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Ride Reports

The road to the track is called Old Maratoto rd and it is 15.5km from the intersection at Kopu. Old Maratoto road is in a little settlement. Follow that until you cross a concrete ford, turn left and then left again when you find Wires road.

Ended up being 3 of us, AJ and his mate Calvin and I. Unfortunetly AJ got of work late so I tried to scout out the parking area beyond Wires rd to no avail. While trying to find cell phone coverage to text instructions I pulled off to the side of the road and drove straight into a hidden concrete pipe which destroyed my left front tyre, so it was on with the space saver and then down to the carpark on Wires rd which is where I have always left from on past visits. The fee is paid at the top of Wires rd and it is only $5.00.
Note that both the website and signs at the entrance and around the track say that the tracks are closed, yet on ringing the cell phone number before leaving AK the message says the track is open. The signs have been up for a long time and are covered with cob web's and I doubt that the website is updated very often either. So phone first and take that as the more likely correct update.
After waiting for a long time and gearing up I was just about to venture off on my own when AJ and Calvin finally showed up. They had gone beyond Wires road per earlier instructions looking for a starting point and had failed to get (or read) updated instructions. Cell phone coverage is sketchy or non existant.

We cruised up the gravel road towards the track slowly so as not to annoy residents with dust or noise. We passed about a 1/2 dozen houses and then onto the track. We were always aware that we may run into other users so were cautious around corners. We never saw another person or vehicle.

A few places were marked closed, trees growing but we explored a few off shoots from the main track that were open, most were dead ends. One that looked interesting and challenging with some larger rocks going up hill we decided that we would challenge later after exploring some easier options to warm up. Remember us guys are not used to riding rocks so this seemed like a good option. Unfortunatley AJ had to be back in the city for his old ladies birthday so time was a bit against us and we did not get back to this part, but we will look at it again some other time no doubt.

So we made our way to the Tairua river but instead of exploring further due to our time restraints we went straight onto the motorcycle loop to Maratoto road and back to the starting point. The walking estimate was 3.5 hours (I guess it was a walking estimate, I figure it would actually take longer than that) and it started of reasonably challenging with some ruts deep enough to hang your swingarm on and some large rocks that had taken a bashing and were bashing the frame rails under the bike. We tried to take it easy because we did not want to hole the crank cases but you really had to commit and keep the momentum going becuase if you stopped it was quite a slippery hard surface and you would often just spin or get caught up on the loose rocks or get caught in a rut. The slick off camber rock bed was a bit tricky in places. A couple of times I muffed it and started to blow but got going again only to never really recover because we were pushing the pace due to the time constraints. Also there were some good views that we had only brief glimpses of because we could not afford the time to stop. AJ wanted to be back at his truck in 45mins, but it took us about 1hour 20 to make it back following the motorcycle loop.

The descent with the boulders was quite challenging because it was really steep in places and put a lot of load on your arms trying to hold yourself up. Once commited there was no turning back and it would be practically impossible to return the way you came.
Calvin got a stick caught inside his radiator shroud which broke. I got the same stick caught under my boot and it almost lifted me off the bike while my front wheel was trying to negotiate its way down the steep drops.

I was the least fit of us three and I was dragging the chain a bit and getting tired from the constant descending. Towards the end you cross the river 4 or five times.
With a bit more fitness I reckon we could of cleaned the lap out in an hour. But I also think that I would have enjoyed the ride more if we could have taken more time to recover after muffing it, just a 30sec breather to regain composure and ride like we should instead of just hammering stuff to get to the end. And take time to enjoy views etc. The other guys got a bit more of a breather while they waited for me. Because I was last I got no rest.
And I reckon anymore than 3 riders would not have been a good idea because the progress would have been slower. 3 is a good number because if one rider falls and hurts himself one can stay with him while the other goes for help. Also there is a gate a few km's from the end and if that had been closed and locked it would taken 3 riders to lift the bikes over it.

So we eventually got back ok. No where did any of us need assistance from another rider, and other than Calvin's broken radiator shroud and his broken helmet peak we had no damage to any of the bikes. I was expecting at least a dent or two in the exhaust chambers on our 200EXC's but no dents occured. Only the Kawasaki sustained damage which could of happened to any bike. Small bore 2 strokes are ideal for this track. I would not like to ride a 450 diesel around there or a MX gearbox. And I think the fork protrusion on a KDX would cause major issues on this track with the lower fork tube hooking up on ruts and rocks and possibley sending you flying on the steep descents.

All up we had only been gone about 2 hours, but it felt like more. It only took about a half tank of gas to do what we did so with more time the option is there to do a heap more exploring. Its not fast riding, more technical.

Even with the dry weather it was quite slippery in places. With the expected rain this weekend I'm glad we went when we did. Although AJ is keen to return when its wet and slick. He reckons we ride this track one day, camp out somewhere or stay in a little town, drink piss and cause havoc and then hit Thompsons or Neasville or some other track the next. Perhaps if we get more weather like we have had this summer over the next month I could be keen.

So be warned, it does take some experience and fitness to complete this track like we did. But the main loop up to Tairua river is not challenging at all and anyone would be capable of riding this, but thats only a small part of the trails and would not really be worth the effort and drive. They have done a lot of work to the main track. It used to be a lot more challenging than what it now is. The motorcycle loop is a lot more of a challenge. If you can get around Riverhead in the wet you should be up to it though. Just keep the momentum going.

Good luck if you take it on.