New Zealand - 2 week trip - rent or buy motorcycle? lots of good dirt & gravel roads?

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by brian777, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. brian777

    brian777 We're there!

    Aug 5, 2011
    Southern California
    Hello All!

    I am new to posting on ADV and could use your help! I am booked to be in New Zealand for a motorcycle trip from Jan 26 '13 though Feb 10 '13, 2 weeks. I have learned a ton from reading some previous NZ posts, THANKS!

    I saw some post about buying a motorcycle from a dealer and that some dealers will guarantee to buy back when when you are complete. Since renting a bike for 2 weeks would be $2000 to $3000, this might be a good option and I could see a dealer still making some good money.

    What are your comments about GST tax, insurance, registering, etc? A rental company I contacted said they will not allow their bikes on dirt roads so maybe buying would give more flexibility?

    I am mostly a road rider but have had a great time riding off road in the past couple years. I plan to spend most time on the South Island. Will there be a ton of dirt and gravel roads I will want to ride?

    I have a ton of questions so any help would be MUCH appreciated! I am still pretty flexible as to how I do the trip in terms of where I sleep, etc. I would like to camp, hostel etc to keep costs down for lodging.

    Thanks so much!
  2. jondirt

    jondirt City rider

    Aug 3, 2011
    New York City and Berlin
    When I was doing similar research, I considered four options - rent, buy from dealer, buy used, or ship.

    The easiest option is to rent e.g. a DR 650 from a dealer. The folks at Ardmore Motorcycling rent one with a larger tank and seem well setup for the kind of riding you are talking about. Their contract appears to say ride anywhere, but if you damage the bike offroad you will be liable for the total cost of the damage (but read the contract yourself!) For a two week trip I would probably go with this approach.

    The next option is to buy used from a dealer - as you say some dealers will pre-arrange a buy-back option. Its worth asking this question on the KiwiBiker forum in their Adventure section.

    The third option is buy a used bike and then sell it again. The site TradeMe is a good place to start researching this option. When I looked, again the DR650s popped up as a plausible option - affordable and sellable and suitable for a bit of touring and long distance. I've heard people saying they have bought and sold for the same price with no trouble - but you are taking some risks here.

    The forth option is to ship. In the timeframe you mention this won't be possible (it takes six weeks for the bike to arrive). This is the option I ended up going with, but I'm here for a month, and I really wanted to know the bike I was riding. The page Importing a used bike is a good place to start to investigate this option. I shipped with Robert Stevens. I get my bike on Jan 4th so I can't yet give a complete review, but so far I've been very satisfied I chose this option.

    For routes, take a look at Also New Zealand Motorcycle Atlas is a good buy. Also look at the forums. Yes, there are lots of gravel routes in NZ.

    A few other random thoughts:

    One thing to think about is the motorcycle luggage for your trip - if you go with a rental company you may be able to rent luggage too. I use a Giant Loop Great Basin, which is great because its easy to strap onto different bikes, but it does tend to scratch the plastic sidings, so if I put it on a rental bike from a dealer I make to show them my luggage first.

    If you decide you want to camp, this takes a lot more prep. If you've not camped for long trips before, definitely do dry runs back home to be certain you have the equipment and luggage options you need. You can buy stuff here in NZ but equipment here is a lot more expensive than the US. Weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport to make sure it meets the strict weight requirements. I paid for an extra bag, and even then I was near 20kg for each bag.

    The NZ customs inspectors are also strict on biosecurity. e.g. if you bring any camping food in your luggage, make sure it is factory-sealed prepared food (no raw honey, nuts etc), and do declare it on the customs form. Also check your equipment is very clean when you pack it. They eyed my boots carefully and x-rayed them, and looked like they were about ready to unpack and setup my tent, before relenting and waving me through.

    Have a good trip.


    PS. Here is a Flickr photo set of my trip prep etc:
  3. vfxdog

    vfxdog Been here awhile

    Jan 5, 2007
    Santa Monica or London, depending on work.
    Hey Brian- you're going at a good time. Weather should have stabilised a bit, and the school holidays will be over.

    As your trip starts in just over 3 weeks you will be pushed to ship, even by air.

    I would closely question any NZ bike rental place that says they won't allow dirt road use- many roads in both islands that are in heavy public use are unsealed, and your trip would be somewhat limited if you had to stay off them.

    The big single (DR650 etc) is a good way to go- you'll spend most of your time wanting to look around your environment and anything heavier or with more cylinders could just end up being a pain.

    The NZ ride reports on ADV are great to go through for hints etc., and it would also be helpful for you to post in the NZ section of Regional Forums.

    Have a great time!
  4. dgeezer

    dgeezer Time's fun when you are having flies. Kermit

    Mar 25, 2010
    USA GA 30531
    Hi, I've been to NZ three times in the last ten years.
    This is a great chance to rent(hire) a Transalp.Fly into chch.
    I would hire a bike in chch, Christchurch, for a week or so.
    I would go north to Picton, then across west to Nelson, further on to
    Moteaka(sp) then to Farewell Spit, back to Nelson,
    then south to Hokitika, then to Milford Sound. Stay at
    Homestays and hostels, you don't have to worry about
    your safety or having the bike stolen, these are the
    nicest, most civil people in the world, honest too.
    The only rude loud obnoxious people you meet are from north america.
    Get the bike back to the shop, hire a car, much cheaper,
    or get on a train and go to the places you missed. Bus trips
    are really reasonable, one busdriver invited me home to meet his family. Make friends, you will have them for a lifetime.
    Two weeks is a hiccup in NZ, my last trip was my visa
    limit of three months. Do the North island on your second trip,
    and don't miss the eastern cape. Buying a bike off trademe
    might be ok if you find a place to leave it until you can come back.
    You will be back. Nice place, great people, wow landscapes.