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Stage 469 – Ohingaiti to Taihape

Stage 469 is the second of four consecutive beast stages on North Island, and it’s not even the most fearsome of them: that reputation’s reserved for the next one. What this stage does do however is climb for seven hundred feet from the rollout before halfway, lose over half of that inside three miles before slapping on another seven feet of climbing in the final seven miles to the finish. This is a stage for endurement, not enjoyment.

The rollout from Ohingaiti is flat for a mile and that’s just about as good as it gets for the first few miles. As soon as State Highway 1 reaches the first right hander, the climbing begins. At first it’s just lumpy to the left hander on approach to Mangaweka. The peak of Mount Kaeaekaka at around 2000 feet sits out to the west (left) as the road snakes its way north up the hill, following the Rangitikei River to ten miles.

The irony of waving cheerio to the river is that it happens at the foot of the descent down from the summit of the first climb. It’s also the nearest that the road gets to the river on the entire stage, before the river heads east to its source high up in the mountains south of Lake Taupo at over four thousand feet.

On leaving the river, the road starts climbing all over again. Now heading north, it passes by Utiku at twelve miles on what is arguably the flattest part of the climb. Mount Baker at eighteen hundred feet is next on the schedule, and the road passes less than a mile from its peak at thirteen miles. Ohotu is next at fourteen miles where the road begins to head north westerly. Now following the Hautapu River, a tributary of the Rangitikei River, Route 1 climbs to Winiata at sixteen miles, and from hereonin, every pedal stroke feels like it’s on an increasingly steep gradient. Sadly, some of it is.

The road continues to snake left and right between the hills, and it’s on one of those sweeping right handers that the highway passes by Taihape Airport at sixteen miles. Taihape itself follows a mile later and it sits in a dip between two climbs either side of the town. After Taihape it’s just a meandering left/right/left/right combination of bends of a final three mile ascent to the finish at eighteen hundred feet above sea level.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 1467 feet / 447 metres

RGT Magic Road: w31Ae40OdUDd

Total distance: 19.44 mi
Max elevation: 1883 ft
Min elevation: 1147 ft
Total climbing: 1466 ft
Total descent: -795 ft

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