I had hoped to have a look around the Hicks Bay Motel grounds before I left but the weather was still lousy. It is on a point overlooking the bay, has a bush walk down to a small beach, apparently!
I headed for the East Cape Lighthouse, about a 22km diversion from the main highway along a coastal road from Te Araroa.
It was very exposed with gale force winds (90km/h ~50 knots according to weather forecast) battering the car all the way there. The slowly clearing overnight storm weather made for a dramatic, almost spooky, scene.
It is a mixture of sealed and gravel road, one lane in places where it hugs the cliffs with the sea gnawing away at it! No problem taking the Bravo HGT out there but have to be a bit careful not to 'ride the crown' on gravel as the sump clearance isn't the greatest. I think Grand Touring is more suited European highways than Kiwi back roads! It survived ok, although maybe a few new scrapes under there.
The climb to the lighthouse was good, 750 timber steps the whole way up made avoiding the mud easy, and the surrounding brush made the gale tolerable. It was still very windy, combined with the sea fog/cloud made for a good demonstration why this lighthouse is needed!
From there it was back to Te Araroa to see Te Waha o Rerekohu (one of the largest pohutukawa tree in NZ). I grabbed some food and drink for lunch at the general store. The following week it featured on the news, stock falling off shelves as the region was rocked by a large 7.1 earthquake! Thankfully nobody was injured and there was minimal reported property damage.
The rest of the day was bay hoping to Gisborne. I stopped at all the main beaches and a few other attractions like this Mercedes slowly turning into a work of roadside art.
Tokomaru Bay impressed with some fine, some fading, architecture.
Contrasting with earlier in the day summer had arrived for the obligatory walk to the end of the 600m long Tologa Bay Wharf (NZs longest). The gale had blown away the rain leaving fine sunny day, 20ºc almost summer warm!
This wharf was the main access before the roads reach Tologa Bay, extreme length required due to the shallow bay.
It is impressive how a community trust is funding on going restoration to keep this historic structure, no longer used commercially, open.
The nice weather stuck around for the drive to Gisborne, lovely roads and little or no traffic!
I spent the night in Gisborne, nice Motel near the beach (Ahi Kaa Motel) and (more) fish for dinner!
(Initially sent from Outlook Mail for Windows 10 phone, additional text and photos added later)
After a wet night I was quite glad I'd got the cycling done and dusted. Had a self catered breakfast (an Up n Go and a JED'S coffee bag) then hit the road heading for Hicks Bay. For the first time this trip I emailed ahead to check there was accommodation, limited options and 150km from there to Gisborne meant having a bed would be useful. Not necessary as it turned out but the owner admitted this time of year it was feast or famine and they'd had several coach loads the night before. That explained the those I saw on the drive there.
Thought pig dog training and bookbinding an unusual combination of skills!
Lovely drive, although not in a hurry I had some opportunity to exercise the Fiat which had been idle all day yesterday while I mountain biked. Not far before Te Kaha had a brief stop while they recovered a truck from what looked like a nasty crash. Flat bed truck with a tractor on it had understeered off a hairpin, the roads were damp, and looked pretty smashed up. Hope the driver was OK, the stop ‘n go man didn't know, but there was nothing mentioned in the news.
Lovely coastline even in less than wonderful weather. Had heard about the Raukokore’s St Paul's Church with its special residents, penguins which nest beneath the floor. Worth a stop even for this non-believer.
It was sad to see several burnt out cars, some looking quite new, on the roadside. Evidence of a tough life in this remote area?
I took a several km diversion down the road to Litten Point, just curious to see what was at the end, all sealed, but they were felling some old pine trees so couldn't go all the way.
Had lunch, nice filled roll and last of my 3kg bag of Oratia apples, at the Hicks Bay wharf.
Nice viewpoint but closed as looked, as the sign said, on the verge of collapsing!
Thankfully the Hicks Bay Motel was much more solidly constructed*. The wind increased to a howling gale, joined by torrential rain, overnight literally shaking the whole place. Other than the weather it was a good place to stay. I had a nice dinner in the restaurant, pan fried fish and salad, where I beat the evening rush. There were a few people in the bar but I was alone in the restaurant but as I left the crowds arrived. 2 more!
* The integrity was really tested when the area was rocked by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake the week after my trip! Thankfully, although a big shake, the epicentre was offshore so there was little property damage and no injuries.
Sent from Outlook Mail for Windows 10 phone and updated later
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.
Thanks to my unplanned White Island adventure I arrived in Opotiki late afternoon. After sorting out my accommodation, with Glenis at Ranui Motel, I assembled Rapid Rob for some exploration. I had already decided to stay an extra day, to ride the Motu, and Opotiki has a perfect place to check ride the bike in preparation for that adventure.
The Dune trail is a gravel path through the dunes, duh, which is about 10km one way. From the end you can continue onto the, altogether more serious, Motu Trails or just return to Opotiki. Although the highest dune is just 18m lots of ups and downs meant my Band recorded 200m of ascent and descent over the 20km ride!
A portion of the track traverses soft sand, no problem thanks to the boardwalk, or is it a boardcycle?
As the tide was low I did some of the return journey on the beach.
An evening finish meant I could join the local crowds watching a beautiful sunset!
The ride seen here is just one option for riding the in the Opotiki/Motu region. 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!
At one stage I had considered jetting off to a tropical island this week. It was a turbine engine, albeit in a helicopter, and geothermal, rather than tropical, heat but White Island was an amazing place to visit.
I had rung to see if any flights were happening, but there were no other bookings and a minimum of two. The curse of travelling solo...
Maybe I shouldn't have stopped on top of the hill, Kihi Point overlooking Ohope, to take this photo but I did and it proved to be quite expensive. Looking at a perfect day I decided what the hell... a phone call… next stop the local airport.
Rather indulgent, just Mark (the pilot) & I so make that VERY indulgent, but worth every cent. They say you should buy experiences, not things, and it was an unforgettable one.
L'Epicerie breakfast, berry crepe a lovely start to the day and unexpected find in Whakatane. I justified the cream option as had just finished 4.5km walk. On reflection, probably not far enough but it was delicious.
I also grabbed a ham roll (sandwich au jambon?) and apricot croissant to go and enjoyed them, also lovely, taking in the spectacular view overlooking Whakatane.
Way back in 2009 I drove the 5 cylinder Ferrari to Wellington to see the "Formula One ™ – The Great Design Race" exhibit. I have a week off and decided to give it some exercise and explore one part of New Zealand I haven't been to before.
Going for a road trip; revisiting Coromandel then on to East Cape. I have been to each side, Opotiki & Gisborne, but never around the end. After that maybe Wellington, New Plymouth but haven't booked anything so can change plans as suits.
I have my mountain bike in the back, and a NZ cycle path guide book, to explore off road if the weather allows. If you see a Silver Bravo or an unfit fellow on a blue Giant Talon Mountain Bike say Hello!
He said wouldn’t be getting a Ticket so I thought, just in case, I should. You can’t buy 43 (there are only 40 numbers) but I got all the rest along with the all important ($20 million this week) Powerball number 4.