So, another beautiful day. I left Napier early and was on the city outskirts by 8.30am. I hadn't decided which way to head up the country as I had done pretty much all the roads from Napier before. I contemplated going around the east cape again or through the gorge from gisborne, or across to the other side of the island, however, I decided to go as far as wairoa and then decide. At wairoa I stopped for a late breakfast and coffee and while reviewing my map I noticed one other route to get to rotorua that I had not taken. This would entail heading to lake waikaremoana and then up and over Te Urewera National Park into the heart of Tuhoe country and popping out at murupara. What it also meant was about 100km of gravel road. I decided to do it.
What the map didn't tell me was that gravel road was a nice way of saying sometimes a little gravel, sometimes shit loads of large thick gravel and often just wet soft mud and no gravel - all surrounded by native bush, mountains and nothing else.
Up, over and through Te Urewera National Park.
These were the good bits where i could actually stop - i didnt take many photos because i was worried I might be stuck their forever and have to resort to eating bark.
Now, I do want to put a disclaimer in here for this one - I DO NOT recommend this "road" on a road bike - trail bike or adventure tourer with an experienced rider - yes.
Somehow I made it through by the skin of my teeth without a puncture and by staying upright on the bike. It really is the middle of nowhere with no cell phone coverage, no farm houses, just a few wild horses and pigs on the road as you come around hair pin corners. It makes the other two off road adventures I had look like walks in the park. Somewhere near the end of the gravel I did come across a tiny settlement so stopped to talk to the local on the side of the road with the full face moko (tatoo) - he was bloody interesting.
Honestly, if you want to do it, yes. It's worth it, but go very prepared and ideally with one other rider. Also, make sure it is fine as well because even with the blue sky there were parts of it that never saw the sun and was no more than a muddy track.
Also, if you ride a Harley don't do it because by the end you'll be left with the handle bars and nothing else as the rest of your bike would be rattled off :)
Bertha really felt this one and when I get back to the big smoke will need a huge clean and a huge service to check her out. It was totally worth it though. For the first time on this leg of my adventure I did sigh with a sense of relief when I made it to murupara and tar sealed roads again. :)
Then it was a quick jaunt across to Taupo where I am now.
Sadly, I only have a short ride to Hamilton tomorrow then my nz leg of this journey is mostly complete.
Time now for a nanna nap.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.