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Gisborne to Wairoa
Often it can be confusing trying to find the best way out of (or into) a large town or city. Leaving Gisborne is simplicity itself - follow the main drag, Gladstone Road, out of town for about 10 k's, eventually crossing the Waipaoa River. Directly after the bridge you come to a round-about. Turning left takes you south to Morere & Nuhaka via highway 2; right takes you through back country roads to Matawai and the start of the Motu Road Trail; straight ahead takes you through Tiniroto to Wairoa.
Whichever way you decide to head out of Gisborne there is one thing you cannot avoid: hills...
Tinitoto Road is well known to Gisborne cyclists, being the return stage of the annual Gwaloop Cycle Challenge. There is certainly much to recommend this ride: it is very scenic with mature trees lining much of the road and providing good shade; there are great views; a nice pub situated conveniently about half way; and opportunities for river swimming. But perhaps the best thing about this ride is that you will have the road almost entirely to yourself.
This day starts out flat enough through farmland and vineyards but after about 15k you begin to climb the first of several hills - the somewhat inappropriately named Gentle Annie. Soon after the summit you reach at Waerenga O Kuri. Take the opportunity to buy an ice-block because the store here is the last you will see until Frasertown or Wairoa.
Another 20 or so kilometres brings you to Donneraille Park, a freedom camping area provided by the Gisborne District Council. This is a nice spot to stop for lunch and perhaps a swim in the Hangaroa River. Camping here is not really an option for cyclists though, since all campers are required to have their own chemical toilet.
Soon after, you arrive at Tiniroto where you can reward yourself with a stop at the pub. Then it's one more small hill and the remainder of the day is a generally downhill ride through Marumaru to Wairoa.
Wairoa is a mid-sized town with supermakets and cafés, but no cycle shop.
Many cyclists choose to continue through to Wairoa along highway 2. The drawcard here is a stopover at Morere (campground, store/tearooms) and the wonderful Morere Hot Springs. This is a natural thermal spa set in a conservation reserve. The perfect way to unwind after a day tackling the 507m Wharerata Hill.
Day 2 takes you through Nuhaka (store, service station) and onward along generally flat roads through Whakaki to Wairoa.
There is one further option which takes you through a little-known forestry road to Mahia Peninsula. This route follows highway 2 as far as the summit of Wharerata Hill. But now, rather than continue along the highway, turn left into Paritu Road, which winds its way down through forestry and farmland to Mahanga Bay. Often rough and occasionally little more than a track it is none-the-less rideable, though muddy and best avoided if wet. There are several gates to go through before the road once more returns to gravel as it winds into Mahanga Bay.
Mahanga Bay (toilets) is a broad and beautiful swimming/surfing beach. A lovely place to stop, but with no shops, no campground and no fresh water supply, camping is not an option.
Follow the now flat, sealed road out of Mahanga and after crossing the bridge turn left into Kaiwaitau Road, riding along the picturesque Maungawhio Lagoon to Mahia Beach where there is a campground, store and pub. Mahia Beach is perhaps best known for Moko the dolphin, who first made his appearance here. A safe swimming beach, but for my money the best beaches are found further round the peninsula along Mahia East Coast Rd (café just past Mahia). A great day-trip if you have the time.
Day 2 takes you out along the beach through Opoutama (service station, informal camping by the beach), eventually turning inland to rejoin highway 2 at Nuhaka.