If you are a well travelled rider, wanderlust may one day draw you to New Zealand – a perfect piece of paradise at the bottom of the world (several other countries want to go for the title too, but we will leave it at that for the moment).
Most of New Zealand roads are a mix of compressed gravel and tar, which makes it a gripping, tyre eating surface that will also take your skin off in chunks if you find yourself having too close a relationship with it. Despite that, it’s mostly a really fun ride and you can feel safe that gravity and g-forces are well working physics on New Zealand roads and, of course, you will have a good set of tyres to keep you upright on them.
It might seem easy to adapt from riding on the right side of the road to the left – and I must say, as long as you have oncoming traffic, it is. Quite often you will find yourself for a time without any traffic (hard to imagine if you are from Europe) so, when it appears, you just need to swerve back with the hope the next oncoming car provides enough room and a big enough adrenalin shock to make it clear you belong on the left hand side of the road.
Two things you should never forget are, firstly, be wary of white cars (especially any Toyota Corolla) as there is an 80% chance they are tourists in a rental car who may suddenly stop in the middle of the road to take photos or – worse – not come as prepared as you and be on the wrong side of the the road.
Secondly, do not speed… I promise you the cops will be onto you and the speeding fines in New Zealand will bring tears in your eyes. The police are so well drilled at handing out speeding tickets that as check your speedo as soon as you spot one, you will automatically feel like a criminal.
Enough negativity. The roads wind perfectly, the views are spectacular and the traffic is minimal compared to any European country. The people are friendly and a cold beer at the local pub after an adventurous day riding is liquid gold…come and enjoy.