Altitude: 78m to 501m. Gain: 861m. Loss: 559m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
A long walk/ride along a 4WD track connects the Pahiatua Track to Ballance Reserve along the northern extremity of the Tararua Range. Mainly through farmland the trip is most spectacular for its views over Palmerston North, and for the sensation of being insignificantly small and powerless beside the immense Tararua Wind Farm.
From the Ballance Reserve picnic area, head 200m south and turn west up Hall Block Road (name on signpoist differs). This meanders up the boundary of the Manawatu Gorge reserve until it reaches the flat tops above, where you are greeted by the sight and sounds of the Tararua Wind Farm - a sound of not-too-distance revving jet engines, on a windy day.
The public road crosses the tops and drops slightly down the western face before swinging south (roads along the summit are private). At some point it changes its name to North Range Road.
Sidling the western face, the gravel road eventually climbs back to the ridgeline, amidst the wind turbines. The public and private roads coexist for a further few kilometers on the tops until the saddle NE of Tarakamuku, where the private road again climbs with the ridgeline and the public road again starts to sidle the western face.
From this point south road maintenance ends and the North Range Road becomes a rough 4WD / bike / walking track. The 4wd track sidles the western, and later eastern face until it finally passes the last windmill, and again becomes a gravelled, maintained 2WD road adjacent to the radar site.
A further 3km on gravel road leads to the summit of the (sealed) Pahiatua Track and the end of North Range Road.