Story: Te Urewera - A Land of its Own Pt. 2

The Ride – Part One: The small village of Ruatahuna is home to just over 200 residents. Whilst the area has been developed, there’s still a sense that you’re deep in the bush. I started at the cafe, and as I rolled out of the small village, past broken down cars, roaming horses and smoking chimneys, I saw the last of any civilisation I’d see for a long while. Out the door, I had an unrelenting 14km climb. The ascent was Taupeupe Saddle, zig-zagging its way up the Te Urewera ranges. The saddle reaches 900+ metres above sea level. Vast views over layers and layers of mountains could be seen from all angles – there’s a real sense of being away from it all out here. The same goes for anyone living in Te Urewera; it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s a hearty area that has a ton of texture. Rimu stood tall amongst the native forest; bird song was loud and clear; the trees were wrapped in moss. The serenity was unreal.

State Highway 38 is largely unsealed as it runs through rugged, remote and astonishingly beautiful land. In fact, Te Urewera is the largest wilderness region in the North Island, a primeval forest prized for its ecological systems, biodiversity and cultural heritage. In keeping with respecting their love for the land, Tūhoe Trust commissioned WSP Opus Research to investigate potential options for the resurfacing and maintenance of the section of SH38. The world-first solution is at the cutting-edge of innovative sustainability. It uses a tree resin, a natural by-product of the wood pulping process used in pulp and paper manufacturing, which is used in a novel way to bind the gravel and keep it in place. The result is a solution that suppresses dust – an issue on gravel roads as it obscures visibility – with waterproofing attributes that reduces the occurrence of potholes and corrugations. And, it’s supreme to ride on - it has a dirt feel and offers a ton of grip.