Note: Cell phone coverage generally available but not to be relied upon. Personal locator beacon as usual recommended. There is a locked gate half way up, with a cell number to contact in order to continue riding the ascent to the summit. Motueka i-Site advised that phoning was generally for courtesy reasons only, and if you cannot speak to anyone it's ok - just jump the gate and continue riding.
Rating: Grade 3
Know before you go: Strenuous climbing, and some steep loose sections. Be self sufficient and take warm clothing as you are getting up to 1300m - if you make the summit.
Getting there: From Motueka River West Bank Road, start riding up Rocky River Road (a few kms North East of Ngatimoti).
The climb starts gently with an excellent quality road. It passes through an impressive stand of gum, and after 1 or 2 ford crossings, climbs become slightly steeper. Go straight through a skid, then veer left along the main Rocky River Road towards the summit.
You will pass a couple of private dwellings on the left, then the climb meets the aforementioned gate and gets steeper still. It would be a good effort not to dab your foot down on these ascents. The author suffered a torn sidewall here, so as usual take plenty of protection/spare tubes to mitigate the risk of beating the feet back to the car!
After a couple more kms of slow yakka, you meet the bushline, and the radio tower is visible ahead. Almost there now! The views threaten to distract, but keep your focus on the climb and choosing your line, and before long you'll get a real sense of satisfaction from pedaling your way to the top of this behemoth.
Needless to say, respect the mountains and the possibility of whiteout etc, and be prepared to descend swiftly with the ability to fight another day.