For many years the region was known as the ‘roadless north’. In 1917 local businessman Allen Bell drew attention to the need for more roads suitable for motor cars by organising a road tour by 25 MPs, 70 businessmen and 15 journalists. The heavily publicised tour, which proceeded from Auckland via Whangārei, Mangōnui, Kaitāia and Hokianga, encountered dire conditions. Bell made his point: heavy rain made the roads particularly bad, and shovels and ropes were sometimes needed to pull cars out of knee-deep mud.
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