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General Forums => General Car Discussion => Feature Articles => Topic started by: more_fasterer on 06 January, 2012, 12:47:22 PM

Title: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: more_fasterer on 06 January, 2012, 12:47:22 PM
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My 9 greatest NZ roads
By some guy with a Primera
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The Member of the Month feature is on holiday for January, so instead I've written an article on the 9 roads that I think are NZ's finest.  I'd be very surprised if anyone agrees with me on all 9, so please chip in with the roads you think are the greatest; I could easily have written an article about my top 15 or 20 NZ roads but that would be testing my patience, and yours!
Hopefully this article will, at least, whet your appetite to go and explore the fine roads we have available to us this summer.  Or even plan that trip across Cook Strait!




9.  Mangamuka Gorge, Far North (SH1)

Who would've thought that SH1 could be so damn entertaining?  The northernmost road of these 10 runs between Kawakawa and Kaitaia, the gorge itself being 40-odd km's long of constant 2nd and 3rd gear corners & constant direction switches means that this road is not the best choice if your passenger gets carsick easily!  From Kawakawa, you have the choice of taking the more open and picturesque SH10 through Doubtless Bay, or stay on SH1 for more fun (that really does seem like a backward statement!).  The Mangamuka range is NZ's lush subtropical rainforest at its finest and thickest - leave the road here and you may not be discovered for some time.  The road surface is surprisingly good, and whenever I've been through there I've found little in the way of traffic (except for a local in an Evo 6, ahem).  Travelling north, the road gets more interesting when you pass the upper reaches of the Hokianga harbour at Rangiahua until it ascends into sheer direction-switching lunacy, peaking at a summit of 733m, and then coming down again in the same fashion.  If you're planning a trip up to 90-Mile Beach or Cape Reinga, this is the way to go!

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8.  Woodcocks Road / West Coast Road, Kaipara

This road runs 27km between Warkworth and SH16 near the Kaipara harbour, and is my local favourite.  Cruising out of Warkworth, the road is pretty straight and open, with the odd highway patrolman hiding in driveways on the straights.  Don't worry, you won't have to exercise restraint for long, the long, fast corners are a good warm-up for what lurks beyond the railway crossing (make sure you stop and look, your suspension / arse will thank you!).  Over the railway line, the road ascends into a tight & tricky sequence of corners through a forested hill, peaking in a near-switchback right-hander with a 25km/h sign that will have you testing the limits of your brakes.  On the way down, there are plenty more tight & twisty corners until the forest clears and you're back into typical kiwi farmland territory.  The road continues to throw entertaining sequences of corners all the way to SH16, where if you're keen for more, turn right and head for Wellsford via the best that SH16 has to offer.

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7.  Whaanga Road, Waikato

Is this the world's greatest gravel road?  Quite possibly - a lot of WRC drivers seem to think so.  More commonly known to rally drivers & spectators as the Whaanga Coast stage, it is 30km of beautifully laid-out gravel road in some stunning west coast scenery.  The road runs around the Mt. Karioi National Forest and follows the coast north to Raglan, ending at the surfer's haven of Manu Bay.  For some odd reason, kiwi road builders seem to make exceptional gravel roads - well-cambered, fast and predictable, and this is the best of the bunch.  Just don't drive it after heavy rain.

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6.  The Rimutaka Hill Road, Wellington (SH2)

A frequently-mentioned road on the news, this is 20km of twisty madness that also serves as a major traffic route.  There is spectacular fun to be had driving this road when traffic is light, just be very careful to keep within your (and the road's) limits as it is a bloody long way down if you fall off!  25, 35 and 45km/h corner signs are a frequent sight on this road, and it is by & large well surfaced and grippy.  Just don't expect it to be much fun if it's the middle of winter, as the road climbs to 533m and frequently cops snow in the middle of the year.  You do end up climbing quite high, and then losing all that height again - so that means on the downhill run, you are doing repeated heavy braking into slow corners; be wary of poorly maintained brakes (particularly on that shitty Falcodore tailing you cos there's no way he'll be outrun by a bloody Nissan) and always be prepared for a car on its roof around the next corner.

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5.  Arthur's Pass, South Island (SH73)

This is another commonly-known road, being the main route between Christchurch and the West Coast.  Heading west, the long, flat straights so common in Canterbury come to an end after Springfield, where you begin to climb into the Alps and start negotiating some pretty tasty corners.  While you're not getting tight corners frantically being thrown at you like, say, the Rimutaka Hill road, you're still gonna be kept busy (and entertained) by the road.  The key is that it goes on for a lot longer - it's 160kms from Springfield to Kumara Junction, where the road intersects with SH6; so being able to drive at a higher average speed and at a lower level of intensity helps.  Of course, there is also some fantastic scenery to indulge in as you cross the Southern Alps, but do bear in mind that this road is often closed in the winter.

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4.  The Milford Sound Road, Fiordland (SH94)

SH94 is the only way in & out of Milford Sound, which means you get to drive it twice, which is definitely a good thing as you will invariably be staring at the scenery on the way in.  The road meanders alongside Lake Te Anau for about 30kms, then the scenery gets progressively more beautiful as Fiordland arrives, with high, snow-capped peaks (even in January) plunging down into impossibly smooth and clear lakes.  You end up driving along a U-shaped valley with some ace corners laid down, with other U-shaped valleys branching off it.  Then, you're waiting at the traffic lights of the Homer Tunnel, playing in the snow and hoping the pesky Kea don't rip your wiper blades off!  The tunnel itself is a surprisingly steep descent, and pretty slippery to boot... plus the road surface is shit.  It's quickly forgotten when you emerge from the tunnel and are met with a gorgeous winding descent of smooth, sticky tarmac into Milford Sound itself.  Get there, check in to the backpackers, and spend a night revelling in the unbelievable beauty of the place.  Then, get up and do the 118km return journey.  Note that the BP in Te Anau only has 91 and 95, and the gas pump in Milford Sound only has overpriced 91.

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3.  Waioeka Gorge, Opotiki - Gisborne (SH2)

Another section of SH2 that is bloody good fun, and the complete antithesis to the Waikato section of SH2!  Opotiki and Gisborne are 142km apart and the road entertains for the entire journey, but it's the 62km gorge section between Waioeka and Matawai that will really have you relishing your car's handling.  The road through the gorge is typically wide and well-surfaced, with the odd passing bay thrown in for good measure.  The road also has plenty to choose from in terms of corner speeds, unless you're hell-bent on losing your license as, for the bulk of the gorge, you will be struggling to achieve the speed limit.  If you want to get picked off for doing 111km/h then there are cop-infested straights at the Gisborne end.  Sod that... by the time you've thrown the car around for the 62km's of gorge you'll be quite content to relax for a bit!  Or maybe that's just me...
Like many of the roads in this article, the Waioeka gorge can be a lot less fun in rubbish weather & with the sometimes sheer hillsides rising up beside the road, rockfalls, slips and even flash waterfalls can be a possibility in heavy rain.

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2.  West Coast Road, Hokitika - Wanaka (SH6)

This is easily the longest stretch of road in this article, at 457km point-to-point.  But, hot damn, is it worth it!  Last time I checked, Hokitika & Greymouth both have 98 octane, unlike just about every remote place in the South Island.  The road doesn't actually follow the coastline all that much, but it is still so immersed in natural beauty and full of twists & turns and ups & downs that you simply won't care.  The road really increases in intensity between the Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, but fortunately it is wide, well-made and typically well-sealed for the entire journey.  The road then returns to the coast for the remainder of the run down to Haast, which is the furthest south you drive to on the west coast apart from Milford Sound.

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If you want to, spend a night at the backpackers in Haast (which is pretty much all there is of Haast) before continuing through the Mount Aspiring National Park the following day to reach Wanaka.  This section of road, normally known as the Haast Pass, will also provide a great workout for your arms and side muscles as you throw the car corner-to-corner.  Again, take the opportunity to pull over and gawp at the outstanding scenery on offer before you get too immersed in the road and find it's all behind you.  The road eventually emerges at the top of Lake Wanaka, at which point it's time to ease off, check out Mount Aspiring in the rear view mirror, and cruise along the lake until you reach Wanaka.  This road is an absolute must-do for any kiwi, just hope like hell it's not raining!

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1.  Crown Range Road, Otago

This road is, quite simply, the best road that I have ridden or driven on, anywhere in the world.  It runs from Queenstown to Wanaka and is the "short cut" between these two towns instead of the longer and much more boring SH6.  You turn off SH6 at the Arrow junction and are immediately faced with 15km/h switchbacks as the road clambers its way up the steep mountainside.  These are entertaining, but it's once you're past them that the real fun begins; the road then begins a series of 35 and 45km/h signed corners as it continues to cling to the side of the range, before turning towards Wanaka and crossing the range.  You're then presented with a sumptuous series of 35-65km/h signed corners that are all designed perfectly and, last time I checked, surfaced in smooth, grippy hotmix.

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The corners continue for the remainder of the 30km between the Arrow junction and Cardrona, gradually opening up as they do.  Last time I drove this road was on my bike, and I reached the famous Cardrona hotel with my heart pumping and a massive smile on my face.  The hotel is also, conveniently, a great place to stop and have a meal and a pint, and to contemplate whether you should turn round and do it all again, just for the hell of it!  The other option is a cruisy 25km to Wanaka on a pretty unremarkable road.  This road is very much a summer-only road if you want to fang it - it gets bloody icy in the winter and I've had a couple of heart-in-mouth moments when travelling at a VERY sedate pace.  Stupid ice... however, the area looks so beautiful when there's been a fresh snowfall that you probably won't mind.  Unless you crash.  So don't.

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Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Moles on 06 January, 2012, 12:56:25 PM
AHHHHH!!!

I've driven 5 of them including all the ones in the South Island. Will have to get up to Northland this summer and try those out too!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: NARacer on 06 January, 2012, 01:28:58 PM
Fantastic Kieran. You make me want to head on a South Island road trip!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: robbo on 06 January, 2012, 03:44:53 PM
Cool article, I can think of some to add later once I've had a proper read
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: chiccruiser on 06 January, 2012, 05:23:33 PM
Very awesome write up there Mr president! Thanks for the time & effort taken to write it.
Look forward to hearing other opinions on some awesome roads we do have out there beside the huge amount of poorly designed, badly sealed & rim destroying city roads we have!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Rabbit on 06 January, 2012, 06:20:09 PM
I just came back from Doubtless bay, Tokerau beach, great trip on SH10 and SH1 through....:)
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: NOGR1P on 06 January, 2012, 09:00:43 PM
thames - coromandel rd is one of my favourites well in  the offpeak season and scottman valley rd for a spirited drive
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: napman on 06 January, 2012, 11:33:52 PM
Wow those roads all blow my favourite out of the water, I'm going to make it my mission to take my car to at least one of the above
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: expletive on 06 January, 2012, 11:54:59 PM
I've been on all of them multiple times except for 3,7 & 8. Problem is i haven't driven any of them. :(
But they are wonderful roads to travel on. Scenery is breathtaking as well.

Now that i have a car that is well setup i intend to do more open road driving.

Very well written :)
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: robbo on 07 January, 2012, 11:31:00 AM
I can completely agree with the Crown Range Road and West Coast as I drove those on my honeymoon, a few years ago now. We drove from Franz Joseph all the way to Wanaka in one day and it was epic, I can still remember it today.  ;D ;D

I recon that this is a goodie too

Forgotten World Highway (SH48)  

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We did this years ago in my old P10 starting at the Stratford end. You know you are in for a serious drive when the a large sign on the way in, warns you that there is no gas for 150km. This road is truly in the middle of nowhere!

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A stop at the Whangamomona pub for a beer is must , but only have one, as the road gets serious from here on in. You need to have you whits about you, as it's mainly 3rd and 2nd gear cornering and I've never seen so much wildlife on the road, so things are always popping up and out at you. Besure not to take anyone who doesn't like the windies and this is sure to get them reaching for a paper bag!

It's probably the only road in NZ with it's own website, plenty to stop and look at if that's your thing.

http://www.windwand.co.nz/heritagetrail.htm (http://www.windwand.co.nz/heritagetrail.htm)
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Juleonska on 07 January, 2012, 04:01:30 PM
Awesome right up! I hope to be driving the crown range a fair few times this year, although it will deffinatly be in the heart of winter, so no fanging it for me...
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: base on 07 January, 2012, 07:05:37 PM
sdfh gbleg
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: madandy on 07 January, 2012, 10:34:48 PM
Fantastic Kieran! Done a couple of your picks...summit road across the Port hills is a favorite 'Tarmac rally' style blast for me
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Moles on 08 January, 2012, 07:37:08 PM
just dont expect to find bp98 up there anywhere

No BP 98 at Frankton BP anymore?
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Morcs on 09 January, 2012, 01:32:08 PM
How old russell road is overlooked i have  no idea  :o

like 90kms of constant twisties along beautiful coastline and not much traffic!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: more_fasterer on 09 January, 2012, 01:35:10 PM
Never driven it, always thought that I should... thanks Pete :)
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Morcs on 09 January, 2012, 03:32:30 PM
Never driven it, always thought that I should... thanks Pete :)

Dont drive it man, ride it. heaps better :)

I spent most of last week on it just wishing i was on my motard :D
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: BINKZ on 13 January, 2012, 10:55:14 PM
you missed the kawarua gorge..... that runs as an alternative to the crown range lol.
also an amazing drive.
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: chch_p10 on 19 January, 2012, 09:27:17 PM
crown range is amazing i do it fortnightly and it has some views buy being over 1km high you would expect that. juleon i wouldnt really wana do crown range in the winter is quite steep and a long way down

agree with andy summit road is mint for tarmac rally styles it sux cos its still closed >:(
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: gtircrazy on 26 January, 2012, 09:22:27 PM
Good write up mate. Nice read.
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: base on 26 January, 2012, 09:32:20 PM

[/quote]

No BP 98 at Frankton BP anymore
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: punkoutnz on 17 March, 2012, 05:08:54 PM
I have found a road that I have put on my list of roads I have to travel in my lifetime. It's called Atlantic road, located in Norway.
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The highlight being the Storseisundet Bridge which is this little gem...

(https://primeracarclub.co.nz/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.ning.com%2Ffiles%2FFHTEQ-PZVlPyAlDGQYnX91%2ASx-xSX9Dtkh8wj1vMuq825LHPcRABDLf2e08i21S%2A5BSG5qMHUW60G9-FRs8tmDY4gPbRDLUV%2FStorseisundetBridge..jpeg&hash=8ea9e0c4ccf67359bfeaa7a71cd07893)

Basically it's an 8km long road that twists in and around some islands located in Norway, the views are spectacular! Imagine driving that in your dream car!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Rutar on 17 March, 2012, 11:42:14 PM
woooooooooooohoooooooooooo go gizzayy!! i agree with our gorge, it is a epic place to really get to know your car thru and thru, fast and slow sections etc, love it, but then travelling south from here to napier is similar, love that road too! coming napier to gizzy has some really nice flowing corners and can do some fast times, did it 1 hour 45 in my evo in the rain, with a google map time of 2 hours 40!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: madandy on 18 March, 2012, 01:15:36 AM
I have found a road that I have put on my list of roads I have to travel in my lifetime. It's called Atlantic road, located in Norway.
(https://primeracarclub.co.nz/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F2.bp.blogspot.com%2F_qYqzMcoDiyk%2FTU6-9hvopDI%2FAAAAAAAAAEY%2F8cWQjCFoMy8%2Fs1600%2FAH02.JPG&hash=375b73459a98cf0415ae662f61706e80)

The highlight being the Storseisundet Bridge which is this little gem...

(https://primeracarclub.co.nz/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.ning.com%2Ffiles%2FFHTEQ-PZVlPyAlDGQYnX91%2ASx-xSX9Dtkh8wj1vMuq825LHPcRABDLf2e08i21S%2A5BSG5qMHUW60G9-FRs8tmDY4gPbRDLUV%2FStorseisundetBridge..jpeg&hash=8ea9e0c4ccf67359bfeaa7a71cd07893)

Basically it's an 8km long road that twists in and around some islands located in Norway, the views are spectacular! Imagine driving that in your dream car!

Dammit James my life just became more expensive!

woooooooooooohoooooooooooo go gizzayy!! i agree with our gorge, it is a epic place to really get to know your car thru and thru, fast and slow sections etc, love it, but then travelling south from here to napier is similar, love that road too! coming napier to gizzy has some really nice flowing corners and can do some fast times, did it 1 hour 45 in my evo in the rain, with a google map time of 2 hours 40!

Does you average speed work out legal?
I havent done this road but I hear its worth of doing more than 3 times :)
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Rutar on 18 March, 2012, 10:00:26 AM
Does you average speed work out legal?
I havent done this road but I hear its worth of doing more than 3 times :)
[/quote]

ummm yeaaa na it wasnt legal a, it was done a wee while ago, slowed down since then, at the time it was good, but you look back now and think it was a bit stupid, but then again it has been known possible to do it in a hour and a half in the dry. they have recently improved the road fitting a ne bridge over a gorge which saves a heap of time! and if you have ever been that way you'll know how narrow that gorge was as in parts if two trucks met they would touch, trucks had to call each other and basically stop to get thru, but this is the new bridge.
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: more_fasterer on 02 January, 2017, 10:02:05 PM
5 year bump for a lovely set of roads that you should target if you're doing a roadtrip this summer.

I've got another one to add... State Highway 60 between Riwaka and Takaka, a.k.a. the Takaka hill rd. I was fortunate to drive this in my Primera at the start of 2013 and it's a great road to exploit the inherent nimbleness of Primeras & Pulsars. It's a steep climb with seemingly endless 35 & 45km/h corners, followed by an equally steep descent, regardless of the direction of travel. Grab a bach for a few nights in Golden Bay and enjoy the area while you're at it.


What great NZ roads can you recommend?
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: PulsarGTI on 03 January, 2017, 12:37:12 PM
State Highway 60 between Riwaka and Takaka, a.k.a. the Takaka hill rd.

+1 on this, drove it in a diesel Santa Fe and it was still amazing! May well be on the detour hit list for the drive home from the National Meet.

Although the recent earthquake has made it into a main road and ruined it with heavy traffic, the back road between Culverden and Kaikoura is amazing. When (if) the coastal route re-opens, it will be well worth the extra half hour travel time if you're coming south down the east coast.  Plenty of 20km/h hairpin switchbacks up and down river valleys to keep your diff working hard!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: Brandon on 09 January, 2017, 03:18:36 PM
State highway 32 and Old Taupo Road around the back of Lake Taupo. Easily the best way to drive when travelling north or south. The roads are so smooth, nice and windy and is rarely any traffic.
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: madandy on 09 January, 2017, 05:23:09 PM
Between sh30 & sh5 through Ngakuru & Waikite Valley there are some gems ...
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: morrisman1 on 09 January, 2017, 10:57:04 PM
The crown range is certainly good, but why stop there. Start in Invercargill and drive to nelson up the west coast. In my eyes it is without a doubt the best drive in the country, the whole trip is a gem, not just little snippets.

Maybe we need a Queenstown based national meet to give everyone an excuse to drive it!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: robbo on 16 January, 2017, 08:59:54 PM
The crown range is certainly good, but why stop there. Start in Invercargill and drive to nelson up the west coast. In my eyes it is without a doubt the best drive in the country, the whole trip is a gem, not just little snippets.

Maybe we need a Queenstown based national meet to give everyone an excuse to drive it!

Here here. I've done the trip from Nelson down to Queenstown over a few days nearly 12 years ago and it was epic!
Title: Re: January 2012: My top 9 NZ roads
Post by: ElMatto on 25 May, 2017, 11:24:35 AM
Between sh30 & sh5 through Ngakuru & Waikite Valley there are some gems ...

There are some great roads there! 😀

No mention of the paraparas? (Wanganui to Raetahi) probably my favorite road. I did some silly silly times from Wanganui to where I slowed down in Turangi around 2011-2012 in a bone stock p10, National park roads are brilliant!