You've done a good thing, here.
I've only been to New Zealand a couple of times (here
), so my information can only take the form of visitor notes.
+ Yes; do take tie-downs (two is enough), and do sort out before you go just where you will attach them to your bike and ensure they will be long enough to reach a floor-ring three feet away.
+ Heh. You must be from the South Island. I found both to be terrific. It would be impossible to say which is the better. You cannot go wrong if you stick to just one, but if you have the time; see them both!
+ Don't forget that you can rent a Guzzi from Dave Gale at Guzzi Gander
. Dave is just north of the Auckland bridge.
+ New Zealand has a peculiar law concerning right-of-way and turns. I understand that this will be changed, but that won't be until after the rugby world cup.
+ ATMs are as common as they are in the US. Do not expect to pay-at-the-pump, but your card will work just fine at the counter.
+ If you use what we call a DEBIT card in the US, note that you will select CREDIT on the little machine that you used to punch in your PIN. Your card will work just fine.
+ When you check in, expect most all motels to ask you if you want milk. This refers to what you'll want with your tea or coffee next morning.
+ Motels (by that name) are often more up-scale than the mom-and-pop motels you see in the US.
+ Do not avoid the hotels that are also taverns or pubs. If it concerns you, check that they have in-room toilets.
+ I've looked through lots and lots of maps of New Zealand. I think the best for motorcycle use is Reise Know-How. These are german (which won't matter). They are very clear, show all the little roads, and best of all, they are waterproof.
+ New Zealand pavement if mostly what we would call chip-seal. In fact, the word "pavement" isn't much used; instead, these roads are "sealed." In hot weather you need to pay attention to the color of the roads to avoid the slick spots which are generally before curves (areas of braking).
+ Apart perhaps from Auckland freeways, I found the drivers all to be friendly.
+ A bakery is a great place to stop for lunch. Do not think of a bakery as a place to only buy bread and cake.
+ bring your own tire gauge (in units that you know).