If ‘normal’ is a word that can be used to describe a stage of Around The World in New Zealand, then Stage 443 is the first stage to lay a proper claim to the title. Setting off from the foothills of the Haast Pass on the western side of the South Island, the stage meanders its way down the valley to the coast where it assumes a long sweeping bend north along the coast to Ship Creek Beach.
The rollout crosses water immediately in the form of a tributary that flows into the Haast River from the mountains to the south. Although the descent off the hill is unrelenting, it’s never one way traffic and the road is genuinely lumpy for much of the stage, particularly around two miles, six miles and eleven miles where short sharp bumps are likely to interrupt your progress.
The road meanders a lot, as you would expect on a mountain descent, and it’s on one of these bends, at eleven miles, that the Haast River splits left and right before merging again two miles later adjacent to Haast Aerodrome, just past the community of Haast itself. Route 6 finally crosses the river at fourteen miles, just before the water flows into the sea, and it’s at that point that the road bends right to start heading north east along the coast to the finish.
The final seven miles after the lump at fifteen miles are largely uneventful, rising slightly from nineteen miles, but it’s perhaps the crossing of the Waita River at twenty miles that’s of most significance because the road loops inland for a short while which induces the gentle climb to the finishing line.
Distance: 20 miles / 32 kilometres
Ascent: 394 feet / 120 metres
RGT Magic Road: BnioyUA1JVp6
Max elevation: 113 ft
Min elevation: -15 ft
Total climbing: 392 ft
Total descent: -475 ft
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