“Most Dangerous Journey in the Dominion,” proclaimed an article in The Poverty Bay Herald in February 1914.

The story reported on a nerve-wracking trip from Motu to Ōpōtiki, when “Mr Charles Buscke gained the distinction of driving the first motor car across this mountainous road. Telegraphic advice of the success of the journey only reached town yesterday afternoon.”

“Mr Buscke would like to give a word of warning to other motorists who may be thinking of taking on the trip,” the Herald advised. “He frankly confesses that it is the most dangerous trip in New Zealand, and he would not take it on again, except in case of urgent business.”

Admittedly, in 1914 the road was still under construction. Thirty men were at work with pickaxes, shovels, horses and explosives. As well as a dozen river crossings there were many slips, and in places the road was so narrow “the party had to get out to measure if there was sufficient room to get by.”

A bit over a century on, Mr Buske’s comment remains appropriate. Right from the start, he established that the Motu Road is no ordinary road.

Old Moutohora rail bridge near Motu, Jim Robinson

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