Riding Tips: Motorbiking in New Zealand

Renting a motorcycle to ride New Zealand makes a wonderful adventure, whether you are just hiring a motorbike, or on one of our fully guided or self guided tours. There's a surprise around every corner. Packed with a kaleidoscope of scenery and colourful history, you'll enjoy the route as much as your destination.

Some of the very best motorcycling roads in the world are to be found in the South Island of New Zealand thanks to the Southern Alps spine that runs virtually down the middle. Roads are often empty, with fantastic sweeping bends and great visibility. In contrast the North Island also offers great riding, with its volcanic plateaus, rolling hills, beach-lined peninsulas and thermal highways.

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Road Conditions

The famous New Zealand motorcycle touring roads make for terrific riding, in some districts it looks like the designer who created the roads has a phobia of straight lines! Due to a small population, the roads are empty and the surfaces on the routes we choose are fantastic. We avoid the main truck routes and stick to the bendy inland highways, we take you to the best biking roads this country can offer, and some that many other companies don't know or have time for.


Road Riding

Motorcycle riding in New Zealand is generally relaxed, so you can take in the scenery and see this wonderful country at a comfortable pace, it's certainly the most important thing to us in the world that everyone enjoys the ride. This is why we use the best bikes, maintain them to exacting standards and equip them with the best  touring tyres to provide the best grip possible, we never cut costs and are proud of our high quality service.

Some routes are challenging, so you will need some degree of experience with riding the size of motorcycle you have chosen for your Trip.


Weather Conditions

New Zealands North Island is subtropical and the South Island temperate, to get the most enjoyment out of the weather December through to March is the best time to visit. June, July and August are the coldest months and the mountainous areas often close due to snow.

During our summer our temperature range between 20 - 40c(68F - 104F)

During winter it can be anything between 0 - 20c (32F - 68F)

The summer sun can be fierce so sun screen is highly recommended, also wear layers and be prepared to ride in both hot and colder weather.


5 Tips for motorcycle touring New Zealand

  1. Allow time to get over jetlag, you may have just crossed 10 time zones in just over 24 hours. Not many of us get the chance to go to New Zealand more than once in our lives, so don’t rush it. 
  2. Stop over en route, how many times in your life do you get to visit Asia? Depending on who you fly with, why not use this opportunity to visit places like Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Los Angeles, Hawaii, or the Cook Islands. Ask your flight agent.
  3. Speed cameras, the myths are true! They are hidden in bizarre places. And they are NOT painted in bright garish colours so you can spot them a mile off. You have been warned.
  4. 'Metal' roads are gravel, not tarmac. Many side roads in New Zealand will show a sign stating metal road. We do not encourage riding on metal or un-made roads - in New Zealand you can get up close to unsurpassed scenery of imaginable beauty without leaving the tarmac.
  5. The sun is deceptively strong, so wear plenty of sun cream to prevent yourself from getting burnt, especially your face.

Basic Road Rules

It is important to view the road rules before you ride, below are some brief tips, we’ll always give you a safety briefing before you depart, but for the official New Zealand road code visit the NZ Transport Agency website.
  • Speed Limits: 100 km/h max on the open road and 50 km/h in built up areas, all speed signs are well signposted.
  • Giving Way: In general give way to the right. When at a STOP sign you must stop completely and give way to all traffic until it is clear to proceed.
  • Traffic not turning at cross junctions (going straight) have the right of way over turning traffic.
  • Signs at single lane bridges advise of who has right of way, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Corner Speed: There are speed recommendation signs on most bends in New Zealand and can be used as a rough guide to judge your speed into corners.
  • Driving Licence: You must hold a full motorcycle licence or be able to legally ride the requested size motorcycle in your country of residence, proof will be required in the form of your physical drivers licence. Any overseas licences will need to be translated before arriving (check with your travel agent).
  • Safety: When riding in New Zealand you are required to wear a helmet by law, we can provide all your motorcycle gear, but for comfort purposes you can bring your own. Tinted visors are ok during the daytime but bring your clear with you.
  • Alcohol: Riding/Driving in New Zealand while intoxicated is a very serious offence and random breath testing happens very often all over the country, even in rural areas. The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100mls of blood, in other words you could go over the limit with two pints of normal strength beer or a large glass of wine. If you have a heavy night drinking you may still be over the limit first thing in the morning so delay your riding till later, if you are caught drink driving you automatically lose your licence, the bike, and will incur a large fine or be imprisoned until your court hearing. i.e. Vacation Over.
  • Overtaking: You may not cross a solid yellow line to overtake, they are there to warn of hidden dangers so abide by this rigidly. Broken white lines are fine and you should stay within the speed limit. You are not allowed to cross the centre line if you are not overtaking and must keep left when driving normally.
  • Parking: Consider your parking carefully, for your convenience remember to park the back wheel down to the kerb, this will make it easier to ride away, it also illegal to park on the opposite side of the road facing onto traffic.
  • Beware of Kea Parrots. If you are near the mountains keep an eye out for Kea parrots as they will happily peck a hole in your seat within seconds (we're not joking), and their sharp talons will instantly damage your seat if they land on it. We provide kea parrot insurance options to reduce damage costs.
  • New Zealand is generally a very safe place, but make sure your motorbike is tucked away at night or even kept under-cover if at all possible. Lasty, be aware of kiwi drivers generally, they are used to driving in a quiet country on very empty roads and many do not have the same experience with motorcycles as in other busier countries.
  • Roadworks: Roadworks are seldom motorcycle friendly in NZ. Whilst some are easy to navigate, others can be a little daunting. Slow and steady.

Why not take the online 'Driving in new Zealand' test to see if you understand our road rules! 
Let us know how you get on - we have not had a ten out of ten yet! 

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Our unique selling features would have to be our unsurpassed quality of service, our genuine passion for motorcycling and, and sharing New Zealand's hidden secrets with you - in other words, our local knowledge.
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+64 3 312 0066
Skype us at ride.nz
South Pacific Motorcycle Tours,
43 Roscrea Place, Mandeville,
RD2 Kaiapoi 7692, Christchurch,
North Canterbury, New Zealand.

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