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 Whāngārei, Mangōnui, Kaitāia and Hokianga, encountered dire conditions. Bell made his point: heavy rain made the roads particularly bad, and shovels and ropes were needed to pull cars from knee-deep mud at times.
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