Postcards from Aotearoa: Biking into the previous on Ōpōtiki’s dunes path

Postcards from Aotearoa: Biking into the past on Ōpōtiki's dunes trail

A motorbike experience alongside Ōpōtiki’s coastal dunes path is a non secular and cultural journey into Māori historical past.

The ten-kilometre (a method), path traverses, wāhi tapu (sacred locations) and urupā (burial websites) wealthy within the historical past of Ōpōtiki iwi Whakatōhea.

The pou (carved figures) and data boards alongside the observe make it stand out among the many Nice Rides of Ngā Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Path.

To prime it off is spectacular surroundings with views to Whale Island (Moutohorā), Whakaari (White Island) and kilometres of near-deserted golden sand seaside that stretches from Whakatāne to the East Coast ranges.

Kim Webby takes a break to admire the view out to the East Cape ranges.

Jim Robinson

Kim Webby takes a break to admire the view out to the East Cape ranges.

Information boards give you an opportunity to learn about the history of the area.

Jim Robinson

Data boards give you a chance to be taught concerning the historical past of the realm.

I continuously stroll elements of this residence city path with my canines, however it’s a few years since I rode my trusty, rusty mountain bike.

I dig out bike shorts and pump up the tyres to fulfill Motu Trails government officer, Jim Robinson, on the gateway to the dunes path.

The dunes path is a tiny taster of the magnificent Motu Trails, which hyperlinks three tracks in a 90-kilometre loop by means of bush and back-country roads.

Riders may hyperlink the Motu Street Path and the Rere Falls Path (NZ Cycle Path Heartland Trip), for a 180-kilometre coast-to-coast experience that ends at Gisborne and contains spectacular bush, waterfalls and on the Gisborne aspect, vineyards and orchards. On each routes, riders can keep in huts and homestays.

Thanks to lots of local volunteers, the transformation from weeds to mostly endemic flora, since the trails opened in 2012, is spectacular.

Motu Trails Charitable Belief

Due to plenty of native volunteers, the transformation from weeds to largely endemic flora, for the reason that trails opened in 2012, is spectacular.

Everybody has to begin someplace and the dune’s path is my introduction to the potential for larger future rides. I go for a return journey of 12 kilometres that takes me from the Pakowhai ki Otutaopuku suspension bridge in Ōpōtiki to the coastal settlement of Tirohanga and again.

It’s a windy, gray day with a heavy sea and it feels wild and luxurious to pedal alongside pathways as soon as trod by ancestors who fished, fought and lived alongside this coast.

At Hukuwai, aka Hikuwai, the title interprets as “tail water.” The knowledge board reveals that right here, plenty of splashes at sea, sign the arrival of huge faculties of fish and for Whakatōhea the ocean and bush stay their meals cabinet.

As we flip once more to the path, we go by means of huge areas of native bushes and flax, a part of an ongoing group planting mission, pushed by the Bay of Lots Regional Council.

Due to plenty of native volunteers, the transformation from weeds to largely endemic flora is spectacular, for the reason that Motu Trails opened in 2012.

Onward, to an space the place the path passes by means of a big wāhi tapu, simply earlier than Tirohanga. These dunes have been historical burial grounds beneath Tirohanga and Wairakaiā pā. Whakatōhea ask that every one observe customers keep on the observe, which was marked out by kaumātua, to keep away from trampling delicate areas.

We cross the Tirohanga stream, residence to the taniwha, Tamaariki. He represents a chief from the Ngāti Rua and Ngāti Ngahere sub-tribes who’s now a kaitiaki (guardian) of the waterways.

Two pou whenua (carved guardian posts) signify Tamaariki and the chief Ngatorohaka.

Volunteers plant native buses bushes and flaxes.

Motu Trails Charitable Belief

Volunteers plant native buses bushes and flaxes.

The very fact the path passes by means of this vital website is a testomony to the goodwill of Whakatōhea and their need to construct information and understanding for all.

The observe right here is at sea-level and a “floating” boardwalk strikes with the sand. It generally floods leaving driftwood for cyclists to clear.

One closing part of the dunes path passes by means of Waiwhero the place the water ran with blood. It marks the ultimate battle between Whakatōhea and their neighbours Ngāi Tai.

I stroll this closing part later within the day and, because the solar units, peace prevails on this golden place.

Kim Webby was hosted on the paths by the chief officer for the Motu Trails Charitable Belief.

The boardwalk after a 2017 storm.

Motu Trails Charitable Belief

The boardwalk after a 2017 storm.


Biking and strolling path

10 km every approach

Simple/Grade 2 biking

Fundamental Entry Factors: Ōpōtiki Struggle Memorial Park, Hukuwai Seaside, Tirohanga Seaside Street.

Web site:


Free, self-guided

Or take a guided tour with Mighty Motu Bike Excursions

Value: Varies with variety of riders.

Web site:

Motu Trails Shuttle and Lodging companies, Ōpōtki

Motu Cycle Trails,

Motu Trails Rent & Shuttle,

Getting There:

Drive time Auckland to Ōpōtiki 4 hours quarter-hour, through Pacific Coast Freeway.

Drive time Gisborne to Ōpōtiki, 1 hour 51 minutes through SH 2.

Drive time Rotorua to Ōpōtiki, 1 hour 48 through SH 30 and SH 2.

Fly Air Chathams Auckland to Whakatāne, then drive 45 minutes to Ōpōtiki (

The Motu Trails are ruled by the Motu Trails Charitable Belief, at the side of Ōpōtiki District Council, Whakatōhea Māori Belief Board and Belief Tairāwhiti.

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