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.