Overview for Motorbikes riding through New Zealand

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Wild Freedom Motorcycle Rentals Ltd.

PO Box 21610 Henderson, Auckland 0650

SMS/Text/cell  +64 21 980 012

Web www.wildfreedommotorcyclerentals.co.nz

Pete Aalbers – Manager


An Introduction - Auckland

Riding a motorcycle in and around Auckland is similar to most Auckland City as a motorcycling adventuremajor metropolitan cities the world over. Auckland is a town of 1.4 million people squeezed into an area defined by the two coasts and the 150 volcanic cones dotted sporadically in everyone’s’ way. The Pacific coast on the east comes to within 7 kilometers of the Tasman coast on the west. At Auckland both coasts have a large harbor; the Waitemata Harbour (pronounced Why-tee-matta) on the east within the greater Hauraki Gulf, and the Manukau Harbour to the west.

Auckland city is made up of 5 regions. Firstly the Auckland Central Business District (CBD) is the hub of the inner-city suburbs including the Auckland Port and waterfront. Secondly, the North Shore includes suburbs north of the Harbour Bridge (pictured) including Takapuna and Devonport. Thirdly, Rodney stretches north right upto Warkworth and Wellsford and includes a rural area towards the south head of the Kaipara (pronounced Kye-Pah-Rah) Harbour. Fourthly, Waitakere (pronounced Why-tack-Kerry) to the west includes the Waitakere ranges and the west coast beaches of Piha and Murawai. And fifthly, Manukau (pronounced Mun- oo- cow) includes all of the southern suburbs right down to Pukekohe (pronounced Pook-cay-koe-ee)  and Waiuku (pronounced Why-oo-koo), and envelops the Manukau Harbour to the west.

The main motorway follows a course north and south through Auckland, called Highway 1 passing through Manukau, the CBD and the North Shore. The Northwestern Motorway Hwy 16 serves Waitakere to the west and links up with Hwy 1 in a ring road.


Motorbike Rides worth noting.

Short Rides around Auckland


  1. Riding the Waitakere Ranges is lovely. They are a range of low mountains (or huge mounds) running north/south from Swanson to Titirangi on the western edge of Auckland with a winding twisting road that follows its ridgeline. The suburban streets from Auckland CBD to Titirangi need to be endured to get to the ranges. The Scenic Drive is the snaking and rolling road over the ranges that follows most of the ridges and is set in native rainforest with the bush right up to the tarseal. The summit PukemateoPiha Beach on NZ west coast (close to the Swanson end of the ranges at the north) is a worthwhile stop to view the panoramic expanse of Auckland presented below. Another few minutes and Swanson arrives marking the end of the Scenic Drive along the Waitakere ranges, then a motorway dash back to the Auckland CBD finishes the ride. This whole exercise could be accomplished in 90 minutes, but allow more time for stops.
  2. Another worthy ride is the ride to Piha Beach (pictured) on the west coast. Take the same route from Auckland to Titirangi as the Waitakere Ranges ride, and turn left off the Scenic Drive to Piha some 25 minutes later. This road known as the Piha Road, is as winding and rolling as the Scenic Drive and twists its way through native bush. Just before arriving at Piha, the view overlooking Piha Beach is stunning (as pictured). Piha Beach and Lion Rock are worth stopping by. This beach is a great example of the rugged west coast of Auckland as compared to the tamer eastern coast. Piha is a surfer’s mecca. The trip from Auckland to Piha and return should take 90 minutes without stopping, but viewing Piha and surrounds is recommended.
  3. To view the highlights of Auckland city, a short  itinerAuckland highest volcano and overlooking Auckland centrey would include riding to the summit of Mt Eden – the view is breathtaking (pictured). Note the view at night and at sunrise are just equally as splendid. Then follow our waterfront along Tamaki Drive. This passes some of Aucklands most pleasant bays – Okahu, Mission Bay, and St Helliers Bay. The drive is about 11km long. Then head past Parnell to briefly glimpse a quaint village style shopping district. Browns Bay on Aucklands east coast off the North Shore. Tranquil beaches.The Auckland Domain is worth riding through as a massive park in the city. It also passes the Auckland Museum- a great baroque-style imposing structure in the Auckland Domain. The domain and museum ride would take no more than 30 minutes. One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park are worth a ride through as pleasant rides go. Cross over the Harbour Bridge and check out Devonport as another quaint village district. Just by Devonport is North Head, the northern entrance to the Waitemata Harbour, and the location of big gun emplacements from WWII. Mt Victoria is close by in Devonport with a stunning view of Auckland city from across the harbour.  Then head to Takapuna beach for a view of the tame eastern bays beach. Long Bay and Browns Bay (pictured) further north on the same coast are well worth a ride past and perhaps a coffee on the way.


One Day Rides around Auckland


  1. The Wellsford Loop is a great day ride from Auckland west and north through Helensville and Kaukapakapa on Hwy 16 to Wellsford and back south through Puhoi on Hwy 1. The road north from Henderson and Westgate through Helensville 
  2. Kaipara Harbour by Kaukapakapa heading north to Wellsford
  3. nd meal for years.  The ride north from Kaukapakapa passes through farmland and some woodland, with views the the left (west) of the Kaipara Harbour (pictured).
     This road from Kaukapakapa to Wellsford is undulating and twisted with very little traffic normally.Its a great ride for bikes. From Wellsford south through to Puhoi is just nice riding but nothing really notable. The Puhoi pub is the other favourite bikers watering hole with good food and beverages. On the way back to Auckland from Puhoi, the twin tunnels bypassing Orewa are cute, but the tolls cost $2.20/bike. Otherwise, detour through Waiwera and Orewa to see more east coast beauty with views and greats winding roads. The hot pools at Waiwera can be very welcoming. The whole Wellsford Loop will take the best part of 4 hours riding plus stops.
  4. north to Wellsford is a riding dream. The Kaukapakapa pub has been a favourite haunt of bikers for a drink a
  5. Another great day ride is the Coromandel Loop – Auckland, Coromandel town, Auckland. Catch the motorway Hwy 1 from Auckland south and branch off east at Hwy 2 to Kopu. Then either ride clockwise to Coromandel Whitianga, and Tairua back to Kopu or the reverse. Both are great rides. The Coromandel Peninsula has two coasts, including the pacific to the east, and the Thames Estuary to the west. The roads are viciously twisted and hilly with great coastal views, and clusters of holiday homes in most of the bays along the way. Sometimes the corners are signposted down to 15km/hr. The profusion of Pohutukawa (pronounced Poe-Who-Too-Kah-Wah)   trees along both coasts makes for great riding and photogenic opportunities. I suggest when re-entering Auckland to detour through Miranda and Kawakawa Bay on the Thames Estuary along the Auckland side. The ride is well worth the extra hour riding. The whole ride can be accomplished in 7 hours at a rush. You may wish to stop at one of the many beaches and have a break, a skinny dip or swim, or a coffee.
    1. A final one-day ride from Auckland is the Raglan Loop – Auckland, Pukekohe, Tuakau, Raglan, Ngaruwahia, Auckland. This will take 4-5 hours plus stops. The Waingaru Road Hwy 22 (not pronounced Wane-Garu, but pronounced Why-knar-oo) is one of my all-time superb motorcycling roads. I’m guessing it was designed for bikers. This road follows the route for most of its length from Pukekohe to Ngaruwahia. It begins by heading south from the Auckland CBD down the Southern Motorway for some 30km and exit off at Pukekohe. Head right (west) through Puke’ and follow the signposts initially towards Waiuku and Tuakau. Once past Tuakau head towards Pukekawa and Raglan (Ignore Waiuku). The road slithers around bends and some hairy bends, through farmland where the cows have their particular aroma, and on towards the west coast at Raglan. Raglan town is beautiful, perhaps dominated by the gorgeous Harbourview Hotel. Raglan is a surfer town with a great world-renown point break somewhere out in the water. The journey from Raglan backtracks some 15 km to the Waingaro Road Hwy 22 and then follow the signposts to Ngaruwahia along a lovely serpentine road. This town has limited tourism potential, but they’re trying. Head back over the Waikato River onto the western bank and follow the road from Ngaruwahia to Huntly and onto Rangariri, which avoids the nauseatingly boring expressway back to Auckland. There is no choice from Rangiriri, but the rest was marvelous.


That pretty well covers most of the quick trips worth noting in and about Auckland. Enjoy your ride. I expect that folks from some other areas may be miffed that I treated their spot with so little interest.


Pete Aalbers

Wild Freedom Motorcycle Rentals.  Click here to return to Home Page

Touring New Zealand South Island by Motorcycle

Below is a brief (very brief) overview of the roads to ride
and places to see that are worthwhile when considering touring New Zealand. I have done this trip in this order myself over four weeks. It will give you some idea of times and travel and what's perhaps more worthy of spending time by.

Over time, I will edit and improve this overview as I revisit it repeatedly.

Start at Picton getting off the ferry from Wellington and loop around the South Island down the west coast and back up through the scenic route inland. I touch on the main cities but generally just avoid the metropolitan areas and wander about the scenic countryside and mountainous regions.

West Coast - Route Heading south 

From Picton off the Cook strait ferry to Nelson is a couple hours over the scenic Queen Charlotte Road. I am assuming a route down the west of the South Island and up the centre. The other way around is just as acceptable and enjoyable. The weather on the West Coast may help determine which route you wish to choose.

From Nelson to Westport along the Buller River and through the Buller gorge is
beautiful and 3 hours of scenic lovely riding. From Westport to Wanaka is about 497km - 7 hours minimum hard riding. This route is weather-dependant - it almost always rains by Haast and is almost always dry by Wanaka. On a fine day, the Southern Alps are on spectacular view along the entire trip.

But places worth visiting (with stops adding time to the journey) on the way are (in order of merit):-

1 Punakaiki  "Pancake Rocks" an hour south of Westport. 2 hour stop

  1. Fox Glacier - close to the main road, easy access, some walking required and a nice break from riding, stunning glacier terminal- 25km south of Franz Josef still 2 hours to Haast and 4 hours to Wanaka
  2. Franz Josef Glacier - further from road, longer walk, similar glacier terminal
  3. Haast to Wanaka road - great riding road, rising over the Southern alps past Lake Hawea. Through winding roads through beech rain-forests, and a great alpine scenic route.
  4. Greymouth- nice town 90min south of Westport
  5. Haast - petrol station, motel and cafe available - not much else. This town receives the most rain in NZ - about 18,000mm/year.

  6. Queenstown

From Wanaka/Cardrona/Queenstown/Arrowtown you can travel day trips to various places covering this very scenic area of NZ. Places most worthwhile visiting are (in order of merit):-

1 Milford Sound - the ride from Queenstown to Te Anau town past Lake Te Anau, through the Homer Tunnel and into Milford Sound township is stunning. This is the part of NZ where the highest mountains and deepest glacier-cut gorges meet. "Spectacular" do not do the landscape sufficient justice. Mitre
      Peak is on display.
     The Milford sound is well worth taking a 1 hour cruise on the water. In fine weather the Milford Sound (where a long-gone glacier carved out a chunk of the earth) is a breathtaking scene, and in rainy weather, the waterfalls and   cascades 1000m high are amazing. This is 600km return trip - possibly more  than a comfortable day tour. You may choose to stay a night in Te Anau.

  1. The iconic Cardrona Hotel and Crown Range Pass from Wanaka to Queenstown. The road is great riding, with awesome views to Queenstown from the top of the Crown Range. The Cardrona Hotel is a must-do stop and stay overnight or for a drink at least. 90 minute journey.
  2. Queenstown needs a day itself. Enjoy the town and its attractions - there are plenty. It is the adventure capital of NZ - bungy jumping, jet boats on the rivers, charming town, cable car with incredible views and luge racing, and more.
  3. Cromwell and Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River are a well
         worthwhile day trip. Clyde and Alexandra are lovely towns to visit. The region is dry alpine with towering mountains in the distance. its a whole day trip.
  4. Manapouri town and Lake Manapouri are a worthwhile stop, close to Te Anau.

Southland and Invercargill

1 Invercargill is a nice large town worth riding past, or staying for a coffee and break. The boardwalk in the estuary is stunning and worth the 45 minute walk around it. This is the place where Burt Munroe (Worlds Fastest Indian) lived, and his motorbike is still on display. and with Oreti Beach there too.

  1. The Catlins Conservation Park is well worth the journey from Invercargill to Balclutha and on to Dunedin. The Catlins has a petrified forest worth seeing and some amazing riding roads through the forests. Apparently, the Cathedral Caves are also worth viewing. Probably about 200km but a whole day's journey
  2. Bluff- southern most point of NZ and worth seeing briefly. Then a quick 5 minute ride to the view point on the hill up Flagstaff Rd, the views are
         terrific. 1 hour riding return trip plus stops.

Dunedin and Otago

Dunedin is a big city with charm.

  1. The Octogon (city centre) is well worth stopping by. The Otago Peninsula including Larnoch Castle is worth visiting, but more in an urban environment. This can be completed in a day.
  2. The Otago Rail Trail is very well worth seeing. It used to be a railway line
         linking Dunedin to Middlemarch, Hyde, Ranfurly, Wedderburn, Omakau,Alexandra and Clyde. The tracks have been removed and a cycleway was created instead. The  road follows most of this 160km cycle trail and the scenery in this region and along this road is stunning- well worth riding to Clyde from Dunedin.
  3. Heading north from Dunedin, the Moeraki boulders are worth seeing at Moeraki, and then continuing to Oamaru before heading inland to Duntroon through the back roads. They are lovely with rolling hills. Duntroon is on Highway 83, and along the Waitaki River with its 3 famous hydroelectric  dams - Waitaki, Aviemore, Benmore.
  4. Kurow is a little town nestled in front of a small mountain worth spending an hour climbing, especially at sunrise.
  5. Continue Highway 83 to Omarama and Highway 8 heading north toward Twizel. Twizel has coffee. Stop a bit past Twizel at Lake
          Pukaki and see Mt Cook in the distance over the lake. My website has an image of this.
  6. From Twizel go to Mt Cook village and see NZ's tallest mountain, and Tasman Glacier. A scenic flight would be well worth the cost. Mt Cook is about 60km from Twizel - less than an hour's ride.

Tekapo and The Alpine Plateau

Tekapo is central in the McKenzie Country - the high alpine plateau in the central South Island where most of the alpine scenic spots are. The plateau extends from Cromwell to Christchurch and the Cantebury plains.

  1. From Twizel or Mt Cook head east and north to Tekapo. The lake, is quite scenic, with a quaint rock church and the famous statue of the beloved Border Collie dog.
  2. Stay the night at Tekapo and take a night-time 'Tour of the Night Skies'. The area is an international Astronomical Park - specially dedicated to studying stars. The tour is well worthwhile.
  3. Visit Mt John Observatory by Tekapo. The scenic vistas are stunning.
  4. Then head for Christchurch visiting Fairlie and Geraldine - two towns with coffee looking over their plains. The land becomes flat here and the roads long and straight. The journey is about 3 hours.

Christchurch and North

Christchurch has some charm left after the 2 earthquakes from 2010-2011. But the city is scarred with the resulting effects, including some inner-city roads that are still uneven and riven with repaired cracks, and vacant gravelled sections where once stood buildings before their demise. The iconic Cathedral has been destroyed, and the once charming city centre square is still red-zoned and inaccessible.

But other parts of Christchurch are still worth seeing:-

  1. Hagley Park - huge inner city park
  2. Avon River with its gondolas
  3. The Port Hills overlooking Christchurch from the south
  4. Brighton and Sumner beaches
    When leaving Christchurch heading north toward Wellington, there are 2
    major routes to follow - Highway 1 through Kaikoura, and the Lewis Pass
    through Nelson. Both routes begin by travelling through the dry flat Canterbury plains and then moving into and through inland or coastal mountains;-

North via Kaikoura.

  1. This east coast route follows the winding coastline edge for much of its
     journey. Seal colonies can be seen north of Kaikoura. The route is a  motorcycling pleasure. The first couple hours out of Christchurch are over the Canterbury plains - dry and flat with long straight roads. Christchurch to Picton is about 4.5 hours in a single continuous ride.
  2. Kaikoura is itself hardly worth seeing, but its location beneath the Kaikoura Ranges is beautiful. Whale watching off the coast is a national drawcard. The road into Kaikoura has several roadside kiosks with local divers (mainly the local Maori) selling lobsters, whole and cooked ready to eat. Delicious.
  3. Blenheim is a lovely mid-sized town to visit with wine producing vineyards all around and a must see for Wine Trail followers.

North via Lewis Pass

  1. This route takes an extra 1.5  hour but passes Hanmer Springs, Murchison, Springs Junction and Nelson. This route, highways 7, 65 and 6,  travels through the rain-forested mountains and the Nelson Lakes
         district with its stunning mountainous landscapes. The ride is great 
  2. Hanmer Springs is a beautiful town surrounded by forest on the slopes overlooking the plains to the south. The springs are hot thermal pools and a lovely spot to stay the night, about 1.5 hours out of Christchurch.
  3. Nelson completes the circuit of the South Island with either a quick run to Picton via the highway or a 2 hour winding picturesque journey through the Queen Charlotte Drive to Picton.

    At this point you arrive at Picton and board either the Interislander ferry to Wellington or the Bluebridge ferry. From the ferry the ride is in the North Island.  
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North Island

Wellington to Auckland - Route 1

1. Very briefly, the quickest and shortest way to Auckland is straight up north along Highway 1.  8 hours riding directly will get you there.
2. You ride through Levin, Bulls, Taihape, Waiouru and the beautiful Desert Road past Mt Ruapehu. The Turangi and Lake Taupo. Taupo city is lovely. Tokoroa Hamilton and Auckland. 8 hrs. Rather boring ecept for the Desert Road from Waiouru.

 Wellington to Auckland - Eastern route 2

3. From Wellington head to Lower and Upper Hutt over the Rimutaka Hill and down to Featherstone is the first stage. The Rimutaka Hill on a dry day is my best motorcycling ride in years. (scared me crazy when I did it on a wet windy night).
4. Featherstone behind, head for Carterton and Masterton through farm country and towns. Ekatahuna and Woodville next. More pasture, cows, crops, and flat country.
5. Hastings and Napier are next but the road there is through some nice flat featureless country.  From Napier you can go either over the Napier Taupo Highway 5 which is a magnificent motorcycling ride, and from Taupo head to Auckland as per Highway 1 through Hamilton.
6. Or from Napier you head north up Highway 2 to Gisbourne, Tolaga Bay, Hicks Bay, East Cape. From there west to Opotiki, Whakatane, Mt Maunganui and Tauranga. Then its a 3 hour doddle to Auckland with the Karangahake gorge as a highlight, and...
7. if you divert a lttle to Whangamata, you get to ride the Kopu/Kikuwai Hill (Highway 25a), also a great ride, but quite short - half hour.
8. Then Thames and Auckland.

Wellington to Auckland - Route 3

9. From Wellington north, branch off westwards at Sansom and head for the western route. Wanganui is your first real stop with a lovely town to see.
10. You could branch off eastwards on Hwy 4 from Wanganui to Raetihi for another amazing motorcycling ride over three mountain ranges and three valleys. Then follow 4 North to Taumaranui, Te Awamutu and Auckland through winding twisting rolling country. All these roads are awesome riding roads.
11. Or carry on north from Wanganui to New Plymouth. Mt Taranaki (Mt Egmont) is stunning from various angles as you sweep past it. Then follow the highway 3 along the coast and eastwards to Te Kuiti, Otarahonga and Auckland. The famous Waitomo Caves is on this route and worth a stop over.
12. From Ngaruwahia instead of a straight run up to Auckland, a lovely riding diversion is the Waingaru Rd heading west and Highway 22 past Glen Murray. It diverts a bit but ends up in Pukekohe and on to Auckland's Southern motorway in the southern outskirts of Auckland but the ride is another lovely winding rolling motorbiking dream ride.

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