At this point in our travel diary we are travelling south on New Zealand’s North Island east coast and have reached the town of Waikanae which is just opposite Kapiti Island.
Now there are several routes to Wellington and you know us… So why not pick the most difficult one?, one that takes us quite literally up hills, and down dales. Yep, sounds like us!
The Akatarawa Valley Hill Road is a narrow twisting route that’s not for the faint hearted, there are hairpin bends, I-think-I’d-rather-close-my-eyes-than-look steep drops and the road is stupidly narrow in many places so edging past an oncoming vehicle requires caution, nerves of steel and a stiff drink at the end of the trip.
After years of flat-as-a-pancake Dutch roads Himself adores this kind of driving so was in his element. Kiwi Daughter and I pressed hard on our anti-car sickness armbands and stared a little fixedly out of the front window.
The Akatarawa Valley Hill Road is the type of road that is weather dependant on being open. There’s a big sign to tell you if the road is currently open or closed and we were lucky that it was open. (or in the case of the carsick-prone-two, should that be unlucky?)
I probably wouldn’t recommend this road for a tourist type camper vehicle or a heavy loaded vehicle as many parts of the road are both narrow and steep, but if you are an experienced driver, have a suitable vehicle (our van is 4-wheel drive) like a route that’s well off the beaten track, then this one’s for you.
On the photo I snapped of our New Zealand map you will see Kapiti Island in the top left corner and the town of Waikanae on the mainland close to it. Now follow the yellow wiggly line that descends from Waikanae down the centre of the photo and comes out by Birchville, slightly north of Upper Hutt …That’s the yellow road we are following today!
There are a few black squares dotted along the length of the road… they are the farms, and apart for a few very small settlements habitations are few and far between.
We did stop for a breather near one of the summits where there was a clearing, the views were extensive and I’m not sure but can I even see the Pacific Ocean in the distance when I zoom in? I’m not one hundred percent certain but I think it might be.
The road begins innocently enough, let’s see what it’s like further in…