Doin' The Burt

Doin' The Burt

The Harley-Davidson Museum Reading Doin' The Burt 4 minutes
Words: Davin Wirtanen
Photos: Geoff Kowalchuk
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Geoff (our on staff photog) and I flew over to New Zealand at the beginning of February to meet the team at our distributor, and to check out the Burt Munro Challenge. (I hope you know all know who Burt is, but if not, he’s the man that the movie The Worlds Fastest Indian is based on). “The Burt” as everyone there calls it is 5 days of every type of motorcycle racing discipline you can think of. Drag racing, flat track beach racing, road racing, hill climbing, you name it. All of the events take place in or around Burt’s hometown of Invercargill. Invercargill is an old port town and the southern tip of NZ’s South Island.

Road Trip Map of New Zealand___

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We landed in Auckland on Thursday morning, grabbed a couple of hire bikes, and headed south to Hamilton to meet with the boys at our distributor (Level Limited). On Friday we hit the road with Ryan from LL on a bike with us and Ben trying to keep up in a van. We stopped at a couple of dealers on the way down and timed it perfectly to hit some incredibly shit weather as we made our way into Wellington. Saturday morning started with a quick rip to the ferry terminal for a 3 hr ride down to the south island.

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Ryan had planned out the trip with what looked like fairly short days on paper, but when you get out of the cities you realize nearly the entire country of New Zealand is two lane country roads with 100 km/h speed limits that drop to 30-40 km/h in every town. It feels like there is another small town every 20 minutes. With only 5 million people in the entire country has roughly the same population as Alabama.

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The north island is known for its warmer weather and beaches, but the South Island is where all the lakes, rivers, glaciers, and mountains are hiding.

We took the scenic route through Lewis Pass and Hanmer Springs down to Christchurch to meet up with another lad from LL called Oscar. From there we climbed up Arthur’s Pass through Otira and over to the west coast to take that side south. Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Lake Wānaka, Lake Hāwea, and Cardrona all came up on the next few days. Riding down the Crown Range Road from Cardrona to Queenstown was quite beautiful. Queenstown was also probably my city/town in the entire country.

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Once we we were leaving Queenstown, then boys from LL bombed down to Invercargill to get set up for the rally, but Geoff and I had a clear forecast for Milford Sound which was only a days detour away. The south fjordlands only get a few clear weeks every year, so we took advantage of it, and holy shit was it beautiful!

After that we made our way to Invercargill where we spent the next 4 days. The rally was great and it was cool to see such a varying mix of bikes in attendance.

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Our route back wasn’t as chock full of sights as the ride down, but we did get to see Mount Cook which is pretty epic! We made our way back toward Christchurch to drop off Oscar and we took the eastern coastal road back up to Picton to catch the ferry back to Wellington and the north island.

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The last day of riding was quite a doozy. It was only 398 miles, but it took us over 12 hours with the low speed limits and all the damn road construction.

We spent 15 days riding around the country when it was all said and done. The South Island is a magical place and I highly recommend it for anyone that is looking for somewhere to ride motorcycles and have fun. Their summer is our winter and the 21 hr time difference is so far ahead that you can pretend it’s 3 hrs behind. 10/10, will definitely be heading back soon.

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