The event starts in Opotiki and follows the East Coast Scenic Highway out of Opotiki, turning right at Waiaua Bridge onto the Motu Road. The first 12km is on sealed road (State Highway 35) and the next 53km is on the winding, hilly Motu gravel road. The stage ends at the Motu School after a fast and narrow downhill. This route was well used by Maori Chief Te Kooti during the 19th century as the only direct path between Poverty Bay and Opotiki. It is now a winding metal road that sees little traffic, but is rich in history. The road is one of the best native bush mountain bike rides in the country, offering many bush archways with panoramic views beyond. This leg of the race has been voted the best mountain bike section of any race in New Zealand in a recent Internet poll. No service vehicles, spectators, or assistants may use the Motu Road. All race support traffic must travel to Motu via State Highway 2.