Takapari Road was one of the very first tracks I was ever told about when I bought my very first 4WD - everybody said "Hey, go for a look up Takapari, the views are awesome!"
Somehow it took me almost 3 years to actually go have a look... Not really sure why, but it was worth the wait!
Situated in the Ruahine Ranges about an hour north of Palmerston North, the road climbs up to the ridge and you get some amazing views of both the Horowhenua and northern Wairarapa.
I could be wrong, but I don't think there are many places where you can see both sides of the island at the same time this easily. On a clear day I imagine you'd be able to see both coasts too.
At the end of the road is a small hut, known as the 'A-Frame' which is setup for hunters and trampers exploring the area and would be a welcome place to crash for the night if the weather came through. We were up there in the middle of summer and it was 8 degrees with gusty winds - the price you pay for being at that elevation I guess!
The track has two very distinct parts - the initial climb and the ridge drive. The climb is steep and long. Very, very steep and long. And being a mix of gravel-ish and clay, I don't imagine it'd be too fun in the wet. I was watching the water and EGT gauges very closely as we climbed, making sure nothing got too warm.
I did make the mistake of not being in low range though and about halfway up the hill I noticed the transmission was sounding... Different. Knowing we were pretty heavily loaded and working the truck hard, I decided to pull over and let everything cool down for 20 minutes as I didn't want to risk mechanical issues in the middle of nowhere.
Chloe decided this was the perfect time for a sneaky roadside coffee - can't blame her!
Once we reached the top, the track changed into more of a hard rocky surface which rattled the vehicle around a lot. This is where letting the tyres down a few PSI really makes a difference in both comfort and grip.
Driving along the ridge is something pretty special - being able to watch the world go by below you while being the only people high up in the clouds... This is why I get out and do this stuff, to visit these amazing places.
We reached the hut, parked up and went for a wander around, exploring the A-Frame hut and area around it. The hut itself was pretty basic and, sadly, slightly beaten up as these 'easy-to-access' huts tend to be. Not sure why people feel the need to damage facilities...
The track continues up into the hills for another few kms, but being solo and having heard that it can be challenging, we decided not to drive any further as this was the last day of our trip and we needed to head home at some point.
Takapari Road was one of those awesome tracks where heading down offered a completely different view than on the way up - looking out towards Palmerston North whilst dropping down the range was pretty sweet!
I'd highly recommend heading up Takapari Road if you're in the area and the weather is good. There's also a lot of amazing views heading through the Manawatu Scenic Route on the way up there - we could've easily spent a few days in the area.