Watch: Kiwi daredevils skateboard down volcano road

A pair of Kiwi daredevils have recorded themselves travelling at speeds of nearly 100km/h down Mt Ruapehu.

Zain Solanki and Reid Douglas used longboards to make the descent down Ohakune Mountain Rd, the access road to Turoa skifield.

Crouching low on their boards, the two skaters took on grit-covered roads, sweeping bends and passing cars for the nailbiting ride.

Solanki, 23, told the Herald that the road was one of the fastest in New Zealand - and he had never hit such a high speed before.

Solanki and his friends took on the mountain just before Christmas, when loosened Covid restrictions allowed them to travel across the North Island and skate some of New Zealand's most extreme downhill rides, many for the first time.

He said he believed they were the first to take on the Turoa road, which had previously been impossible to skate in full because of the road surface.

He said that they were cautious about the planning and execution of their rides, driving the route first to examine and clear the road surface and wearing protective gear.

Solanki and friend Reid Douglas, who also completed a descent, wore full helmets and gloves as well and clothing made for motorcyclists with built-in kevlar.

The shirts the pair wear also contain spine protection and they add padding underneath their jeans for extra protection.

"We're looking out for ourselves as much as we can," he said.

Solanki said he was calm before he pushed off, trying to get his feelings in check to reduce the chance of making a mistake - but admitted the location gave him nerves.

"Anything on the volcano seems terrifying because of the setting," Solanki admitted.

"You feel like you're on Mars or something."

They used radios inside their helmets to communicate with friends further down the mountain, who alerted them to any vehicles heading their way.

Though Solanki completed his run without any traffic, Douglas came across a car and truck on his descent, using a heads-up from his team to slow down before he passed the oncoming vehicles.

The videos posted online were their final runs, after multiple practice runs at lower speeds.

Police told the Herald that skateboards are classified by NZTA as a wheeled recreational vehicle and are allowed on the road but must keep as close as possible to the edge of the roadway.

"As with any other road user, it is important that skateboarders are considerate of everyone else on the road," a spokesperson said.

Solanki said that they positioned spotters on the road at corners where they knew they had to take a wider line, to ensure that they could briefly cross the centre line safely.

A camera mounted to a car followed the skaters, with the car driven by another experienced skater who knew when to keep their distance, Solanki said.

Solanki admitted that his high-speed antics did make his friends and family nervous but they had grown more relaxed as he had gained experience over a decade of downhill riding.

He warned others not to try taking on the road or any similar descent without proper safety equipment and years of experience, saying they should "skate to skate another day".

He encouraged anyone wanting to take up the sport to get in touch and get the right gear, saying that the longboarding community in New Zealand was a tight-knit and supportive group.

Police echoed the sentiment, saying they "encourage people undertaking these activities to wear the appropriate safety gear and be aware of their responsibility as a road user".

So what did they do after completing the epic run?

"We had some lunch at Ohakune, and headed to Whakapapa to do that side of the mountain."

 

 

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