The old coach road down to Pataua is one of the finest pieces of continuous downhill single-track in the country.
From our campsite at sea level on the eastury, this meant a 290m climb to the summit of Whanui before we got to the start.
The first few kilometres had enough undulations to get us warmed up, but we didn’t start to gain significant height till we got to the end of Waiparera Rd and entered the pine forest. For the next hour we slogged up the relentless hill – one of the hardest hills I would ever willingly ride up again.
We rode past the turnoff to Mangahui Rd and up to the very top to admire the view. We had been considering riding further into the forest, but after riding along the various ridges we decided that we didn’t feel like having to come back up the hill to get home.
The photo of the unsigned entrance to the old coach road shows a hidden treasure.
The trail is about 2m wide, and benched into the hillsides so that it follows a steady grade down the valley for over 4km.
At times there are high stone walls where the underlying rock has been removed. All this would have been done with picks and shovels and wheelbarrows. And maybe some dynamite.
Most of the way is through spectacular native bush, with a bit of regenerating forest near the bottom. The track was not as slippery as we expected, so we were able to travel at exciting speeds.
A couple of km from the end we passed a small excavator, which had been doing work on the drainage up tilwl there. This meant a few soft and muddy spots, but nothing we couldn’t ride through.
I hope this means the track will be in even better condition next time I come to ride it.