New Zealand – how it began

Well, I appear to be in New Zealand. I’ve been here for about four days now. I landed in Auckland and was picked up by my friend Kendal, who has been really amazing and supportive in my plan to ride around NZ. I also got to meet Sarah Hart, the gal who had toured NZ for a year whom I had interviewed for GWWR. They were both fantastic gals and really good riders. I got to do a nice local ride with them to a pub where we had dinner and conversation.

I spent the first couple of days going around to the local bike shops to find a bike to rent or hire and came up with nothing. I’ve been really frustrated at this. The lowest bikes I could were a Kawasaki Ninja 650R and a BMW F650GS twin. They were both just a wee bit too tall though and I could barely only touch the tips of my boots to the ground.

And then I got an email from Andrea Ladbrook of Kiwi Motorcycle Rentals in Christchurch. She said that she had a BMW 650GS twin with a low seat and factory lowered suspension available for rent. I made up my mind to fly to Christchurch and get that bike. She was even kind enough to offer to pick me up from the airport and stay the night. I had originally planned to get a bike in Auckland and do a loop around the North and South islands. This was a bit of a twist in the plan but it meant that I could ride one way and drop the bike off in Auckland. Not a bad change in plans!

Andrea and Allan were both really great. And the bike was perfect! Well it was still a bit high and a bit heavy but more perfect than anything else I could have gotten. We set up the handlebars for my arms, added the GPS mount, and attached huge Givi panniers (hard luggage is a first for me). I took it for a short test ride and liked the way it handled. Not at all buzzy like the singles!


First day of the ride! Next to the BMW F650GS twin I would ride for the next month.


With Allan and Andrea Ladbrook – the co-owners of Kiwi Motorcycle Rentals in Christchurch.

I took off at around 10:00 AM on the day of my ride. Unfortunately I didn’t get very far. I rode about an hour from Leithfield to Oxford. It was harrowing ride with wind gusts blowing at me. It was a little bit terrifying to say the least. I also think that my handlebars weren’t adjusted correctly so my arms were stretched to the maximum and any input I gave fed directly into the bike’s steering. Not a great state of affairs. To make things worse, when I attempted to start the bike after a rest stop in Oxford, it wouldn’t start!


Stopped in Oxford next to a beautiful vintage car.


I called Andrea and Allan who came right over and we found that the battery was dead and the replacement battery they had brought wasn’t charging. The culprit was a fried stator. Back to the shop we went, where Allan replaced the stator, reg-rec and battery to ensure that nothing else went wrong on the trip. Whew! We also re-adjusted the handlebars and added a taller windshield.

I was really tired out from the wind and didn’t feel up to leaving at 4:00 PM when the bike was finally ready. So I decided that I would head out early the next morning.