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All Roads Should Lead To Whangamomona

All Roads Should Lead To Whangamomona

Forget ‘All Roads Should Lead To Rotovegas’ it should be ‘All Roads Should Lead To Whangamomona’. This could be the holy grail of cycling in New Zealand. But our adventure starts in Waitomo.

After a relatively easy drive from Auckland to Waitomo, we arrived in the rain, and with more forecast. We parked up outside the I-sight, and headed off along Fullerton Rd towards Piopio. It’s a pretty steady climb out of Waitomo, but made more challenging by the rain that steadily increased throughout the morning. Increased to full-scale storm. It got to the point where the rain smashed the face like little mines exploding on impact.

The scenery in the dry would be amazing, but in a torrent of rain was less so. We persevered, only stopping to put rain jackets on. Arriving in Piopio, some 40km travelled, one of us had started to feel the effects of the freezing rain. We stopped at the only cafe open. A swift cup of tea, and re-evaluation of our journey, and we were back on the road heading towards Aria.


Aria, this is where our journey took a twist. The small quaint village/town (depends on where you come from) is all but a handful of houses and an old post office. Riding is supposed to be an adventure, right? Well, from Aria it certainly became that. Shortly after town we headed along Ohura Rd. From Google maps the surface, mainly gravel, looked great. Mind you, most roads look great on Google maps.

So from Aria we headed south, and turned left at the bifurcation of Ohura and Matiere Road. Shortly after joining this road life turned to shit. Imagine, if you will, cycling up a hill on gravel, only to find that going down hill would be slower than going up. The gravel turned to wet cement, at least that’s how it felt. Now, we had 22km of this to wade through. Doesn’t sound like a like, but at less that 10kph it felt like an age. Were it not for going up hill so rapidly, then we’d have spend 2 hours wading through it.

The wet cement gravel wasn’t our only problem. We had just suffered our first puncture, shortly followed by the second. We managed to fix the punctures. Onwards we rode. By now we were heading for the sleepy hollow that is Ohura. And by the time we reached there we’d had another 3 punctures. I could sense that we were starting to feel a little low.


The hustling metropolis of Ohura, it is not. A main street that has seen better days, it’s almost abandoned, except for one small caravan that sold coffee, muffins and scones. This was a saviour. With less than 50km to go, Ohura is a place not to miss. It reminded us as a small rural midwest American town, only less people.

The Caravan café owner was suggesting that the town was going off. Apparently it was in the middle of a property bubble. Even claiming that the shop just along the road was selling for $200,000. Now, the said shop wasn’t even open. Nor did it look as though it had been open this last century. And if it had been open this century they must have walked around the cobwebs as to try and not disturb the spiders etc. You know what country folk are like.

After coffee and cake, we are back on the road. The last stretch before Whangamomona contained just 16km of gravel. Our fingers were crossed, as was everything else. Being 3 males, that was easy to do. Our main fear was that the next lot of gravel would be like our first. And shortly after doing the Forgotten Highway 43, we discovered it was hard pack. Not just some sloppy mess.

Onwards to Whangamomona

The road to hell

Half way through the last section of gravel, disaster struck. Another puncture. It was as if the tyre wasn’t seating properly on the rim. As if it were sliding under the tube. Not all the way around the rim, but for at least 20%. We stopped to fix it. All the while we were being absolutely ravaged by sandflies. Now if you’re not familiar with them, think of the bite of a mossie, but twice as bad. Now if it ended there it’d all be over in 20 minutes. But these fuckers have the sorest of bites. There’s a delay onset of itchiness. Usually peak itchy during the night of day after. They’re the only thing I advocate agent orange for. I love the smell of dead sandflies in the morning.

After the feast of sandflies, and fixing of punctures, we cruised all the way to Whanga, as we liked to call it at this stage of the ride. Hell, we were almost locals. We’d given the region our blood, what more could they want? A lot, as it turned out.

The rain continued to pour, the sun refused to shine. Yet we’d arrived in Whanga in one piece. No emergency plan activated. Oh yeah, it pays to have a plan. We didn’t, but do now. It involves making sure you have enough tubes. That the bus timetable is downloaded. That you all know that at the end of the day it’s dog eat dog. Nah, only kidding, it’s the first one to the bar that doesn’t buy the beers.

WhangamomonaThe forgotten highway 43 road to hell

This is where all roads should lead. After 2 good climbs. 160 km of grinding, no, not Grindr. We’d finally made it. Now if the weather had played ball, this adventure would have been awesome. The scenery could’ve been sublime. There’s apparently so much to see. This is on the proviso that it’s not pissing with rain.

The Whangamomona Hotel, a story in itself. For this is the archetypal New Zealand, or as we say here, Kiwi pub. It hasn’t changed since it opened. Probably even serves the same beer and food. Both of which were great.

We arrived, both wet and hungry, and dying for a beer. two of which were sunk before we’d even had the chance to check in. The staff were simply amazing. The lady who runs this joint was a delight. She ran a tight ship. Stayed up until last orders, and was up to serve breakfast. Just the type of person you want running a place like this.

All showered and dressed. Only to discover that our bike packing bags weren’t waterproof enough for the journey we’d endured. A wet t-shirt and shorts for dinner. Not ideal, but it’s all part of the adventure.

After we’d eaten we just felt like sleeping. Off the the rooms, both tidy and clean. Head hit the pillow. Out like a light.

The next morning

The next morning we were up bright as buttons, all by seven AM. There was breakfast, and especially coffee, already being served. We gathered around to discuss what our plan of attack would be. We had 2 tubes and gas between us. Then someone mentioned that we had another puncture to contend with. FUCK, fuckedy, fuck fuck! So now we were down to just 1 tube and gas between 3 of us. Something had to give. But all of this was to be decided after coffee.

We talked about asking the patrons of the hotel if they were heading back our way. I left the table in need of being able to clean my teeth, and on my return the others had sorted it. We were catching the bus at 10. A bus, but we were in the middle of nowhere, on a Sunday, with no wifi or cellphone coverage. What sort of bus!

As it turned out, it was a Forgotten World Adentures bus. And it was taking us, and 3 bikes, all the way to Tauramanui. Someone was truly looking out for us. And all they asked for was a donation. We were extremely lucky. But our adventure didn’t end there. Oh no, why would it!


After arriving in Tauramanui, we search for the railway station. Knowing that there was a train that ran on Sundays. See, in New Zealand, we have one train that runs up and down the country on alternate days. And yes, today it was heading to Auckland. Except, today it wasn’t stopping at Tauramanui because no one was getting off. Are you fucking kidding me. Just because no one is getting off it won’t stop. We what about those that want to get on!

We did manage to get on a bus. But even that was touch and go with 3 bikes in tow. But the beauty of the bus is, and you’d never believe it, but it stopped 5 meters from our cars. What a beauty. What a result. And so with that, and yes it was still raining, we managed to pack the car and be home by 6:30pm. Now that’s what adventure riding is all about.

Definitely do it, and don’t bypass staying at the hotel.



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