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Home Forums Riding Where to ride New Zealand Top 2 Bottom Route – NZT2B DAY 2 – KOHUKOHU TO PAPAROA

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  • #32556
    • Bike: R1200GS, DL650, DRZ250, DRZ400S,
    • Rank: 1200cc Rider

    Main Route

    This ride takes you down the middle of the North Island, well away from the main roads except for a short section on SH12 through Waipoua Forest, which is a great ride anyway. There is an alternative if you don’t fancy the State Highway and want a bit more gravel.

    Starts with a nice ferry ride over the Hokianga to Rawene. There’s early morning coffee either in Kohukohu, or from a caravan at the ferry on the North side or several places in Rawene. A great place to sit and watch the world go by. Best to make sure you have enough fuel for the day before you leave Rawene, no more gas on this route until Paparoa

    Then it’s off toward the west coast on SH12 but turning off to head into the Waiotemarama Gorge Road to cut a corner of SH12 on a gravel road. This turning is just before Opononi and Omapere so if you have accommodation booked there then it’s not far to double back.

    Once through the Gorge you are back on SH12 and climb up in to the Waipoua Forest, home of Tane Mahuta, our largest remaining kauri tree. It’s not far off the road and quite a sight. Remember to wash your footwear on the way in and out.

    As you approach Donnellys Crossing the route turns east into Marlborough Road, which rises through the bush and then onto the old Kaikohe Road over crests with great views and eventually onto Waimatenui Road, which is a great piece of gravel running past forestry areas, farms (watch out for stock on the road – have not ridden this route yet without meeting one sort of beast or another) and alongside the Waimatenui River down to Twin Bridges. This is a great place for a stop and leg rest and even a swim on a hot day.

    From Twin Bridges south you are back on the sealed roads until Karaka Road, just of Tangowahine Valley Road. Then it’s great gravel on Somerville and Kirikopuni Valley Road down to SH14.

    After only 4kms on SH14 the route heads south again on Pukehuia Road and you are back on gravel on Omana Road. It’s just my opinion but this next section down to Paparoa and Maungatoroto is some of the best in the North Island. The roads are generally in good condition, the scenery is great with lots of ridges, native bush and rivers and streams beside the road. While you are enjoying this little gem of NZs backroads, those not aware of it will be following lines of logging trucks and/or milk tankers down SH1.

    The route turns east along Paparoa Station Road a minute or so short of Paparoa itself, where there’s a gas station, a café and a pub.

    Alternate Routes


    If you don’t mind missing out on the Waipoua Forest then you can turn east on SH12 after leaving Rawene and then turn south just past Taheke onto Punakitere Road, then Otaua Road, Wharepunga Road and Mataraua Road This last road skirts the Mataraua Forest and becomes Kiakohe Road as it crosses the Mangakahia River. Follow Kaikohe Road up to Waimatenui Road and then you are back on the route. All gravel after you turn off SH12 at Taheke.

    Twin Bridges to Paparoa

    If you are short of time or need a break from the gravel options, then stay on the sealed road from Twin Bridges to Maungatapere. (The Office is a nice coffee and lunch spot). Then find your way to the Paparoa Oakleigh Road and follow that down to SH12 at Paparoa. Fuel and pies at Maungakaramea. This is a very quiet alternative to SH1 and personally always take this route when travelling north. You miss some great gravel, though.

    Apart from the “big” towns like Opononi, Omapere, Dargaville and Paparoa there isn’t much in the way of accommodation on this section. There is a DOC campsite at Trounson Kauri Park, not far from Donnellys Crossing and a nice campground at Kaihu, a bit further south from Trounson on the same road. These are however not far from Kohukohu so if you stayed there at the end of Day 1 this would leave Day 2 a bit short.

    Another option is to head west on SH14 to Dargaville where you will find plenty of motel style accommodation. From here you can head back to the main route of look at some gravellicious loops through the Northern Wairoa area.

    • Bike: R1200GS, DL650, DRZ250, DRZ400S,
    • Rank: 1200cc Rider

    Day Loop

    Here is my suggestion for a little extra gravel while passing through this area.

    Northern Wairoa Day loop – 142kms assuming ending in Dargaville.


    It traverses some of the main route but it’s all worth doing more than once so enjoy!!

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