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Old 01-15-2013, 10:09 PM   #1
4Skins OP
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Joined: Jun 2003
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
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Tussock Adventure NZ

The Waiouru Army Base is a NZ Army training ground is in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand.

Waiouru is about 900m elevation on the south west flanks of the active volcano Mt Ruapehu.

Tussock is the main feature of the area and it is frequently covered in snow during the winter months.

So in mid-2012 when the OffLimits organisation announced the Tussock Adventure I jumped online and completed the entry form pronto. OffLimits is the brand under which outdoor action events are conducted for the New Zealand public at Waiouru. It is a non-commercial charitable organisation whose purpose is to raise funds for the families of New Zealand soldiers killed in active service. The OffLimits team have built a solid event management structure with resources to cater for up to 1000 trail riders. They have even started employing the services of a bulldozer to open up and improve tracks (they’re not allowed to make new trails but they can improve old ones).

The January Tussock Adventure was OffLimits first foray onto the adventure scene and hopefully not their last. The three day event began with a rendezvous outside the Waiouru Army Museum and then a mass transit onto the base.

Then we selected some non-snoring friends and settled into the 4 bed barracks and ate a hot lunch at the Warrant Officers Mess. After that we strapped up and formed up on the parade ground in three groups; the Cruisers, the Sly Dogs and the Gung Ho’s.

The 4 hour afternoon ride took us to the south east extremes of the estate on a mixture of gravel roads, deep dusty tank tracks in the tussock and clay tracks in the Manuka. There were routes to suit each group and plenty of time to take breaks and breathe in the scenery.

We also visited a mock village build from shipping containers for soldiers to practice assault raid techniques.

And being a deeply religious bunch we all paused for afternoon prayer at the local place of worship.

A couple of snotty hills kept us all amused for a while and served as a ‘sorting hat’ to help riders decide whether or not they were in the appropriate skill group.

Return to barracks via Home Valley road was followed by another hearty meal in the mess and adjournment to the bar to swap stories.

Here's a brave woman hanging on.

And another... (on the right)

Overnight rain dampened the dust and cleared just in time for a full days riding to the east and nor east of camp.

First stop was at the arch dam on the south edge of Lake Moawhango about 10 km north of Waiouru.

It’s a man-made lake that serves as a reservoir for the Rangipo Power Scheme 30km further north. Learn all about it HERE

Here's a target shooting range

Complete with Howitzer parking

We followed a series of gravel roads out towards the high point of the property (almost 1400m)

Then followed tank tracks down to lunch the historic Bobs Hut about 3km shy of the upper reaches of the mighty Rangitikei River.

The Director checks out the hunters spoils.

Our return route to camp was over more gravel roads and tank tracks (freshly groomed by the OffLimits crew)

and included a couple of challenging crossings of the Moawhango River which tested the water-proofing of some machines.

The Moawhango has carved some dramatic gorges into the land which we saw several of.

Military activity on the base was quiet at this time apart from an advance party of Singapore Army personnel readying their kit for driver training and target

shooting exercises the following week. By special permission we were allowed to take a close-up look at their kit before we left the base on day three.

Note to neighbouring countries; Don’t mess with Singapore, they’re very well equipped.

'07 KTM 990 Adventure '02 DR650

4Skins screwed with this post 01-17-2013 at 01:10 PM
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:35 AM   #2
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The muster on the parade ground saw the Cruiser group numbers grow with some of the Sly Dogs opting for a more relaxed day.

We started by cruising up SH1 for a few kays then heading out to the military airfield, a 1.25 km long tar seal strip near Waiouru.

After reaching terminal velocity up the strip we passed through several wet pasture fields

before getting back into the tussock-covered lower slopes of Ruapehu. Tussock country lead to the braided dry flood plains of the Whangaehu River, the source of which is the Ruapehu Crater Lake.

Here, the relaxation ended and the sand-riding lessons began for some of the group who got their first taste of sand riding on ‘Whangaehu Beach’.

There was a fair amount of grovelling, sweating, crashing, cursing and spilt petrol before reaching the Afghan Fort. Some relished the challenge and learned new skills and others just looked skyward praying for the Starship Enterprise to beam them up.

The Hard Women!

Our leader Dave led us further up the mountain with a somewhat exaggerated estimate of the soft stuff (“oh, about 300m” turned out to be more like 6 km) taking us up to the LOTR location ‘The Gates of Mordor’ near the Tukino Ski area.

We eventually made it (some limping) back to the highway and onto the base for pack-out some hours later.

So, a big thank you to Dave, Binney, Tuna and the rest of the OffLimits crew for the HUGE effort you all put into this event. You have done an awesome job setting up your organisation and hosting the adventure event. I’m keen to go back there and do the Tussock Buster trail ride and get into some of the more serious trails.

Thanks also to the NZ Army for allowing us the privilege of accessing your land and accommodating us in the barracks. And to the caterers, thanks for the good nosh and don’t forget to put the milk bottles out next time.

Photos by 4Skins, Jan and Oscar
'07 KTM 990 Adventure '02 DR650

4Skins screwed with this post 01-16-2013 at 03:13 AM
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:37 AM   #3
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Thanks for putting this up. Some quite diverse country there! How's the new Husky go?
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:30 PM   #4
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Excellent adventure. I lived in Turangi for several years, but never adventured off the beaten track while going over the desert road. Looks great.
Marty F
'13 Triumph Sprint GT; '14 BMW G 650 GS
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:29 PM   #5
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Location: The Plateau, NZ
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Sure was an awesome ride

Sure was a great three days. With 63,000 hectares of army land to explore, we'll definitely need to go back again.

John Glasswell enjoyed the flat bits

The Moawhango Dam (part of the Tongariro Power Development Scheme) dams the Moawhango River and Mangaio Stream to create Lake Moawhango, which is also fed from the waters of 22 other streams on the southern slopes of Mount Ruapehu by aqueduct under the Desert Road.

Lots of vehicles like this Land Rover scattered about. Guys and weapons, go figure.

Bunkers like this one are scattered all over the place as well.

Lunch at Bob’s hut was pretty amazing, miles from anywhere. Wind and Solar power the trick!

Where the LOTR crew filmed Mordor. Aptly named, it’s a pretty barren landscape.

A wicked trip
My wife said to me 'Why don't you go for a ride Honey', so I did
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:37 AM   #6
Brian W
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Location: Tawa Flat, Wellington NZ
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Thumb Nice One, men

Great ride, great report ! Thanks to the organisers for their marvellous effort, and thanks to John and Garry for their write ups and top quality pics. I have only a couple worth adding to the record, that is without chasing round to get other subjects' consent. In no particular order we have 4-skins on the rocks, being photographed being photographed. And an unknown rider on the mountain, I kinda like this one for the combination of white on white on white.

I have to admit that the conditions we met were several orders above my comfort level in quite a few places and there were times when I found myself wondering how a silly old fool like me ever set himself up for such terror. But, looking back, it was just superb to be able to explore so much of a hitherto unknown slice of our marvellous countryside and I would not have missed any of it for mega bucks. Some of the worst bits were made simple by a couple or three great mates who just seized the controls and hustled the DR through for me - thanks yous guys.

Hmmm. Red faced department. Will be back with the pics when I find out how to upload them.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:43 AM   #7
4Skins OP
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Originally Posted by NZGSer View Post
The Moawhango Dam (part of the Tongariro Power Development Scheme) dams the Moawhango River and Mangaio Stream to create Lake Moawhango, which is also fed from the waters of 22 other streams on the southern slopes of Mount Ruapehu by aqueduct under the Desert Road.
Note that the don't collect any water from the Whangaehu River. As the source is the Ruapehu Crater Lake the water is too toxic to feed into hydro turbines. The crossing where Lynda took a dip is where the Whangaehu crosses over top of the aqueduct.

As a matter of interest if you go down to the end of 'Rangipo Intake Road' 30 km north of Waiouru, you'll see this spectacular sight...

The is the other end of the tunnel from Lake Moawhango where it feeds into the Tongariro River.

I would've thought they'd generate some power off all that energy there, but then I'm not a hydro engineer.

'07 KTM 990 Adventure '02 DR650

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Old 01-18-2013, 12:26 AM   #8
The Director
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Husky TR650

Originally Posted by Sroz View Post
Thanks for putting this up. Some quite diverse country there! How's the new Husky go?
Gidday, 4Skins and Oscar dragged me along as the TR650 rider for this trip so thought I'd better reply here. It's better than it looks, I was happier each day especially since the terrain was better suited to an enduro-based bike than the big ole 990s those poor bastids had. I had fun, they sweated Built to a price it's a 'soft enduro' bike definitely not hard-core but the engine is good, no EFI glitches at all and uses bugger all fuel. Suspension is OK (soft/comfy) and that flat wide seat is really good for the long road bits (rode it 110km on the highway to the event, no worries). It's a good all-round gravel & dirt bike and still OK on the road (a bit twitchy tho'). Oscar reckons pricey pretend dirt-bike, but what would he know, and it's for sure more fun to ride offroad than a KLR/DR650.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:21 PM   #9
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Good stuff mate! There's some great riding in there for sure.

If you're bringing a dirtbike up that far for their trail ride bludge another couple days off & I'll give you the key to our block at Reporoa

'03 KTM 640 LC4 Enduro

The wilderness, the desert - why are they not crowded
.................................................. .....with pilgrims?
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