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Client Comments - 2000 and before

We've collected feedback on our trips over the years - here is some of it! More recent feedback is found on this page: More Client Comments - years since 2000

2000 and before..

Norman & Ann Parry, UK - 2000 Self-Guided Tour
Andrew Nason, UK - 2000
Rodger & Deanna Cramer, USA - Dec 2000
Roxane and Dennis Neal, USA - Dec 2000
An article from
John Schmittinger, USA - 1999
Don Nicholson - 1999
Herb and Ellen Gross, Mar 1999
Dawne Beltramini, USA - 1999
Ken Hallam, USA - Dec 1998
Mike Williams, UK - 1998
Jennifer Kelley, USA - June 1998
Arthur Einstein, USA - Feb 1998
Alex Eggert, UK - January 1998
Van Vleet - 1998
Steve Wendt, USA
Frank Larkin, USA
Tracey and Martin, UK
Helene Darvick, USA
Jonathan Rutschky, USA
Laura Schoppe, USA
Nigel and Karen Cave, France

Steve Wendt, USA

First I want to tell you you've picked the best there is in NZ with Ian Fitzwater.

The bikes are new or near new. I had a brand new BMW K 1200 and my friends had new HD Road Kings.

The roads and the scenery are the best part of the trip---Jane and I have ridden long distance for 15 years--now every state in the US including to Alaska and back and this is still our favorite trip. The food, the B&B's, the side trips, the weather, all combined to be "outstanding." If I remember correctly we probably road about 250 miles average per day--very easy riding but on great roads---not the boring straight as far as you can see as in parts of the Midwest.

Finally, you've picked probably the best place in the world, so far that I've seen to ride, and Ian Fitzwater makes that even better. He is the genuine article when it comes to knowledgeable GOOD people.

Frank Larkin, USA

Having now returned to the grim reality of toiling away in our chosen fields,in a quieter moment here I want to thank you for what qualifies as simply the best vacation, the greatest adventure Julie and I have ever had. The clear reality of our hindsight in reflecting on these past two weeks is that none of our euphoria over the trip could have happened without your careful management. From the pre departure inventory of who would be needing what equipment, to the sheparding of us to and from the airport, to the meticulous planning of our routes - laid out splendidly in the bound notebooks - that had a seemingly impossible daily escalation of better scenery and places, you put together a flawless - flawless - first class affair from start to finish.

On a personal note, I want to thank you for all of the little " extras" that you seemed to produce along the way, from the All Black Rugby Jerseys that were such a big hit to the tips on riding techniques that proved so helpful. They all added to the tapestry of this journey, memories that we will wrap around us for many years to come. One has precious few opportunities in our worlds to create " magic " in how we affect others' lives. Thank you for the magic - from Franz Joseph to Clyde to Takaka - that you created for us on our vacation.

Ken Hallam, USA - Dec 1998

Thanks so much for your attention and concern in putting together the fantastic 18-day tour I had. I understand that a second couple had canceled at the last minute so my tour group only consisted of 3 people, Don and Laura Shoppe and myself. Whereas many tour operators would have canceled the entire tour with such a low number of people, you turned it into an opportunity for even more personal attention and customization for us lucky 3 people.

Having taken a previous tour in the USA with one of the larger operators, I can truly say your service offers a far better overall experience and sense of confidence than anything I had previously encountered. I knew I was being looked after and cared for, so even though I was in an unfamiliar country on an unfamiliar motorcycle, I had literally "no worries"! Everything in your package, (from the pre-tour recommended inventory to bring, to the detailed daily route instructions and sight seeing recommendations, to the fantastic series of gourmet restaurants and outstanding local wines you introduced us to) was absolutely first class. I recommend your tour service without reservation to anyone looking to see the best of New Zealand by motorcycle or by automobile.

Don and Laura were great travel companions and were able to put up with and "old & slow" guy like me with exceptional good grace and cheer. The weather was everything you said it would be, warm and sunny, cool and rainy, and occasionally cold and windy. Thanks to your recommendations I was well prepared with the proper gear, although the Mount Cook road gave my rain gear an exceptional test. We were lucky to have a "reverse" weather pattern whilst touring the South Island; it was dry and sunny along the West Coast and cool and raining in Central Otago. This enabled us to see the temperate rain forest at it's picture postcard best and to enjoy the helicopter ride to the top of the Franz-Joseph glacier where we could see for miles. "The rain fell mainly on the plain."

One thing you failed to warn me about was the great food. I must have gained 10 pounds! And none of it from "meat pies and mutton" that some nay-sayers here in the USA warned me I would be eating in New Zealand. In fact, I never once even tasted lamb. But I did get enamoured of New Zealand venison, Blue Nose Cod and Snapper. Not to mention Pavlova and a never ending series of great sweet treats we encountered at virtually every cafe and restaurant we stopped at. My vacation was complete and I cannot think of how we could have seen it all in anything less than 18 days.
I got to:

And I'm sure I left things out! No thank-you would be complete without a complement to Jo and her great sense of humor. It was a real pleasure to have her join our little group towards the end of the tour, (and it sure seemed to perk up you too!). She was a welcome addition to our meal times and I'm sure her company made driving the support van a much less tedious job for you.

Mike Williams, UK - 1998

Thanks a million - Firstly thanks for a great trip, the organization was faultless and we had a wonderful time. The places you arranged for us to stay we perfect and they gave us a chance to meet the people as you said before we left when I suggested that we stay in more expensive places I also now know what boutique accommodation means.

We got rained on the 3 days you quoted and only one of those was serious and that was Milford Sound and as they have so much rain there I suppose it was to be expected. We were delighted with the bikes which we thought were brand new when we arrived and they did not miss a beat even when some stupid Finnish woman reversed into my ThunderBird, but it did more damage Avis's car than the bike. I would not have minded but there was not another car in site, either in front or behind. Could you please send me another copy of the "Bible" as we called it so that I can keep it as a souvenir as mine got mislaid some where.

Please don't tell too many people about New Zealand, it must be the best kept secret in the world as we will want to come again.

Herb and Ellen Gross, Mar 1999
Thunderbike Heaven! - Ellen and I just want to tell you that you two guys are very special. You bring, "No problem,mate" to new heights. Our trip with you was one of the highlights of our many travels. We can't thank you enough for your skill, competence and caring. Bikers who don't get a shot at Thunderbike/GoTourNZ don't know what they are missing.

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Arthur Einstein, USA - Feb 1998

I'm back. And reflecting on a great, great adventure. Just want to thank you and Ian, and Robin, and Jo and all, for a really memorable time. One and all left with smiles on their faces. Can't speak for the rest of the group but I for one am determined to see Mt Cook in the sunshine, and ride Rte 72 with blue skies above. Hope your next trip, which leaves as you receive this, will be as successful as ours was.

Jennifer Kelley, USA - June 1998

I was so impressed with John's level of detail and concern with us loving this holiday. This came across in all of the emails that I had received from him while researching and then preparing the dates,etc. His top priority is to make this tour the best vacation you have ever had and then to have you return again. I felt that we were important to him and not just another tour group coming through. He made many adjustments for us that the other tour companies would not. The bottom line is that nothing was a problem for him and he came through with all the details.

Once we arrived, the level of detail and follow up on things and care was incredible. He is also a fun guy and very easy going. I guarantee that every one of his tours is truly specialized because he takes into consideration what type of people you are and what you enjoy doing. When deciding who to chose as a tour company,I was certain that the other tours would not be anywhere as good as his.

In regard to the food, the restaurants that he suggested were super and I was thrilled that his taste was so good. He really knows the area very well. The hotels were also excellent . He gave us a great quaint places with super locations. My only disapointment was that I did not have a month to travel.

In terms of the bikes, we all loved our bikes. He adjusted them to perfection. Being a 5'4" very petite woman, he really had to adjust my bike and did until it was perfect for me. The rental equipment is top notch and he demands that you are comfortable at all times. During an incredible rainstorm, he ran out at 8am to get thin insulated gloves for under our leather gloves ( no one asked for them but he is always thinking of the customer, ALWAYS) He also got up early and checked the oil and even cleaned the bikes to make sure they were looking good for us. Often checking the bikes and making sure everything is perfect. The bikes are very new and in extremely good care and shape. We all own our own bikes so we are educated about the care and maintenance of them.

Tracey and Martin, UK

We had a WONDERFUL time - the itinerary was great and John's book of details, hints and tips were brill. The people at all the places you booked us in were great, but we particularly liked Kathy and Billy at Fox and and Marc and Wendy at The Old Convent. We really packed it in, so I don't think we were at our most scintillating with all our hosts - we were pretty much dead by around 9:30 each night - I hope they didn't take it personally!

I think we were EXTREMELY lucky with the weather. The first full day was overcast, but it didn't rain until after we'd arrived at the Last Resort (mind you, it tipped it down then!); then we had half a days rain in Hokitika - but we'd pretty much arrived by then (so I went shopping and Martin trailed round after me!!) and then half a days rain the following day as we went up over the mountains - the only thing we really missed because of it were the views from Arthurs Pass - we'll just have to try again next time!!! Apart from that the weather was glorious.

We were pretty lucky at the various 'tourist spots' too - we hit Punakaiki rocks just at high tide - the blow holes were performing brilliantly - and we saw not only 6 sperm whales but also about 10-12 Orcas when we went Whale watching - Martin got to swim with a whole bunch of Dolphins too. And the glow worms (in the caves at Karamea and in the forest at Fox) are AMAZING!

Can't think of any bad points really. The Sprint was a wonderful bike - Martin had to get used to slightly less power than usual (he's used to the 1200 Trophy) but it didn't take long, and I LOVED the sound - I'm tempted to get one, or possibly the speed triple, as my next bike. Take care - we shall happily recommend your services to friends and hopefully we shall come back for a repeat in the not too distant future.

Dawne Beltramini, USA - 1999

We had the most wonderful trip to New Zealand - we only wish we had more time to continue our exploration. We will have to come back.
We both wanted to thank you for all your efforts and planning, your itinerary was extremely thorough, but not at all confining. Your recommendations for everything were great - we only wish we had enough time to stop and see every last thing.

The restaurant recommendations were wonderful also - so much so that we are both on diets....trying to recover. We only wish we heeded your suggested in Murchison - but we will forever remember our fried everything lunch and the look on the woman's face when I asked if they had salad.

You made all our dreams come true - it was the trip of a life time and we so appreciate everything. New Zealand - what a spectacular place; the scenery amazing, the food delicious and most of all such warm and wonderful people. Wave your flag with pride - you are so fortunate to live in one of the worlds true treasures. We feel lucky to have experienced it. Thanks again for all the personal attention.

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Rodger & Deanna Cramer, USA - Dec 2000

We can't thank you enough for the great time and great value. Please pass on our thanks to Mike and Sarah and Alex for making our trip very special, a gobsmacker indeed. While it's back to the real world for us, our hearts and minds are still in New Zealand. Again, John, we appreciate your special attention to every detail and need. It is by far our best vacation ever. The wine, gourmet dinners, great B & B's, and beautiful scenery was as good as it gets. Oh, and to ride a motorcycle in your great country during all this was like icing on the cake. We have been thinking about our favorite dinner, B & B, and scenic spot and have yet to narrow it down to the top ten. The whole trip was an 11 on a 1-10 scale. We will be back!

Roxane Neal, USA - Dec 2000
Hope you're happy, I'm a ruined woman! I haven't had a decent night's sleep since I left New Zealand. Maybe it has to do with NOT being surrounded by indescribable beauty. However, it could be a product of NOT having exquisite Starters, Mains and Deserts that are culminatations of New Zealand's creativity and attention to detail, assimilated from worldwide fusion. Or perhaps, because, I am NOT sleeping in a brilliant, unique, boutique B & B (found by the Fitzwaters after six years of research, no wonder the tour seems flawless) with wonderful heated mattresses. Maybe it is that I have NOT received, after a hard day in reality, the wonderderful treat I received after an exhilarating day on the "Wet" coast, a glass of port provided by the most dauntless guide, Ian Fitzwater. Do you see my point? How can reality compare to the wonderful time you showed us?

Dennis Neal, USA - Dec 2000

We also want to tell you again what a perfectly wonderful time we had. When you plan a trip for over a year, you usually end up being a little disappointed. Not this time. It exceeded our wildest expectations. We were more than a little sad to leave, but now we can look forward to our next trip to your bit of paradise. Give our thanks and best wishes to John, and Miles, and to young Jess.

Andrew Nason, UK - 2000

Yeah, don't do it!!!

Trouble with NZ is that it's far too cheap, the food is way too good and the wine is excellent, never mind the scenery, beer, women (men??!!?) and John's a complete bastard. He only books you in to the most beautiful out of theway places, run by lovely people serving brilliant food with really comfy lodgings. Not only that you can't trust John cos he's from Essex!!

Seriuolsy we had the absolute best time with John, he's a great laugh, doesn't pressurise you, organises just what you want. He even organised 2 weeks of sunshine during the worst flooding the South Island has ever experienced.

If you're going for 5 weeks do North Island first. Its still very beautiful but just not as dramatic as South Island. The first night when we flew in we stayed at the Copthorne right on the harbour front in Auckland just as the Americas Cup was starting and we saw some of the BIGGEST private yachts imaginable.

We then drove up to the Bay of Islands, only 3 hours up the road, give this at least 2 days, preferably 4, there's loads to do and see. We then drove down the west coast past Auckland to Rotorua then over to Napier and eventually down to Wellington. We had 2 weeks in both Islands.

Do allow an extra day or two in Nelson before the trip and at least a few days after, especially if you can still use the bikes. Ask John to make sure the top box is on, but unless you want loads of day storage don't have the side panniers fitted.

John will keep you fed and watered, and by that I mean wined and dined and in style. He's a bit of a vinophile, loves the stuff and the local stuff is excellent.

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Helene Darvick, USA

O.K. I confess. I enjoy riding my motorcycle. At a fast clip at appropriate times. It's fun and as long as I stay in my "comfort zone" relatively as safe as one can be given my chosen passion. Due to certain circumstances that are totally my 'fault' I find myself riding with one eye constantly on the speedometer determined to give no reason on earth to any officer to have to stop me. Kind of a drag, but as they say "do the crime; do the time" so I'm making the most of it . Who doesn't love second gear?

Ah, but wouldn't it be nice to go somewhere that was full of twisties. Some place where the scenery matches the road meter by meter. Where around every bend in the road there lies another gasp? Where there are green lush rolling hills followed by golden brown mountains that lead through a rainforest road where the trees touch each other in the middle only to come over a rise to view the breathtaking coast of the South Pacific Ocean on yet another two lane twisty coastal highway. Could there be switchbacks that make you work but reward you with an effortless rhythm as you gobble up and down winding roads that go on and on all day ,day after day?

And could I take them all with utter abandon at whatever pace I chose as carefree or concentrated as my spirit could stand because not only are there no officers of the law in this land but there are NO people. On the roads that is. Roads virtually devoid of all vehicles. Does such a place exist? You bet and it's called New Zealand. If there is a better place on this planet to be riding I do not know of its existence. But that's getting ahead of myself.

As my 50th year on this planet slowly drew near I decided I needed to do something real special for me and motorcycling in New Zealand during February and March (summer!) sounded pretty good . What began to sound better and better was to just let someone else handle the details. I stumbled upon Adventure New Zealand Motorcycles Tours & Rentals and went to their website ( Ian and John are brothers who own Thunderbike Motorcycles as well as the touring part of the business and they, together with Jo, John's wonderful partner personally lead every tour .

Touring New Zealand and renting and selling motorcycles are their only business. The real deal. Passionate Kiwi's. My kind of people. They are the bottom line and three of the loveliest Kiwi's you would ever want to proudly show off their often overlooked country while sharing their passion for motorcycling. Their tours are small and in my case a nice mix of world travelers. So me and my good buddy BarbaraAnn signed on, chose our steeds and just left all the work and arrangements in Ian and Jo's hands.

I knew I was going to have a wonderful time regardless of anything...I mean really, summer in New Zealand on a bike? No brainer. But I truly am/ was blown away by this experience. I have motorcycled the Alps on three separate occasions two of them on a tour...I really had not a clue as to what Ian , Jo and New Zealand had to offer. All of the "details" were taken care of...

So not only did I get to ride like the devil all day long (maps and routes supplied) but at the completion of my ride there would be equally spectacular lodgings in small boutique hotels, followed by sensational restaurants that we were driven to, to eat gourmet food and taste New Zealand's finest wines showcased every evening for those that drink by Ian. For wine lovers a true delight. I am now hooked on New Zealand wines!

Back to details for one moment...I would have been happy to have just those things: spectacular roads, scenery, lodgings, food and wine. I just never dreamed a motorcycle tour would ever encompass: cave touring, seal colony's, sea kyaking with rare Hectors Dolphins, a helicopter tour of the Franz Joseph Glaciers complete with landing and walking on the Fox Glacier, a blast off on the Shotover River on a jet boat powered by a 502cubic inch 8.2 liter Chevrolet V8 engine, a luge run, a bungee jump (word's highest) off the Nevis Highwire, a ride on an 1800's steamboat, a cruise through the breathtaking Milford fjords, a seaplane ride through more fiords and lakes, a 5 mile sunrise ride in low tide along the beach on ones very own quadrunner to see the Gannet Bird Colony and last but not least would you believe diving and swimming with hundreds of wild Dusky Dolphins just inches from your fingers looking you right in the eyes in the South Pacific Ocean.

I have never experienced such an effortless grand holiday. I have made new friends from across the world and rode my ass off (Total Mileage: 3500miles) on some of the most beautiful roads (did I mention how COMPLETELY EMPTY they are) through the prettiest country I've ever motorcycled in. Happy Birthday to me.


John Schmittinger, USA - 1999 Tour

This is just a note to thank you once again for all of your courtesies and kindnesses during our tour. We really appreciate it . The tour was wonderful. I cant say enough about it.

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Laura Schoppe, USA

I need to start off by telling you that my family and I are very picky, particular people with high expectations. I am very demanding in getting quality for my dollar. I tell you this so that you can gauge my comments below.

I would highly recommend this vacation. My husband Don and I have done many kinds of vacations in Europe, the US, and Caribbean and I travel a lot for work, and I can tell you that our NZ vacation was the best spent money and best time, second to none. We liked it so much that I convinced my parents to do the same tour but in the chase van (they're 70 and hard to please). It was one of the best vacations they ever had too.
The only complaint they had was that they were served too much food each night and couldn't finish it all (not a problem Don and I had ;-).

When we went, we did the top of the line tour that John offered at the time (stayed in very nice B&Bs). There were only 3 of us on motorcycles, Don and I and Ken from CA. Together with John we spent 3 weeks riding the south island and having dinner together every night. You might be worried about spending that much time with strangers but John made every dinner interesting and pleasant for all of us. My parents traveled with Ian and loved his company as much.

We rode at our own pace and John's guide book and morning tips made it easy to navigate (usually only one road to take anyway). I suppose you can get testosterone jerks in the group, but the tour is set up so you can go separately and still arrive in time for dinner. We didn't have this problem and rode together nearly the whole time. Don and I did split from Ken one day to do some twisties in the mountains that he didn't want to do. I think the groups are pretty small so your chances of having a problem child will probably be managed by John/Ian so you won't even notice (my assumption based on how they handled everything else, not direct observation). They make it completely effortless for you.

You wouldn't want to read all the good things I can write about John, Jo, and Ian because it would take too long to read. If you have the time, do not pass up doing the full 3 weeks with them. This is a vacation you will never regret. We plan to return, not just because the riding and food were great but because we have become friends with John and Jo and want to visit them again.
I never tire of telling people to go to NZ and do John's tour!

Nigel and Karen Cave, France - 1999

Well, we made it back and life now seem a little flat after 2 spectacular weeks on your tour! We had a wonderful time and want to thank you for all your hard work. We know that if things run smoothly,it's usually because someone is running around making sure that everything is well planned and organized.

Thanks again for a great time.

Alex Eggert, UK - January 1998

No Boring Roads in New Zealand!
I've just got back from one of the best holidays of my life - riding John Fitzwater's Triumph Tiger round the South Island of New Zealand.

I've been wanting to tour the S.Island for several years (ever since reading a long article about it in the Jan '93 issue of Bike - when writer Mac MacDiarmid did the South Island on a Trident), and late last year I found that I would have the money. By coincidence, John Fitz started advertising his guided motorcycle tour enterprise in his .sig, so I sent him a mail - and the rest, as they say, is history.

There were only two of us on this tour (my fellow tourer was Pat, a freelance TV cameraman who found out about John's service by searching the Web), but that didn't stop John pulling out all the stops in making the trip as memorable and as comfortable as possible.

John also went to considerable trouble not just to provide maps and suggest the best routes but also to suggest side trips, recommended site-seeing etc.

Best of all was that John (and, on this trip, his wife, and his dog) would follow us in the chase van, carry the bulk of our luggage, and take full responsibility, on a daily basis, for the health of the bikes. John even offered us the use of mobile phones to call him if we crashed or broke down - but both Pat and I scorned this as taking pampering to extremes.

Not having to worry about the bike and not being weighed down with two weeks worth of gear transfornmed the trip as far as I was concerned. It became more like a series of brilliant long one day rides, where your home base just happened to be in a different place each evening.

This was so that we could concentrate on the quality of the experience,and believe me, everything they say about the South Island is true. It really is the last motorcycling paradise on Earth ((c) Bike magazine 1993).

I won't give you a blow-by-blow account but suffice to say that by the end of the trip we were suffering from Scenic Overload ("Oh No, not another bloody
glacier/rain forest/waterfall etc"). But the scenery was just part of it, Fitz made sure we ate well every night (and, being something of a gourmet and wine buff, Fitz was able to sniff out the best places), the people were really, genuinely, friendly to us Brits (no hint of thesuperciliousness, rudeness or downright hostility that Brits sometimes encounter in another Former British Colony), and best of all everything was so cheap! And not just because the pound (for once) is a strong currency.

(1) The run from Te Anau out to Milford Sound in the deep South West of the Island. The scenery was gob-smacking even by South Island standards. There were several places where I had to just stop and stare at the landscape and enjoy the combination of grandeur and tranquillity.
The warmth and sunshine helped (unusual in an area that averages five *metres* of rain a year). It was hypnotic. It was one of those moments that money cannot buy. If I was Bill Gates I would *buy* Hollyford Valley and Upper Eglinton Valley to make sure no one ever spoiled them

I liked it so much that the following day I did the run again.

Nearly as good was the Buller Gorge. And Arthur's Pass. And the Hope River Valley road. And the Queen Charlotte Drive (with it's views over Marlborough Sound). And the run down the Makarora valley. And the run from Queenstown to Glenorchy. And the run from Takaka up to Farewell Spit etc.

(2) The sheer emptiness of the roads. The S.Island has less than a million people in a land the size of England and Wales. In fact it has far too few people, and too little traffic, to justify the extent of the road network it has. But it does have a lot of mountains, hills and valleys. Result? a perfect motorcycling playground, where even the most important intercity highways are more like British B roads.

They do have speed cameras and traffic cops - but as I was riding using a *British* driving license there was no way they could put penalty points on it! Yaaaaay!

(3) Doing it all on a Triumph. Which drew a lot of attention, and a lot of very admiring comments, everywhere I stopped.

(4) The company. By the end of the trip the four of us (plus Doris) were firm friends.


(1) The weather. It seemed that Pat and I were just a bit too early for the NZ summer. We had three opportunities to fly over, or even land on, glaciers, and all three times it was unfeasible due to rain or crosswinds. On two days, the crosswinds made riding bikes very tricky, let alone flying (tricky like having to stay in first gear and drag my feet on the road to stay upright!). However, there was only one occasion when it rained hard (defined as hard enough to make my socks wet) so I guess its swings and roundabouts.

(2) Punctures. Poor John! He learned a painful lesson on this tour, both bikes and the chase van suffered punctures (Pat's bike, a Sprint, also wore out both tyres and suffered a defective rear shock - all fixed by John).

In Conclusion

Would I go back again? - bloody right!
Would I go with John Fitz again? - absolutely bloody right!
Would I recommend anybody else to do so? - Well, when I go back next year, I'm bringing my friends. And I firmly believe that if you lot don't also go, at least once in your life, you will grow old and die bitter and unfulfilled people.

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Norman & Ann Parry, UK - 2000 Self-Guided Tour

We saw our tour photographs for the first time last night and re-lived the experience all over again! We want to say a big thank you for doing such a great job organising our tour itnerary; the bike was great, the accomodation first class and the restaurants/food and wine you recommended superb. We had a wonderfull time seeing and doing all the things you organised for us in your beautiful country and meeting you and all the other people at our stops en route - say hello to them all from us on your next tour. You really did pack a lot in to our 11 days and we enjoyed every minute of it (especially the dash to Blenheim and back on the last day!). We got to see Napier and Rotorua on the way up to Auckland; we had a superb breakfast at Mabels cafe on Hastings St.(?) in Napier - worth noting for your N.Island tours. Thanks again.

Van Vleet - 1998

Needless to say as you know NZ is a beautiful unspoiled slice of heaven. But let me tell you about the eminent Mr... Fitzwater.

John had his hands full with 3 couples, all Americans , all friends, but very different. John had to arrange and accommodate different tastes, speeds and styles and pulled it off with a flair.

We all rode Triumph 900cc. The first Triumph I had ever ridden (I am a Bmer myself) but I was suitably impressed. Quick, smooth and reliable. My bike was a Tiger - more of an all terrain bike with a quarter fairing and hardware to attach side and back-rest bags if desired. Norma was glad for the back rest and the slightly higher passenger seat with better visibility.

The roads are extremely good quality as you know and at times hilly especially on the west coast so it would be better not to have an oversized and heavy Gold-Wing type of bike. If you are into a few curvy roads like one called "Devils Ladder" you will love the Triumph.

We did a 9 day tour - moving every day. To be honest a days break would have been welcomed but the sights and activities were too alluring to stopover. We requested John to put us in 4-star not 5-star hotels and these accommodations were just great! . In hindsight I wish we did more"farm-stay" or Bed and Breakfast type places because the people are so delightful and friendly.

Keep in mind that if ever gets uncomfortable due to rain, wind or exhaustion your wife can just jump into the van. In fact one time the weather was poor and we were so tired both I had John take the motorcycle and Norma and I drove the van. John is terrific about not being too intrusive with the van - always holding back out of sight 15 to 20 minutes behind- but if ever you want to stop or run out of gas (as I did once) john is right there.

I definitely recommend a guided tour. It is entirely too far to go on what little vacation time we have to not stretch out every minute. John even tended to the horses every night . As we sipped a Brandy he was out there with a hand pump and chain-oil.

Let me tell you a bit about John. He is not a rehabilitated beach-bum tour guide or a reformed motorcycle grease monkey. John is a VERY successful small businessman that spent 15 years building a very trendy and successful Thunderbike retail outlet. You are getting an exceptionally organized and personable businessman who has his priorities very straight. Family-first - work should be fun -- do you work in a beautiful environment like NZ and compete for business on service.

Do the trip!

Don Nicholson - 1999

Had a WAY WICKED GOOD TIME. Thanks for everything. Still haven't recovered from the trip.... but i'm still smiling ; )

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An article from - TimesOnline Review.