We had been talking about an extended trip North for a couple of years As my mates Bill ( Yamaha TDM ) ,Bruce (ex St1300, now Vstrom 650) and myself (ex St1300 now AT.) live in Central Otago South Island , New Zealand, heading north gives us a lot of options. (We are only a bit over 2 hours from the southern most part of New Zealand. ) We decided to go for gold at get to Cape Reanga which is the Northern most point of New Zealand accessible by road. Bill and I both left on Thursday, but travelled by different routes as I wanted to see my aged parents. We met up in Ashburton next morning and headed for Blenhiem at the top of the south Island. The road across the length of the Canterbury plains is long and straight so by the time we hit the Hunderlea range of hills we were looking for a bit of excitment and they didnt disappoint us with their tight twisting bends going up hill and down dale. One of my favourite bits of NZ highway as long as the traffic is in your favour. By the time we arrived at Blenhiem, we had done about 850k from home. We both started to look for fuel stops at about the 300k mark so were matching each other. Next morning we rode the 20k to Picton in plenty of time to catch the 10 am sailing of the Cook Strait Ferry to Wellington, the start of North Island leg. Arriving in Wellington the capital of NZ, at about 2.30pm we headed up over the Rimutaka Hills on the main road from Wellington to the Wairarapa Plains . Once again nice tight bends but traffic slowed us down. Would not be a nice place in high winds as some of the drops off the road were straight down at least 100m. We were meeting some of bills friends there and heading to Castle Point on the coast. His mates got held up so we decided to head on out by ourselves. What a road . All twists and turns and loads of fun. By this time I was getting used to the AT , and wore the last of the chicken strips off my tyres along this road. We were rewarded when we arrived at Castle Point by a beautiful sandy bay being enjoyed by many families. Every New Year they hold horse races along the beach as it stretches for about 5km. After staying in the local pub for the night we headed out. As it was Sunday , Bruce was leaving home as he had been held up by other commitments, so I decided to go back down to Wellington to meet him the next day while Bill and others were heading North. The plan was, we were going to catch up somewhere by Wednesday. I had friends I could stay with in Wellington and other friends I could catch up with the next Day. Bruce was delayed getting off the ferry som I didnt meet him north of Wellinton till 7pm. So we headed North , our destination being a small place just out of Palmerston North , about an hour and a half away. By the time we had an evening meal it was 9.30 before we arrived. It was a good test of the excellent AT lights and the google map on my phone as the people we were staying with lived well off the beaten track. Next morning was another sunny day and the view across the Rangitaiki Plains to the sea one way and across to Mount Ruapehu the other from our breakfast table was stunning. On the road by 9 and heading for Auckland accompanied by our host Jack who rode wioth us to Taihape. Today was a day for eating Ks so it was up highway 1 through the Western Bays of Taupo, as a slight detour and on to Hamilton for the rush hour 5 oclock traffic. At that stage we decided to go through Auckland at off peak traffic time . This proved to be entertaining as daylight had gone and we were following an alternative route to highway 1. After a slight detour ( read lost) we left Auckland behind by 8.30 pm and started looking for somewhere to eat and sleep. Once again the excellent lights of the AT came into their own. After some hunting we found somewhere to eat and to have a beer and they pointed us in the direction of accommodation just outside Helensville. When we arrived at the motel a lovely surprise was in store . On the front porch was a thermal hot tub and by the smell of it genuine thermal. A great way to finish a long day in the saddle. Part 2 will come later maybe in 2 months time due to us leaving for Africa tomorrow for a safari.