Weekend - Friday 22 January 2016 to Sunday 24 January 2016 (3 days)
On Friday everyone makes their way to our accommodation at Bushaven which is 18 km out from Opotiki in the Urutawa conservation area. A rather surreal place to stay with a somewhat interesting narrow road to negotiate towards the end. It's not every day we get to drive through fords but it was well worth the effort. All eleven of us arrived safely with our mountain bikes, we are staying in a lovely large house.
On Saturday we are picked up by the shuttle and travel up the Waioeka Gorge on SH2 about an hour’s drive, and then dropped off at Matawai, unload our bikes and set loose for the day. Riding past the old historic hotel then turning left down Motu road which is 65km in length. We start off on an easy gradual gradient riding up a lovely valley, a nice easy way to warm up the legs. Along the way we pass the remains of the old Gisborne to Motorola railway line bridge still standing as a memory of days gone by last used in 1959, a gentle reminder of what used to be long ago, before we reached Motu itself.
Here there is the newly opened Motu-vation cafe, today we only had time to quickly look in the door but its older style decor sure does look impressive. From Motu there is a sign warning motorists of 48 kms of metal road ahead and council advise 4 wheel drive vehicles are recommended. This is what we are about to ride, but far as metal roads go for cycling it was an extremely good surface. From here we started climbing up Taumatakaretu Hill, on our way up looking above us a road works truck could be seen parked in what seemed a rather peculiar place. As we get closer all is revealed the truck has slid off the side of the road and is now perched on the edge with a major drop off.
It is obviously waiting on something to come and pull it back onto the road as the digger that was parked nearby must not have worked. After our first major climb we are rewarded with stunning views. Today is rather hot, and there is no respite from the heat until we stopped for lunch in a shady spot. We ride past the start of Pakihi track which will be tomorrows ride. While we are waiting here for a regroup three guys on motor bikes make their way past. Over all we saw very few vehicles, but still had to be mindful something could be coming towards us on blind corners. At the top of the Papamoa summit 660m there is a very new impressive shelter where we all took a break from the heat. Further along and we have a ford to cross, some make it and keep their feet dry while others like myself make the mistake of looking down and coming to a grinding halt, at least my feet got a cool off and no one landed flat on their face neither. The Motu road is pretty up & down around 800 m of climbing but still magical all at the same time. No wonder it has been used many times for car rallying in days gone by. After the 48 km of metal we fly along the tar seal before crossing over SH 35 and riding the last 11 km on the Dune trail. This is a fabulous way to finish the day breathing in fresh salt air and enjoying the stunning coast line. We stopped for an ice cream at Tirohanga beach part way along, which was enjoyed by all. Back on the trail for the home stretch and over the impressive Pakowhai bridge which now links Opotiki to the ocean.
We are greeted by the shuttle back in town and taken back to Bushaven. By this time there wasn't too much of the day left so exploring the bush tracks and river back here were sadly given a miss. There is plenty to do over here at Opotiki, like the Rere Falls trail which was pointed out by the driver, basically 180 km from Matawai thought to Gisborne past Rere rock slide and also the Motu waterfalls all worth a visit, maybe another time.
Sunday starts off in the shuttle van, back tracking up to Matawai then down to Motu its self. Where we stopped at the Motu-vation cafe.
Most stay for a coffee while three of us shot off on our bikes up the 8 km climb leaving the others to enjoy their lattes and a lift in the shuttle. We all regrouped at the turn off into Pakiri track. While this is a one way track to mountain bikes, but still open to walkers in both directions. Predominantly downhill, but is rather narrow in place's with steep drop offs down to the river. On the whole it's a real lovely track, rather spectacular but it does pay to have your mind fully of the job at hand, or there could be a painful fall waiting. We stopped at a DOC hut for lunch and wandered down to the river. One brave soul took a dip while others cooled off their feet. The trail finished up on a metal road and we were able to ride all the way back to our car's. Riding through the four Ford's we had driven the day before.
A great weekend was had by all and a huge thanks must go out to Margaret for organising such a memorable ride. We are so lucky to live in such an awesome country. Just for interest I was given a copy of NZ Today magazine issue 65, which has a wonderful article on the Motu. It was rather surreal reading about some places and business people we had encounter along the way and gave me a greater appreciation of the area.
Combined Auckland Tramping Club and Auckland Cycle Touring Assn. team were Maureen McRae (scribe),Kathy Engelbrecht, Susan Woolnough, Lynda Langridge, Margaret Law (leader), Deb and Allen Small, Justin Gleeson, Mark Sames, Liz and Ken Philips.