I've been cycling, or road trip cycling, since 25th September 2021 but seems all good things must end. It's a good end, as start new job in a couple of days, but makes this my last 'official' ride of the Time Out NZ 2021 - 2022!
Decided to pop down for the day to finish the Waikato River Trails, the Mangakino to Waipapa section that was closed when last in the area (May 2022). Part of the trail passes through a commercial forest area, currently closed weekdays but open weekends. That's how I came to be on the misty shores (again, is it always?) of Lake Maraetai, Mangakino on Sunday morning.
Mangakino to Waipapa Dam
The trail is on land between Waipapa Rd and Lake Maraetai/Waipapa hydropower lake shores. I did a ride from Mangakino to Waipapa, and bit beyond, and back
The trail start is a short ride back up Lake Road, but it soon descends back towards the lake shore again.
There's a nice bush trail section through to Maraetai Dam.
Maraetai Dam & Power Stations
The Maraetai Dam supplies two independent, but operationally linked, power stations with bizarrely different histories. Construction of the dam began in September 1950, Maraetai I powerhouse at the base started generating in 1952 and was fully commissioned in 1954.
Maraetai II Power Station is feed from the same lake via a 500m long canal. Construction started in 1959 but was suspended, for work on the interisland power cable(?), until 1965. It wasn't commissioned until 1971, almost 25 years later!
Dam Curious Relics
After leaving the Dam access road, the trail just crosses but I rode down for a look, and back in the bush you pass some curious construction relics now just gathering moss. The wall and anchor blocks were part of two cableways built to deliver construction materials to the site.
Looking over Maraetai II towards Maraetai I and the dam (L), and downstream (from a different viewpoint) over Maraetai II (R).
Looking back towards Maraetai I & II as the trail heads towards the forest section.
On the road...
On the road, why am I on the road? Because the forest was still closed, despite what the website said, on the weekend...
Waipapa Dam & Power Station
Waipapa Dam is open as has road access to a small public park area at the base.
Mangarewa Bridge Trail
The far side of Waipapa Dam once accessed the next Waikato River Trail section but part of it is permanently closed.
It seems the actions of an ignorant few ruined it for everybody:
The Waikato River Trails Trust has taken the decision to permanently close part of the Trail to protect the wellbeing of both a farmer living adjacent to the Trail and the public.
The Arapuni section of Trail from Jones Landing to the Mangarewa Suspension Bridge has been closed for some time and will now close permanently.
We are dealing with serious issues of vandalism to private property and resulting high levels of stress for the farmer concerned.
The decision to close this section of Trail has not been taken lightly but is certainly the right course of action given the circumstances.
A timely reminder to respect trailside land and closure, or condition of use, signs or risk losing it for all.
The trail now has a short road section to navigate around the closure but the former trail is still open for about 10km from to Mangarewa Bridge. I rode it and while it obviously doesn't get the same traffic, or attention, as the active sections it's still very rideable and worth the effort.
Besides, this section has 'legendary and infamous Tumai Steps' so how could you miss them!
Apparently there's "nine flights of stairs around ten steps each (from Great Rides App)" but I didn't count them. They were slippery, due to little use(?), so it was easier to just carry the bike than use the 'stringer wheel rails' on the side. Put the bike on them and, even with brakes on, it just slid away!
From there the trail uses forest fire trails, sometimes with short trail sections linking them.
Older, wiser, or just pedalled more? Older and pedalled more...
After a needle carpeted pine forest section you get to the impressive, now sadly isolated, Mangarewa Suspension Bridge.
It has a lovely view to the river but there is now no going beyond the End.
After 'lunch', at two in the afternoon with a ovely bridge view, it was time to back-track.
The Tumai Steps were harder to go down!
No go, even on the weekend
Lake Waipapa forest trail closure signs were still in place, so it was the road section (quiet and pretty enough) again.
Lake Waipapa Forest from the road.
Evening shadows on the last ride.
Just rolling along towards the finish... (video)
Back of the trail, for the last section back to Mangakino.
Time Out NZ 2021 - 2022 | Ride #133 Finish
It was a quiet finish to reflect on the last ride. Five-fifteen in the evening and only one witness...
Ride #133 brought the total cycled to 7,882km. Time to pack up and head home!
|Driven for South Island Legs