The Motu Sa­fari has been weav­ing its spe­cial brand of magic on the 4x4 com­mu­nity for 20 years now. Mur­ray Tay­lor tells the story of this year’s event.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story & pho­tos by Mur­ray Tay­lor

It was ten years ago that I took an al­most new Nis­san Pa­trol (Whale) on its first long dis­tance Sa­fari, the Motu.

Back then it was very, very, stan­dard. Ten years later that’s no longer the case thanks to a 2” lift, lock­ers, a front bar winch and ad­di­tional power out­lets plus a col­lec­tion of ra­dios, not to men­tion some 280,000 km un­der the belt.

The Motu School East Cape 4WD Sa­fari is now well es­tab­lished on the lo­cal taga­long cal­en­dar and this year I left Eke (tahuna, Ed) the Thurs­day morn­ing be­fore all packed, with a fully ser­viced Whale headed out into the wet morn­ing (yes, it's al­ways rain­ing in Eke!)

The first stop was for some ad­di­tional sup­plies then it was a pleas­ant drive with very lit­tle traf­fic all the way to Motu School, ar­riv­ing late af­ter­noon, hav­ing stopped be­fore Otoko to watch a cou­ple of heli­copters fight­ing a bush fire on a hill in the dis­tance.

Once at the school it was time to stop and check in with Shelly to ad­vise that I had got this far, and af­ter a brief chat I headed across the road to the pad­dock where I found a flat­tish site, parked-up and set up camp.

See­ing as how (see ar­ti­cle in the March ’17 mag) I had to avoid any lift­ing this trip, I was go­ing back to the old days, with a tent fly hang­ing be­tween Whale and the fence, and a camp stretcher un­der­neath.

Be­fore hit­ting the hay I spent a good part of the evening wan­der­ing around talk­ing with those that had ar­rived and were ar­riv­ing, be­fore light rain set in. The rain slowly got

heav­ier head­ing to­wards morn­ing and it was steady as we awoke.

Af­ter break­fast it was time to check in at the school, com­plete the pa­per work and meet the oth­ers in my group... at which point I thought poor old Whale was go­ing to have a heart at­tack as the other ve­hi­cles in our group be­longed to the Land Rover fam­ily!

Be­fore we knew it, how­ever, we were on our way. Across the bridge and onto the gravel, high ra­tio 4WD, then a right into and onto our first farm prop­erty and track for the day, up and around in the mist and wet un­der­foot, end­ing as we turned right onto Motu Road just be­low Mount Tau­mataokaretu at 796m.

Head­ing down hill and back to­wards Motu, the call was made over the ra­dio, on­com­ing log­ging truck, time to find a place to get off

the road as it passed head­ing fur­ther down the Motu Road.

The day moved along as we soon headed off road again with a stretch along­side the Motu River be­fore head­ing back up onto high ground, then drop­ping into Jack­son’s Stream for lunch in the sun­shine.

Af­ter lunch it was up­hill again be­fore a stop at Okai­hau, to take in the views and look at the aban­doned home­stead and wool­shed be­fore cross­ing Te Apiti road to con­tinue head­ing across coun­try to Man­gatahu Sta­tion and our run down the Man­gatahu River, haul­ing out at Manga­maia Sta­tion for the short road trip to our camp­site for the first night.

Ar­riv­ing at Whatatutu we ex­pect­ing to turn right, but no, the ar­row pointed left, so left it was. Not long af­ter­wards, we were on the river plain and head­ing down along­side a line of trees to a pad­dock set along­side the Waipaoa River.

Camps were then set up and it was time to ob­serve what was hap­pen­ing around the place. I spot­ted a Jeep ar­rive un­der its own power, but then it was un­der tow across the pad­dock to its camp­site, but that’s a com­plete story in it­self!

The next morn­ing was brisk just be­fore sun­rise, with the diesel wa­ter pump still run­ning in the back­ground. I ac­tu­ally awoke to the sound of a drone fly­ing at around 6.30am, though it took me a while to reg­is­ter what the noise was and I sus­pect a few could have done with­out that style of alarm clock!

With such an early start there was

ob­vi­ously plenty of time to have break­fast, pack up camp, and check Whale over be­fore crank­ing the en­gine to re­ally start the day. First up it was into the Waipaoa River for a run up­stream, avoid­ing the very low bridge along the way, be­fore haul­ing out just past Waipaoa Sta­tion hav­ing gone un­der their ac­cess bridge. We then joined up with Te Wer­araoa Road for the 700m climb, join­ing up to Tarn­dale road. Just past the junc­tion most trucks came to a halt, now at just over 900m in al­ti­tude, so ev­ery­one could get a good look at the coun­try­side around. It’s a great view and showed the area of forestry we were about to head into. At 1439m Mt Arowhana dom­i­nates the sur­round­ing area. We pass un­der­neath head­ing down the forestry road, still at height and the dust is slowly start­ing to fil­ter into the ve­hi­cle. The tem­per­a­ture is al­ready in the high 20s so a warm day is in front of us. Ex­it­ing the for­est it’s onto a gravel road with lots of dust, but ex­cel­lent views as we head to­wards lunch. This time we park up on the side of the road, un­der trees and in the shade. Af­ter lunch we con­tin­ued for some dis­tance along Ihun­gia Road be­fore turn­ing off, miss­ing the ar­row for the turn-off as there was a ve­hi­cle parked in the way. Not a prob­lem for us, though, the tail picked it up be­cause by the time he ar­rived the truck in ques­tion had moved. A quick ra­dio call and all was re­solved, we headed down and then trav­elled along­side and up the Makarika Stream through logged land be­fore a sharp left turn out of the creek bed. It was then on to a rea­son­ably fresh track that looked like it climbed straight up. It was a 300m climb up through bush and then onto farm­land as we headed to the high point at 500 me­tres. Good go­ing, al­beit dusty and slow due to the track and the good dropoffs along­side. Stop­ping was not pos­si­ble till the top as there was no room to park off the track till then. We then headed along the ridge which goes around the head of Orua Stream, be­fore the fi­nal down­hill of the day brought us out at the camp­ing pad­dock on Makarika Sta­tion, a site with trees on two sides and the farm build­ings on the other. While the rest of the crew headed to Ru­a­to­ria for fuel and sup­plies I set up the camp stretcher and lay down for a late af­ter­noon nap, must be the age show­ing! Din­ner time ar­rived all too soon, and the day slowly came to an end... Day 3 came around all too quickly with yours truly parked by the exit gate to took a few pics of those leav­ing be­fore the team. When our time came we turned left head­ing for Mt Aria, at 880 me­tres some 650m higher than the camp­site, and with some lo­cal tele­com re­peaters on top. With that box ticked it was then down the road and into Wain­gakea sta­tion and the long climb to the top of Aria. Up through the pine for­est the pace was nice and slow, as it is rea­son­ably steep in places till one clears the pines back on to farm land, through the late Sir Peter Tapsell’s Taoroa Sta­tion. Once there it’s not long be­fore you are stop­ping at the Re­peater Sta­tion for a walk around and pho­tos from the top with views of Hore Hore Sta­tion, Mts Ao­rangi and Hiku­rangi and out to­wards the coast. You can also watch those ahead as they pro­ceed at a slow pace down through the farm­land head­ing to­wards the Mata River. Be­fore long we were un­der­way again, with first gear get­ting a lot of work to save the brakes as it was rea­son­ably steep and loose un­der the tyres in places. There were lots of great views along the way with some in­ter­est­ing sec­tions of track such that one def­i­nitely needed to keep an eye on the track when driv­ing. Not too long later we hit the Mata River, with some groups al­ready stopped for lunch or late morn­ing tea. Head­ing on down through the sta­tion and over the slip on the road, the in­struc­tions were no stop­ping on the bluffs as there was fall­ing de­bris. It was

still a great view, even bet­ter if ve­hi­cles are on it. Once through and back on the road, the de­ci­sion was lunch in Te Araroa on the beach, so a quick re­fuel at the Farm­lands truck site on the way and it was a short road trip to Te Araroa, ar­rived just be­fore the 4 Square closed, so an ice cream it was and then lunch watch­ing the waves roll in. Lunch over, there was a quick back­track over the sad­dle to the Awa­tere River and it was not long be­fore I was in the river bed... Oops, where’s the rest of the team? A quick call and they are just around the cor­ner from where I have stopped, all stopped as well, as the Dis­cov­ery is at an odd an­gle head­ing for the river but not ac­tu­ally go­ing there... Af­ter sort­ing out a winch and then an­other winch truck the Dis­cov­ery is pulled a very short dis­tance back­wards, such that the front can turn down into the river. There was then a slow re­lease of one winch and dis­con­nec­tion, with cor­rec­tion of the di­rec­tion of the front wheels, then the load was re­leased from the sec­ond winch and dis­con­nected. At this point it was time to drive for­wards into the river... ex­cept for a ner­vous driver who needed a while to come back down to earth while all the gear was put away and a new en­trance to the river found and taken. Once in it was all go up the river with a few splashes and deep pud­dles along the way, be­fore a right hand down into the Kop­ua­pounamu River for a short dis­tance be­fore ex­ist­ing onto Kop­ua­pounamu Road. It was then back into the bush head­ing for Mt Koko­muka at 762m high along an old track which had na­tive bush on the sides for a con­sid­er­able dis­tance. It was a re­ally great track but with very lit­tle in the way of views un­til we were back on farm­land head­ing down to­wards Waikura Sta­tion. It was here where we passed a new log­ging setup get­ting ready to haul logs with a cable­way from across a gully, be­fore it was back on to a very dry gravel road for the short trip to the sta­tion. Be­ing such a warm day, and not sure how large the stream at the sta­tion would be of course, we stopped at the first de­cent sized stream and found a hole to both cool off in and free our­selves of the day’s dust… Un­der­stand­ably, then, it was a very slow trip back to camp where we set up for the night, be­ing the last in as Tail End Char­lie passed us while we re­clined in the stream! This was our big night and din­ner to­gether with the re­sults of the var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions and raf­fles an­nounced, spon­sors thanked, and gen­eral prizes given out. Or­gan­is­ers Paul and Shelly opened the evening with thanks to all for at­tend­ing, be­fore hand­ing it over to John Reid, who was in­stru­men­tal in the first Sa­fari and still has the T-shirt to prove it, 20 years ago, back in 1997. John gave a brief talk and thanked those present along with a few who had been on that first trip be­fore award­ing the prizes and give­aways, etc. All too soon it was time to head for bed as we still had the next day’s run in front of us. And so to Day four, a day which dawned with low cloud/mist hang­ing over the camp­site as the sun slowly rose above the ridge lines. The run in the morn­ing was a cou­ple of long loops around the sta­tion, through farm­land to pine plan­ta­tion to river to pine again and back into the river around mid­day. Some had stopped along the way, as we headed back past our camp site, head­ing over the hill to drop into Makahika­toa stream for lunch. Af­ter lunch it was then a short trip down­stream to the Te Araroa Road and af­ter good­byes, the team sep­a­rated, all head­ing for home, hav­ing had a great four days catch­ing up with friends made on past Sa­faris and mak­ing new ones on this one. Thanks to all on the Sa­fari, es­pe­cially those I trav­elled with, for all the times I stopped and for the thou­sands of pho­tos I have taken along with the op­por­tu­nity given to move through the crowd at times. My thanks also to Paul, Shelly and Motu School for putting an­other great Sa­fari to­gether, and to the Gey­ser­land 4WD club and their mem­bers who pro­vided the sup­port crews to en­sure it all went in the cor­rect di­rec­tion. To all the land own­ers, pine plan­ta­tion own­ers and any I have missed, an ex­tra spe­cial thanks, for al­low­ing us all ac­cess to a very spe­cial part of New Zealand which we would not oth­er­wise get to both see and en­joy. Till it all hap­pens again. Re­gards, Mur­ray.

Forestry block

As­cend­ing Aria.

Disco up Jack­son’s Creek, Day 1.

In the Kop­ua­pounamu River x 1.

In the Kop­ua­pounamu River.

Fol­low the leader.

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