Brians Overnighter and onto the Oyster Hunt.


It was a fortuitous meeting that led me to joining a group of like minded souls south on Highway One after a brief corralling of motorcycles at Rolleston BP. I just happened to ask one wednesday Knitting meet, having just returned home from the sea, whether there was anything going on in the near future. “Brians Overnighter’ I was told. A quick phone call to Brian and the last bunk was mine.

It was a cool and crisp mid April morning. We set off south and stopped at Geraldine for a morning coffee and obligatory carbo stock up. Be it a pie, cake or scone washed down with a tea or coffee, they all hit the spot.


New Zealand is renowned for these blue sky days no matter what time of year. A high pressure system was rolling in from the west which bode well for the coming days ahead.

The next stretch of road took us from Geraldine to Fairlie, through the Burkes Pass, passed Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki where we stopped in the car park for a leg stretch and some photos. It was hard to see the lake for just before we arrived so did a couple of tour buses. I need to learn a few words to say “excuse me but don’t walk in front of me when I am trying to take a photo!” in various languages. It infuriates me particularly when selfie sticks are waved in your face.


These roads are amazing. This is a must stop place for anybody coming this way. The colour of the water in Lake Pukaki is like nowhere else I have seen on earth. The back drop of Aoraki, Mount Cook is simply stunning.

From here Brian took us on a tiki tour of the hydro canals before we eventually stopped for lunch in Omarama.

Taking Highway 83, the road winds along more amazing scenery and just before Otemata a left turn winds its way up the the hydro dam between Lakes Benmore and Aviemore. The trees are just starting to turn into their autumnal colours and the view from the biggest earthen dam in the southern hemisphere is staggering.


It's easy to run out of superlatives for these roads.Te Akatarawa road that runs along the north shore of Lake Aviemore is another windy and twisty road worthy of mention with views over the lake at every winding turn. Journeys end came quickly and by mid afternoon we had arrived at the Waihao Forks Hotel. The accommodation here is mainly in a bunk house out the back of the hotel itself. A wood burner provides plenty of heat and we all gathered for a great evening in the bar. Dinner and breakfast provided by the hosts here is nothing short of fantastic.

The next morning we said goodbye to those that had to return to Christchurch whilst Murray led the rest of us on south. Whilst I got held up in traffic in Dunedin, Bob and Steve waited behind for me and in the meantime the rest of the riders had disappeared. We could not find them having cleared Dunedin so we decided to head directly to the Asure Townsman motel where we stayed the night and met the other rider.

Finding a place to eat was a bit of a palaver. It seems that all of Invercargill wanted to eat in the Irish Bar and there was no room for us. Speights Ale House was a decent back up plan.

Early the next morning we set off and would eventually arrive in Cromwell. Before that though Murray led us on another tiki tour of some quite outstanding riding roads. The weather held up for us. This is the only way to see New Zealand. I had no idea some of these roads even existed. Our two budding aviators partook of their new adventure called Biggles Flies Undone when at Mandeville Bob and Chaz went for a flight in a Tiger Moth. Bigger grins you have never seen. Old boys reliving their youths!



Out the back of the hangar was a little hidden treasure. I never knew this existed. A small piece of railway track has been laid and a bunch of enthusiast is putting this old girl back together. There are a number of wagons and coaches waiting some TLC. Well worth a rummage about.

We had hoped to cross the Cleutha river on the little ferry at Tuapeka. But alas due to the water level it was closed. Never mind. The ride out that way is magnificent. After a brief stop at Beaumont we headed to our lodgings at Cromwell and enjoyed a good night at the Ale House in town and a game of cards and a few Scotches at the motel.

Now the next couple of days were the best of the entire trip. The mornings are chilly to start with but with blue skies the sun came out and the riding was all that it was meant to be. Murray lead us on the most circuitous route he could find to Arrowtown, Queenstown, Glenorchy, over the Crown range road to a stop at Cardrona, through Wanaka, up Lake Hawea to our stop at Haast. You have to ride this. I can’t describe it well enough. You get a sore neck looking at the scenery. So here are a few photos to help you.


In Haast our pool skills were put to the test. Funny how they seem to initially get better after a few ales but then deteriorate rapidly.

Next day we set off up the West coast. Again the weather was superb. I really like riding first thing in the morning. Mists rolled off the ancient forests fogging up your visors and wind shields under the trees until you burst out into sunlight and it all clears in an instant.


We traversed the “new bridge" between Fox and Franz Josef which consisted of loose planks over a metal frame. But at least it was open. A detour via Lake Mathieson for those that had not been was taken to get a leg stretch and some photos and then on for lunch at Hokitika.

Our final resting place for the night was the Ahaura hotel in Ahaura run by Mandy and John. Now let me tell you I have stayed in many establishments around the world with my job. Some in New Zealand are what can only be described as rustic.When I first saw the Ahaura hotel i thought it was going to be another typical small town pub that had seen better days. How wrong was I.

Mandy has spent a great deal of time doing up the rooms upstairs into very comfortable, clean tidy accommodation. She put on an evening meal for us, we used the free pool table. A decent breakfast was served in the morning. At around 20 kms north of Greymouth on the Reefton road, this is my go too place from now on. This is truly a hidden gem and is well worth a visit. Incredibly reasonably priced too. Both Mandy and John are delightful. Give them a try. 03 732 3876.

Thursday saw a split in the group. Some chose to head further north whilst Bob, Chrissy and I rode the sublime rode to Reefton, Springs Junction and home to Christchurch through the Lewis Pass. That stretch from Reefton to Springs Junction I reckon rates as one of the top 5 roads to ride in the South Island. The Easter traffic coming the other way had just started to build as we passed Hanmer.

So that’s another road trip done. About 2000kms I reckon. The weather was fantastic, the roads were clear and staggeringly beautiful, Ahaura Hotel was a revelation and Murrays tour guiding was simply the best.Great riding companions really bring these rides alive. Bring on the next one!

Mark Dexter 2015