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The definitive where-to-ride guide for cycling in New Zealand

Mountains to Sea Trail

New Zealand Cycle Trail

Ruapehu, North Island

Planning on riding the Mountains to Sea Trail? Check out the Bridge to Nowhere Experience or contact us for help in planning your itinerary and booking your trip.

The Mountains to Sea Trail stretches an epic 317 kms from the base of Mt Ruapehu through two of New Zealand's iconic national parks - the Whanganui National Park and the Tongariro National Park - all the way to the sea at Whanganui. This ride can be accessed as individual day trips or a full 4-6 day cross country experience taking in an outstanding combination of landscapes and natural New Zealand beauty.

Highlights of the trail include the crossing of the 294 meter high Hapuawhenua Viaduct and the iconic Bridge to Nowhere. Cyclists will also take a jet boat ride down the Whanganui River to Pipiriki where they will then cycle along the Whanganui River Road.

Sections of the trail include:

Ohakune Old Coach Road Trail

The 14 km Ohakune Old Coach Road opened in July 2010 and leads from Ohakune to Horopito. This trail follows the Ohakune Old Coach Road between what used to be the railheads of the main trunk railway line before the line was finally completed in 1909. This section of the trail is excellent for beginners and families and offers spectacular scenery.

The Hapuawhenua Viaduct is one of the highlighst of the Mountains to Sea Trail - a rare curved lattice viaduct with 13 concrete piers and 4 steel towers that was built in 1908 and is listed with the Historic Places Trust.

From Horopito the trail follows a rural road network for 44 km to the beginning of the Mangapurua Track.

National Park Village to Mangapurua Trig - Fishers Track

The Fishers Track stretches 17 km and starts at the National Park Railway Station. It descends through native bush into the Retaruke Valley and along gravel roads to the War Memorial Monument at the junction of Upper Retaruke and Oio Road. This section of trail is a Grade 2 ride, mostly downhill and offers spectacular views of the mountains. 

From here, continue along Oio Road to Whakahoro and the start of the Kaiwhakauka Track. You will travel through farmland and native bush, before connecting with the Mangapurua Track (and also the cycle trail from Ohakune). It's an excellent ride through some spectacular scenery and ideal for all levels of cyclists.

If you're after a shorter ride you can opt out here, descending to the Mangapurua carpark and following Ruatiti Road out of the valley to Raetihi or Ohakune. This route is mostly uphill.

Mangapurua Trig to Whanganui - 137 km

The two sections of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail - from National Park Village and Ohakune - meet and become one at the junction of the Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua Tracks (just before the Mangapurua Trig). The Mangapurua & Kaiwhakauka Tracks (33 km & 17.5 km) have been upgraded from tramping tracks to multi-use tracks for walkers, trampers and cyclists. 

The cycle trail continues along the Mangapurua Track, dropping down into the Mangapurua Valley. The track follows historic roads that were once built to service two valleys that were settled by soldiers returning from WWI.

You will pass the remnants of these old original settlements and along sheer bluff faces to the iconic 'Bridge to Nowhere'. This large concrete bridge, built in 1936, is now standing in the bush in the middle of...nowhere. 

From the Bridge to Nowhere, it's only 3 kms to the Mangapurua Landing, where you will hop a jet boat ride down the mighty Whanganui River to Pipiriki. This journey is 76kms and you'll have to book your jet boat in advance. 

After an hour of jet boating though the gorges and rapids of the Whanganui River the biking restarts in Pipiriki, following the Whanganui River Road to Upokongaro. There is a short section of riding along State Highway 4, before connecting with a dedicated cycle path that will take you through the city to the end of your ride at the North Mole in Castlecliff.

The Mountain to Sea Trail travels some of the best parts of the North Island and offers a fantastic array of cycling for beginner to intermediate cyclists.

Photos

  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 7
  • Mountain to Sea Trail
  • Raetihi to Mangapurua Landing
  • whio project mangatepopo ruapehu area secondment nov 08 177a
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 4
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 5
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 6
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 8
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 9
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 10
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 16

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  • Hi Dave, thanks heaps for the feedback and glad you enjoyed the ride! If you're keen on some NZByBike Better By Bike stickers, drop us an email at [email protected] and we'll send some out to you as a way of saying thanks!

    Posted by Matt, 02/04/2013 4:23pm (1 year ago)

  • I did the Kaiwhakauka Track from Whakahoro to Mangapurua trig and back to Whakahoro over Easter 2013. The track is really good fun, nothing too technical, I'd say grade 3 is accurate with the middle third of the track being the best & most technical riding. I haven't done the Mangapurua Track so I can't compare. I did it with 1 pannier on my rear rack with no trouble. I did meet a couple along the way will fully loaded panniers and a trailer, too, who were coping fine so I think cycle tourers can cope on the whole Mountains to Sea trail. The Kaiwhakauka Track from Whakahoro to the junction with Mangapurua track (15.7km) took about 2hrs with minimal breaks (the last 5km is all uphill). I reckon the middle section could get quite slushy after rain as it was grassy with some small damp spots even in this drought.

    Posted by Dave, 02/04/2013 3:18pm (1 year ago)

  • Is it ridable with panniers and everything? I'm cycle touring NZ and trying to a) avoid roads with traffic and b) go through the most interesting rides.

    Posted by Jiri, 10/11/2012 4:52pm (2 years ago)

  • What is the Kaiwhakauka Track like compared to the Mangapurua Track? I was told the first is bit more difficult technically than the second one ?
    Thanks:)

    Posted by Lucy, 06/11/2012 4:51pm (2 years ago)

  • The track will provide great riding this summer, care will be needed on the kaiwhakauka section as the boys are still working on many boardwalks and small bridges. All sections are open.

    Posted by Warren Furner, 18/10/2011 8:59am (3 years ago)

  • As this track is 92 % complete, is it still alright to do this track sometime in Nov/Dec 2011? Me and my friends are wanting to do a 220kn track in the North Island..
    Thanks :)

    Posted by Neelam, 18/09/2011 9:21pm (3 years ago)

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