Hawkston Rd gravel seeking

For about two years I’ve meant to vary a ride I did soon after moving to Napier. Saturday last, it was finally time to go and explore some different gravel roads up near Patoka. The spring weather was wonderfully warm, sunny and still – and I’d had enough of chores around the house. Also, it’s time to get a bit more distance in the legs as we head towards summer and more bikepacking & mountain-biking trips.

The memories came flooding back, now having ridden up Puketitiri Rd a few times – mostly on overnighters to the Mangatutu Hot Springs, which reminds me it must be about time for the annual trip. I stopped at some of the usual spots as the views were worth it, as they generally are. There was little traffic and the riding was very pleasant – I got to thinking that I don’t really want it to get much hotter; late spring is plenty nice, thank you very much.

The Kawekas in the distance, I wouldn’t be getting quite as close this time.

It’s definitely very green up there this time of year, that’ll last for another month, or two.

Facing a bit more south-west than west – the direction I was headed.

Nearing the three-hour mark I passed through Patoka and turned off the “main” road. There was a long cruise down on a sealed road that, judging by the signs, was nice and wide due to logging traffic.

Finally, gravel! It was very nicely surfaced.

At the furthest point of my loop, there was a little bit of a spur – it seemed a shame not to explore this road too. Dropping to a rather lovely stream the road was to then climb steadily to gain a couple of hundred metres. I was surprised at the number of farmhouses on this short stretch of road – even some dairy farms, which are generally in short supply around these parts (which I am still getting used to having spent so much of my life in dairying regions).

I met two farmers approaching on quad bikes – the second stopping to ask me rather incredulously “you know this is a dead-end road?”. I answered I did, and was helpfully informed that it was all uphill to the end of the road. He was right. But that meant it was all downhill on the return, at least to the stream.

Sure enough, the road ended in a forestry block – lo & behold one Pan Pac’s, it shouldn’t be too hard to arrange permits for further exploration. Time to turn and head for home, with still a few new bits of gravel for me to discover.

Undulating, but trending downhill towards the ocean, it was wonderful riding.

I arrived home well pleased with what I’d seen and found, and pleasantly tired from my longest ride this year – most excellent. Quite looking forward to more such rides, both local and further afield this summer.

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