Overland motorcycle trip from the UK to NZ on a Yamaha XT660 Tenere
Paul Hamblett & Amy Corbett from the UK
After graduating university I really wanted to work a ski-season in Canada but ended up in the corporate events world instead. Sometimes it was fun – but after doing the grown up thing – paying bills, moaning about the miserable English weather, working to pay those aforementioned bills and becoming the permanent residence for a family of mice…we knew it was time to go and stop turning into hermits in our early twenties. So I’ve quit my enviable job and we leave on the 1st May 2013.
Initially we were going to move with a lot of money in our pockets but decided instead to blow it on the trip getting there instead.
I don’t have a motorcycle license and I have never actually drove any motor vehicle other than a car, so I won’t be attempting to on this trip either. On making the decision to go, we came across this video
Austin Vince is my new found hero, this video just confirmed everything would be ok and we truly had no reason to go back on what we had planned. His wife, Lois Pryce, also has a book called ‘Lois on the Loose’ which is a story about her journey from Alaska to South America – and also the sole reason I have not been allowed to purchase a bell helmet – read Lois’ book and you’ll figure why.
This trip may be a little ill considered, as between us we have exactly zero knowledge of anything mechanical and have only really decided to seriously save in the past three months, so probably a little short on the money front too.
We don’t really have a ‘plan’ but we know we leave on the 14.00 ferry from Dover on the 1st May 2013 and plan to be in the south pacific some time before Christmas.
Well it’s taken over 6 months into the trip but I have finally got round to writing this whilst we have been hanging around with little to keep us occupied as we wait for the bike to arrive in Indonesia from Malaysia on the onion boat. Until recently I was working as the Design Lead at Microsoft within the marketing team, it was a great place to work and being in a team of mainly young guys we had a great laugh as well.
Though I loved the role, I found myself becoming increasingly irritated with the everyday fancy talking bollocks of the corporate environment. On using one of the infamous buzzwords myself in a meeting, (could have been something like “deep dive”) it was probably time to look for a change.
Having travelled before it’s hard to be fully content in one place and the urge to start moving again seemingly comes back quicker every time I arrived back. I had done a little bit of travelling around South East Asia like nearly everyone nowadays, though it was my brother Mark who had actually got me into travelling by motorcycle suggesting we did a trip around Vietnam with my Dad to help take his mind off a shit of a woman. At the time I did not have a licence and only really ridden on fields, though the prospect of getting away straight after my final University exam was enough reason. We bought some banged up Russian Minsks and headed off from Hanoi through the spectacular north of the country bordering china, before following the coast down to Ho Chi Minh. Unfortunately my dad decided to leave after 10 days on the road, and this is when Amy joined us for the rest of the trip, she instantly loved this way of travelling too.
We loved it that much that our holidays became motorcycling trips, firstly travelling around Morocco, and on another occasion Croatia. We would take a rucksack of a few clothes and our helmets and that was enough. I completed my full test and bought a Ducati Monster, which we would use for day trips to Cotswolds and wherever else, though the weather in England dictates that this didn’t happen often enough. These trips were the main highlights we could recall from months spent doing nothing much else apart from work and daily routine lives.
The idea of doing this trip was planted in my head again by my brother who introduced me to the website of a lad who had ridden from Sydney to London on a postbike, at the time I didn’t think it was even possible. Having read his book, the idea never seemed to disappear and I continually followed different blogs and read books of people’s long distance motorcycle journeys.
For a long time we had considered the possibility of leaving the UK and living abroad, and with my dad and brother already living in New Zealand and constantly urging us to follow that would be the most likely destination. We came close to leaving in summer last year though having never even been to New Zealand, we eventually decided to continue as normal until we had chance to see it. So early 2013 we got that chance and took all our work holidays to visit, we loved it and so the decision to leave was made.
The idea was to ride there but I still don’t think we believed in ourselves that we were actually going to do it. Having returned to work in the UK, we spent two weeks really deciding whether we would actually do it. After endless talk about nothing else, the final decision came in the unlikely place of Millets in Reading. We would usually have a look round town on a Saturday and thought we could look at some of the gear we would need. There was a deal on the down filled sleeping bags but still costing £50 for the two it was make or break time, there was no way I’m spending fifty quid on sleeping bags if we aren’t going to do this. We bought them and from then onwards it was all go on getting the plans into place.
We had less than two months to sell all our things, move out, get all the required visas, get the right bike, injections, carnet and all sorts of things while at the same time working tirelessly to complete a long-term self initiated project at Microsoft. At times it became quite stressful and sometimes wondered if it was worth it, considering we would have no money when we finally arrived in New Zealand. Though when the excitement was lost in all the planning and bureaucracy as well as the numerous risks with travelling through such places, we would always come across a new video or photos and be completely amazed.
Now looking back I am so happy we made the decision and feel we have been rewarded everyday for having taken that risk, this is without doubt the best thing we could have ever done.