Burt Munro Challenge, Southland, hard on heels of Waitangi weekend next weekend


With Waitangi weekend a week away, South Island drivers heading towards Otago and Southland might see groups of motorcyclists heading in the same direction for the Burt Munro Challenge (Wednesday to Sunday, 8-12 February).

In past years up to 2,000 motorcyclists registered to take part in the challenge with many more spectators at a number of venues – Oreti Beach, Bluff and Sandy Point.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency advises all road users to take care around other traffic, particularly motorcyclists who are much more vulnerable than people inside cars.

“Build in plenty of coffee and break stops, enjoy the journey and take care around motorcyclists and all other road users,” says Nicole Felts, Waka Kotahi Journey Manager for Otago and Southland. “Passing when there is so much traffic on the highways will probably not get you there any faster and will just raise stress levels.

“We have a big summer programme in full swing across the country so crews will try and minimise as much work as possible over the long weekends. But there may be temporary speed limits in places with crews finishing up later on the Friday before the weekend. So take extra care please.”

Check the extended forecast on the MetService website(external link)

Waitangi travelling tips, free buses to Ōtākou marae

People can be prepared for the Waitangi Weekend peak periods by checking the updated holiday planning tool before leaving home.

Holiday Journeys - Waitangi weekend(external link)  

Many marae are outside of main centres so please be on the lookout for buses and people travelling on quieter roads also.

The heaviest traffic around the South Island will be around Christchurch and Timaru, Kaikōura, Blenheim, Nelson, Motueka, Queenstown and Wanaka over the Waitangi weekend.

Motorcyclists may also take the inland highways past the hydro lakes and smaller towns like Tekapo, Geraldine and Fairlie.

Tips for safe driving and riding this long weekend: 

  • Check your vehicle before you head off eg tyre pressure and tread, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights, Warrant of Fitness and Registration.
  • Take extra care because of increased traffic volumes, congestion, tiredness and people driving in unfamiliar environments.
  • Drive to the conditions - whether it’s the weather, the road you’re on, the time of day or amount of traffic. Even in summer, there can be floods and high winds.
  • Keep alert and share the driving if you can. Take regular breaks.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.
  • Be patient: Overtaking is unlikely to make a significant difference to your journey time due to the amount of traffic expected over the weekend.
  • Allow plenty of time. Remember you are on holiday, so there’s no need to rush. 

Riding to the conditions

So what does “riding to the conditions” mean if you are a motorcyclist?

Extra tips just for motorcyclists(external link)

Gravel roads and road works

Don’t become fixated by the hazard - keep your head up and look where you want to go. When riding on gravel:

  • Ride where there are wheel tracks (these offer a firmer surface)
  • Avoid braking when you're banked over and slow early for corners
  • Keep a generous following distance to avoid flying stones and dust
  • Use more modest banking angles
  • In deep gravel, use the rear brake more than the front
  • Ride in a lower gear and move your weight to the rear
  • If it gets really deep, stand on the footrests and reduce the weight on the front
  • As a last resort, ride at walking pace or less with both feet down.

Negotiating road works is pretty much the same. If you pass over new chipseal, check that stones covered in bitumen haven’t jammed your brakes, gear change linkage or final drive system.