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Stage 447 – Cook River / Weheka to Mid Waiho Loop Airfield


Of all the New Zealand stages of Around The World, 447 stands proud as the King of Pain. It boasts two really nasty climbs, a smaller one straight after the second biggie, plus some long gradual slogs for good measure: it also offers loads of bends, a good helping of hairpins and some cracking mountain views, none of which will be available on generic RGT of course.

The rollout is a tease. The Fox Glacier Highway rises gently to cross the Fox River at two miles before hanging a right at the Fox Glacier itself at three miles. That’s where the fun starts. Before Fox Glacier, route 6 is the Haast Highway: as it passes through the town, it’s Main Road: on exit it becomes the Fox Glacier Highway. As soon as the road makes the turn, it starts climbing immediately and relentlessly. It crosses the Clearwater River at four miles and further bunches of water that feed into Lyttles Creek either side of five miles. The climb eventually peaks at a hairpin bend near to the source of Joey Creek twelve hundred feet up in the mountain.

As the road begins the first descent, it crosses Acrobat Creek at six miles before entering a series of hairpin bends that take in a crossing of the Waikukupa River at seven miles. That’s where the fun starts all over again. The second climb kicks off with a crossing of Hare Mare Creek before taking a meandering north easterly route up the next range of hills.

The second climb tops out where the hills close in from both sides at nine miles and shortly after the second descent kicks in, the road crosses the Omoeroa River at a right hand hairpin at ten miles. Further hairpins follow, sweeping right and left, before the road rises again to go over the Omoeroa Saddle at twelve miles. As the highway continues on its merry way to the valley floor at fourteen miles, it follows the ridge along the south eastern edge of the hills that have Omoeroa Hill at the summit.

Once the road arrives in the flood plain, the profile is relatively calm compared to what has gone before. There’s a gentle rise to Franz Josef at seventeen miles where route 6 crosses the Waiho River on a set of snaking left/right/left/left bends and as the road heads out of town past the Glacier Country Heliport, the direction assumes an east/north easterly run down a gentle descent.

On approach to the finish, at nineteen miles, the road hangs a right at the Glacier View Motel before a sweeping left hander sets up the finish on a gentle up/down straight.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 2192 feet / 669 metres

RGT Magic Road: 0RyaMSqboTQm

Total distance: 19.94 mi
Max elevation: 1349 ft
Min elevation: 324 ft
Total climbing: 2191 ft
Total descent: -2193 ft

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