Greatest Gravel

NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND – PART II

Photos by Beardy & Esjay

Planning success


We had loosely planned to hit ‘The Motu’ while planning in Tuai, before putting the polish on our route whilst enjoying a few stouts in Gisborne.


We headed first for Matawai, and then onto Motu Road, a crusty old coach passage connecting Motu and Opotiki. Opened in 1915, Motu Road was thrust into the limelight in 1993 when Colin McRae drove it to victory in the World Rally Championship.


Bitumen and a medium climb served as minor setbacks, headed for what we knew was going to be some ‘all time’ gravel.

Matawai


Our arrival in Matawai signalled that we’d ticked off the first 45 km of bitumen, plus one decent climb - the last easy meters we’d be getting. Next up was lunch, a rather average coffee, then Motu Road. We had only 12 km of bitumen to go before reaching Motu, and the ‘real’ start of the day’s adventure.

Motu


With a big yellow sign making it fairly obvious what was to come, it was good to have finally arrived where we wanted to be.

Devil goat


Finishing up on the second descent we turned to notice a sign which would, frankly, have been greatly appreciated earlier in the day (note also the graveyard in the top left of shot – casualties perhaps?).

Shortly after the sign we met a seemingly friendly roadside goat. Trapped within its demonic-looking, pentagram-esque, and decidedly makeshift collar, it was hardly a surprise when the initial kisses on Beardy’s leg turned into a fairly decent bite.

Authentic Irish/Indian


Again we found ourselves in search of recovery stout, making our way to the Masonic Hotel in the centre of Opotiki. A seemingly authentic Irish pub that, intriguingly, served one of the best Indian meals either of us had ever had. We delayed our evening route planning, opting to stay for seconds.

Morning maintenance


Beardy’s tube supply was dwindling, on account of our friend, the goat. Accordingly, we needed to source more before heading out towards Rotorua. A place well-known for its geothermal activity, geysers and hot mud pools. And strong odour.

Secret water


A sneaky little travel tip for those raiding holiday accommodation venues for a drop of water: when the water doesn’t flow from the tap, be sure to find the mains (even if the owners have attempted to hide it under a green lid in the middle of a large lawn).

Shrimp eyes


Our day had been long, and we hadn’t really pulled out the cameras nearly enough… but that came down to the fact we were exhausted after our truck-dodging Motu day. The clearest indication of which was Beardy’s eyes - they had begun progressively shrinking down.

Good thing we found another Irish pub in Rotorua, ol’ Shrimp Eyes needed his fill of rejuvenating Guinness.
DAYS

2

DISTANCE

316km

ELEV GAIN

5693m

ELEV MAX

776m

More from New Zealand


Choose from any of the three parts in our North Island New Zealand adventure, or the Road Book, for all the maps & information you need to get out and explore the area yourself.
PART I - NORTH ISLAND NZ. 
READ MORE
PART III - NORTH ISLAND NZ. 
READ MORE
MAPS & INFORMATION. 
READ MORE
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Over Yonder is adventure by bicycle - and cyclocross racing on the side. Curated for travellers, explorers & outdoor aficionados. Brought to you by a thirst for the unknown.

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