It would be nice to think that the hard miles of South Island are behind you, and to a large extent that’s actually true. But there are still ten stages, including this one, to Picton at the top end of the island, and still some climbing to be done. This is the second biggest of what remains so it’s not going to be easy: but rest assured that once it’s out of the way, it does, and it will get easier.
This is an uphill stage from start to finish: yes, there are some descents, five hundred feet of descents, but each is inevitably followed by yet more climbing, and usually more than before. Why is this an uphill stage? Because it heads inland. It might be ten stages away, but Picton, where the boat leaves for Wellington, is on the other side of the island. This is an up and over job that’s going to take a few days.
The rollout through Greymouth is lumpy as it follows the line of the Grey River meandering out to sea. There’s a big right hander that loops round a thousand foot hill (as opposed to going up and over it) and it’s not until the left hander approaching Omoto at three miles that the stage settles down into any kind of rhythm, that rhythm, of course, being uphill. Past Omoto and on to Dobson at seven miles, the road meets the river once again but beyond the Dobson, the river is merely a shadow of its former size down by the coast.
Beyond Dobson, there’s another looping right around another thousand footer, before the road, which is now State Highway 7, enters Stillwater at ten miles. As the lumpy climb continues, the road crosses Arnold River a mile further up the hill, and the rather aptly named Twelve Mile Creek at, well, twelve miles.
As the road continues on its way north east, it hugs the ridge of a mountain range to the south, leaving the flood plain of the Grey River stretching out for a mile to the north towards Blackball. Then Red Jacks passes at fourteen miles followed by Ngahere at fifteen miles. After crossing a stream that flows into Grey River at seventeen miles however, everything changes. As the road straightens, it kicks steeply upwards to the junction of Drennans Road and even though it remains straight all the way through to the finish, the slope is still upwards and the highest elevation of the stage is actually at the finish line.
Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres
Ascent: 846 feet / 258 metres
RGT Magic Road: fWcfIWLbrPlO
Max elevation: 302 ft
Min elevation: 50 ft
Total climbing: 847 ft
Total descent: -605 ft
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