Palmer writes about his New Zealand experiences
We first met Nick in Broome, Australia, back
in December 2000. Nick has recently retired from the US Military, spent years
travelling the world on his BMW R80G/S, and calls North Carolina his home. He sent the following email to his friends and
family, and we got his permission to post it here.....
New Zealand is a pleasant, friendly, and an easy place to visit and enjoy.
Below is a short description of a trip I am pleasantly on and I wanted to pass on sort of
a "word picture" of locations traveled and what I have seen.
New Zealand (population 3.9 million) consists of two large islands and a number of smaller
ones in the South Pacific Ocean. Stretching 1600 km/970 miles from the top of the North
Island (with 70% of the population) to the bottom of the South Island which has a much
larger land area and a greater number of national parks.
New Zealand is found between the 34 and 47 South Latitudes
and is 2250 km/1,350 miles east of Australia. The northern cape of NZ and Atlanta,
Georgia, are approximately the same distances from the equator. Invercargill(Bluff) and
northern Maine are also similar distances.
At no location on either island is the coastline more than 120 km/75 miles away.
The two islands are separated be a short distance and can be reached by a three hour,
60 mile inter island ferry ride between Wellington (NI) and Picton (SI).
Following is a short summary of a
January - March 2001 trip through New Zealand with a 1986 R 80 G/S BMW motorcycle.
Day 01 Christchurch, Canterbury
0 miles 18 January 2001 (139,031 miles, odometer)
Day 11 Invercargill (Bluff) Southern Terminus
947 miles 28 January 2001 (139,978 miles)
Day 27 Nelson (Picton) North Coast
2,821 miles 13 February 2001 (141,852 miles)
Day 27 Wellington, Nation's Capital
2,821 miles + 60 nautical miles 300,000 population
13 February 2001 (141,852 miles)
Day 35 Cape Reinga, Northern Cape
3,588 miles 21 February 2001 (142,619 miles)
Day 38 Auckland one million population
4,020 miles 24 February (143,051 miles)
The rider and the R 80 G/S arrived at Christchurch on the Avon River with its
ever-impressive Cathedral Square. In 1850 the city was an ordered Church of England
enterprise - meant to be a model of England in the South Pacific. Wool became king, and a
social order was established.
The Canterbury Museum, The Botanic Gardens with its
beautiful Peacock Fountain, and nearby at the international airport is the International
Antarctic Center with the NZ, USA, and Italian ongoing Antarctic programs.
Departed southwest from Christchurch for Banks Peninsular taking both the summit road
where the French colonists first landed, but the British had earlier claimed sovereignty
using as their authority the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840. A number of streets in
the major community, Akaroa, have street names of French origin.
On 23 January met the delightful family of Ian, Amenda, and James Parkin/Tennant who
invited me in for afternoon tea and to stay over for breakfast.
Southwest thru Geraldine, Fairlie, Burke's Pass (a reminder of Jackson Hole, Wyoming),
Mount Cook (NZ tallest mountain at 3,754 meters/12,313 feet), Twizel, Cromwell with its
wonderful fruits and assorted vegetables, Roxburgh (40 F/rain), and Dunedin (the Octagon
and Baldwin Street - the steepest in the world).
In 1879 Dunedin was the first city outside the United States with its own tram system.
Continuing south thru Balclutha, "The Presidential Highway", to Invercargill
and Bluff (the southern most and NZ first community - a sealer and whaler outpost).
Super Bowl Ravens 34 - Giants 7
The country side is of sheep and dairy farms with many family farms raising assorted
vegetables and fruits - a number of the house wife and daughters have stands in front of
their homes selling fresh produce to include ice cream/yogurt to be mixed with the fruits
available. This scene would repeat itself through out the South Island.
Now deer farms became present and are numerous. Sheep pastures seem to be the color of
off-white with the many lambs/sheep. There appeared to be great effort here to have
healthy pastures - sometimes the clover is as tall as the young lamb's eye.
With Stewart Island to the south, turned north along the center and then toward the
west coast: Manapouri, Te Anau, Homer Tunnel with fog, mist, and heavy traffic, Milford
Sound dominated by Mitre Peak that comes from the floor of the sound rising 1,695
meters/5,560 feet above sea level, the "Milford Wanderer", seals, penguins, and
an average rainfall of 5.5 meters/18 feet.
On to Mossburn (filter & oil change), The Remarkables, Queenstown, Coronet Peak,
Arrowtown, the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, Gibbston Valley and vineyards of Pinot Noir,
Cromwell, Wanaka, and The Gates of Haast.
North along the coast and the Tasman Sea visiting the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers,
Hokitika in 60 F weather, gray but no rain.
Half way up the west coast turned eastward across the Southern Alps in light rain/55 F,
Arthur's Pass (950 meters/3,116 feet), dominated by Mount Rolleston (2,271 meters/7,449
feet), Craigieburn Range, down to the Canterbury Plains in warm, 80 F, clear weather to
6 February, Waitangi Day, New Zealand's national day - the signing of the Treaty of
Waitangi between the British and the Maori - today, the provisions are still strongly
Several notes of
The first Polynesians (Maori) arrived around 1,000 years ago.
The first known European to see NZ was the Dutch explorer
Able Tazman in 1642 and named the land Nivew Zeeland after
the Netherland's Province of Zeeland.
In 1769 the British explorer and navigator, Captain James
Cook, sailed around NZ mapping as he went. He claimed the
entire land for the British Crown.
At the same time the French explorer Marie de Surville
sailed near NZ, but Captain Cook had already arrived and
made his claim. The French would still show interest in NZ
with its later effort to populate Barks Peninsular near
The 6 February 1840 Treaty of Waitangi confirmed New
Zealand as a British Colony.
It become a self-governing colony in 1856, a dominion in
1907, and in 1947, a fully independent nation.
Continuing north from Christchurch: Swannanoa and Hurunui
toward the top end of the South Island at Collingwood, by way of Hammer Springs and Lewis
Pass (864 meters/2,834 feet) crossing the Southern Alps once again on to the western port
city of Graymouth on warm cloudless days.
Up the west coast past the Pancake Rock foundations, Punakaiki, Westport, Buller Gorge,
Murchison, Motueka, Takaka, Able Tasman National Park and Collingwood.
Numerous small farms of sheep, dairy and deer farms with fruit, flower, and vegetable
for roadside sale.
An interesting note: Tobacco is no longer permitted to be grown in NZ. Old tobacco
barns and advertisement on the barn sides are still evident in this region.
Needless to say neither are poppies grown here.
East along the top of the island and into the region known as Marlborough riding
through Nelson, Havelock (greenshell mussels), along Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton where
the "InterIslander" crossed through the Marlborough Sounds and the Cook Strait
to the North Island arriving at the nation's capital of Wellington in three hours, 60
Wellington, the nation's capital, a city located around a beautiful and protective harbor,
the "Beehive" - the new parliament building - shaped in a rounded design.
North to Cape Reinga on Highway # 1 passing the central
North Island volcanoes, through horse country, Hamilton, Auckland (Graeme and Jeanette
Beaufoy & family), vineyards, Whangarie, Okaihau, arriving at Cape Reinga as rain
clouds cleared - the Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean join here.
South along; the Ninety Mile Beach, Kaitair, and to the Waitangi National Reserve where
the all important 06 February 1840 treaty was signed, returned to Auckland. Jurgen
Homann & Dirk Backmann soon will depart on a global trip - "POLIO AWARENESS -
CAMPAIGN 2001 + " on a pair of BMW motorcycles: www.2-mad.com
Nick's visit - Part 2