Hobbit Odyssey Day 14: Crescendo

Mt Ruapehu crescendo

When the co-founder of New Zealand’s oldest motorcycle tour company recommends a road as one of his favourites you know you are in for a crescendo to finish your Kiwi tour.

Beautiful Wanganui CBD
Beautiful Wanganui CBD

Day 14 of our Hobbit Odyssey motorcycle tour of the North and South islands on a Harley-Davidson Road King starts in beachside Wanganui.

They love their bikes here and have special parking bays in the main street and have been holding the Southern Hemisphere’s Isle of Man each Boxing Day around the town cemetery.

Mushies for brekky - crescendo
Mushies for brekky

We do a quick tour of the city, grab brekky at elements (try the creamy balsamic mushrooms on a garlic demi-baguette), pay just $1.66 a litre for fuel – the cheapest yet – and head off on Highway 40 north.

Te Waipounamu Motorcycle Tours co-founder Peter Colwell has recommended the route for today which consists of Highway 40 followed by a volcano and lake detour.

Chasing a Vespa on Highway 40 - crescendo
Chasing a Vespa on Highway 40

We know we are in for a treat as the road leaves the river and starts to climb into the lumpy hills and we start seeing motorcycles and even a Vespa out to play on a Sunday morning.

Like so many Kiwi roads, it’s an absolute feast of every type of corner you could imagine and then some.

Highway 40 crescendo
Highway 40

About 80km later we arrive in Raetihi and I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Just as well as the next 40km are fairly straight. It not only gives me time to recover, but also take in the views of snow-capped Mt Ruapehu, the biggest mountain in the North Island at 2797m.

Chateau, mountain and Harley crescendo
Chateau, mountain and Harley

At National Park Village, we wheel right on Highway 47 toward Lake Taupo with Ruapehu following us. We make another right up to Whakapapa Village and the famed Chateau Tongariro, built in 1929 in the shadow of Ruapehu and still as grand as ever.

Smokin'! crescendo

Back to 47 we continue on to the lake where the road twists and winds over the mountains with the active Mt Tongariru smoking. They’ve been doing a lot of roadworks in this area and there is a ton of gravel still on the road.

Despite a 50km/h speed limit, one Subaru goose charges through and hurtles a bit rock straight into my shin. Where there are no roadworks, the road is riotous fun as it rides the lumpy ridges of this beautiful area.

Mapiu Store crescendo
Mapiu Store

At Taumarunui, we rejoin Highway 40 and the fun continues with more bikes whizzing past in the opposite direction. We fly straight past a small and insignificant cafe at Mapiu and I get a tap on the shoulder from Mrs MBW, so we u-turn for lunch.

Just as well because Margot makes all the food herself and her lamb and mint pie is delicious as is the salmon salad. She’s not busy today, but says it is usually very busy on the weekends and holidays and a couple of bikes roar past and blow the horn. It’s obviously a fave for the bikers.

Bikes and roadworks don't mix crescendo
Bikes and roadworks don’t mix

Still the fun continues, but eventually it peters out when Highway 40 turns into 3 and the traffic heading toward Hamilton slows us down.

We continue on through the back roads north but there is a lot of traffic, so we settle into the rhythm of this long ride.

Finally we turn toward the coast and our overnight stay at Raglan. We immediately know we are in for a suitable crescendo to our tour when we see the mountain ranges between us and the coast and the endless line of riders coming back.

Sign of things to come crescendo
Sign of things to come

Then we start to climb and squirm over the hills on beautifully smooth asphalt with locals moving out of the way for the bikers.

Raglan is a lovely little seaside town overrun with Hamilton riders out for a day of fun. They are parked everywhere, including the median strip and the cops just don’t seem to mind.

Bikes in Raglan crescendo
Bikes in Raglan

It’s also our sad final destination after 450km today and more than 5000km over the past two weeks. We hope you’ve enjoyed our trip and are inspired to head over the Ditch and do it yourself.

Tomorrow we ride back to Auckland to return the hire bike to Auckland Harley.


  1. Wow, I’m heading home soon (NZ) and after reading of your adventure, I can’t wait. I have a Road King too šŸ™‚ Thanks heaps for taking us along for the adventure.

  2. You’ve been great visitors to NZ, you have captured the good vibes of this country to which I emigrated 37 years ago from another bikers’ haven, Switzerland. Fantastic prose and good job keeping up with the blog with such regularity. Hoping to ride some of your iconic roads in Queensland in the near future. Kia Ora. Daniel the Guide.

  3. I KNEW you would love that road out of Wanganui, particularly the first 80 k’s. Keep the great travelogues and reviews coming Mark, and have a sensational riding year.

  4. “Lamb and mint pie …” Salivating!
    Don’t have them over here Thailand, sadly.
    Thanks for taking me along on the ride Mark; it was wonderful

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *