Stage 4

Saturday 26 January 2019

TE PIKI – THE CLIMB – 143.8KM

This track circles the maunga, Pukemako.

Riders will take in the Hobbiton Movie Set as they make their way around the track, through the WWI soldier settlement of Te Miro. In 1916 the Te Miro Estate was purchased by the Government to resettle soldiers following the war.

The stage finishes by tackling the slopes of Pukemako formerly known as Maungakawa Scenic Reserve. Pukemako was originally Ngāti Hauā land before being purchased by Daniel Thornton for growing wheat. Following Thornton’s early death, his widow built a homestead on the top of Pukemako overlooking Cambridge.

This area is also known by locals as Sanatorium Hill after an open air sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers that was established here in 1902. The Government purchased part of the Thornton Estate including the homestead to build the sanatorium and added several other wings and later chalets to house the patients.

Cambridge had the reputation as a haven for tuberculosis sufferers because of its dry climate. At its busiest, Te Waikato Sanatorium treated 160 patients each year. During WWI the sanatorium was used for recovering soldiers, before finally closing in 1922. A small concrete building is all that is left of the sanatorium; make sure you check it out after the race!

In 1963 the land became part of the Maungakawa Scenic Reserve. With many of the native trees milled in Daniel Thornton’s reign, the native forest is slowly being re-established in this area. Take a walk on one of the Department of Conservation (DoC) tracks and make the most of the picnic spots.

Near the spot of the old sanatorium, you’ll spot a park known as Gudex Memorial Park. This is named after Michael Gudex, a well-known Waikato botanist.  A stone obelisk commemorates his contribution to horticulture and the preservation of New Zealand’s natural resources.

The whole area has recently returned to its ancestral name ‘Pukemako’ following the Ngāti Hauā Treaty Settlement in 2014.