From King of the Road to King of the Castle, today we have ventured across Central Otago to the east coast and opulent Scottish settings.
Day 9 of our 14-day Hobbit Odyssey tour of New Zealand on a Harley Road King has been yet another feast of varied countryside, engaging roads and charming townships that owe their existence to cycling tourism.
I hate to say it, but motorcycle riders will also owe the plethora of cafe stops in isolated rural townships to this wave of cycling tourists that come to ride the decommissioned railway lines of this region.
We set off late today from Clyde because we enjoyed a great night at the Hartley Homestead B&B with Rex and Mel Eade who are enthusiastic motorcycle riders and have provided us with some insider tips on motorcycling roads.
So rather than rolling down the highway straight to our overnight destination of Dunedin, we take a round-about route north that runs alongside the Central Otago Rail Trail for cyclists.
It passes through some fertile valleys, over rolling downs dotted with thousands of sheep and through quaint stone-built townships.
Our trip is halted on one occasion by a flock of sheep on the road moving from paddock to paddock. We don’t mind. We are in no hurry and it’s an iconic Kiwi moment for us.
We also stop several times for coffee and lunch in the cafes and curio shops and enjoy wandering the main street of Ranfurly which has reinvented itself as an art deco museum.
Today the scenery is changing a little slower and the roads are a little less challenging. Today the roads flow with a poetic cadence. There is no rush and the Road King is king of the road, romping along in sixth gear with rare need to drop a cog.
Still, it’s an engaging ride over craggy ridges, into lush gullies and out the other side, finally dropping down off the highlands into the lush green coastal valley behind Dunedin.
We take a quick detour through the historic port city, then head out Otago Peninsula which affords spectacular views of the harbour and back toward the city.
This road leads us to our overnight stay at Lanarch Castle. It’s not cheap, but it’s not too opulent for many motorcycle riders.
As we pull in there are three bikes already here and later two more arrive. Several Kiwi motorcycle companies include New Zealand’s only castle in their itinerary.
While it looks Scottish and is a symbol of Kiwi history, it was actually built by Australian banker William Lanarch in 1871.
Tomorrow is a much longer ride, but we are finding that while 500km in Australia or the US is easy, even 300-400km in this country of endless curves is more than enough for a day’s ride.