The Grand Route (North Island – 1,451 km)

For ideas on exactly how we should navigate the North Island, I’ve enlisted the help of The Kennett Bros. Nobody whom I know is better equipped than these lads to advise an intrepid traveler on how to traverse our lands. Their books are an essential resource for anyone with a bicycle and even half a sense of adventure.

The Kennetts have revealed that on November 1 this year they will be publishing a book on the Classic NZ Cycle Trails, which we will be using as the official guide during our ride. But for now they have given us some great ideas for how to get up the country.

It looks a little something like this…

Leg 9 – Wellington Carterton (135 km)

Wellington is the city that I called home for 5 years, which means a lot of my friends are there. We’ll be having a good old catch-up here, a lot of food and a good amount of rest. Following this, we’re also hoping to pick up a few cohorts to join us heading out of the capital.

With any luck, this day should be Saturday 19 January. Contact us if you like the look of the route and want to come along, as we’ll need to know how many people to make provisions for in Carterton.

When faced with the decision of whether to take State Highway 1 or State Highway 2 out of Wellington, you should always opt for State Highway 2. The former of the two is full of diversions and poor quality cycling road, but the latter simply involves surviving an initial stretch of motorway and then traversing Rimutaka Hill.

Having said that, we will be avoiding all the motorway we can, and instead banging up the Hutt River Trail from Petone for a more leisurely but less risky navigation of the valley.

Upon arrival in Upper Hutt, Mike Anderson – the proprietor of the fine bike store The Bike Hutthas (implicitly) promised us coffee to help get over Rimutaka Hill, so we’ll happily entertain him for a short spell.

The Rimutaka Rail Trail is how we’ll be getting over toward the Wairarapa – it’s a pleasant, easy climb all the way up the old train route to the summit. There’ll be KOM points on offer at the summit, owing mainly to the presence of fresh legs that we’ll be able to goad into competing for the honours.

Following the tunnel at the summit we’ll drop down through the Pakutarahi forest into Cross Creek on the other side. Arriving at Lake Wairarapa we’ll bear roughly North-East and head for State Highway 53 to take us to Martinborough. From Martinborough we’ll have some nice back roads – lovely, great expanses of idyllic touring terrain – to bring us in a round about way into Carterton.

At Carterton, my friend Sarah has promised us a lavish welcoming committee, so we’ll be looking forward to some R & R with whoever still remains from our departing group. The next day will likely see our cohorts turn back for Wellington, while we say our goodbyes and hit the road again.

Leg 10 – Carterton Porangahau (167 km)

The next phase of the ride sees us enter some legitimately back-country touring terrain. From Carterton we will shoot up State Highway 2 to Masterton, where we will shy from the main drag and instead bear North-East to head for some quiet, scenic roads.

Our itinerary looks like this: Carterton -> SH2 -> Masterton Te Ore Ore Bideford Rd Whangaehu Valley Rd Route 52 Wimbledon Rd Porangahau.

This leg will involve two regional transfers. Firstly on Route 52 we will cross from Wellington into Manawatu-Wanganui, and then, further on, the road between Wimbledon and Porangahau will signify our transfer from Manawatu-Wanganui into the Hawke’s Bay region.

Beyond this, it should simply be a rather pleasant day navigating some fine back roads.

Leg 11 – Porangahau  Titura (163 km)

This leg will see us finish off our caper of the back roads through the Hawkes Bay region and start our flirtations proper with State Highway 2.

We’ll pass through Waipukura, scooting along the State Highway to Waipawa where we’ll duck coastward to get off the main road to draw ourselves through Havelock North and in behind Hastings.

From here it’ll be a fairly standard run-in to Napier, where a buffet of some description hopefully awaits our rumbling tums.

Heading out of Napier, we jump onto State Highway 2 to make a push for the township of Tutira, where we’ll look to doss down.

Leg 12 – Titura Ruatahuna (176 km)

This day is a bit of a bigger one, but should still be very doable given the terrain and road surface.

We’ll head along State Highway 2 for a bit over 60km before turning into Awamate Rd to make a shortcut for Lake Rd (State Highway 38).

Once on Lake Rd, we have quite a stretch ahead of us, but it promises to be a beautiful ride. The road will follow the Waiau River before bearing North briefly. Following this, it will pick up the Waikaretaheke River for a spell before delivering us to Lake Waikeremoana.

We’ll circumnavigate the lake and pass through the remaining parts of the Uruwera National Park before making a regional transfer from Hawke’s Bay into Bay of Plenty.

From here it’ll be a trot along Waikeremoana Rd into Ruatahuna for the night.

Leg 13 – Ruatahuna Rotovegas (115 km)

This leg is a little shorter, but once we arrive in Rotorua I’ve been consigned to a quick lap of the Whakarewarewa Forest with my friend, and fellow single speed advocate, Garth to celebrate that special feeling that off-road riding provides.

So we’ll head out of Ruatahuna on the aptly named Ruatahuna Rd for about 30km toward Fletchers Settlement Rd, until the road turns into Old State Highway 38.

We’ll cruise along here for just under 60km until we hit State Highway 5. At this junction we’ll hop onto the Pathway of Fire for what the NZ Cycle Trail site promises to be “…some of the most unique geothermal sites in the world. Riders will be able to experience outstanding landscapes, pristine lakes and exotic forests as well as significant historical and cultural sites…”

This will lead us past Lake Rotomahana, Lake Tarawera and The Buried Village to Rotorua, roughly 30km away.

Easy peasy.

The rest of the day will be assigned to extra-curricular activities and a visit to Gengy’s – one of the finest buffet restaurants that I’ve encountered in our fair country.

Leg 14 – Rotovegas Waihi (116 km)

Maybe a little on the bland side, given the succession of State Highways, but there looks to be little option aside from State Highway 36 to get us out of Rotorua. Perhaps Pyes Pa Rd will give us a little respite at the tail end.

Following State Highway 36 we’ll cut across to State Highway 2 via Cambridge & Moffat Rds to continue on our way.

From here, she’s a fairly simple ride along Tauranga West Rd (SH2), Katikati North Rd (also SH2) and finally – making a regional transfer from Bay of Plenty into Waikato – Tauranga Rd (you guessed it, SH2) to arrive at Waihi for the night.

The next day, however, should be a bit more exciting.

Leg 15 – Waihi Manukau City (170 km)

This day is a bit of an epic, but if the pins need it we’ll follow it up with a good ol’ fashioned rest day in The City of Sails.

For this leg, we’ll be taking in the Hauraki Rail Trail – yet another great feature of the NZ Cycle Trail. As you’ll see from the website, we’re set to enjoy some spectacular scenery and all the pioneering history that we can fill our boots with.

We won’t push all the way to Thames, as the town isn’t that exciting, but rather we’ll bear West when we hit State Highway 25 to head around The Firth.

Following this we’ll shy from the main route and take Front Miranda Rd to hug The Firth a little more. We’ll then hop onto Miranda Rd, which will mark our transfer from Waikato into the Auckland region and hold the road as it becomes Mangatangi Rd.

This should deliver us to State Highway 2 where we’ll nip across to Pinnacle Hill Rd. From here we’ll hit Paparata Rd and, finally, Great South Rd to deliver us to Manukau.

Leg 16 – Manukau City Dargaville (140 km)

According to Jonathan Kennett, Auckland now has a great network of cycle paths that make navigating the city rather pleasant. Not what I was expecting!

The following legs were inspired by the upcoming Classic NZ Cycle Trails book that The Kennett Bros will be issuing on November 1 2012. The below is a cursory summary to give you a rough idea of our route, the Kennetts’ descriptions are not only a lot more thorough, but they contain lists of vital resources and attractions contained along the way.

We’ll meander the 20km or so into town to have a good meal before making our way out to the suburb of Helensville. From here we’ll be heading across the harbour to Poutu Point at the tip of the Kaipara Heads to begin our navigation of the East Coast of the Far North. The harbour trip will carry us across our final regional transfer of the ride as we head into Northland.

From Poutu Point, the 65km road to Dargaville promises to be a pleasant ride full of possible diversions through some spectacular New Zealand scenery. We’ll be taking our time through here and looking to simply enjoy the surroundings.

Leg 17 – Dargaville Rawene (108 km)

This leg will carry us along some of the more remote and beautiful landscapes that New Zealand has to offer – the unique West Coast of Northland.

Heading out of Dargaville we’ll take back roads to avoid the traffic and make our way up toward the Waipoua Forest, taking in the beautiful Kauri and quiet touring roads.

From here we’ll pass through lush rainforest, making our way to Rawene, on the lovely Hokianga Harbour.

We’ll rest up here and enjoy the tranquillity of Rawene, as tomorrow we’ll make our final approach to Cape Reinga to tie this adventure off.

Leg 18 – Kohukohu Cape Reinga (161 km)

From Rawene, we’ll take a ferry across the Hokianga Harbour to Kohukohu. From here we’ll enjoy yet more touring bliss before arriving in Ahipara.

From Ahipara we’ll jump onto 90 Mile Beach, which is really only 55 miles. One rumour (according to Wikipedia) has it that they labelled it such because it took horses 3 days to traverse. They were working on the knowledge that horses could generally knock out 30 miles per day before needing rest, but they didn’t factor in the slower surface of the sand.

Either way, the surface is fine for bicycles and should be a magic traverse.

From the Northern end of 90 Mile Beach we’ll head for Te Paki, where we’ll bear North-West for our last leg through to Cape Reinga, which awaits just over 15km away along State Highway 1.

Once we arrive here, the occasion will call for a hearty high five and a few happy snaps, because our 2,548 km adventure will be done and dusted.


A huge thanks really is owed to The Kennett Bros for providing us with a lot of the information that appears above. State Highway 1 is a boring and dangerous way to traverse the country, so we’re indebted to the Kennetts for giving us something more exciting to work with. Keep an eye open for the upcoming Classic NZ Cycle Trails book, as it looks set to be a fantastic guide for how to get around the country.

Cheers, lads.


About Youthride

Youthride is, to put it simply, an adventure, undertaken to promote and support a wonderful charity - Youthline NZ. To learn more about the ride, you should find what you need in the blog archives at If you wish to offer the support of yourself or your business, you may contact Tom via to discuss directly.
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