Top 10 NZ roads: Number 4

Last updated 05:00 07/02/2012
bridges
Fairfax NZ

ODDITY: Mangakahia Rd boasts quite possibly the only one-way bridge in the world with a T-intersection in its middle.

Top 10 NZ roads: Number 4

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Replace the congested drudgery of SH1 with bush-lined backroads full of adventure, discovery and driving pleasure.

4. Maungatapere - Kaikohe

Distance: 71km

If you're heading to the Bay of Islands, the Hokianga harbour or the Far North, the Twin Bridges road is a great way of bypassing Whangarei and avoiding the traffic of major routes.

A good way to access the Twin Bridges road is to turn off SH1 8km south of Whangarei and follow signs to Maungatapere along Otaika Valley Road.

As soon as you make this turn, the congested drudgery of SH1 will be replaced by bush-lined backroads full of adventure, discovery and driving pleasure.

Otaika Valley Road leads to the small town of Maungatapere on SH14 between Whangarei and Dargaville.

A quick left/right zig-zag across SH14 accesses the Twin Bridges road (aka Mangakahia Rd).

You exit the town through a rich volcanic landscape, notable for the stone walls built by early pioneers and orchards full of sub-tropical produce like avocados and persimmons.

Around 15km north of Maungatapere there's a turn-off to Wairua Falls, a 2km diversion that's worth doing if the Wairua River is in full flow.

Further north, the road follows the Mangakahia River through some spectacular gorges piercing the hilly landscape.

As a result, sections of straight road are few and far between, and overtaking opportunities are limited.

However, the low volumes of traffic often result in good progress.

North of the scenic settlements of Pakotai and Nukutawhiti you'll find the man-made feature that gives the road its name.

A one-way bridge crosses the Mangakahia River and is intersected at ninety degrees by an access bridge to a scenic reserve.

It is quite possibly the only one-way bridge in the world with a T-intersection in its middle, and it creates quite a conundrum about who gives way to whom.

Thankfully, the chances of meeting someone coming the other way are low.

Kaikohe lies 27km north of this unique feature. The town is known as the "heart of Northland", and it makes a great access point to the many attractions of the province.

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