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Stage 463 – Wellington to Pukerua Bay

This stage is difficult, but it could have been a whole lot worse. Heading away from the coast is always bad news but with stage 463, having done just that, it then heads back to the west coast of North Island not once but twice. Yes there’s a lot of climbing, but there’s also some serious respite too.

The rollout from the Wellington ferry terminal heads north along the shore of Wellington Harbour past Kaiwharawhara to Ngauranga where Centennial Highway 1 takes a left: that’s where the fun starts. The climb up to Raroa is as steep as it is twisty. The road swings left away from the shore then right at Kiwi Point Quarry before finally flattening out a little as it passes under Newlands Bridge at four miles. That first climb is four hundred feet in just a mile. By the time the road actually reaches the summit a mile later, it’s attained the highest elevation of the stage and over half of the climbing for the stage. Not a bad start to life on North Island, eh?

The good news is that having mastered the highest peak so early in the stage, there’s then a seven mile gentle descent all the way down to Porirua north of Wellington on the west coast. The stage has effectively skipped over the hill, taking the shortest route, and throwing up the biggest climb of the day right at the start: the gradient away from Wellington Harbour is much more testing than the gradient down the other side of the hill to Porirua.

Mark Beaumont’s route actually leaves the Centennial Highway (Route 1) just after the summit of the climb and takes Johnsonville Road alongside it which takes in Johnsonville itself at five miles, Glenside at six miles, Southgate at eight miles, Redwood at nine miles, Lindenvale at ten miles and Ranau Heights at eleven miles on the approach down into Porirau.

At Porirau, the route crosses Porirau Stream then picks up State Highway 59 along the eastern side of Porirau Harbour. After crossing Parema Bridge at Ivey Bay after fourteen miles, the road heads north past Cambourne before hanging a right up and over the hill at Plimmerton. This is where the second bunch of fun kicks in. Although the road rises gently after crossing Parema Bridge, the gradient steepens after Plimmerton, and as the road winds its way up into the hillside, the slope increases with every pedal stroke.

The top of that climb comes at nineteen miles as the road approaches the outskirts Pukerua. The descent down through Pukerua Bay to the finish on the coast at Brendan Beach is winding, fast and furious so you can expect a fun end to the first stage on North Island.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 1033 feet / 315 metres

RGT Magic Road: pTMRln7UU3B9

Total distance: 20.44 mi
Max elevation: 537 ft
Min elevation: 76 ft
Total climbing: 1033 ft
Total descent: -896 ft

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