Client CommentsIf you really want to know what happens when you ride with us, take a gander at what some of our clients think of their tour experiences.
If you'd like to speak to somebody who's been on one of our tour packages - email us and we can send you contact information.
Kim and Joe Fiske - Best of The Best Self Guided Tour
Jim & Terry Coleman, Custom Guided Tour 2014
Alan and Jackie Naylor, UK - Self Guided Tour
George Hrdlicka, USA - Best of The Best Guided Tour
Richard and Celia Parker, UK. Guided Tour
Carolyn Cusler, USA - Self Guided Tour,
Bob and Sally Jennings, USA - Self Guided Tour
Caroline and Mike Wilkins, Honeymoon
Bill Bassett, UK
Hannah and Vic Berry
Caroline and Mike Clews, UK -Best Value Guided Tour
Bob and Mary Beth Van Dine, USA - Customised Guided Tour
Russ Quinlan, Scotland - Self-Guided Tour
Liz and Mark Jones, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
Steve Ganz, USA Best Value Guided Tour Peter Williams, March 2006 Fun and Funky, Dec 2005 Best of Best
Bert Martin, UK - November Self-Guided Tour
Richard Carroll, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
Bill Murphy, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
Jeffrey Lyman, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
David and Davina Robertson, UK - Best Value Guided Tour
Merle Schneblin, USA -
Neil and Maggie Hardwick, UK - February Best Value Guided Tour
Bruce and Liz Young, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
Peter & Elizabeth Bell, UK - Self Guided Tour
Jeff Luftig, USA - Self-Guided Tour
Jim Chamberlin, USA - Fun and Funky Guided Tour
Bob Clarke, UK - Best of the Best Tour
Dale and Judy Knuth, USA - Self-guided Tour
Art & Suzy Carroll, USA - Deluxe Guided Tour
Gene Du Boff, USA - Self-Guided Tour
George and Chris Eltherington, UK - Self-Guided Tour
Jonathan Rutschky, USA
Kim and Pam Cashmer, USA - Guided Tour
Ron Block, USA - Deluxe Guided Tour
Stefan Zuend, Switzerland - Guided Tour
Dennis Apland, USA-
Don Barr, USA - Deluxe Guided Tour
Don Brooks, USA - Self-Guided Tour
Tom Drew, USA - Self-Guided Tour
Jim and Terry Coleman, Custom Guided Tour 2014
John, Terry and I had truly the trip of a lifetime.
Andrew and Shelly were great hosts and ambassadors. Next time we'll spend more time in NZ. Thanks again.
have just hired two bikes from GoTourNZ. In all my dealings I found
John to be extremely professional and he’s one of those
people who always respond to emails and phone messages immediately
– an absolute pleasure to deal with.
The condition of the bikes were good and both ran perfectly on our 2,000km trip, neither missed a beat and we experienced no issues whatsoever. Scott Baker has obviously maintained the bikes very well.
I would unreservedly recommend GoTourNZ to anyone considering renting a bike or doing a tour with them.
Thanks to John and Scott for a truly memorable trip around South Island.
We just wanted to write to tell you what an amazing experience we had and it was because of 2 things...
Your beautiful country...and YOU!!!
We could not have asked for anything better. It was so well layed
out...so many little details thought of and over the top service you
I can't thank you enough for making Joe's birthday experience the one I had hoped for.
John, well done! I so enjoyed all of the B&Bs, side hikes and COFFEE spots.
The bike was perfect and flawless to travel on. I hope to stay in touch
and we have a few amazing photos that may work for you. Picton was not
really in our plans.. but we enjoyed a hike around the sound and the
twisty road of the Charlotte sound. please let's debrief sometime on a
skype call. All the best,
I would like to take this time to thank you both for providing Jackie and myself with an experience we will treasure forever. The entire trip was completely hassle free and everywhere we stayed the people were delightful and very helpful.
We were blessed with good weather throughout and the scenery is breath-taking.
If we ever get the opportunity to head that way again I will definitely re-use GoTourNZ.com.
I believe you are starting a French tours company providing similar services as many of the accommodation owners mentioned. If this is the case when we head over that way we will look to see what packages you offer there also.
Once again many many thanks and all the best.
George Hrdlicka - Best of The Best Guided Tour:
Thanks again Ian for a wonderful tour.
The experience in NZ was everything it was advertised to be, plus more.
I especially appreciated your thoughtful selection of rides that showed off the South Island and your choice of first rate B&Bs at every stop.
The side trips you recommended were also right on target. It was obvious that you and John put a lot of time into planning the tours, which produced a memorable experience for the riders.
I will favorably recommend GoTourNZ.com to all riders I know.
From: Carolyn Kusler
To: Ian Fitzwater
Subject: Re: thank you
Ian and all, I want to thank you for the trip of a lifetime.
I have many cherished sites stored in my mind that I can return to and find peace amidst the hectic lifestyle we can't seem to escape here in America.
I have been telling people about the wonderful tour you put together for us. My cousin is going to plan a trip to NZ but he and his wife would not be interested in riding the motorcycles. I am assuming you can provide a similar tour with car rentals?
Again, thanks so much for the
wonderful accommodations and tips regarding what to see and where to
stop for a midday treat. The experience was incredible.
God bless your business,
To: Ian Fitzwater
An enormous thank you to you, Ian jnr and Jesse for everything you did to make our holiday an unforgettable experience (for all the right reasons this time!)
We take on board and appreciate the attention to the many small details you quietly organise in a most professional and smooth manner – without being ‘in your face’! ie sorting tank bag for Gordon and Jill, seat cover for Ann-Margaret, picnic at Milford Sound. We marvel at your apparent patience (especially when ours was beginning to fray on occasion).
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and describe our holiday to all as an awesome experience (we are boring all with every detail).
In fact it was so great that we will be returning – with Neil and Maggie (for starters)!
We are now back at work, still trying to get sleep patterns right.
Hoping that we can in some way reciprocate your kindness when you visit the UK,
Love to you and Sophie
Richard and Celia x
Bob & Sally Jennings, USA - Self Guided Tour:
From: Bob Jennings
To: Ian Fitzwater Jnr
Cc: Ian Fitzwater
Subject: Thank you.
Ian, John and Ian Jnr,
Sally and I have been back at home for half a day and are already missing the freedom and freshness of New Zealand.
We have had a superb 4 weeks in your beautiful country and although it's always nice to come home we have some special memories to hold on to for life.
Our time together on the Tiger was of course the 'jewel in the crown' We covered 2600 kms in the 10 days and can't believe that anyone could have witnessed more in such a short time. Just when we thought we had seen the ultimate view we turned a corner and found another. This was of course helped by only experiencing just 10 mins of rain as we left Kaikoura. The route was fab!
I appreciate that you are running a business where customer satisfaction is of paramount importance I therefore want you to know that this has been achieved for Mr and Mrs Jennings. We thoroughly enjoyed the route, the accommodation and the warm welcome received wherever we went. The Tiger, though not the most glamorous of bikes, was perfect for the job.
I hope the coming year is a successful one for you all.
Best wishes and thanks,
Bob and Sally Jennings
PS Please convey our special thanks to your mum - she was the perfect host.
My wife and I toured the South
Island of New Zealand for 12 days with GoTour New Zealand Bike Tours.
It is very hard to describe everything we saw; but it was like driving
thru a giant photo album. The tour company was top notch and it turned
out to be an excellent decision to use them. We saw and did more than
we could possibly have done on our own. The bikes were new,
accommodations were first class, meals and wine selection excellent as
well. (I have not been hired to voice these comments). So often people
only hear negative comments.
A trip to New Zealand was something we'd wanted to do for quite a while and we're glad we were able to go. If it's something anyone is contemplating, these are good people to use for your trip. If anyone would like info; contact me.
(This comment was first published on the BritBike.com forum)
Hannah and Vic Berry
We both wanted to say a big thank you again for everything you did for us on our honeymoon! It was a real dream come true for the both of us to ride in the South Island on such a beautiful bike!
Vic has always been keen on motorcycles and to ride a luxury machine up the Kaikoura coast was his highlight of the honeymoon for sure!
We would like to say Thank You for everything. There are really not enough words to express what a wonderful time we had, how perfectly everything worked out - even the weather. The BMW was very comfortable and rode the corners very well - despite its enormity!!
South Island is a stunning
place and we firmly believe more Bikers from the UK should experience
it for themselves. I really hope to be able to get an article printed
in the honeymoon section of a wedding magazine over here and will
certainly recommend you to all our friends...as well as get on a few
biker internet forums and mention you...
Please pass on our very sincere thanks to all of our hosts. Each and every one of them made us feel so welcome and at home. All of the accomodation was great for different reasons. To single any of them out would be too hard.
Once again, THANK YOU.
This article was first published in www.motorcyclenews.com
Hi I’d like to tell you about the 4,000km Tour of a lifetime we have just completed and are still buzzing about!
This was a holiday to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary and my wife's 50th Birthday and we wanted to do a good job of it!
We booked a tour of New
Zealand's South Island with GoTourNZ based in Nelson. They did
everything, from the hire of the bike to the booking of all the
accommodation on-route and pre-booking the activities we wanted to do
as we went.
We did Jetboat rides, helicopter rides over the Glaciers and to Milford Sound, swam with dolphins, everything except a bungee!
This was a two week tour of the South Island on a BMW R1200GS starting from Nelson and then going through Hanmer Springs, Franz Joesph, Te Anua, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mount Cook, Christchurch, Kaikoura and finally back to Nelson.
A total of 4,000km with a lifetime of memories from every kilometer. Anyone doing this has to stop off in Nelson before you zoom off because it is a beautiful place to see in its own right. We stayed for three days before the ride to get over jet lag!
The best moments: Everything, it was unbelievable the whole way round, wall to wall sunshine and amazing scenery throughout.
If there was a highlight it was watching the moon rise over Mount Cook from the Panorama Restaurant, amazing.
Also meeting up with four Blackbird owners I knew from the Bird website at home, they all lived on the North Island and came down for a tours themselves, so we met up for lunch at Picton
The scariest moments:
Two really, one was where the Railway shared a bridge with the road! It
said ‘Give way to Trains’ as you got onto it!
The second one was going through the Homer Tunnel on the way to Milford Sound. A wet, unlit downhill single track tunnel full of potholes, it was the only time I can ever remember being grateful to follow a car.
The worst moment: Getting
caught for speeding on the second day. Only doing 5kph over the limit
but I was so gob smacked with the scenery I didn’t notice.
I got an $80 fine, which I forgot to pay when we left NZ, however they sent a nice reminder home this week which was duly paid.
Thanks to: Ian Fitzwater who set this up for us. The accommodation was of unbelievable standard, breakfasts in rooms, wine with the owners before dinner and everyone was so friendly.
Next trip: We always tour the UK for two weeks and this year is no different, however we are definitely going back to NZ to visit some of the places we stopped at for longer and to also see some of the North Island.
We’ve been hooked. Although we thought it would be a one off, we are definitely going again, looking at the photos how couldn’t we.
I wanted to take a few moments
to thank you for what we felt was the perfect trip....perfect in so
many ways: the accommodations, the care and the patience you showed us
and the weather, yes I am convinced you exerted your influence....
Please always feel that you may use us as a reference.
I wanted to write you a note to thank you for planning such a wonderful trip for both Mark and I.
I must admit that when my husband suggested that we tour New Zealand on a motorcycle, I was a bit reluctant. I didn't know how I would feel after twelve days of riding on the back of a bike, living from suitcases, perpetual helmet hair. I wasn't sure that would be too much fun. But what I found was a riveting and friendly experience where I felt right at home.
The 10 others we toured with
became family, a community of men and women from various cultures.
People I will never forget. I gained an immense respect for the New
Zealand people too. Its relaxed atmosphere and the warmth added so much
to this unique vacation experience.
As for GoTourNZ… we were treated like family and valued friends.
Ian… it was especially wonderful having you on tour with us every step of the way. As a business owner myself, I know what a huge commitment it must be to travel with your customers, apart from your own family for days at a time, working from sun up to well past sundown, entertaining and serving our needs. But you were a true professional and an absolute joy to tour with. You are genuine, knowledgeable and fun.
The motorcycles we were given were practically new and extremely comfortable and very safe. I for one was thrilled that I could pack what I wanted in additional suitcases and have them at any time. On those days I wanted to let my husband have fun with the guys, I appreciated the tour in the van. It was fun, informative and a great way to connect with the other ladies.
The countryside was stunning.
The NZ people warm, the accommodations were more clean, comfortable and
all that I had hoped for. The food was great. I ate far too much of it
though. Both Mark and I will be talking about this trip for years to
come. In fact, we are already talking about our next tour. Thank you so
much for all that you have prepared, for your dedication to excellence,
your new friendship and sharing your lovely family.
IT WAS AN AWESOME TRIP!
Ian, I know you kept telling me the trip would exceed our expectations and our expectations were pretty high and - as promised - YOU EXCEEDED THEM!
From the preparation and quality of the bikes, to quality of the food, the layout of the itinerary, the accomodations and your contsant attention to all of our needs it was a PHENOMINAL trip and I thank you for it.
I sincerely mean it when I say look us up when you get to CA. I (and Viki) would also be more than happy to talk to anyone that is considering the trip and would like to speak to those that have been there and done that.
I hope you are getting a little relaxation before your next batch shows up.
Take Care and thanks again to Ian and all of you for such a GREAT time.
Now that I'm at last back in
the UK - and more wind and rain!! - I just wanted to drop you a quick
note to give some feedback on my trip.
I have to say that I found your organisation, attention to detail and choice of accommodation of the highest order.
I was sightly apprehensive about the quality of the accommodation - given my experience of b and b here in the UK - but I was delighted with your choices. Almost without exception, I was also really impressed with the hosts who seemed to well understand biker's needs and went out of their way on occasions to accommodate.Lloyd (Rotorua)left a lasting impression in particular - lovely guy.
The routing you chose was also ideal for what I wanted - although a couple of local tips - from the hosts - added to the experience with variations on your suggestions. I did bump into a couple of your competitors guided tours on the road - they were desparate to see the "book" but I told them that if I let them see it,I'd have to kill them. Personally I found it an invaluable tool.
John and Jo were good enough to share a dinner with me in Nelson which was a really nice gesture as well - and Linda made the best breakfasts!!
The bike was great - I'm glad I
listened to your advice not to go with a VFR! - and the luggage worked
really well - you attention to detail in
the inclusion of the little blue pack in the topbox was great.
All in all, I had a fantastic time and would love to repeat the experience - but building on my learning - from a biking perspective - perhaps focussing on S Island for 2/3 weeks with a few more 2 night stays to allow me to absorb a little more of the places I stay in.
In the meantine , thank you and John, and the rest of the team for a holiday which will live with me forever.
But don't tell everyone the secret- its great the way it is.
Bob Clarke, UK - Best of the Best Tour
British journalist Bob Clarke joined us for a Best of The Best guided
tour of the South Island in Feb 2004, and has written up the tale of
his tour over 16 pages and 4 issues of the British custom biker
publication 'Back Street Heroes' . He has that typical Brit dry style
of humor - it's an interesting read.
Tom Drew, USA - Self-Guided Tour
Thought I'd drop you a note to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed our time in New Zealand, all thanks to you. The scenery was incredible, and the people even more so! I thought I'd send you a critique of the trip (things that could have been better) but I can't come up with anything. Other than the rain, and Isuppose there's not much you can do about that!! (Well, and there was that problem with starting the bike!) All in all, the best vacation we've ever had!!! . Thanks again! NZ is definitely on our list of places to return to.
Thanks so much for making our vacation to NZ all that it could be. Your country is spectacular and would be very special even if one were to fly over and rent a car and wing it so to speak. But!!! without your guidance we no way could have had anywhere near the fabulous time we had in our three weeks that we spent with you.
The accomodations were always extremely nice and you made sure our entry and exits were easy and efficient. The people in the B&Bs where we stayed treated us like old friends so we always felt like a hug was a proper gesture upon leaving. It was nice to be able to find each place to stay so easily with your maps and special instructions so we could wind down each day in a comfortable manner.
The food was fantastic and I am sure some of that is because you know some of the best places and make sure we don't make a mistake there. I am 67 years old and have travelled a lot but never have I had three weeks of food that anywhere near compared to our menu there.
Your advice for things to see and do was always helpful but never pushy. Your knowledge of the country and of motorcycles was a big plus for all in our group. The country was designed for motorcycling with crooked roads that are in good condition with little traffic and virtually no animals to worry about. The manner in which we were handled by all of you from start to finish was the frosting on the cake and we do really appreciate it. We will be back.
Ian , we had a great trip ,
thank you very much. I kind of wish I had the bike for the north island
as well. As a testimony Sharon has agreed to similar trips in the
future where we split motorcycle and car time.
Please feel free to use us for reference for those folks in CO. if they want to talk to somebody locally.
Dale and Judy Knuth, USA - Self-guided Tour
Just wanted to drop a line and let you know How much we enjoyed the trip, the country and your hospitality. I have not traveled to many places that I would not like to call home as was New Zealand. The South Island is a must for the first vacation to NZ. We are glad that we found you on the Internet and how responsive you were to helping us meet out needs for a great vacation. Judy and I want to Thank You for one of the most wonderful times of our lives. This also was achieved with the selection of the bike. Very satifying to expierence such a fine ride.
It amazed me to think it has been 4 months since we were there and it still feels like yesterday. We do remind ourselves of all the fun when sharing all of our pictures to our friends of our trip there. The reaction we get is of awe but I tell them, "yes it is beautiful but to be there is overwhelming."
I want to end with a Thank you for being so nice and accommodating and helping in our decisions for our trip. We will always remember you and our experiences. Great Times are never forgotten.
Now that I'm back home I just wanted to drop a line and tell you how much I enjoyed the tour...short as it was. I've been "talking up" your service since arriving home, maybe a few more will head down your way now. I had a wonderful time and many thanks.
I highly recommend Ian and GoTourNZ! I took a tour last year in the first two weeks in February and had a blast. Ian and his son (Ian Jr) led the group I was on. Our group was a few couples, most riding tandem, one couple riding a bike each, an other single rider, and myself.
I was on a Triumph Trophy 1200, which was almost brand new (less that 400 miles), all the other bikes where also in excellent condition. I actually live in Auckland during Jan-March of most years, and rented a variety of bikes from a different company on the weekends in Auckland, and the comparison was night and day. The other company's bikes definitely looked and felt used, with little dings. Ian's bikes looked like the rolled out of the showroom.
Hotels - The hotels and B&B that Ian use where very good. There is one thing I think I should point out. NZ has a lot of out of the way towns, with great rides between them, but some of the towns don't get a huge tourist crowd (which is an advantage), but the negative side effect is some of the hotels aren't all Hiltons. As a frequent business traveler, I get used to US/European business hotels, and the hotels in NZ are not that. BUT (big but) - They are all really good great places! A good example is a hotel we stayed at in a town called Clyde - its a big old hotel that most likely could described as something out of a western movie. While the rooms didn't have TVs and phones, it was a great old building, and felt like we had stepped back in time. In no way should this be considered a negative criticism of Ian or his company - its just that many American travelers (including myself) get used to a pre-canned idea of a hotel, and NZ doesn't always fit this image. On the other hand many of the B&B's we stayed at were amazing.
Food - (and food and food and food!) Ian's hotels provide breakfast, lunch is on your own, and dinner is on Ian. Picture walking into the best restaurant in town, getting a menu, and ordering exactly what you want without paying any attention to the prices. I'll be honest in the beginning I was worried about ordering a starter, main, and desert at first because I thought it would look like I was going overboard ordering food - but that's what every one did. Ian picks the restaurants, and he definitely picks good places. Oh - drinks are your responsibility, BUT - Ian as he goes around the country picks up wine at his favorite wineries as he circles the country each time. During dinner he provides the wine to the group and charges you for it at the end of the trip. We had a wide variety of wine, and probably drank too much of it!
NZ - I can't tell you what a great place NZ is to ride - Picture a country that within a couple of days goes from a lush sub-tropical feel, down to a place that has glaciers and fiords that look like Alaska. The great thing about the south island is the that its an island about half the area of Colorado, but has less than a million people on it - meaning most of the roads are lightly traveled - there where portions that I went though where I wouldn't see another car for 15-20 minutes at time. I really love NZ - I've lived there for 1 and a quarter year, and then go down each winter to live there Jan-March, so I'm already sold.
I guess the best recommendation is that I'm planning another trip this year and I'd easily do it with Ian again.
Bill Murphy, USA - Best Value Guided Tour
I'm sitting here in Auckland waiting for the shuttle to the airport. I've turned in the key to the Tiger, and packed my bags. This was the trip I'd hoped for. We, the "noisy boys", did over 5000 kilometers, and all our bikes will need new tires.
I had great fun with the whole group, but would especially like to thank my NEW riding buddies John, Jeff, Pete, Ron, Bob, Jack, and soon to be new riding buddies Brad and John. I'm looking forward to our Laguna Seca party in July.
Ian and Carly did a great job for us, again thanks. The Tiger did great wheelies, and I can't wait to get the Thunderbike pipe on my personal Tiger. Auckland reminds me a great deal of San Francisco, only a bit cleaner.
I have a track day soon, and I'm sure the riding over the past couple of weeks will make me just that much better on the track.
Bill Murphy and Jeff Lyman have also written a trip report with photos, it can be found on the website www.fangmerchants.com
Coming home to snow, sub zero conditions, and being back to work, we are really missing NZ.
I visited a Rotary club last week and the guest speaker was a Kiwi scholar who showed slides of her home, where she studied and worked, and then finished off with a travelogue of the South Island. I felt quite homesick. Every slide I watched, we had visited. I kept saying to the others at the table ‘That’s Mount Cook/Southern Alps/Milford Sound/Queenstown’ and ‘we rode/helicoptered/jet-boated over that last week’.
The best of it is we now have our photos back and we can look back on what really was a holiday to remember.
However, of all the amazing sights we saw the most memorable for me was the view from the water–tower.
Many thanks for all the effort you and Carly put into making it such a special and successful trip. I don’t think we thanked you enough from day to day but I hope you know how much we appreciated everything you did for us.
The tour with Ian was much more than a tour, it was a fantastic adventure and we became good friends with Ian. We could not have had a better and more enjoyable person as our guide. Ian quickly became a friend first and a guide second. Ian and John have done an exceptional job of scouting out the best places to eat, sleep, great routes, and side trips. They have done a masterful job of finding the small tour operators that provide very personal side trips versus the large operators with hundreds of people. There wasn’t once that we saw other accommodations where we would rather have stayed or eaten.
It is the BEST vacation we have ever taken. The riding was the best, the motorcycle was flawless, the scenery is awesome, the Kiwis are very friendly and helpful, riding on the other side of the road turned out to not be a big deal (one of the things I was concerned about), the whole tour is really first class, but in a very relaxed atmosphere.
I highly recommend Ian and John’s tours. When we tour NZ again, it will be with them.
The trip was just fabulous. We and I had just a great time. I think your efforts and planning were exceptional, and I surely benefitted from them and appreciated your efforts. Your staff - and your son, Ian, were very gracious and accomodating and helpful.
The bikes were splendid,and mine was just great (road king).The people in NZ were some of the most friendly I've ever encountered anywhere. The roads were without exception the best I've ridden upon anywhere - no gravel, clearly marked and the best texture of riding surface. I think there were two potholes on the whole trip. The scenery, the weather (even with the rain) were just perfect.
I could have loved to turn around and do the whole trip again. I just simply loved the whole thing and could not have in any way accomplished it without your great management. I'll be coming back in the next couple of years, I plan, with my wife. And perhaps we can again rent a bike and take part of the trip with her on it.
I have been to NZ touring on a motorcycle twice. The first time was with the GoTourNZ competitors (there are really only two large firms offering high quality guided and self-guided tours dependably in NZ), the second time with the Fitzwaters. As a result, I think I'm in a pretty good position to assess the two firms; I can tell you that the Fitzwaters' operation is far (and I mean, FAR) superior. Attention to detail, high quality bikes, instantaneous and more than satisfactory responses to issues that might come up (invariably but very few) were the hallmark of my experience with GoTourNZ's operation.
In terms of the self-guided tour, I can tell you that I came close to making a huge mistake in this area. I was going to set up my own itinerary and accomodations (like I do when touring here in the U.S.), but (fortunately) Ian talked me out of that plan. I can tell you that I would have missed a number of fabuolus sights, locales, and opportunities had I proceeded on my own - although I'm still glad I did the self-guided tour (just my preference).
The materials that John and Ian prepare for the self-guided tour is superlative, including giving you two or sometimes three routes you can take from point to point, depending on how long you want to ride that day, and the weather (by the way, when they indicate things like : 'can be windy at times', and 'road is somewhat narrow', consider them significant understatements!). The locales they had me stay in were almost universally memorable, with a couple of locations that I think of to this day with great fondness (try to get them to put you in the Tokarahi Homestead, Ian's place in Nelson, the corner room w/balcony overlooking Mt. Cook, and the Cedar House in Gisborne).
In summary, this is a high quality operation with a couple of gentlemen who will make certain that you have a trip of a lifetime - I know I did.
I recently returned from a motorcycle tour of New Zealand with my wife and her mom. It's an amazing place full of terrific vistas and even nicer people. I felt sufficiently compelled to share my very positive experience with Adventure New Zealand Motorcycle Tours and Rentals (GoTourNZ.com). I hope others will be encouraged to take such a trip and consider this company's tour offerings.
Adventuring New Zealand by Motorcycle
Imagine curving over the edge of the horizon held in suspense above a sea of endless blue. Imagine a long white cloud swaddling two island siblings, born of the same mother but with fathers as different as fire and ice. Imagine scenic vistas that are shared across every continent on the globe but sampled here full size. Imagine people nice enough to rent a motorcycle to you.... Imagine New Zealand!
This past summer, while attending the BMW International Rally in Charleston, I managed to win a motorcycle adventure to the South Island of New Zealand. My wife Sue and I had been listening to the sweet songs of the various NZ touring companies at past rallies and were about to succumb to their temptations. Adventure New Zealand Motorcycle tours and Rentals Ltd. (GoTOurNZ.com), already rising to the top of our list, presented us with a very large nudge and we were off.
There were a few challenges, and a few concerns. Some were real, but most were imagined. After the euphoric dust had settled Sue and I and her mom threw in our lot with Icarus, and headed for the South Island of New Zealand. We'll never regret it.
The "Fun and Funky" tour would take us to some of the more colorful locals NZ has to offer. To say The formally The Blackball Hilton and The Okuku Country Lodge span the gap of developed nation motorcycle touring would not be stretching things thin. This tour took us to places we most certainly would have missed had we gone it alone. Had we missed them we would be the poorer for it.
Company owners John and Ian Fitzwater may well be on a first name basis with everyone in NZ. (Actually I think Kiwis are all on a first name basis with everyone. No airs. No worries.) With this network of friends, and the magic of cell phones, their careful guidance remained almost entirely transparent throughout the trip. Not easy to pull off, but just as it should be.
If this is sounding a bit like a commercial I guess it is. A month after returning we are still thrilled with the adventure and the folks that made it possible. We remain in touch with others on the tour and they share in our positive feelings. Initially we had concerns dealing with an unfamiliar company on the other side of the world, these concerns proved baseless. Nineteen people, near equally divided between ten tourists and nine touring company members and ranging in age from 10 to 87, came halfway around the world for the motorcycle adventure of a lifetime and I believe each of us found it!
I had a wonderful time. That was one of the best holidays I have ever had! The bike, the roads, the people, the places, the weather - I'm not sure it could be better even if written into a fairy tale. You were all very helpful and thorough in making sure all the pieces were in place and I thank you for going the extra mile for me when needed. Your routing and itinerary took the guesswork out of each day, giving me great choices of alternate routes, things to see and do. Very professional. I know you hear this all the time, but I'm already scheming to visit again!
Thanks again to you and Carley
for such a wonderful lifetime experience. It was just fabulous from
start to finish. I hope the "fun and funky" tour is going well for
yourself and the tourers. We are now dieting so our clothes fit right
We also had a good time in Australia inspite of the Aussies. Actually they were great but not as genial and friendly as you New Zealanders, at least in my opinion.
What is it you want, do you really, really want, to make that wonderful biking day?
You get up to a lovely breakfast, put on the shades and the summer riding suit, leave the baggage (no not that one) to be transported onward and set out on an empty, winding road with terrific scenery that will probably last 50 miles or to the first coffee stop of the day, whichever comes first. You can then fill up with petrol at 60p per litre, have a tootle or a charge, see the fantastic scenery at variable speeds, meet up with friends for lunch, of perhaps some locally caught fish, whilst overlooking the azure Tasmin Sea and then onto another photo shot or afternoon tea, you know how it is!
After scrubbing off the tyres
for a couple of hundred miles you arrive at your evening resting place,
the suitcases are there before you, you wash and change into your
evening finery, tee shirt and shorts and meet up with your quiet,
reflecting, suntanned, biking chums! After your delicious meal, which
has been washed down with carefully selected superb local vino you head
back to your room, leaving someone else to pay the bill and look
forward to a good night's rest or whatever!
Then the next day YOU HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!
New Zealand Tour 2006
Tour organiser Ian Fitzwater met us during the day of the 9th February from the airport and ferry terminals and transported us to our various B & Bs. Later that evening he and daughter Carly collected us and took us all to Lambrettas restaurant in Nelson for a pre tour dinner. It was all very exciting meeting our friends after the long trip and we were full of anticipation for the twelve days ahead.
Next morning, we met up for a briefing at Celia & Richard's posh digs, where we received instructions from Ian about road conditions, hazards and insurance etc.
The bikes were fettled and ready to go, some riders had to change their hired clothing for something nearer their size and there was nothing else for it but set off on :-
You may be aware that the hard part of starting off is getting out of town on the right road, well with our superb navigational skills, we went straight through Nelson, narrowly avoiding the main road and instead finishing up in a dead end civic centre car park. No matter, onto State Highway 6 to Murchison through fabulous forest scenery and down the winding Buller Gorge, following the Buller river to Tauranga Bay and a superb lunch of fish and chips at the Bay House Café, overlooking the Tasmin Sea. This is it, we are now on holiday! Afterwards we met up with the some of the others at the Cape Foulwind Seal Colony, where we saw the seals with their young sunning themselves.
We have been riding south west but now we turn north to our first stop over at Karamea. The road is very steep and twisty over the bluff, with the Tasmin Sea mostly visible on our left side. The N.Z. way of marking the bend speed is very useful, although a little conservative. The first day's ride was about 195 miles, we had travelled through stunning scenery, and vast areas of unspoilt protected wilderness, to the end of the road and literally, The Last Resort. It is an interesting place, comprising wooden lodges and a main lodge which houses the restaurant and bar. The Last Resort is on the edge of the Kahurangi National Park and next morning after breakfast we were transported up an unmade road to Heaphy Bluff particularly to view the vast Nikau Palms which are only found here.
Great fun was had by all, some more than others, especially in crossing the rope bridge. This is a great place for walking and it is the start, or end of a path across the mountains back to Nelson. Neville was the only rider to resist the offer of a mini bus ride and brave the loose gravel, dust, heat and sand flies on his V Strom.
The rest of us now pick up our bikes and set off for Blackball, but before we stop for coffee at Ian's friend's coffee shop on the beach, we meet Nigel coming towards us, having another stab at the twisties over the bluff, - the mad fool!. Fabulous coffee, but the café isn't licensed so no sitting down for some reason. Now heading south along the West Coast, which can be wet, and so it turned out, we had a drop of rain, but nothing to shout about.
The West Coast Highway is fabulous, the road, the sea, the views, the lack of vehicles, and the warm sunshine as we head for Punakaiki to visit the Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes. What a day in paradise and then onto The Blackball Hilton or as it should be known, Formerly The Blackball Hilton, after complaints from the super group. Blackball is an old mining town and the Hilton is best described as a sort of wild west saloon, I think that bawdyhouse is going a bit far, but it is different! Ian provided some pre dinner food and drinks including a crayfish platter, which was downed on the front porch of the hotel, followed by impressive display of members, doing their best at stilt walking.
After our main meal we stumbled up to bed, our rooms were something else, all painted in lurid colours, with no heaters and a notice which reads "If you are cold, put on an extra jumper" The rooms are not en suite so each room has a "designer" numbered dressing gown so that you can fight over the facilities without embarrassment. Now who was it wearing that No3 dressing gown, creeping around at the crack of dawn - Kay Sera Sera.
According to Ian, who knows most things, the early morning rain wouldn't last and the sun would soon be out - wrong. We were heading for Arthurs Pass when the heavens really opened and although some of our happy band headed uphill and into much reduced visibility, we decided to head for the coast and hopefully better weather. The sun did come out and it was quite warm as we tried to dry out in Hokitika, a great place for Jade shopping. We head south towards Fox Glacier, stopping for lunch at a backpacker's palace, anyone for Bambi burgers?
Rain stops and starts as we
arrive at our motel, which was fully equipped to dry out our very wet
clothing. No chance of our promised helicopter trip though with the
clouds being so low, perhaps tomorrow morning.
After an early breakfast, we get the thumbs up, helicopters are flying, they only fly in good weather and have never had an accident. On the way up we view the glacier which according to the pilot is 25 metres thick and 1 km wide, although it impossible to get that into perspective. We actually land on the glacier, get out, wander about and take pictures - truly exhilarating, a dream come true.
Next we head for the Waiatoto Jet Boat Safari, a fabulous ride on the river, our guide frequently stops the boat to inform us about the local eco systems and explains to us the geological fault line which runs through the area.. When we arrive at the point where the river meets the sea, we are engulfed in a mass of tumultuous waves, a truly wondrous sight. On the return trip our guide treats us to some 360-degree turns which Peter tries to capture on film and nearly loses his camera in the process.
About half of the party take the alternative route by bike down to the sea and Jacksons famous chip shop. Neil brought back some chips for Maggie, which were promptly devoured by all the hungry boating passengers, who haven't eaten for two or three hours. Next stop Wanaka, a super road with wonderful views through Haast Pass. Ian kept saying that there were lovely places to stop for photos, but we just thought that everywhere we went was just so picturesque, it was difficult to decide.
After narrowly passing a parked car on a mountain bridge, we saw that some of our party were viewing the caves, then there were another group stopped for no apparent reason. We pulled in to find Richard Lowe, face covered in black oil and looking like he was about to give a rendition of "Oh dem golden slippers" It transpired that an oil seal on the Gold Wing's front forks had failed and was spraying oil all over him. Ian was soon there with his trailer to sort it out.
The day's run was either over the scenic Pisa range or via highway 8 and fearing a possible lack of concentration, we opted for the more open road down to TeAnau. We followed the Karrarou river, passed through acres of vineyards and alongside Lake Wakitpau to our delightful accommodation at Radfords Lakeview Hotel. Some rooms even had Jacuzzis to sooth the numb bums.
From our two night stay here we travelled to Milford Sound, some by bike and some by mini bus. Being a 30 mile dead end road, there was a good chance it would be free of traffic police and a good job too, for the bikers anyway.
The mini bus party stopped to view the area where Lord of the Rings was filmed and there was a Japanese film crew working there as we passed by. Ian had arranged a smallish boat to carry us out into the Sound with just a couple of parties on board, he also brought along a packed lunch for everyone. The two hour trip was unforgettable, it is difficult to comprehend the scale of the mountains as they rise up to one mile out of the water. After rain the waterfalls are spectacular and this area has around 220 days and 9 metres of rain a year. The Sound is unusual in that the top 3m is fresh water with salt water from the sea underneath. We stopped the boat to view the seal colony at close quarters. Some of the bikers returned to the hotel in fast time, whilst the mini bus passengers stopped to view The Chasm, a waterfall hollowed out by the water driving through different strata making a number of incredible holes in the rock.
We then rode from Dunedin to Queenstown, getting on for another 300kms and on arriving at the lovely new motel overlooking the lake, had to go out and find food and what's more, pay for it !! The rest of the party had already arrived and had spent the afternoon tasting the delights of this very lively place.
We spent the next day in Queenstown after an early morning ride to Glenorchy, lovely road, wonderful scenery and somewhere we just had to stop and take photos. Whilst shopping in the afternoon, we met David & Davina, the latter feeling a little under the weather after being turned upside during a tandem paraglide jump off the mountain. In the evening we all boarded a steam boat and crossed the lake to watch a sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration.
Next morning, headed North
towards Mount Cook, stopped at Kawarrow Bridge to watch the bungee
jumpers, around £40.00 to throw yourself down a gorge on the
end of a piece of rope - No Thanks!
We turned off highway 10 and alongside the beautiful Lake Pukaki for around 30miles, stopped at Petes View for our first look at Mount Cook and then onto the Alpine Village. The resort is quite large with about two hundred residencies and a tiny school. We ate in the Panorama Restaurant, super food and wine, silver service and away from the madding crowds, no need for pictures on the wall here, mountains can be seen from all the windows, more than 180 degrees. I think that we all thought that our visit to Mount Cook was quite a moving experience, certainly Julia did.
We had an early start away from Mount Cook, 7am and well worth it. The sun was coming out over the mountains to our left and reflecting on the lake, which was like a silky swimming pool blue colour, ab fab! We travelled for just over an hour to our breakfast stop and didn't see another vehicle on our side of the road, and only a few on the other.
We eventually arrived at Ian mum's B&B in Kaikoura after a full day's riding, over 300 miles, the last few alongside the ocean, which was very pleasant after some very long straights and more traffic than usual on highway 1.
The penultimate day was a day for sightseeing, whale watching and swimming with dolphins. The day was perfect, only 13 swimmers were allowed in the boat and after 45 minutes, the dolphins were spotted. They were quickly into the water to see a pod of around 200 dusky dolphins, courting and playing with the swimmers in the water. On the way back to shore they spotted an albatross. Others were equally lucky on their whale watching trip, seeing whales dive at really close quarters and also seeing an albatross. A truly memorable day for them all! David had been talking about his interest in the stars (not Kylie) and here he was taken out of town by Ian to view the clear night sky.
Final day, breakfast at Nikau Lodge, stopped to watch the seals at yet another colony and then we all went for coffee at The Store. Lots of pictures taken by a biker who thought that he was just passing by checking out our bikes but he was pressed into service with everyone's camera. Then back to Nelson, through the vast vineyards of Blenheim. Some took the longer road through Picton, but it was no good, no matter how slowly you went, the end of the tour was in sight.
One last meal together at Lambrettas, then goodbye friends, goodbye Ian & Carly and goodbye Honda VFR. 3000kms in 12 days, no problem.
Thanks to Ian for a fantastic
trip, thanks everyone for their vibrant, amusing companionship, thanks
to N.Z. for being there. And in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger on
being asked which of the great composers he would like to play - I'll
Warning - this may not be a completely true account, but after Ian's wine tasting, it's as much as we can remember! L.O.L. Maggie & Neil
We had a great three weeks, thanks for organising such a brilliant tour. We've seen enough of NZ to know there's plenty more to come back for. We've got lots of memories (and photos) to keep our imagination and enthusiasm alive. Keep doing what you're doing 'cos we're coming back!
We had a great time and will always remember the hospitality of you guys out there.
Collingwood was a wonderful introduction to the Island, somewhere that was very special, not that far from Nelson, and was not overly inhabited. This is an area that Chris liked very much. The trip onto Farewell Spit with The Original Tour is a much talked about event with us both. We actually liked the Pub in Collingwood, probably the best salad we had all trip.
I think for me, the extra special day was the trip into the "wilderness" on the jet boat tour with Roger. It was exceptionally informative and entertaining at the same time. Perhaps a few more days in this area may have been better for me. Now we have a little idea of what there is then we could adjust next time around.
I am not overwhelmed myself with good food and over exotic living, so I got a little fed up with rich food. As in Hamner we went down the pub and had pie and chips, great.
I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for making my NZ experience one of the best vacations I have ever had. Your knowledge of your country as well as an infinite number of other topics certainly added to the 'Total Experience'.
Your friendly and responsive replies to my questions and concerns was a major reason for my ultimately booking the tour. The tour was great the accommodations and meals superb, plus the company of the others all helped to making it a very special 2 weeks. Again, thanks for everything!
Wir, Manuela und Stefan
verreisen gerne mit dem Motorrad in die Ferien. Normalerweise sind dies
Touren in Europa von Spanien bis Finland.
Dieses Jahr sollte es aber etwas besonderes sein. Manuela war bereits in Australien und ich wollte schon immer einmal Neuseeland bereisen. Was liegt da näher, als das Land auf der anderen Erdseite mit dem Motorrad zu bereisen.
Leider hatten ich nur drei
Wochen Ferien zur Verfügung, alsosuchten wir eine
Möglichkeit in den gut zwei Wochen Neuseeland
möglichst viel Eindrücke mit nach hause zu nehmen.
Also ab in's Internet. So haben wir GoTourNZ gefunden und wir haben
damit voll in's Schwarze getroffen.
Die Web-Seite hat nicht zuviel versprochen, Ian und John sind wirklich so kompetent wie es der Text verspricht.
Unsere Flüge nach und von Nelson und die Unterkunft im B+B bei Jo und John vor und nach der Tour waren bestens organisiert. Wir haben uns richtig in den Ferien gefühlt bei Jo, die Zimmer sind mit viel Stil eingerichtet, jedes ist speziell. Die Frühstücksauswahl lässt keine Wünsche offen und die vielen Tips für Nelson und Umgebung lassen die Zeit bei ihnen leider auch zu schnell vergehen. Das gute Essen beginnt bereits in Nelson, wir haben noch nicht alle Tips ausprobiert, wir kommen wieder.
Das Tourbuch hat unsere Vorfreude auf die Tour noch vergrössert. Jo hat alle Unterkünfte, Restaurants wo nötig und Aktivitäten aufeinander abgestimmt und vorgebucht. Die Infos für uns Neuseeland-Neulinge in diesem Buch waren sehr nützlich. Wir sind überzeugt, dass sie uns für das nächste Mal eine komplett andere Tour zusammenstellen können, denn sie kennen die abgelegenen und interessante Orte. Wir haben erst einen Vorgeschmack bekommen.
Das die Tour nach der Absage von zwei Teilnehmern auch mit nur 3 Personen trotzdem durchgeführt wurde spricht auch für GoTourNZ, so hatten wir natürlich eine persönliche Betreuung durch Ian, die seinesgleichen sucht. Am Vorabend oder am Morgen wurde der Tag besprochen, dann traf man sich möglicherweise ein bis zweimal auf der Strecke für allfällige Aktivitäten oder Sehenswürdikeiten und am Abend war schon wieder alles vorbereitet in der neuen Unterkunft.
Das heisst Neuseeland intensiv,
wir konnten uns voll auf das Motorradfahren konzentrieren. Die Strassen
haben alles zu bieten von der Raserstrecke über lang
geschwungene oder enge Bergstrassen bis zu unbefestigen
Küstenstrassen. Ich glaube Ian kennt sie alle.
Ich werde die zügige Strasse über die Alpen bei Haast oder den Queen Charlote Drive bei Picton nicht so schnell vergessen, die dürften auch noch länger sein. Oder das Nachtessen bei Berry, Crayfish (Lobster) bis zum abwinken. Oder das B+B über der Golden Bay mit dem traumhaften Garten und Aussicht über die Bay. Oder das Hotel Hilton in Blackbal, das hat Stil !!
Oder das Jetboot auf dem Waitootoo River, dies war wirklich super und abseitz der Touristenpfade. Oder das Nachtessen bei Olivers in Clyde, welcher Durchschnitstourist würde ein solches Hotel nur schon finden? Oder den Pancake bei Gerhard (ein Österreicher) zum Frühstück. ... da hätte ich noch einiges aufzuzählen.
Bruce and Liz Young, USA - Best Value Tour
Last night we reviewed the NZ pictures, reliving the experience. I have only positive memories. Ian, your personal hands on leadership made this trip what it was: tending to everyone’s needs; pulling us all together as a group with your experience and charm.
It was a fabulous trip down
under and we are still talking about it. We just fell in love with New
Zealand and I am talking it up with all our riding friends in hopes of
getting back there for another motorcycle tour some spring to see your
wild flowers. Your motorcycle tour exceeded our expectations and the
pampering was over the top. We are not used to being so spoiled and we
loved it. I mean, who else would take us home to make us some filtered
coffee on a sleepy Sunday morning?! Ian, you made the trip. Your charm
and diplomacy saved us all. You melded two very different groups of
people together and created a great trip for all of us. Thank You!!
All your dining recommendations were right on (thank you Robin!). We met some great people (especially your family) and walked away with some fantastic memories and also some great ideas. You do live in paradise,. Thanks for sharing it all with us.