There's an old saying that "the mail must get through" and in years long gone by it sometimes got through around these parts on two wheels.

Many decades ago the road between Napier and Taupo was a slightly tortuous and barely sealed affair which meant travelling it could be a challenge.

So for getting some mail deliveries through between the two towns nothing beat a solid old motorcycle with pannier bags and a willing rider.

Reading about the "mail runs" more than 25 years ago fascinated the then president of the Hawke's Bay Classic Motorcycle Club, Geoff Harris, who was looking at putting together some sort of annual run for local and visiting classic motorcycle riders.


So he figured that once again it was time for the mail to get through across that undulating 143km stretch of road - although they don't actually carry any mail - apart from maybe a postcard of Taupo to show the kids or grandkids.

The first mail run was staged back in 1990 and about 30 riders made the journey from Taupo through to Napier, having travelled up the day before.

The initial entry rule was that the motorcycles had to be pre-1939 and girder fork-equipped but that was changed after a few years to take in bikes up to 1950.

On one occasion the run was blessed with the presence of the late Pat Woods from Auckland who did the ride at the age of 81 aboard his vintage Harley-Davidson which was slightly younger at 79 years old.

Today the 27th Hawke's Bay Classic Motorcycle Club Mail Run was kick-started into rumbling, barking life and long-standing club member and ride organiser Jim Lord reckoned about 65 bikes would be taking part.

"It's one of the better numbers of bikes we've had," he said, adding there were riders heading to take part from as far away as Auckland and Wellington.

And like some of the motorcycles taking part, some of the riders also had some vintage years on their side.

"I'm sharing the ride on a 1928 Indian Prince with a gentleman from the Kapiti Coast who is in his 80s," Mr Lord said.

"But he's not the oldest - we've got a couple of guys coming through from Tauranga who can top that. It's quite amazing."

The riders all met up in Taupo yesterday and were planning to set off at 10am. "We'll have a stop at Tarawera for lunch and just take it quietly - these are old bikes and we are not going to flog them."

The two-wheeled flotilla is expected to arrive in Napier about 2.30pm.

Mr Lord said pretty well any motorcycle which was being sold here in the late 1920s and into the 30s would be represented.

"Nortons, Aerials, Indians ... everything."

At this stage it appears the riders may not need their wet weather gear as despite the chance of an occasional shower in Taupo the forecast for Napier is mainly sunny and 24C.