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By Ben Selby
Despite the hustle and bustle of New Zealand’s super city, an hour or so driving your classic out of Auckland can reveal plenty of delightful roads and views culminating in an ideal spot for a classic day out or picnic. Such a place is Port Waikato.
Located about an hour from central Auckland, Port Waikato’s small coastal community houses around 300 people and provides a great setting to throw out the picnic rug with your family or significant other and enjoy the day, providing the weather is good of course.
Port Waikato is also where you find the tail end of the Waikato River. One of New Zealand’s longest rivers, it criss-crosses its way from Lake Taupo, starting its descent from as far as Mt Ruapehu.
All in all, it makes a great day trip to make if you fancy a spirited run in your classic. Starting in Central Auckland, you can either head through the Waterview Connection along the Western Motorway or simply take the Southern Motorway along SH1 one.
This one really depends on whereabouts in Auckland you live or are coming from. Both highways become one anyway so you won’t be lost.
Next up is to continue along SH1 past Papakura, Drury and past the Bombay Hills. However, if your classic is more at home at a more sedate pace, then a turn off at Drury is advised. This way, you can bypass the often-heavy traffic of the Southern Motorway and head onto SH22. This will bring you through Paerata and Pukekohe. There is plenty to do and see in Pukekohe, maybe that best saved for another trip entirely
Cruising through Pukekohe, make for Buckland Road. This will lead you out of Pukekohe town centre, through Buckland and into Tuakau. Keep following Buckland Road till it merges with George Street and links up with River Road. You are now well on your way to Port Waikato.
The alternative way to get to River Road without going through Pukekohe and Tuakau is to stay on SH1 itself until you reach the Razorback Road exit. Once you have left SH1, turn right onto Razorback Road. This becomes Helenslee Road, follow this until it becomes Munro Road.
After a while you will come to a T-junction. Here you have the option to turn left or right, if you have the time, it is recommended turning left and head into Pokeno. Grab an ice cream at the Original Ice Cream and Coffee Shop if you have the time. These Ice Creams have to be seen to believed. Those with a sweet tooth should definitely stop here.
Back on the road, you follow Pokeno Road which becomes Whangarata Road. Before you know it, you link up with River Road
It is here you start to get your first glimpses of the Waikato River. After following it for a wee while, turn right onto the famous Tuakau Bridge. For many, this is one of the highlights on the run to Port Waikato. The chance for a quick photo stop wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
Once you cross the bridge, turn sharp right onto Port Waikato Road, yes you are nearly there. Travel through farmland before you are reunited with the sight of the river once again.
Here is where you can really let your classic sing, with a lovely mix of fast straights and corners. You get closer and closer to the waters edge too. The perfect time to open up that twin-cam or V8, responsibly of course.
Before long, you arrive in Port Waikato itself. In terms of the ideal picnic possie, Maraetai beach is good, giving you a beautiful view of the river, or you can continue through Port Waikato town to Sunset beach, which looks out onto the Tasman Sea. Either way, it’s a beautiful spot for a bite to eat.
To get back to Auckland, simply go back the way you came.