I’d just spent the working week in Palmerston North and it was POETS day, (*iss off early tomorrow’s Saturday) as I knew it would be, so I had the bike at hand for an afternoon ride. On the top of the Tararua Range between the Manawatu and Tararua districts, there is the rather scenic 4-wd road through the windfarms. For more info see this page at Manawatu Trails. I started at the Pahiatua Track Road end and the road to the new Te Rere Hau wind farm with its two bladed turbines is a smooth gravel for 4km, then it turns to churned up 4-wd track (which was fun to ride) then at the Tararua windfarm side the road becomes a smooth gravel again. There’s not too much bad stuff in the middle section, but you wouldn’t want to take your normal car through, nor your 4-wd either (well it’s probably not rough enough for the 4-wd rednecks and they’d probably prefer to be noisy anti-environmentalists somewhere else, and the cyclists will prefer the quiet without them)
Here’s the view of Palmie from Range Road North near the Pahiatua Track junction:
and here is the Tararua District:
but its not too bad, unless you’ve been squished like a possum:
It does have a few mud patches to negotiate:
and the road is mainly pretty level, being cut into the hills, rather than go up and down them:
If you are listening to a nice piece of music as you are riding along try to time the crescendo for when the main block of turbines of the Tararua wind farm comes into view:
There are the three types of turbine on top of the ridge, the two blade, and the two three blades, one with the enclosed tower, and one with the open. It wasn’t such a windy day up there for me. I imagine when they’re going like the clappers the winds would make for an interesting ride. Some of them were still turning even though it was probably getting down to the lower bounds for when they operate. It was such a clear sunny day I could see Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngaruhoe to the north west well over 100km away.
I didn’t ride much past this point, and when the road started going down hill in a big way heading down to the Manawatu Gorge I turned around and rode it all in reverse.
One of the proposed national cycleway projects that missed out on funding was from the Palmie City Council who wants to extend the riverside trail in Palmerston North to Ashhurst. Somehow if this ridge and the river track were linked into a circuit (not through the Manawatu Gorge, a dangerous route for cyclists) then yet again there is a day’s bike ride that has a bit of tourist potential. There’s a bike hire business and extra Palmie visitor nights in that I’m sure. Or how about some tourism Think Big? How about a gondola up from Woodville with views over the gorge and then up to a visitor centre explaining about all the wind farms, with one tower that visitors can ride to the top in to see the inside of one, and the views, with a developed walking track around the base of some of the towers and people can hire a bike and ride along the ridge.
110,000 homes is a lot of electricity, and who’d want to ride their bike around a coal fired power station?