The best 25 stages in NZ rallying – number 4

Juha Kankkunen during Rally New Zealand 1993. Photo / Geoff Ridder

In our countdown of the top 25 stages in New Zealand rallying, our experts have locked in the top 10 stages.

Number 4: Manawahe (Whakatane)

Another famous New Zealand stage that has been part of numerous events from club rallies to Rally New Zealand over the years.

A regular feature in Rally New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s, when the event stopped for a night in Rotorua. More recently the 25km-long Manawahe stage has been used in Rally Bay of Plenty, which returns to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship this year.

A terrific stage that has it all – fast and flowing cambered roads, some tighter and technical parts and even a piece of tarmac in the middle these days.

Also a popular stage with spectators, with numerous vantage points, including the iconic Helicopter Corner at the junction of Matahi Rd and Rendall Rd, where a helicopter famously crashed during the 1985 Rally New Zealand.

LeeAnn Barnes Rotorua Rally 2004. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Neil Allport: “Always looked forward to doing this stage.”

Rocky Hudson: “Has a seal ‘breather’ section in the middle. Obviously includes the infamous ‘Helicopter Corner’ – I was there that day.”

Phil Campbell during BOP Rally 2020. Photo / Geoff Ridder


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The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill