Stage 444 showcases all that is good and entertaining in a stage of Around The World: some epic climbing, some epic descending, some more epic climbing and descending just when you thought you’d done the hard work, and some lovely bends: some meandering, some not so on the steep ascents and descents that lie to the south west of Lake Moeraki on New Zealand’s west coast.
The rollout is relatively calm as the Haast Highway make its way north along the coast, passing over Ship Creek after just a mile before gently rising and descending to the site of the first real battle at three miles. As the road approaches the emerging cliffs, there’s no alternative but to take on a five hundred foot climb to four miles. Over the top, the road descends briefly, losing a hundred feet of the elevation just gained, before the highway kicks up again as it snakes its way along the top of the cliffs, attaining the highest elevation of the stage at five miles.
Respite come in two parts: the descent off the top is interrupted at six miles by a third climb, equally as steep at either of the previous two, but fortunately short in length. By seven miles you’re over the top of that one too and on the way down to the flat lands of the flood plain of the Moeraki River.
At seven miles, just after Knights Point, the road takes the latest in a series of sharp bends, this one to the right, and starts heading back inland. It crosses the Whakapohai River at eight miles before swinging left to run along the northern short of Lake Moeraki from miles ten to twelve. The River Moeraki flows down to the sea from the western end of the lake and the road crosses the river on reaching the lake at ten miles.
The route is then lumpy flat to fourteen miles where the next – and final – ascent begins. It tops out at the spot where the road heads north east along the valley, leaving the river to carry on south east to its source in the mountains near Monro Peak.
From the point where the road and the river go their separate ways, it’s a gentle four mile descent to the finish at Lake Paringa on a meandering but much less twisty road beneath the towering mountains that lie east and west of the highway.
Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres
Ascent: 1637 feet / 499 metres
RGT Magic Road: X8ptZGjGFyyv
Max elevation: 625 ft
Min elevation: 6 ft
Total climbing: 1638 ft
Total descent: -1563 ft
You must log in to post a comment.