Karapoti Classic


Karapoti Classic


Akatarawa Forest, Wellington, New Zealand


Gruelling annual race through the Akatarawa Forest.






Stage 1: Karapoti Road (1.7km)
Start on Karapoti Road, 0.2km off Akatarawa Road, at the eastern end of the bridge over the Akatarawa River. The actual race starts with a Le Mans style fording of the Akatarawa River, but at any other time you can just cross the bridge. Proceed west along Karapoti Road to where the road opens out into a car park at the end.

Stage 2: Karapoti Gorge (4.3km)
At the western end of the car park, follow the track that heads up the Karapoti Gorge. After 0.4km you'll need to cross the unbridged Little Akatarawa River â€" which is rocky and cold, though shallow (except after heavy rain, when it can be deep and fast flowing). From there, the track meanders up the valley, climbing progressively alongside the Akatarawa River West before descending slightly to McGhies Bridge.

Stage 3: Hukinga Clearing (1.4km)
Sail past McGhies Bridge and continue up the valley alongside the Akatarawa River West. This is a more-or-less flat forestry road that ends at a clearing that you'll return to after traversing a loop of the Akatarawa Forest that encompasses almost 34km of steep climbs, difficult technical track, and fast descents.

Stage 4: Warm Up Climb (5.1km)
Turn right at the top of Hukinga Clearing and head northeast to go anti-clockwise around the main loop of the course. This stage consists of a series of increasingly difficult ascents and descents, ending with a steep drop down to Cedarholm Creek. When you hit the creek, turn right and cycle right up the stream. As the name suggests, this is just a warm up for the climb that follows.

Stage 5: Deadwood (7.5km)
This is the first of three big climbs. Actually it is several climbs interspersed with short downhill sections. The track surface is difficult, being loose when dry and slippery when wet. After a while you'll reach a rolling ridgeline that would provide awesome views except that vegetation has matured and grown too high. You'll continue to generally climb. After descending a bit you'll reach a clearing where you need to turn hard left.

Stage 6: Rock Garden (1.3km)
Drop down this steep and progressively gnarlier technical downhill which culminates in a boulder strewn rock garden. There are also many drop offs to watch out for. It ends in a deep gully at a river crossing. The river is a good place for a rest, in preparation for the hell to come.

Stage 7: Devil's Staircase (1.8km)
The second big climb. Much of this steep climb is unridable, so expect a fair bit of bike carrying. The track surface often consists of deep mud, which makes the climb even more difficult. The good news is that the end of the stage, at a clearing where the track meets Titi Road, represents roughly the halfway mark of the course.

Stage 8: Titi (5.4km)
Continue climbing to the highest point on the course, near the summit of Mount Titi. Along the ridgeline the views over the forest and towards Kapiti are simply blocked again by high trees and vegetation. Then cruise down hill, past the top of Perhams Road, to an intersection with Whakatikei Road.

Stage 9: Big Ring Boulevard (5.1km)
Turn left into Whakatikei Road, otherwise known as Big Ring Boulevard because it is a fast and almost continuously down hill run to Doper's Creek. Watch out for some tight corners which can be tricky at speed. As you approach the valley floor, you'll pass the eastern end of Norm's Crossing (on your right). About 0.35km later you'll meet the point where Rimu Road crosses the Whakatikei River, which is the end of this stage.

Stage 10: Doper's (2.8km)
This is the third, and final, big climb. This stage starts from just west of the confluence of Doper's Creek and the Whakatikei River. Head up the hill for a 320m climb that is not as steep as the first two big climbs, but it is more consistently up.

Stage 11: Pram Track (4.8km)
To complete the loop, cruise down the final big descent. The gradient is initially mild, with some short ascents. Then the track becomes steep and runs continuously downwards. At the bottom, cross the Little Akatarawa River to arrive back at the top of Hukinga Clearing.

Stage 12: Hukinga Clearing (1.4km)
Reprise this short wander alongside the Akatarawa River West with the knowledge that the worst is behind you.

Stage 13: Karapoti Gorge (4.3km)
After a short, gentle climb, hoon back down the Karapoti Gorge â€" again watching out for other track users (including horses and motor bikes) on this often busy track.

Stage 14: Karapoti Road (1.7km)
Finally, wander along the access road back to the start/finish line.

Getting there

Starts and ends on Karapoti Road, next to the bridge over the Akatarawa River.

Other notes

See the Karapoti website for more information about the race.

Thanks to Clive for the GPS data.

This video was taken from a solo lap in October 2014:

The following video was taken during the Karapoti Classic 2012 Take-2 race:

This video covers the course through to the top of Dopers and includes extended Staircase and Big Ring Boulevard footage:

Karapoti: elevation chart





Last modified

19 Dec 2014 by BCNU

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A Cheeky Monkey production, nice!