Seven riders today. I led, firstly on some back roads running parallel to SH1 through Meremere, along Springhill Road and Whangamarino Road on the east side of the motorway and then on Rodda Road on the west side, taking us to Te Kauwhata. There was 1.5 km of unsealed road on this route but it was the easiest unsealed road anyone is likely to find. After a rest stop at Te Kauwhata, we went down Waikare Road along the lake, then took Tahuna Road and Quine Road to our second rest stop in Morrinsville. It was now midday, and although I had planned for a later lunch I asked the riders whether they wanted to eat here, and they thought that was a good idea. So, lunch was at Ronnie's Cafe. Two riders headed home after lunch.
The remaining five of us kept going south, finding the best roads of the day at Waterworks Road (now entirely sealed) and Te Miro Road. Our destination was Pukemako (Maungakawa), perhaps better known as Sanatorium Hill, the site of a 19th century mansion and then an early 20th century TB sanatorium on the hill overlooking Cambridge. We pulled into the first carpark on Gudex Road, where there were remains of the buildings set amongst daffodils and snowdrops from the colonial garden. A sign offered us a path to a viewing platform. Three of us followed the path, but it split into two with a new sign saying there was a loop track 1.2 km long. We tossed a mental coin and took the left track. This proved to be steep and muddy, and we took it at a jog (in our full riding gear) because we didn't want to keep the others waiting. There was no sign of a viewing platform, and the track came out quite a distance from the sign. Apparently the right hand path led to the viewing platform only about 50 metres in. We rode the short distance to the end of the road, where there were some views over the countryside and Lake Karapiro.
Afterwards we continued down the very steep and twisty Maungakawa Road towards Cambridge, but detoured around the town and followed the bypass back through Gordonton to Taupiri and then SH1 home.
A good day out, with mostly fine weather apart from some showers and some rather strong gusts of wind. It was perhaps a little far for a winter ride, but I'd recommend Sanatorium Hill as a summer ride destination. Thanks to Tony Kay for being TEC.