for photos, I would say to him "do you know of a spot that looks like ....", "sure, I can put you onto that". However a lot of the scenery is right there beside the road, there are plenty of guide books/websites around, just a bit of research required.
What didn't work? Hmm no real problems at all. There was stuff I carried and didn't subsequently need but that was more through circumstance than anything else. A small rollup backpack or straps would have been handy for some ad-hoc purchases that wouldn't fit into the panniers (beer).
Would I do it again? I'd love to, perhaps I can persuade Linda to join me and we'll do it by car.
To Doug, thanks again mate for your good humour, the use of your bike , super tour guide powers and for patiently talking me into it.
I hope I've provided you the reader a bit of entertainment and a sense of the fun we had on our little expedition.
Until next time.....