The weather app said that Auckland was going to be fine and dandy on Saturday so my mate and myself made plans to hit the Coromandel loop. We got away from the North Shore at about 10am and headed out to Clevedon but took an early exit off the motorway and headed out via Howick in a bit too much traffic for our liking. After a quick fuel stop we headed out from Clevedon and, via an unplanned detour down the aptly named Tourist Road, we reached the coast hugging East Coast Road off to the State Highway 2 that heads out to Thames. From Thames we headed through the twisties of the Coramandel Forest Park ranges to Tairua for a coffee stop.
We had intended to do the whole loop so headed out from Tairua to Whitianga but before Whitianga I took a left turn along a stunning road that unfortunately became a dirt mud road so once we turned back we decided to head back to Tairua and back to Thames instead of doing the whole loop. From there we headed along the State Highway 2 all the way to SH1 and back to the North Shore.
Clevedon -it's a blip you may pass through easily but it's also a series of quaint shops kept in small town character and if you stop and smell the roses you discover a nice choice of eateries and cool trinket shops.
Tourist Road - wow, I rode along here with flashbacks to places I'd seen on YouTube. I felt I'd travelled the outback Smokey Mountains down small town USA. A breathtaking meandering detour. (About here I remember thinking that somebody had spiked me with big dose of Happy!)
To Kawakawa Bay - lovely sweeping bends with a few nice tight twisties but the scenery is so vivid you won't be using any app that enahances colour for fear of making the photos look too fake. Some parts of the road are so tree-lined there is moss so obviously not sun soaked.
- East Coast Road - equal parts beach holiday feel, rural local fishing spot feel, you simply soak in the lake like ocean, the islands and the view of the Coromandel Peninsula with it's looming mountain ranges. The road is a nice mix of twisty stretches for leaning and straight for letting the machine loose.
Coromandel Forest Park Road - A great road to teach anyone about kiwi road surfaces. You will be winding through moist road surfaces along tree lined stretches beside ravines then around a bend into dry stretches under bright sunlight with sweeping views of the mountain ranges. A warning sign for a mudslide hazard will be followed by a beautiful long, straight piece of tempting tarmac.
- Tairua to Whitianga - As I said, we didn't go all the way to Whitianga but while this stretch of road has some challenging hairpins, it also has some great sweeping bends and some amazing straight stretches. You will need to decide whether you are going to cruise and take in the scenery which on one side is endless hills and mountains and on the other side the ocean, or you are going to keep your eyes on the road and floor it. We took it hard there but enjoyed the cruise back, stopping for a few photo ops with the sea as backdrop. It is along here that my riding buddy had to stop and pop a few ginger tablets for the motion sickness he started to feel! So rider beware, if you are prone to this then remember that this road has its share of side to side that will likely result in a bit of nausea.
Thames to MW1 - we left Thames (actually just the Mobil on the outskirts) for home with the sun a few inches above the horizon and travelled half the MW2 in darkness. A stunning sunset sealed the day as a truly memorable one for us both. Our only regret that our wives hadn't made it but we now had the anticipation of sharing this world famous ride with a much better first hand knowledge to plan for next time.
Summary - the road surface conditions were amazing. Very few potholes; The road weather conditions were excellent - wet and dry but all safe; the view and scenery is almost too much beauty for such a short distance. Explaining it in words would sound corny, but it is continual, diverse (tropical, rugged, coastal) and sensually overwhelming.