I rode (most of) the Motu Rd and the Pakihi Trail today. Awesome riding, fairly flat to start with a climb into the hills before a long descent back to Opotiki. You can ride the dunes trail to the start of the Motu Road Trail but, having ridden it the previous evening, I just took the highway. Anyway, at 7:30am there wasn’t much traffic on the road!
The trail starts on a tarmac side road, Jackson Rd, before transitioning, via a short cycle path bridge, to the Motu Rd itself. I wondered why but, next morning driving the same way, saw it avoids a narrow bridge on the main highway.
The Motu Rd is hard pack clay road, not too much loose gravel when I rode it. After following the valley the first climb, to Meremere summit, goes up 360m but the grade is OK. I was happier than I look in the selfie!
Lovely scenery climbing up from the river valley to the ridge.
One slightly used truck on the roadside or farm art?
From the Meremere summit there is a nice downhill to a plateau before another climb, Papamoa Hill, rises another 260m in just 3.5km. Until here the road is fairly NZ typical gravel back country giving little indication why the Motu has such a reputation as a rally car wrecker.
On Papamoa Hill you encounter narrow, tight twisty corners (with huge drops if it went wrong) and in places the road is raw serrated rock. It looks like it would shred tyres and sumps! This is the Motu of rally fame!
View from near the top
The Pakihi trail is just amazing. 25km of flowing downhill single track through beautiful bush from the ridge to river valley.
I do take issue with this sign at the top of the Pakahi Track. The Motu Road ride up to here is superb too!
Although not very technical, some of the 27 bridges do have tight approach/exits, in places the track is quite narrow and a huge fall, tens to hundreds of metres depending where, awaits if you go off the wrong side! That said, the track condition was great and the grade means you hardly need to pedal or even brake very hard. Just take your time and enjoy a lovely flowing downhill ride that goes on for kilometres!
The bridges and slip repairs are just some evidence of the tremendous work done both establishing and maintaining this track. The signs ask you to report any recent looking damage and I sent a photo of a newly fallen tree I had to climb over.
I was really impressed to get both an immediate email response and (waiting when I got home) a package with a ride certificate, magazine and brochures from the trail committee. Even more impressive, about a week later I had a call from DOC confirming they had cleared the track!
I was surprised how dry it was, hardly any wet or bog areas even though I rode in late winter. There are spectacular views over the river valley as you descend. About 10km from the end you cross the river on a high suspension bridge and then the track follows the river bank.
Amazing riding ending up at a car park about 22km from Opotiki.
The ride back to Opotiki is almost level. Although there is a trail option (a mix of gravel road and stop bank path) I took a look at the approaching weather and chose the quicker road route. Only the last 10km or so was a bit dull, arrow straight roads pass through farmland, but mainly because I had my head down pushing to get back to town.
The odometer showed 90.5km distance by the time got back to the motel late afternoon and, although it got increasingly cloudy throughout the day, I just beat the rain!
The day ride seen here is just one option for riding the Motu. Plan your own Motu Trails Adventure, including multi-day or shuttle assisted rides and other tracks in the area, at www.motutrails.co.nz. I’ll certainly be going back!
Initially sent from my Windows 10 phone, edited and extra pictures added later.