NZ roads heaven for biker

Rex Mongold leaves Oamaru at the weekend. Photo by Ben Guild.
Rex Mongold leaves Oamaru at the weekend. Photo by Ben Guild.
Of all the roads in all the countries he has ridden, Rex Mongold says New Zealand's are among the finest.

"I love it down here," he said, pulling on full leathers, as he was about to leave Oamaru bound for the North Island.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's between Australia and New Zealand for the best place in the world to ride - they're all good roads."

Mr Mongold has found the speed limit, and the speed of life, agreeable here.

"I love the speed limit of 100kmh because I go slow enough to see what's around.

"The best part of New Zealand is the people. They are the most friendly, considerate people that I have met. I could stop anyone on the street for directions - little boys, old ladies ... dads ... anybody. They're just really friendly."

Mr Mongold has already done 16,000km in three months on his preloved 1985 BMW R80. The American jewellery maker sold his farm at Tongue River, Montana, in 2003, retrieved a motorcycle from the barn and "had a good time riding around".

Since then, his travels have taken him all over his homeland, through a slew of South American countries - including Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, much of Europe, Australia, and now, for a second time, New Zealand.

Any quibbles about New Zealand result from cultural differences rather than maliciousness, he said.

"The people speak funny - you just have to get them to repeat it," he said.

The often empty roads around Gore had so far been his favourite.

The dual sport (off-road and on-road) R80, which he rode and then stored in a farmer's barn near Nelson at the completion of his first trip to New Zealand, weighs about 300kg, including its rider and pack. It is his twelfth and newest BMW bike, with the oldest a 1960 BMW R50.

He had yet to come off it, but had previously fallen off other bikes, twice at more than 110kmh - once in his home state of Montana and again in Brazil. Those falls, and being hit by a car, persuaded him to trade in his dark leathers for brighter clothing.

Anxious to get back on the road to the North Island, which he will explore for the first time until his time in New Zealand is up in early March, Mr Mongold outlined his plans to ride through Norway, Finland, Sweden and beyond.

He is documenting his journey in words and photographs on a website for about 100 friends and family who are following his journey.


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