Weekend - Friday 5 April 2019 to Sunday 7 April 2019 (3 days)

by Murry Gifford

A group of 11 trail riders met at the Beach House, a BBH backpacker hostel at Waiotahe Beach approx. 5km south of Opotiki. We held final briefings for the weekend and went over the details for the trips.

The Motu Road loop riding group met at Maxine’s (Saturday night host) house just out of Opotiki to drop off bags/wine for Saturday night and start their ride.

The second shuttle group met at Motu Trails facility in town ready to load all the bikes onto the trailer for an 8.30 departure. They could shuttle 9 with bikes, we had 6 all up for the trip.

The Shuttle trip

The shuttle was a 2 hr trip taking us half way to Gisborne and then north to the headwaters of the Motu River. The journey through the Waioeka gorge is most scenic, with mostly bush to the river banks and the road sidles by the river gradually gaining altitude.

At the half way point an entrepreneurial type has a tiny caravan serving hot coffees and ice-creams, so an early stop to partake.

The road finally rises steeply at Trafford’s Hill and into East Coast pastoral land. Down the hill to Matawai, a small sleepy town and the turn off to Motu. 14km of sealed road through farmland follows and would make a pleasant well graded cycle for keen ones. Motu is smaller, just a small accommodation building and a bridge over the Motu River.

The road turns to dirt and commences a 300m climb to the Gisborne Opotiki boundary and our chosen shuttle drop off point. We unload the bikes and thank the shuttle driver.

We have approx. 8km of down-hill, 200m descent to the Pakihi track entry point, along a ridge with steep bush both sides and the odd glimpse of farmland in the valleys.

The Pakihi Track

The track entrance is well marked and advises a 10.5km descent to the Pakihi Hut and 11km river trip to the Pakihi road end.

The country is rugged and steep, we pass a hunter and wonder how he could hunt in such steep country, let alone spot a deer in the bush.

The trail is well graded and all we had to do was steer the 1m wide well maintained pack route. We crossed approx. 12 small bridges as the trial sidled the hillside at each small valley stream crossing.

One hour’s riding and we stop at the Pakihi hut for lunch. A hunter at the hut had had success with an 8 pointer tracked by the noises of the roar.

1km to the 50m wide slip and close by a swing bridge, we crossed the Pakihi stream to the true left.

The next 10km is full on concentration. The trail is benched the whole way into a very steep hill side. Built in the early 1900’s with pick and shovel, what a great job they did, hardly a single rise or fall of more than a few metres.

1.5hrs to the Pakihi Road and back to some civilisation. Dirt road for 9km and then 14km sealed road through dairy country back to Opotiki. We arrived back by 4.00pm with hardly a sweat up as most of the trip is downhill. For real satisfaction I think we should have started with the 300m climb.

The view to the right was a 5 to 10m drop straight into the river, so the adrenalin pumps a bit as one contemplates a wrong manoeuvre. Fortunately most of the track has some bush to the right and doesn’t feel so exposed.

The group comprised Murray Gifford, Stephen Boyd, John and Ashley Gifford.

The Motu Road loop

This trail starts at the Opotiki memorial park and crosses the Otara River at a fine suspension bridge.

The trail is just behind the beach, undulating through the dunes on a fast wide trail. There are high points to stop and admire the view of the beach, the surf, the clouds and Whale or White Island.

We had a fine morning and the scene was stunning. The trail passes through Tirohanga, a small beach village and camping ground. The trail finally emerges at the Waiaua River and takes a short cut up Jacksons Road to cross the river and onto Motu Road.

Motu Road is 24km and a 450m climb over Meremere hill. The road is mostly gravel and passes through lush farmland and then into remote bush country of the Raukumara ranges.

Maxine’s ToaToa is an old farm house and she provides dinner, bed, breakfast and a cut lunch. From here the road heads uphill a further 200m to Toa Toa Hill and finally descends to the Pakihi track entry.

The group comprised Robin Houston, Uta Machold, Michael O’Connor, Graham McGowan, Peter Ireland and Adrian and Rose Davis.

Photos: Uta Machold and Murray Gifford