Motu Safari

The Motu Safari is the work of Paul and Shelley Cornwall from the Motu School.

Paul has been at the Motu School for over 23 years now and has also taught at several of the other country schools within the rural East Cape region. A keen outdoorsman and hunter he knows the area very well and therefore knows where all the good tracks are on many of the stations.

As one of the longest continuing safaris the Motu Safari has to be the biggest event of its type in New Zealand.

When you realise how much country is traversed, mostly off-road, then it is literally the biggest as well. Starting at Motu township, 15km off SH2 the safari winds its way through the middle of the East Cape region to finish on SH35 at the seaside church at Raukokore.

Such is the vast expanse of the safari no one seems to really know how many square kilometres is covered over the 4-day event.

Usually the safari is held just before school returns for the year, but this year it was a week later and being a school day the 13 pupils were at school and in awe of all these 4WDs. There were nearly 150 vehicles including the lead and tail end vehicles.

Setting off complete with our information booklet specially prepared giving route information along with details of the properties and special points of interest we would encounter, we headed up the old Motu Road, originally the only access between Bay of Plenty and Poverty Bay before the Waioeka Road opened in 1933.

The overnight stop was at Whatatutu where dinner was at the Marae after a Powhiri and Day two took us back along Waipaoa River before heading into Mangatu Forest, Arowhana Station, Hikurangi Forest Farms and eventually Huiarua Station.

Day 3 was largely spent on Waingakea Station, firstly following Horihori Road, if you could call it that above the Mata River, past a large bluff and slip which was narrow to say the least, but what a view.

Still no guesses has to how many square kilometres of the East Cape was covered, all I know is over the 4 days I used 150 litres of fuel and covered 600km off- road.

To read the full story in the April 2015 issue of NZ4WD go to (on sale March 23) or purchase your own hard copy at the Adrenalin store.

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