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

Bridge to Nowhere Track (Mangapurua Track)

Classic Mountain Bike Ride

Ruapehu, North Island

Keen to ride the Bridge to Nowhere? Check out the self-guided two night Bridge to Nowhere Experience or contact us for help in booking your trip. 

The Bridge to Nowhere Track is an incredible ride that includes a huge range track styles, stunning scenery and untouched New Zealand bush. It's one of the best 'adventure rides' on the North Island and a must for all mountain biking enthusiasts. 

To get to the start of the Bridge to Nohwere Track (also known as the Mangapurua Track) you can ride from either Ohakune, Raetihi or National Park. Regardless of where you start you can expect about a 2 - 3 hour ride to the start of the track, so begin your day early if you intend on riding all the way to the Bridge to Nowhere. The ride from either Raetihi or Ohakune includes 20kms of downhill on a quiet, tar-sealed country road - it's a great way to stretch out the legs! 

Starting in Raetihi head out of town on Valley Road heading north toward King Street and State Highway 4.  After a kilometer Valley Road turns into State Highway 4 (SH4).  Continue along here to 2.8 kilometers until you come to the turn off for Raetihi Ohura Rd.  This is a narrow back country road with very little traffic.  It is very winding in some parts and it seems to get progressively narrower - although it is all tar sealed for the 20 kilometers to Ruatiti Domain.

Ruatiti Domain is a delightful spot to stop for a picnic or rest on the side of the Manganuioteao River.  It is actually a free camping area with water and toilets and during season you are sure to find a few fishing folk here taking advantage of the world renowned trout fishing in the river.  The area is also well known for the Whio (native Blue Duck).

From Ruatiti Domain head out on Ruatiti Rd as it turns into very much a single lane gravel road.  After just over 5.5 kilometers you will come to a cross roads where Ruatiti Road turns into Crotons Rd.  Follow Ruatiti Road until you see a signpost for the track on your left. This gravel road is undulating but includes no significant climbs.

In total you can expect to take between 2 to 3 hours to get from Raetihi to the start of the Mangapurua Track. It's just about 35kms from here to the Mangapurua Landing - most of it downhill! It's worth noting this is remote backcountry terrain with no cell phone signals. Fitness-wise, it's a Grade 2 but when factoring in the remoteness and technical sections, it's more of a challenging Grade 3. Be prepared with an emergency kit, never ride alone and consider bringing along a Spot Tracker in case of emergency. 

From the signposted start of the Mangapurua Track, you start with a well-graded but challenging climb. Over the course of about 4 kms, you'll climb just about three hundreds metres on a 4 wheel drive farm track - find your granny gear and be sure to stop every now and then to look back at the mountain views behind you.

The wider upper valley track is shared with quad bikes (mainly pig hunters) so you will need to be aware of this and also hikers/walkers on the Bridge to Nowhere Walk section of the ride. From the Mangapurua Trig the track literally flies down into the valley for about 7 kilometers before it flattens out and meanders downstream (Mangapurua Stream) along the valley floor for a further 20 kilometers crossing countless swing bridges.

Finally travelling along the Valley floor the Bridge to Nowhere quite literally appears from nowhere from around a corner! 

You can expect to complete the Mangapurua Track to the Bridge in 3 - 4 hours - including many stops along the way to check out some of the historic house sites that were home to early settlers.  The track is nearly 100% ride able apart from the dozen or so swing bridges; it is still a bit technical in some downhill parts and some of the exposed sections where the track crosses bluffs. You can expect to hop off your bike a couple times to cross these bluffs.

The large concrete "Morgan Bridge" was completed in 1936 - but by the time it was finished the settlers in the area had pretty much packed up and left the bush to claim the land back.  You can still see the remains of the original swing bridge that provided essential supplies to those settlers in the 1920s from the new bridge.  About 100 metres down from the bridge is a lookout track and toilets are there also.

A short 20 minute / 3km track takes you from the Bridge down to the Mangapurua Landing on the edges of the Whanganui River. 

Finally, you need to have organised a pick up from a local Jet Boat operator.  They will pick you up from Mangapurua Landing and jet boat you on a fantastic adventure 30km down river to Pipiriki where you can either catch a bus back to Raetihi or cycle the 28 kilometers back to Raetihi. One great option is to stay halfway down the river with the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge - they will organise the jet boat pick up for you or alternatively an awesome experience is to canoe from Mangapurua Landing down to the Lodge for the night before jet-boating out to Pipiriki in the morning.  It is not a hard ride on a quiet road - but I guess that depends on how tired you feel after the previous 100km!

Some of the photos for this ride have been kindly supplied by Ben Crawford.  Ben is a freelance travel photographer based in Auckland - check out his website at www.bencrawford.co.nz

Photos

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  • Jetboat on Whanganui River 3
  • MangapuruaBridge to Nowhere Track 3
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  • Road to Pipiriki2
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 5
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 6
  • Ruapehu Whanganui Trails 7
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