Aotuhia via Kohi Road

Aotuhia via Kohi Road

Thanks to Matt Callaghan for this entertaining ride description.

Thirteen miles inland from Whangamomona lies the Aotuhia Station.  Aothuia is the district of the lower Whangamomona River.  This area was settled in the early 1900's.  Access at that time was on riverboats up the Wanganui river and packhorse to Aotuhia.  In 1910 the Government approved funding for a Road from Whangamomona.  The Road was metalled as funds allowed, commencing in 1920 and finally completed by 1928.  Low farm produce prices, marginal land, debt burden and isolation took their toll with the majority of settlers walking off the land by 1934.

In 1936, with the district essentially abandoned the government approved construction of a bridge over the Whangamomona River (some things never change do they?).  The road was completed in May 1937.  In 1942 a storm caused severe damage to the Whangamomona road and the Government decided it would not be re-opened.  The last resident was bought out.  Some interest was shown in re-development in the 1950's but work did not commence until 1980.  The Kohi road was officially opened in 1985.  The land is now managed as one unit - Aotuhia Station.

That's the (very) brief history.  The ride is an easy afternoons riding from anywhere in Taranaki.  There is 25 km of unsealed road that must be ridden twice (out and back) but it is fairly easy.  Take state highway 43 from Stratford towards Whangamomona.  This section is all well surfaced, a good fun ride on any bike varying from straights to blast down, to the tight winding Strathmore Saddle.

Take the right turn over the bridge at Strathmore itself (photo 1).  It is clearly sign posted "Aotuhia".  A little over 3 km of (again) well surfaced fun finds the Makahu tunnel (photo 2). Stop and read the History - you don't have to get off your bike and its interesting (and brief!).

Another 4 or so km, and you're in Makahu.  Take the unsealed road to the left before the bridge.  The first 4 or 5 km are the worst so don't pack it in and go home!  Be careful on the uphill corner exits - the cars have left them "corrugated" by wheel-spinning when accelerating - Tankslappers Ye-hah!!!

About 12km from Makahu is the start of the Matemateonga walkway (photo 3).  For keen trampers this will take you all the way to the Wanganui River (at least on my map - good luck!).  Nine or so km further is the entranceway to Aotuhia station itself (photo 4).  Leave your guns and dogs at home! (as if my dog can keep up anyway!)  The road has become open and easy by now and you will have got used to a bit of slippin' and slidin' (photo 5).  Another few km sees the bottom (almost!) of the Whangmomona road (see brief history & photo 6). Take this road to our final destination - the "Bridge to Somewhere" (photos 7 & photo 8).  Park your bike and get out your thermos, there are no cafe's here!

Check out the sign on the (closed since 1942) road to Whangamomona (photo 9).  Is this a challenge or is this a challenge?  I think I'll need to borrow a trail bike for this road -  the Laverda does not have the ground clearance or suspension to cope with jumping streams and rivers!  I walked in this way in about 1980 before the Kohi road was opened.  It was trial rideable then although the bridges were a bit iffy.  I have spoken to several people who have had trail bikes through it but none in the last 5 years - although the day I here the there was car & trailer parked with all the signs of 'bikes (ramps onto the trailer?)

Now all that remains is the ride home!  The metal road is easy now you're used to it and when you get back to the seal the available traction is mind-boggling by comparison.  You feel like a racer with all the confidence in the world - Yah-hoo!!!

Copyright Steve Carr, 1999-2007

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