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Stage 477 – Tirau to Cambridge

With the high mountains firmly in the rear view mirror and only five more stages, including this one, to Auckland and the end of the New Zealand leg, it’s inevitable that what went up should now go down. This stage is a descender. Starting east of the Waikato River, it eventually catches up with it at Pierere before following its meandering path all the way to the finish north of Cambridge.

The rollout from Tirau is lumpy flat, albeit gently downhill, to six miles where, ironically, State Highway 1 approaches the river. But instead of descending to the water, the road first has to negotiate a ridge that sits between it and the river: so there’s a quick up and down before swinging west alongside the water.

But back to the start. Tirau sits to the east of a small bunch of hills and the highway has to negotiate its way around them before picking up the default north westerly run. That means a big left hand loop soon after the start but in order to avoid running across Tirau Golf Course, the road snakes left/right in the middle of the loop, thereby skirting the edge of the course.

Once the road picks up the course of the Waikato River at eight miles, the road runs north (right hand side of) the river. However at Karapiro at fourteen miles, there’s an extra finger of water that curves up then back south east from the main river, and in order to avoid having to cross it, Route 1 deviates away from the main river as it bypasses Karapiro.

At Cambridge, where the stage ends, the State Highway takes what might almost be considered a ring road route around the northern side of the town: it doesn’t go through the centre. But as Cambridge sits on the river, with suburbs on both sides, the highway deviates away from the water at seventeen miles, descending all the while as it does so. The river is flowing north west in the same direction of travel.

The finish of the stage is at Norfolk Downs on the Te Oko Horoi Bridge over the intersection where route 1 (Waikato Expressway) meets route 18 ((Victoria Road) which is heading north out of Cambridge to Hautapu at that point.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 318 feet / 97 metres

RGT Magic Road: uCDywJFT3yPc

Total distance: 20.43 mi
Max elevation: 673 ft
Min elevation: 336 ft
Total climbing: 318 ft
Total descent: -651 ft

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