It’s funny how so often our own backyard is the last place we explore. Well this was definitely the case for me anyway.
As a Kiwi from Wellington, I’d traveled the world but never really seen the South Island before (only as a very young child). So I decided to go along for Real Aotearoa’s Burt Munro Tour, and man, I’m glad I did. I’ve always loved riding and thought it would be a fun way to see a bit more of the ol’ backyard.
The ferry across from Wellington to Picton was a cool way to start – it was packed full of motorcyclists doing the same trip to Invercargill for the Burt Munro Rally.
We then set off down the West Coast – and yes I was that crazy pillion who gets her phone out to take pics during the trip. No I didn’t drop my phone, but I did get some awesome shots!
There were so many highlights – too many to write about here. I got to tick off so many South Island must-dos – Pancake Rocks, Shanty Town, the Bra Fence (which the boys made a ‘MUST DO’), Glaciers, Moeraki Boulders, Gold Mining, Mt Cook, and more… But I think my favourite part on the way down to the rally was when we got to Franz Josef.
We were staying in a pretty swanky resort, and as we rode down the long driveway among the native bush, we were met by two Maori Chiefs. My first thought (and I think a few of the others thought it too) was ‘shit, we’re in the wrong place, where’s our crazy tour guide taken us?!’
But we were ushered up and greeted with a ‘Welcome, would you like us to take your bags and park up your bike?’ Lovely guys, but as if they were going to touch our bikes! We all walked in and were greeted with a warm flannel and glass of freshly squeezed juice. It was all pretty surreal, I wish someone had taken a photo of our stunned faces – you could tell the staff there really enjoyed them!
The Burt Munro Rally was awesome, the whole town was full of bikers from all over the world – I think anyone in a car would’ve felt pretty out of place. The different events and races were amazing – especially the beach race!
I ended up chatting away with a woman who grew up as Burt Munro’s neighbour which was pretty cool too – first thing she said when I asked what he was like was ‘well, just like in the movie he did actually set fire to his grass instead of mowing it. Hah! Love it!
After the rally we headed back up the East Coast – it amazed me how different the West Coast and East Coast are. But what amazed me more were the seal pups at Kaikoura – soooooo gorgeous!
Seeing the South Island on a bike made it so much more of an experience! It was magical – truly the trip of a lifetime. And riding with a group made it so much fun – sharing the memories and stories along the way.
The only bad part was having to say goodbye – till next time!