Friday, June 11, 2021

Murupara Meanderings Part 1

Last weekend was a long weekend and those are purpose designed for getting out for a decent ride.  And so, we had to and now I'd better waffle on about it...

Initially we had big plans for eating up all three days and covering some serious ground but in the end we dialed it back to two days so that we could leave some excitement for another day.

An early start planned for Saturday morning meant that the dreaded alarm clock didn't get turned off and I was nearly ready to go when Colin rolled up at just past 6:30am.  Luckily he needed a caffeine top up so I had a bit of time to finish organising myself and gearing up for a slightly chilly start.

Crossing over the Saddle the sun was slowly getting up after its winter morning lie in and we had a neat view of a foggy morning in Woodville.

Someone already having fun early into our adventure

So yeah, it was a little chilly once we dropped down into Woodville but this just got us warmed up semi-used to a bit of a chill before the main event...

After a quick stop at Dannevirke for fuel, we trundled up SH2 and onto a much cooler SH50.  I had my heated grips up as high as 75% (where I usually don't go above the first setting - 40%) and was trying to keep all my fingers tucked in out of the cold.  It was definitely cold enough for us to need to keep an eye out for frost on the side the road (plenty of that) and use that to warn us of potential ice.  

I was also keen to check the temperature on the dash but didn't want to take my hand off the hot grips to push the button - yeah, it was cold.  I eventually manned up and did press the button but the lowest temperature I saw was 3 degrees and I know from past experience that the gauge reads high (1200cc heater near temp probe).  Colin saw lower than that and had ice warnings come up so it was reasonably chilly alright.

It warmed up once we got closer to the Bay but by Taradale we needed a bit of a thaw out so managed to find a cafĂ© for a coffee and a bakery to pick up some supplies for lunch later on up the road.  The coffees disappeared very quickly.

Another short stint got us to Bay View where we topped up the tanks early as we were heading into the middle of nowhere and you can never have too much fuel when you're out exploring there.  The next little sprint got us out over the hill and down into Tutira where I decided that we needed to try and get a decent picture of the lake.  Not the best photo spot but hey, it shows we were there.

Yes, it is actually winter...

Further on up the road, just past some of the best sweepers in the North Island, we hit Raupunga where we turned off SH2 to explore what turned out to be some simply stunning roads through to Tuai and then the Waikaremoana Road.

Putere Road starts off as some nice windy seal that flows through pine forest until all of sudden you pop out into more open farm country with absolutely stunning views.  You need to keep an eye on the road though as when we went through there were goats everywhere, including one that leapt off the bank just as I slithered past him on a dodgy bit of seal.

The last time I'd been through this way was on the V-Strom with the BRR and it was a tad drizzly so I completely missed this next amazing view!

Yep, a stunning lake hidden out in the middle of nowhere!

Lake Rotonuiaha

It turns out that following Putere Road further will take you past another couple of smaller lakes and along the river until the road runs out - we may have to investigate further...

Just down the hill a bit the road became a bit more shady so the tar was a little slippery in places but that didn't last as the tar soon ran out and put us onto the more grippy gravel as we turned off onto Waireka Road.

The gravel through here was in fantastic condition - a far cry from the soup last time:

Soup, or is it porridge?

All through here we seemed to be either climbing or descending and after a neat set of switchbacks (checkout the video with a mess on one corner where a logging truck lost his load) we dropped down onto the bridge over the river.

Carrying on through some really stunning country it was wasn't hard to find a place to stop and take pictures but if we wanted to get anywhere we had to try and limit ourselves...

Hopefully the video can give even more of an impression of just how good this riding was.

The end of that video and end of Waihi Road spat us out onto the Waikaremoana Road.

Our trip through to the lake was nearly as good as the ride from Raupunga with more great gravel and little traffic.  The road was also a tad windier and it does pay to watch the bits that look slippery - sometimes they are...

At the lake it was time for that lunch we'd bought in Taradale and it was just marvelous to discover that the contents of my thermos hadn't completely ruined our tucker.  No coffee for us though...

One thing that is great about the ride through here is that you really get to enjoy some long stretches of gravel but the closer you get to Murupara the more open the road becomes and there's even the odd sealed section.  And you always have to watch out for horses...

Here's just a "little" bit of the ride:

In Murupara we stopped for fuel and then had a bit of a hunt to find our shortcut to Taupo.  The shortcut is on forestry roads and to say that these are good is an understatement.  While the first bit was seal, when the road finally went to gravel there was no need to lift off at all.  Unfortunately I couldn't possibly publish the video so you'll have to make do with some screen grabs...

Oh, alright, here's some video from the last slow section:

The forestry roads spat us out onto the Taupo Road and from there we cruised through to Turangi and then over the hill (mind the ice grit) to a chilly Taumarunui where we parked up for a chilly night in a chilly motel.  At least the Thai tucker was good and we had enjoyed a simply superb days riding!  Winter riding doesn't get better than this!


  1. Nice ride indeed! Haven't been to Murapara for ages but have never liked the vibe there. The 7km straight between Murapara and Waiotapu has also seen my old Blackbird flat out in top gear on two occasions. I'll say no more than that :-) .

    1. Hi Geoff, you demon! We didn't take that road but the Connie is aware of it...

  2. Looks like fun ride Andrew, although riding in those cold morning temps isn't ideal.

    1. Definitely fun. Cold is a state of mind...well, maybe...