Motu Trails - Novice Bikers Hit the Trails

Leaving our luggage at Motu Trails Limited’s base to be transported to our evening’s accommodation we set off.  The first leg of the Motu Trails, the Dunes Trail, gently rises and falls across dunes for 11 kilometres giving views of the Pacific Ocean crashing onto the long sandy beach.  Dotted along the way boards inform us of the area’s history and we stop for a read and drink under the blazing sun.

Signposts point us onwards to the Motu Road Trail but at a junction not far on we’re stumped.  With no cellphone coverage it’s lucky another cyclist appears to send us in the right direction.  We soon hit the one lane, gravel, Motu Road, graded intermediate and recommended to be ridden in the opposite direction due to its solid climbs.  But we’re tough…

Few cars pass, the odd one throwing up brown dust clouds for us to choke on.  From around ten kilometres on we all succumb to dismounting at various times and push the bikes up the never ending incline.  Spectacular views of valleys, hills and bush are revealed, silver birch leaves flashing in the slight breeze.  The road climbs through forest but there is infrequent shade and we stop at any we find.  We turn corners expecting the road to flatten out… but nope… more sodding hills. A ute passes.  “It gets steeper!” shouts the grinning passenger.

He’s right.

We rejoice in reaching Toatoa, consisting of a few farmhouses, 35 kilometres covered.  Our Toatoa Farmstay hosts welcome us with dinner.

Morning dawns.  Ingrid, worried by talk of steeper hills, is delighted to hitch a ride with Bob who’s taking our luggage to Motu.  We join her and are dropped off around 6 kilometres on, while she continues her ride.  An hour or so later at the Pakihi Track junction we find her enjoying her book. 

Continuing on the Motu Road Trail, pedalling up more rises, the road conditions worsen with large ruts and rocks here and there.  We spot Motu from above, the road winding down into the valley and thankfully coast to our accommodation, the Motu Community House, having covered 30 kilometres in around six hours.  

A swim would be bliss.  Sadly, the neighbouring school pool is locked up so we head to Motu Falls, a five kilometre flat ride.  Ha!  There’s no way down to the river the falls tumble into and anyway, the water is uninvitingly green.  We cycle back for showers to later discover there is a waterhole across the road.  If only there was a signpost.

Day three brings mist and sore backsides.  Food and bare essentials for our next overnight stay are packed, our remaining luggage left to be transported back to Opotoki.  The mist has burnt off when three of us hit the pedals to backtrack 17 kilometres to the Pakihi Track.  Ingrid waves as she passes, hitching another ride over the worst of the hills.  

The Pakihi Track is graded advanced and scaringly narrow with steep drop-offs alongside.  But we’re tough… or idiots.  At least it’s downhill and cool in the bush.  Halfway along we follow the stream.  One puncture and 23 kilometres later, we finally reach the swingbridge which we cross to discover a hideously steep, dirt road leading to Weka Wilds.  Aaargh!  

There, we sleep in Barry Crump’s restored hut, a view of deer skulls from the door.

The morning sun beats down as we cover the 21 kilometres back to Opotoki.  The two-lane gravel road, then flat tarseal, no challenge after what we’ve ridden.  Novices no longer.  Where next?

This great story is courtesy of Eleanor Hughes, who kindly provided us with this story and photos as part of Omega's Summer Holiday Writing Competition 

Cycle the Motu Trail
Gravel cliffs on the Motu Cycle Trail
Motu Trails bridge crossing
Motu Trails