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Where too many roads and too many magic destinations are barely enough.

Weve been banging on for decades about how great South Island New Zealand is to tour on a motorcycle. Nows the time to start planning your summer adventure to the nearest faraway place to Australia”.

The South Island is a microcosm of some of the best motorcycle roads in the world. From European-type alps, to plains as flat and as dry as Americas prairies, dense and primeval forests, sweeping expanses of beach, Southland has it all.

There are countless options, especially in the Deep South, and the best time is late-January to early March. That coincides neatly with the Burt Munro Challenge (BMC), a bucket-list event that encompasses all forms of motorcycle competition.

Heres some of the secrets waiting to be discovered on a day loop out of Invercargill, the southern-most city in New Zealand and host of the BMC.

Take the Southern Scenic Route south-east out of Invercargill and follow its distinctive route markers (brown arrow with a red winding road in a triangle) for a tick over 70km and you will see a sign indicating Slope Point is 8km to the right. Its the most southerly point on South Island New Zealand and usually very windy. But a short, buffeting walk through a farmers paddock is worth the effort to get your picture taken by the sign pointing to the South Pole.

Back on the SSR and you are just 10km from Curio Bay. The open countryside winds down to a bay and a small village, similar to what you would see in parts of Ireland or Scotland. Curio Bays big claim to fame is its 180-million-year-old petrified forest remains, which existed when New Zealand was part of Gondwanaland. The stumps and trees resemble rocks and can be accessed for close inspection at low tide. The Tumu Toka CurioScape at the visitor centre has detailed explanations of this Jurassic period wonder.


Back on the bike and the next stop is McLean Falls, 34km away. The sign for the Whistling Frog Holiday Park is bigger than the sign pointing to the falls access road. So be aware. Its a bit over 3km to a flat, 20-minute walk to the 20m-high cascades. The setting is straight out of the latest Jurassic Park movie.

If you want the opposite experience of McLean Falls, head back to the SSR and Cathedral Caves are just a few kilometres off to the right down at sea level. They are truly spectacular but only accessible at low tide and there is an entrance fee to pay.

A few more kilometres on are two more diverse attractions. Lake Wilkie dates back to the Ice Age and is a ‘bog lake’ with a rare ecosystem you can view from a long boardwalk. Then to get a true perspective of the coastal grandeur make the effort to stop at the nearby Florence Hill Lookout, with sweeping views of the country youve been traversing.

Youve travelled around 100km from Invercargill and its a 90-minute leisurely ride back. But don’t worry, with long southern twilight that last until nearly 10pm, there is no need to rush.  


3 hot tips

  1. Winding, narrow roads in South Island New Zealand means travel time is longer than in ‘Aussie’, as Kiwis refer to Australia as, but the tarmac is grippy, even in damp conditions.
  2. Wear riding boots that are easy to walk in as several stops require a stroll to the scenic attraction.
  3. The Southern Scenic Route is sealed, but roads to some attractions may not be. Some points of interest are across private land, so be respectful.


  • EAT – Plenty of options on this loop, including the funky and fully licensed Niagara Falls Café, a converted school building about 30 minutes before McLean Falls. The unassuming-looking Tokanui Tavern, about 45 minutes from Invercargill, gets good reviews, as does the nearby Fortrose Cafe. Just 35 minutes from Invercargill, it also offers sea views and has fuel available 24/7. Perhaps a good stop on the way back.
  • SLEEP – Curio Bay has a campground if youre carrying a tent. The Whistling Frog Holiday Park has a variety of cabins and chalets but youll have to book early in peak season.
  • ROLL YOUR OWN – If you are planning to stay for 10 days or more the numbers can add up in favour of shipping your motorcycle over, rather than hiring locally. Get Routed has been shipping to New Zealand since 1997 and has a range of dates available over the summer months.