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
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,
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.