Ninja 250 + New Zealand = joy

Our last full day in New Zealand, I rented a Ninjette from the folks over at nzbike.com. $70 for a full day, maybe $90 with petrol included. I headed north from Auckland on 16, found mile after mile of well-paved, well-paced roads with good cadence and spectacular scenery. Enjoyed getting completely lost in a generally northeasterly direction, hit the eastern coast, took in the surf, and hugged the coast south. It's all farms: one lane bridges over creeks, limestone hillocks, and the occasional jaw-dropping valley opened up in the sun. Hit some dirt, a few dead ends, and generally had a grand time of it.

Everyone, everywhere, was thrilled to say hello, tell me about their farm or flower shop, and give directions. I don't think I met a single unfriendly soul in the whole darn country. Even petrol station attendants grinned, warned me about storms to the north and pointed a better route. Maybe it's a factor of size, maybe it's purely cultural, but I wish the rural US were anywhere near this friendly.

Sunset lasted three hours. I don't know how to describe it, and it doesn't come through in photos. Been trying for the last eight hours to find an exposure that fits, but nothing feels right. The light is warm, hangs in the air thickly, coats the landscape in dusty gold.

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The bike held up great–the 250's engine and weight is well-suited for the tighter, slower pace of New Zealand roads. I doubt I would have been as happy on my 650. Bit of disc warp on the front rotor, and the suspension was predictably high, but that's unavoidable with rentals. Zero hassle getting the bike returned, and they even drove me back to the hotel after on account of Easter bus closures. For a big shop, they bent over backwards to help me out; had a great trip thanks to them.

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