Charity ride test run

Day 40, Saturday 30 September 2017

The Auckland branch of Ulysses has a charity ride each year to raise funds and awareness for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. In previous years, this has been a run up the Auckland motorway. Planning is well under way for the next run in February next year, and today I joined several others in test riding the proposed new route.

We rode from Mercer to Clevedon on back roads, stopping at each corner to discuss how to manage traffic and direct riders. When the actual ride happens, we will have a person stationed on each corner, probably wearing an orange vest to distinguish them from the regular yellow vests most of us wear. I’ll be one of them, and I will point in the direction riders need to go, and also persuade drivers to wait for the riders to pass so cars don’t get mixed in with the ride.

Distance travelled: 149 km. Total distance so far: 5760 km

Krippner and Weranui Roads

Day 39, Friday 29 September 2017

There are two highways going north from Auckland: the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) and State Highway 16. The motorway has a toll, and the group of bikers I regularly ride with don’t like to pay tolls on roads their taxes have already paid for, so we go up SH16 frequently SH16 is a good road, but we like variety. There’s a toll-free bypass to the motorway, and most of it is a good road, but it goes through the suburbs of Orewa, and that part isn’t much fun. Today I went looking for a way of bypassing the toll on the back roads north of Auckland, most of which are gravel. I was hoping to find a route using only sealed roads, and it doesn’t matter how much longer or slower it might be than the motorway.

From just north of Wainui, Weranui Road goes northeast to Waiwera, passing under the motorway. It’s a nice twisty country road, but it has three km of gravel at the Waiwera end. I checked that it hadn’t been sealed since last time I was on it. This is quite high (13th place) on Auckland Transport’s list of roads to seal, so it’s probably worth checking on every year or so, but at the moment I wouldn’t take a group ride over it unless we have a group where everyone doesn’t mind gravel.

Also from Wainui, Monowai Road goes north and connects to Krippner Road, which goes east to Puhoi which is north of the toll. Monowai is gravel, but is in second place on the list of roads to seal. The western half of Krippner Road is unsealed, but there are roadworks along it and it looks to me like they are preparing to seal it. At the moment it’s been graded down to bare earth and would be very slippery if wet. It’s 11th on the list. By itself, Krippner isn’t going to help us unless they also seal Monowai, or Tahekeroa Road which goes to Kaukapakapa to the west. Tahekeroa Road is very low priority for sealing.

Another possibility would be to take the sealed part of Weranui Road, turn onto Noakes Hill Road (which is currently gravel), then take the sealed part of Krippner to Puhoi. This would be a nice combination of roads, but unfortunately Noakes Hill is low priority for sealing.

At this stage, it appears there’s no way to get from the west to the east on sealed roads ending up north of the toll road apart from going through Orewa, or going up SH16 to Woodcocks Road quite a bit further north. I’ll keep checking on progress made in sealing these roads.

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Photo: The gravel part of Weranui Road passing under the Northern Motorway.

Distance travelled: 123 km. Total distance so far: 5611 km

Te Akau

Day 38, Thursday 28 September 2017

I took the gravel roads south from Port Waikato today. These roads have lots of potholes, corrugations and ruts at the moment, and there are numerous slips, some marked but others doing their best to sneak up on you. I saw a couple of goats, a turkey, several cattle and a chicken on the road. The road goes through lovely countryside with spectacular limestone outcrops. In a few places there are views over the Tasman Sea.

The road ends at Te Akau wharf, which is on the northern side of Raglan Harbour. The view across the water to Raglan is spectacular, but there’s no facilities here. The so-called wharf is just a concrete strip suitable for launching boats.

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Distance travelled: 302 km. Total distance so far: 5488 km

 

South Head Kaipara

Day 37, Wednesday 27 September 2017

I went to the South Head of the Kaipara Harbour today. There’s a nice twisty country road from Parakai to the end of the road, about 37 km with all but the last few km sealed. The road ends at a locked gate. There’s a steep track down to a little beach with the rather off-putting name of Mosquito Bay. More direct access to the beach at the bottom of the hill is blocked by private land.

Distance travelled: 193 km. Total distance so far: 5186 km

Kaiaua loop

Day 36, Tuesday 26 September 2017

The Kaiaua loop is a road well-known to Auckland motorcyclists. It loops around the Hunua Ranges, with the segment between Kaiaua and Kawakawa Bay the main attraction. It offers sea views, rolling countryside, and tight twisty roads. At Kaiaua is a pub, a good fish and chip shop, and a quirky cafe called “The Pink Shop”, so it’s a good place to stop for lunch. At Kawakawa Bay there’s a dairy which is a good place to stop for ice-cream. From central Auckland, riding the loop takes about two and a half hours.

There were major floods in the area in March-April this year, and the road at Waharau just north of Kaiaua was closed due to slips. The damage was extensive, and when I last rode it in May, the road had only one lane open and was covered with clay. I took a group of Ulyssians through it today to see how repairs were progressing.

The road is still only one lane, and we had to wait for several minutes while a large digger scooped clay off the road. Once we were allowed to proceed, we found the road surface was reasonable, although the road showed signs of trauma for a couple of kilometres. Further north, the winding parts which often have some slippery surfaces were in good repair.

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Photo taken at 517 Findlay Rd, Miranda

Distance travelled: 199 km. Total distance so far: 4993 km

Western Park

Day 35, Monday 25 September 2017

I had planned a longer ride today, but I found a long queue of traffic waiting to enter the motorway and thought the Auckland Harbour Bridge must be unusually congested, probably due to an accident. I decided to do a very short ride instead.

Western Park is one of the oldest public spaces in Auckland. It runs down a gully from Ponsonby Road. I like the sculptures of ornate buildings sinking into the ground near the top.

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Distance travelled: 12 km. Total distance so far: 4794 km

Northern Muriwai Beach

Day 33, Saturday 23 September 2017

The northern end of Muriwai Beach is flat, straight and quite wide, with firm sand but no people. It’s a favourite place for four-wheel drive enthusiasts to go.

To get there, I went through Woodhill Forest on a forestry road. This unsealed road had numerous potholes, bumps and uneven surfaces, but was not difficult to ride on. At the end of the road, just before a carpark, the road disappeared under a large puddle, with a small area of slippery mud as an alternative route. Not trusting the depth of the puddle or the quality of traction under it, I opted for the mud.

Beyond the carpark was an access track to the beach marked as being suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles only. It was soft sand going over dunes, and I knew immediately that it was well beyond my current abilities on a bike. I walked along it to the beach!

 

Distance travelled: 110 km. Total distance so far: 4417 km

Klondyke Road

Day 32, Friday 22 September 2017

Klondyke Road is a gravel road running through the Onewhero Forest northeast of Port Waikato. It’s a good sealed road at the eastern end, but the 15 km at the west are gnarly gravel. I suspect not much traffic uses this road other than logging trucks.

The gravel is unevenly distributed, so some areas have deep gravel and others have none, with slippery mud or even more slippery bare clay. There are deep wheel ruts, extremely uneven surfaces, and in places the corners are cambered to suit big trucks taking the corner at 80 km/h, which is not so suitable for a motorcycle in deep gravel travelling at 20 km/h. There are some spectacular views over the countryside and Waikato River, and also some stark views of valleys denuded of all vegetation by the loggers. There are few places to pull over to take photographs, although as I didn’t see a single other vehicle on this road today I could have just stopped in the middle of the road.

This is probably the most difficult road I have ridden on. If I’d been on my sports-tourer I probably couldn’t have done it. On the adventure bike I struggled, but I am new to this bike and I expect I will quickly get better. Adventure Riding NZ (requires signup) rates this road as intermediate/beginner difficulty, but I would not recommend this for beginners, especially immediately after rain as I encountered it.

I have a great feeling of satisfaction from riding this road!

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Distance travelled: 174 km. Total distance so far: 4307 km

Te Arai Point

Day 31, Thursday 21 September 2017

Te Arai Point is a lovely little cove on the Pacific Ocean, just south of Mangawhai. The cove has rock spires at each end. To the north is a long white sand beach, to the south a small sandy beach with large patches of bare rock, and there’s another long sandy beach south of that.

It’s reached via a 6 km gravel road. At the moment, the gravel is pretty good, but last time I did it a year or two ago I remember it as being quite rough.

Apparently there’s a developer with plans for the northern beachfront, and a group of locals opposed to those plans. The dispute has been going on for over ten years. I couldn’t see any signs of development happening.

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Distance travelled: 220 km. Total distance so far: 4133 km