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Stage 474 – Taupo to Tuahu

You know the script by now: water flows downhill, and the landscape surrounding a lake is invariably at a higher elevation of the lake itself. As stage 474 weaves its way north from Lake Taupo, it demonstrates those basic principles and provides another really testing stage.

The rollout from the eastern suburbs of Taupo follows State Highway 1 north as it skirts around the outside of the town. It’s flat for two miles until a gentle descent which starts at Taupo Golf Club sees the road drop three hundred feet to cross the Waikato River at six miles. The river is wide and even though the crossing is at one of the narrower bits of the waterway, the Waikato River Bridge is aptly named.

The descent is one to enjoy because what lies in store over the next nine miles is sure to test your resolve. Between miles six and fifteen, the highway gains eight hundred feet of elevation, rising to just under two thousand feet by the fifteen mile mark.

But before then there’s plenty of action to enjoy. Waikato Village sits at the foot of the climb, and it’s there that State Highway 5 meets Highway 1. Five heads northwest to Waimahana while Highway 1 carries on north. As the road rises, so it winds its way between the hills, hanging lefts and rights to avoid the worst of the gradients as it does so. The community of Te Pouwhakatutu is at thirteen miles, just two miles beneath the summit which comes on a left hander approaching the junction of Tutukau Road: it heads east through the hills to join Highway 5 at Waimahana.

Over the top, the descent is persistent but lumpy. It’s steep to begin with, crossing Tram Road at seventeen miles, and the road even rises again for a short while after that, but from eighteen miles, the descent resumes, and with ridges to hug both left and right, the road approaches the finish on a steep descent snaking right/left/right between the encroaching hills.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 948 feet / 289 metres

RGT Magic Road: QoD3OV7mBwx9

Total distance: 20.44 mi
Max elevation: 1949 ft
Min elevation: 1163 ft
Total climbing: 947 ft
Total descent: -905 ft

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