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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dorothy writes in NZine, 2 Dec. 2008
This review is from: New Zealand Travel: Land of the Long Wild Road (Paperback)
"Want to see New Zealand? You could try exploring it on a motorcycle. Bob and Viv Goddard did just that. Over three months they travelled 11,000 kilometres and viewed New Zealand scenery and caught glimpses of Kiwi life from Stewart Island in the south of the South Island to Matakohe north of Auckland in the North Island.

Bob tells their story in a most entertaining book, Land of the Long Wild Road.

If you don't feel up to travelling through New Zealand on a motor bike, read this book, but be prepared! It will make you want to explore New Zealand, even if by far less adventurous transport.

As they travelled through the Land of the Long Wild Road (otherwise known as New Zealand, Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud) they saw and described some wonderful scenery that readers will want to visit themselves, but this does not read as a tourists' guide. It is a grand adventure.

The Goddards did not aim to visit what are termed the tourism icons, but to follow gravel tracks, drovers' routes and four-wheel-drive trails so that they saw the wilderness areas of the country.

From the very first chapter I was on the road with Bob and Viv. It was no surprise to me to read that Bob had been a journalist for twenty years. His easy assured style and his eye for interesting scenes, characters and anecdotes are evidence of that.

He takes the reader with him by the wide range of details in his stories. I felt with Bob and Viv the drenching rain and the occasional blazing sunshine, I tasted the appetising, or more rarely disappointing, food that comforted them when they sheltered from the elements.

Although I have never ridden anything more adventurous than a push bike I was with them battling their way on the rough roads and sliding in the gravel, or feeling small and vulnerable in heavy traffic, and I was awed by Viv's courage and determination in spite of inexperience and some daunting problems.

What interesting people Bob and Viv met! Some had invited them to stay in their homes and their warm hospitality and kindness to their visitors was a great advertisement for Kiwi generosity. However, Bob's picture of the people supposedly offering service in shops, motels, tearooms and restaurants includes the courteous and grumpy, the helpful and the offhand, the garrulous and the morose.

These two people seem to have coped with the ups and downs of their travel because of their sense of humour. This book made me laugh out loud and feel compelled to read some of it to my husband then and there - a test of how much I enjoy a book.

Before you ride a long distance on a motor bike be sure to read Viv's Yoga for Motorcyclists. "It'll stop you getting a numb bum," she told Bob. He said that it worked so well that he'd repeat it in his book.

Try out the inventive ways the Goddards used plastic bags to stop leaks in coats, leggings and luggage as New Zealand rain, especially in the mountains, severely tested their supposedly rainproof outfits.

Bob's explanation of antipodean road signs begins:
SEAL ENDS - No, not a Maori delicacy, but notice of a change of road surface. Seal is short for tarseal or tarmacadam road.
Further on:
WASHOUT - No, not an alfresco laundry, but an indication that part of the road has collapsed, usually fallen down a vertical cliff. Keep clear or you'll follow it.

He is full of admiration for the way washouts are dealt with in New Zealand. "In New Zealand they hurl in a few rocks, pour some gravel, flatten it with a 'dozer and say: 'She'll be right. mate'. Marvellous!"

He has no false pride and makes an amusing story out of incidents where he does not cope well, like being lost on the motorway in Auckland city or being at the controls of a microlight aircraft on the West Coast.

Bob's skill in reproducing a variety of accents adds interest to the conversations he reports, but it is never used to better effect than when he recalls trying discreet shopping to find a remedy for "a ring of fire which had erupted right where the sun don't shine" and which was going to prove "less than ideal for the long days ahead spent wriggling and bouncing around on a hard and narrow motor cycle seat".

Bob and Viv rented their bikes - Yamaha XT225 Serows, dual purpose trailie bikes with single cylinder four stroke motors - from New Zealand Motor Cycle Rentals. They were delighted with the bikes, the equipment that was supplied with them and the service their Christchurch and Auckland depots gave them during their three months travelling.

You can take their recommendation seriously as Bob did not hesitate to give a poor rating to the few businesses which they felt had ripped them off during their tour.
The only improvement I would have valued in this book would have been an index to the illustrations and more particularly the maps.

I strongly recommend this book to those who are considering a visit to New Zealand and to New Zealanders who want to read an interesting and entertaining book and also to see ourselves as two visitors saw us in the summer of 2001-2002. Dorothy, NZine.
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