After the difficulty of the last few stages, especially the last two, this one will come as great relief: it offers over sixteen hundred feet of descent, almost all of it in the first half, for only a hundred feet of climbing, hardly any of which is in the second half. This is a stage to savour down to the eastern shore of Lake Taupo.
The rollout on State Highway 1 is at the foot of a series of hairpin bends a few miles west of the Pillars of Hercules which sit on the Tongariro River, heading north. The road climbs for practically no time at all before beginning a descent that sheds fourteen hundred feet of elevation by the time eight miles have passed.
The road crosses over Waitakatorua Stream at four miles then the Poutu Canal at five miles followed by Nga Huinga Stream immediately after the canal before entering Rangipo at the junction with Lake Rotoaira Road: it runs past the southern shore of Lake Rotoaira to Papakai to the west. As the road continues to descend, it crosses Pout Stream at eight miles before running along the eastern bank of the meandering Tongariro River as it makes its way north into Turanghi. The road crosses the river after thirteen miles on the north eastern side of the town and by now the descent has largely flattened out.
The highway passes through a swampy area north of Hautu Village at fourteen miles before crossing the Waiotaka River at fifteen miles and the Waimarino River at seventeen miles: both rivers flow into Lake Taupo. As the road makes its way along the eastern shore of the lake, it passes through Motuoapa at eighteen miles then Orutua two miles later. It’s there, just half a mile from the finish, that the road swings a right over the Tauranga-Taupo River at the point where it flows into the lake, and that sets up a flat run in to the finishing line at the water’s edge.
Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres
Ascent: 138 feet / 42 metres
RGT Magic Road: xAHPyMFjNLHY
Max elevation: 2802 ft
Min elevation: 1253 ft
Total climbing: 139 ft
Total descent: -1688 ft
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