Monday, April 16, 2018

Taranaki Tunnel Tour - Part 1

Over the past month or so I'd been closely watching a thread on Adv Rider where a dodgy sounding bloke called Phreaky Phil was planning a ride taking in the Taranaki Tunnels with a bunch of his mates.  Funnily enough this appealed somewhat to this particular moto-bicyclist and I made plans to tag along - I even took a day off work!

With the ride starting in New Plymouth I decided to ride up on Friday afternoon and stay at my sister's the night but early on in the week the weather really changed and there was even tornado's in the 'naki!  What was it going to be like for us nutters?

As it turned out Friday wasn't too bad at first, just a few spits riding over to Whanganui.  Cruising further on up the road I decided to stop for fuel in Patea and then perhaps do some exploring inland from Hawera/Normanby.  Trouble was some bloke had dug up the forecourt of the garage in Patea so no fuel for me.

Naturally my low fuel alarm came on not long after Patea so I decided that I'd have to break my usual habit and stop in Hawera for fuel.  This ended up being a pretty good idea as it started raining with some vigour just out of Hawera and the fuel stop gave me the chance to put on my wets.

I think the rain cleared again not far out of Hawera but I was still glad to be a bit warmer.  The narrow country road out to my sisters was a little exciting as it was fairly slippery in places and had all sorts of wreckage sprinkled all over it.  My Brother-in-law also failed to run me over with his big tractor too so I was fairly happy about that as I parked up and went in to have afternoon tea with my nephews and niece.

Ride Day

I wasn't quite the first one up in the morning (someone had to milk the cows and it wasn't me) but after a quick brekkie, a sort out of gear and sticking my wets on just in case, I was on my way towards New Plymouth to meet up with the crew.

Gassing up, there were already a few keen ones lined up and waiting patiently for the rest to arrive and in the end we must have had nearly 30 of us including some keen pillions.  I of course got to meet Phreaky Phil and a lot of others but also managed to catch up with a few of the old BRR crew which was fantastic.

Check out the nice sunny day

Once everyone had arrived and had the chance to say gidday Phil got us under control and gave us the word on the plans for the ride.  While a few of us had the route loaded into our GPS's, we also ran the cornerman system and had a TEC - good stuff.

Leaving New Plymouth we took all manner of sealed back roads which got me fairly well lost even though I did have the route...just follow the pink line boyo...

As mentioned in one of the team's write-ups we got to ride over a very neat old bridge on Bertrand Road.  It even had bollards on it to prevent larger vehicles crossing it - the Tenere managed to squeeze through.  I wish I had time to flick on the camera but missed it.  Here's how it looks on Street view:

After a quick regroup it was on to our first tunnel on Otaraoa Road.  At this stage I was sitting behind Phil and there was no stopping for pictures so you'll have to wait for later for the video of the tunnel...

Being the #2 rider meant that sooner rather than later I was going to be corner man and this happened at the intersection of Otaraoa and Tarata Roads.  Some not so quick thinking meant that I was able to get just about everyone on camera as the rode past - shame I was pointing the way and not straight at the riders...

Continuing along Tarata Road we encountered some nice twisty tarmac before finally hitting some nice gravel for the run to the second tunnel.  Here's a little of the action as I sit behind Wayne and another rider.  Shortly after the video ends I managed to squeeze past for a little fun...and then get passed myself by a big Husky...

Tunnel number 2 was just up the road a bit on Mangaoapa Road and this time around we stopped for a few pics and to watch a tractor towing a big ole stock trailer carefully through the tunnel - it was a tight fit...

Do you see the light?

After this quick photo op we hit the road again and made our way to Stratford for a late morning tea break.  I got to be cornerman again and managed to snap off a few quick snaps of some of the riders on my crappy little point and shoot.  There were one or two of us...

Gosh, that's a nice bike!

Big Husky

Here they come!

Stephen missing half of his front wheel...

Outta my way!

KTM supertanker chasing down a wee Trumpy

Nev looking a bit blurry

AT riding TEC looking good
After our refreshments we followed our fearless leader East out of Stratford and took in some more windy sealed roads both on and off the Forgotten Highway until we hit the next bit of gravel on Mangaehu Road.

At Makahu and just short of Tunnel number 3 we stopped for another quick regroup.

Tunnel country

I believe that it was somewhere along here where Night Falcon took a pretty damn fine photo...

Can't let Nev get away on me...
Tunnel #3 ridden we popped out onto the Forgotten Highway again before turning off again and heading towards familiar country...

I got to play cornerman again too...

Disappearing Supertanker

Probably my favourite shot of the day...

Friendly Bemwar rider

Can't seem to get a decent pic of Stephen for some reason...

My camera needs glasses...

BMW make Supertankers too

And still they keep coming...

Not far up the road we entered tunnel number 4 or perhaps it was #2...

Phew, it takes a bit of writing this and Nev says that's enough for tonight...

Nice one Nev!


  1. Excellent Andrew- thanks for taking the trouble- good stuff

  2. That's a big group ... surprised you had the chance for so many phot-ops.

  3. Very nice write-up Andrew - almost makes me keen on an Adv bike! On the IAM social rides, we use the cornerman process with a TEC - the group can make good progress that way without losing anyone.

    1. Just do it Geoff - you'll love it.

      PS: nearly everyone on the ride had some grey (even me now) so you'd fit in. I'm sure that one of the riders on a DR250 had quite a few years on you...

  4. I am surprise you had so many people show up. Sometimes it is hard to do that large of a group ride, but it looks as though you were well organized.

    I like that you have so many tunnels too. We don't see many around here unless on the major highways.

    1. Yes, well organised with the cornerman system working well. We tended to spread out a bit but the cornermen all did their jobs well and nobody was in too much of a hurry.