Peter and Becky Knowles had planned to tour New Zealand with Renedian for years before they got to go. “When I started motorcycling,” said Peter, “New Zealand, and a little bit of Australia came to the top of the list.” It became Becky’s dream trip because she wanted to experience the natural beauty she had heard so much about. Peter had enjoyed four other trips with Renedian; Becky had joined him on the Waterfalls and Wildlife tour They were looking forward to riding two-up again in New Zealand.

Hunua Regional Park, North Island

A series of events delayed their planned departure until 2023. But then, Becky had developed a medical condition that made it hard to get on and off the motorcycle. When Rene suggested she could ride in the chase vehicle with Piet, the trip was on, and both were thrilled. Becky said, “I thought I was going to miss out on this trip, and it was so much better that I could join Peter.”

Becky loves motorcycling, but distinct advantages with the way Renedian operates the chase van meant that she could participate in the tour as well as anyone. “I’ve been on other tours with other companies and the chase van doesn’t always follow the group,” said Peter. “Sometimes they take another route that is not quite as twisty and windy, or they go to the hotel and get everything set up. Here, Piet followed us all the way through, and Becky got to experience all the stops and the neat parts about New Zealand you might miss by sticking to the highways.”

Becky added to the benefits of van travel. “The vowels in the place names and road signs got jumbled on my tongue but Piet pronounced all of them well, because they were similar to where he lived in South Africa. He was able to share some of the local history as well.”

Piet and Becky

Peter between Rotorua and Napier, North Island (Credit Alice Law)

Both Peter and Becky have traveled around the world, on and off motorcycles, and this trip stood out for several reasons. Peter said, “It is a wonderful place to visit especially on a motorcycle because of the spectacular scenery. The tight twists and turns in the North Island with rolling hills make for outstanding riding. Then it opens in the South Island to grand, expansive spaces, high mountains, and curved roads with lots of good sweepers.

“From a rider perspective, the roads on this all-pavement tour are ideal. They are well maintained, well signed, and generally not busy except in the towns. The speed limits and traffic controls are reasonable and other drivers were friendly.” He was surprised by the low number of motorcycles on the road. “Given the favourable climate and the scenery, I expected to see more.”

Landscape of a different nature impressed Becky. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she said. “The pastoral landscape was unforgettable. It was so peaceful, green, and went on forever. Nothing got in your way except sheep, who have free run of the fields. When they did appear, however, they went on forever. We were there in spring, so everything was flowering, and the scents were magnificent. That was the one thing I missed by being in the truck with Piet and not on the motorcycle.”

Peter was also impressed by how green everything was. “It reminded me of England. It was rolling hills of different shades of green— dark green, light green and everything in between.”

Havelock North, North Island

Franz Joseph Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier and Milford Sound were highlights, but the most visceral memory came from a visit to the glow worms in their underground caverns. “We arrived at a tiny boat after navigating a series of narrow walkways through a cave, ducking to avoid protruding rocks,” said Peter. “Once in the boat, it was pitch black and we were not allowed to speak or use our cameras. All we could hear was the water splashing and, occasionally the boat banging off rocks. Then suddenly, you would see these glow worms hanging from the ceiling. I thought they were blue; others thought they were white. It depends on your vision. The experience was unnerving and awesome at the same time.”

Other highlights included an optional, chilly ride to the southernmost part of New Zealand from a place called Bluff and an opportunity to see kiwis. Given their nocturnal nature, this again was done in darkness. “They are very shy and very difficult to see,” said Becky, “but we did spot them running around.”

Bluff (Credit Joyce Dunford)

Bayon Eatery, North Island

“The group size was ideal from a customer perspective,” said Peter, “although I don’t consider myself a customer, nor have I ever been treated by anyone from Renedian as one. And that’s a positive! It also allowed us to be more flexible and experience New Zealand differently than we would be able to on tours that are more regimented.”

Traffic drives on the left, which required a bit of adjustment and was something else Becky appreciated about being in the van. “I didn’t have to worry about whether Peter was turning right or left because I was with Piet who is very familiar with diving on the left.”

Peter and Becky evaluate tours by asking themselves if they would return. Peter says, “I would return in a heartbeat, and I would do the same tour and know we can have just as much fun.” Becky agreed. “Absolutely. Even the long flight was not a deterrent.”

Photos from the collection of Peter and Becky Knowles

Haast Highway overlooking Tasman Sea, South Island