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Central North Island-Tongariro Trails

Central North Island Trails -Tongariro National Park

North Islands Adventure play ground

The Timber Trail

Pureora to Ongarue ( between Te Kuiti and Taupo)

Distance 87km Time 2 days  Grades 2-3 ( Easy-Intermediate)

The Timber Trail ushers you through majestic native forest, across the flanks of Mount Purepra, over long suspension bridges and down to the village of Ongarue on historic bush tramlines.

From Pureora, this trail heads south, through for ecologically significant areas, passing 800-year-old trees,a bush tramway and historic timber-milling sites along the trail. Although the full trail takes two days to cycle, there are several options for shorter rides, with trackside shelters, toilets and signs positioned at regular intervals along the trail. The Timber Trail has some of New Zealand’s highest and longest suspension bridges ( the largest is 141 metres long and 60m high!)  a tunnel at the amazing Ongarue Spiral bush tramway and a  sustained gentle downhill to the end at Ongarue.

Itinerary:

Stage 1: Pureora Information Centre to the first shelter

8.5km, 1-2 hours, Grade 2+ ( Easy)

This first section is ideal for those looking for a short there-and-back ride. From the Pureora information centre, ride 200 metres east and will see the track signpost beside the road ( opposite the picnic area).Just follow  the little signposts at every intersection, and you can’t go wrong.The trail goes through ecologically important virgin forest for the first 4km and then a mix of exotic and regenerating native forest. There is a track off to the left at approx  3.4km, leading to a historic bulldozer under a large shelter. The trail climbs gently all the way to MT Pureora.The first  trail shelter is right beside the track and affords expansive views of the area. You can either turn around here or carry on up the flanks of Mt Pureora into the cloud forest.

Stage 2: First shelter to Piropiro Flats ( or Black Fern Lodge)

31.5km, 3-5 hours, Grade 3( Intermediate)

From the first shelter, the trail becomes steeper in places. With loaded bikes some riders may have to walk short sections. The intensely green and twisted cloud forest on this section is stunning. After 14km of climbing, you will reach the highest point of the ride. About 13km from the first shelter, you will cross a 115-metre suspension bridge over Bog Inn Creek, followed by a 109- metre bridge over Orauhora Creek. Shortly after, you will meet the Old Angels Res logging Road. At Harrisons Creek, 2.5km further on, you will reach a rest area with a toilet. After a few hundreds metres,a short track branches off to the’Angels Rest’, the remains of an old hunter’s shelter. Just over 13km from the rest area, youwill reach Piropiro Flats campsite. There are plans to build a cycle trail Lodge here. Alternatively, if you do not mind cycling another 6kms, you can stay at the highly rated Black Fern Lodge, it is sign posted from the Timber Trail. a few kilometres before Piropiro Flats, down Black Fern Road.

Stage 3: Piropiro Flats to Ongarue

47km, 3-5 hours, Grade 3-(intermediate)

From Piropiro Flats campsite, follow the markers along Piropiro Road for 2 km to a locked gate. Ride between the concrete bollards and into the native forest on a new section of purpose-built trail. About 3km from the locked gate, you will cross the huge Maramataha River on the longest and highest swing bridge in New Zealand. If you suffer from vertigo,do not look down! Ahead lies a 3-km climb, otherwise the trail is quite easy (grade 2).From the old tramway terminus, it is mostly downhill all the way to Ongarue. There are old huts, more swing bridges and the fascinating Ongarue spiral. From the spiral, an 8-km downhill trails takes you to Ongarue-Ngakonui Road where there is a car park. The last 2km to Ongarue village are along a sealed road.

Timber Trail Link to Taumarunui:

You may wish to ride from Ongarue to Taumarunui on the beautiful Ongarue Back Road, It’s 24km and mostly flat( see Tmber Trail Link)

Fact File:

Overview: A fantastic, but very remote ride for lovers of the great outdoors:4-9kms from Pureora Info centre is idel for families and day trippers:

How to get there: Pureroa is in the middle of nowhere: From Te Kuiti head southeast on highway 30 for 55 kms. Just past the Pa Harakeke Centre, on Maraeroa Road, turn left onto Barryville Road and travel 2.5km to the Pureora Information Centre.

Riding surface: 40% old bush tramline, 35% new single track, 25%  new and old logging roads.

History The Ongarue mill processed trees from Pureora Forest from 1910 to the 1960s protests in the 1970s stopped the milling , rmaining native forest were saved, and the Pukeora Forest is once gain home to a variety of endangered birds , such as the Kokako and Kiwi

Trail websites  www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation and www.timbertrail.net.nz

Support Services:

Trail Transport, Contact the Timber Trail Shuttle  027 496 1764 www.timbertrailshuttle.net.nz  or from Taupo Tread Routes 027 446 2408 or www.treadroutes.co.nz

Nearest towns to Pureora trailhead  are Bennydale and Mangakino

Pureora DOC cabins and campsites; 07-878 1080 www.doc.govt.nz,  Pa Haraheke Chalets and Cafe 07-929 8718 / 027 207 1500 www.paharakeke.co.nz

Black Fern Lodge  07-894 7677   www.blackfernlodge.co.nz

Benneydale Cafe, general store , Bennydale Cafe and Lodge 07-878 4708 www.bennydale,co,nz  Art Doc Gallery 07 878 4780 www.artdoc.co.nz

 

Te Kuiti to the Timber Trail-Connector Rides

Te Kuiti to Pureora Information Centre

Distance 55km Time 3-4 hours Grade 5( Expert fro traffic)

If you want to connectthe dot between Te Kuiti, at the end of Kawhia to Waitomo Caves heartland ride and the Timber Trail, this is the easiest route.

From Te Kuiti there is only one direct route to Pureora- along Highway 30. It has 700 trucks and cars per day( 20% are logging trucks).There is  no shoulder on the edge of the road,so you need to be traffic savvy or ride on weekends or public holidays when there are few trucks. From Te Kuiti shopping centre, head south-east on Highway 30 and follow it all the way to Bennydale (34kms away). Bennydale has a store, cafe and pub. Cafe also has accommodation an oasis of European culture check out www.artdoc.co.nz ph 07 878 4780 or for accommodation www.bnblive.com. From Bennydale follow Highway 30 for another 13km before turning right onto Mareroa Road. After passing the Pa Harakeke ( cafe,chalet accommodation and cultural centre 07 929 8708  www.paharakeke.co.nz, turn left and follow signs to the Pukeora Information centre( approx 55km from Te Kuiti) The last 4km from the highway are gravel. A shuttle may come in the future ask at the Te Kuiti I-SITE 07 878 8077

Further Links

Waikato River Trail to Timber Trail Link

Mangakino to Pureora information Centre Distance 54km  Time 56 hours Grade 4( Advanced)

Adventure MTB cyclists will enjoy this link for its remoteness and scenic beauty. It also passes the topographical centre of the North Island.

From the Mangakino Lakefront Reserve, follow the Waikato River Trail towards Whakamaru for approx 6-7kms, a few minutes after crossing Mangakino Stream via a large swing bridge, turn right up a gravel road. Within a few hundred metres you will pass some public toilets and Wakamaru Reserve and then reach the highway. Wait for  a gap in the traffic and turn left and sprint down the highway till you pass around a blind corner. Just after the corner, carefully cross to Mc Donald Road. Head up Mc Donald road for 7km,turn left at Sandel Road, then right at Henderson, right at Arataki and right at Titraupanga Track, This leads to a narrow swing bridge crossing Mangakino Stream again. On the far side, cross a small gully and take the next right along an old forestry road. At the first YMCA camp sign, turn left onto a maintained gravel road (Titiraupenga Road). At the next YMCA  camp sign, turn right.Then, when you see a ‘Centre of the North Island’sign, turn right and ride a few hundred metres( including a cool, single track) to the sign of topograpical significance. Head back to the main road and follow it to Link Road, 3.5km away. Turn rightat Link Road and stay onit all the way to the start of the Timber Trail at Pureora.

Note: You can short cut a few kilometres of the Timber Trail by turning left at  the ‘Historic Tractor’ track sign. There is a shelter at the tractor.

TIMBER TRAIL LINK

Ongarue to Taumarunui

Distance 25km Time 1-2 hours Grade 3

Here is a easy ride from the Timber Trail to the town of Taumarunui and verios options for public transport homeward.

From Ongarue, at the southern end of the Timber Trail, ride south on Ongarue Back Road for 24km, it is gravel for the first half with a few rolling hills. It is signposted with New Zealand Cycle Trail signs. Ongarue Back Road passes a marae, then,on the outshirt of Taumarunui, it turns into Golf Road. then turn right into Short Street to ride underneath the main trunk railway line to the main street of town.The shops are on the left. There is a good cafe on the corner or, if you prefer, a big bakery further down the road.

THE PRISON BREAK

Ongarue to Forgotten World Highway

Distance 60km  Time 3-4 hours Grade 3(intermediate)

A series of beautiful and quiet country roads links the southern end of the Timber Trail with the northern end of the Forgotten World Highway and makes for lovely ride in it’s own right.

From Ongarue, follow the Ongarue BackRoad (gravel) south for 13km. Then turn right at Okahukura and cross a double-decker road-rail bridge to Highway 4. Cross the Highway and take Okahukura Saddle Road over a 200-m climb ( all now sealed) to Ohura Road.( perfect setting for a Coen Brothers movie)

From Ohura, continue south on the main road for 10km and you will connect with Highway 43- the Forgotten World Highway-40km west of Taumarunui.

OWHANGO Connection

Taumarunui to Whakahoro (Mountains  to Sea)

Distance 67km Time 3-5 hours Grade 3 ( Intermediate)

This connector ride leads you away from the hustle and bustle of some Central North Island highways and into the breathtaking backblocks of the Volcanic Plateau.

From opposite the railway station on the  main street of Taumarunui, head south on Hikaia Street, then straight onto Morero Terrace and, a minute later, you will cross the Whanganui River.On the other side,turn right to follow Hikumutu Road into the  boonies.  About 10km from Tauarunui ( at the start of the Whanganui Valley Road), veer  left to stay on Hikumutu Road. It soon becomes a narrow gravel road the climbs for 300m. You will hit the seal again at a T-intersection with Kawautahi Road. Turn left to nip out 1 km to Owhango for supplies or accommodation. Alternatively, turn right to carry on to Whakahoro.Kawautahi Road is just perefctcycling: narrow, windy, scenic and 90% downhill with virtually no trafic. It  takes youto Oio Road 45.3km from Taumarunui.This part of the Mountains to Sea Great Ride. Go right, down Oio road for 21 km to get Blue Duck Station 200 metres from the Whanganui River at Whakahoro, where there is great cafe, accommodation and DOC campsite and hut. It is a great place to stay to its exceptional mix  of good riding, great scenery and awesome hosts at Blue Duck Station ph 07 895 6276, to Book  go to www.bnblive.com or www.blueduckstation.co.nz. From Blue Duck Station , you must ride to the Bridge to Nowhere ( see Mountain to Sea) Its one of those iconic rides i must see.

Note:  Google Maps may not be accurate we suggest you get a copy of  Kiwimap Taranaki-Ruapehu Rural Road Map

 

 

THE FORGOTTEN WORLD HIGHWAY

Taumarunui to New Plymouth

Distance 185km Time 2-3 days  Grade 4 ( Advanced)

One of New Zealand’s best-loved cycle touring routes, this ride takes in the quite Highway 43, rustic tunnels and the historic Bertrand Bridge before finishing along award-winning coastal path to New Plymouth.

The Forgotten World  Highway starts at Taumaunui, a railway town in the middle of the North Island. Don’t be fooled by the term ” highway” as is one of the quietest in New Zealand with fewer than 200 cars and truck a day. From a classic backcountry Republic of Whangamomoana, the ride veers west to follow the original coach road that provides  a quiet road ride to New  Plymouth  stunning coastal path. Although there is some accommodation on the route www.bnblive.com however there is few shops on route so make sure you carry enough food for 3 days.

Itinerary

Stage 1: Taumarunui to Tahora Saddle

77km, 5-8 hours

Highway 43 , the Forgotten World Highway, is well signposted from Taumarunui. It tracks an undulating course wet from town, alongside the gracful Whanganui River then heads over hilly farmland for 30 kilometres before settling in for a steady climb to Paparate Saddle. Once down the otherside, It weaves the beautiful Tangarakau Gorge, with native forest. Thirteen kilometres of this section is smooth gravel. The road is sealed  again beyond  the gorge  as it begins a moderate climb to  the ‘Hobbit Hole’  tunnel. On the other side  ofthe tunnel, it dives to Tahora village before tackling  the stiff climb to Tahora Saddle ( where there is accommodation with stunning views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki.

Stage 2  Tahora Saddle to Purangi

45km, 3-5 hours

Tahora Saddle is followed by a 12km gentle downhill to Whangamomona.This rustic town claims to be independent republic. For a small fee. visitors can have passports stamped at the Whangamomona Hotel.  An hour south of the republic, our recommended ”specia’ route peels off Highway 43 at Junction Road to head west along a historic coach road from Pohokura Saddle. There are dozen kilometres of gravel to bike  at the start of this  deviation, but the effort is well rewarded as you follow Junction Road. through Matau to Purangi where you stay in the original schoolhouse. This  is kiwi country. and you will notice dozens ofstoat traps beside the road. Goats, domestic pigs, sheep and cattle also commonly wander along the verge. There are only three buildings at Purangi-  so dont miss them.

Stage 3: Purangi to New Plymouth

63km, 4-6 hours

The special route leads you over Tarata Saddle, through another tunnel and down the historic Bertrand suspension bridge, which crosses the Waitara River. Leaving Purangi, Junction Road soon changes name to Tarata Road. Follow this for 15kms before turning onto Otaraoa Road. The next important turn is 31km from Purangi and is often missed becuase it is at the bottom of a fast downhill-make sure your tuen onto Tikorangi Road .Then  turn right at Ngatimaru Road and left at Bertrand Road to descent to the Bertrand Bridge. From the bridge climb up to Waitara Road turn left and then right onto Cross Road.Take a right onto kelly  Road and left at Manutahi Road to Lepperton for an ice cream. From Lepperton, take Manutahi (cross the highway) Corbett and left  De Havilland Drive into  Mangati Walkway that leads under Highway 3. At the end, turn left up Parklands Ave and then right along Smeaton Road to a big park. There you will find the famous New Plymouth coastal pathway that leads from Bellblock to the centre of New Plymouth, 10km away. This a great finish but remember “to share with care” as the walkway is  popular with walkers and families ” always keep left”.

Fact File: Overview One of the top 10 cycle touring routes in New Zealand. Starting from Ohura is also a great option, as there are fewer hills and less traffic than theTaumaranui ( however harder to get to).

How to get there: There are regular bus connections between New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington. Alternatively arrange a shuttle to take you to Ohura ( accommodation is availableat the old prison visite www.bnblive.com

Left Field: park at Whangamomona and take a modified golf cart along the railway line and bike back. The golf carts have bike rakes. Check out at www.forgottonworldadventures.co.nz

Riding surface: 70% sealed road, 25% gravel road, 5% cycle path

Special considerations: The traditional Forgotten World Highway ends at Stratford. This cyclist’s alternative avoids a bland section of roadwith moderate traffic flows in favourof a pleasant back-county road, and an award winning cycle-path into New Plymouth. Mobile phone coverage is limited between Taumarunui and Whangamomona. Trail website www.nzcycletrail.com

Support Services:

Taumaunui accommodation, shops, cafes and supermarket  www.visitruapehu.com, also for accommodation www.bnblive.com, Lauren’s Lavender Farm and Cafe; lovely gargen cafe (15km from Tamarunui) www.laurenslovender.co.nz

Tahora Saddle Back Country Accommodation, camping,bed and breakfast and emergency food supplies ph 06 762 5858 www.backcountryaccommodation.co.nz or wwwbnblive.com

Whangamomona Hotel, takeaways and hot meals, as well as accommodation ( must book ahead) 06 -762 5823  www.whangamomonahotel.co.nz, Whangamomona campground camping and basic cabins  06 762 5881

Purangi Orchard Beds and tent sites ( can provide prebooked  meals ) 06 756 5569 email ian.laurel@xtra.co.nz

Pukeho Domain camping  06 756 5537

Lepperton Dairy for food

New Plymouth there are copious options for food and accommodation www.visitnewplymouth.nz , for  accommodation visit www.bnblive.com      Bike shops: Cycle Inn, 133 Devon Street East 06 758 7418   www.cycleinn.co.nz

MOUNTAIN TO SEA

OHAKUNE to WHANGANUI via the Bridge to Nowhere

Distance 206km  Time 1-4 days Grades 2-4 ( Easy-Advanced)

A fantastic mountain bike adventure from the central plateau volcanoes, across massive viaduct and the Bridge to Nowhere and down through Whanganui National Park to the Tasman Sea.

From Ohakune, at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, this trail takes the Ohakune Coach road through forest and across a massive old rail viaduct ro Horopito. Country roads lead to the Whanganui National Park, where the trail follows an abandoned road, the Mangapurua Track, to the iconic Bridge to Nowhere. A fun downhill leads from the bridge to the Whanganui River, where you can choose between a jetboat or canoe to take you down to  Pipiriki( or both!) A wonderfil road ride then leads down the Whanganui Valley and over the Gentel Annie Hill to Whanganui township and the coast is very close. This 200km  plus ride can be done as separate sections or as one big trip over 4 days.

Itinerary

Stage 1: Okakune Coach Road

14km one way, 2-3 hours , grade 2+ (easy)

Ride northwest from Okakune railway station under  the New Zealand Cycle Trail sign and across a new cycle trail bridge. From there, the trail runs beside Old Station Road and Marshall Road for 10 minutes before crossing a smal bridge on your right and headingup into the hills. The track is rocky in places- remnants of the century-old cobbled coach road. There are  great interpretation panels along the way, massive rimu to admire and just off the trail, there are two large rail viaducts. Hapuawhenua viaduct is 45 meters high!The  last stretch to Horopito follows farm roads. If you choose to turn back to Okakune, the return trio will be faster as it largely downhill. Otherwise continue on to the Whanganui Naional Park.

Optional start: Ohakune Mountain Road- the top New Zealand’s biggest sealed road climb(1000m above Ohakune! see MTB Station.

Stage 2  Horopito to Whanganui National Park

43km, 3-4 hours, Grade 3 ( Intermediate)

From Horopito, ride southwest beside Highway4 for 800 metres, then turn right to follow Middle Road to Ruatiti Road, 14km away. Turn right and follow Ruatiti Road to Rauiti Domain. It is mostly downhill- fast fun on sealed raod.Then the roads narrows and breaks into gravel to the start of the Mangapurua Track. Ruatiti Backpackers is 3km before the Mangapurua Track.

Stage 3: Mangapurua Track to Bridge to Nowhere

36km, 3-4 hours, Grade 3 ( intermediate)

From the start of the4WD track, head left through a gate and bike up a well-grade 4-km climb. When

 

TO BE completed

Central North Island- Tongariro -Mountain Bike Rides:

Tongariro offers some of the best back-country riding in the North Island or in New Zealand,with 42 Traverse, Bridge to Nowhere, Tree Trunk Gorge leading the charge.

1)  42Traverse***

Tongariro Forest, 18km northeast of National Park

Grade3 Time 3-6 hours distance 45kms

This is one the more popular adventure rides in the North Island. It involves brilliant biking on old logging tracks through a remote area covered un native bush abd has a overall descent of 570 metres. By 2014 it was almost fully gravelled.

Track conditions 35% gravel raod, 65% 4wd track.

Maps For safety,NZ Topo 50 BH34 Raurimu is essential, but it has some old tracks marked on it that don’t exist anymore. For this reason, we recommend you take  a GPS. Also do Not use during  winter or when snowing on the Central Plateau:

How to get there:  From National Park township, head northeast on Highway 47. after 18kms, you will reach Kapoors Road on your left ( signposted with a DOC route description board) This the usual drop-off point for the ride as it’s predominantly downhill riding from here.

Route: DOC has signposted this track with marker posts 10 metres before and after major intersections. However don’t count solely on the markers for navigation-when your’e cycling along quite fast, they can be hard to spot. As you head up  Kapoors Road, keep going straight ahead around 2-km mark ( do not veer right). After 6.3km, turn right into the Slab Road Car Park’.  Head right along a 4WD track that follows the main ridge north, past high points 831. After 1.5kms, there is a small clearing on your left ( Kiwi Clearing),with great views back to Mt Ruapehu in a fine day.

The next few kilometres are undulating, and there are a few major turn-offs  to ignore until you get to an intersection at grid reference 146 752, with a ‘Kiwi Zone’ sign. Turn right here and cycle past high point 793. Now here’s a hot tip: just over 1km down from 793, you might notice a little track heading off on your right.Thios leads to a fantastic lookout over Echo Canyon. The lookout is only 100metre  off the maintrack, at grid refernece 163 770, and offers the best spot for a break and an awesome view of the whole ride. From the Echo Canyon lookout, the downhill is a ripsnorter all the way to the Waione Stream. If it’s wet, be wary of the odd slippery  patches of clay. When you reach Waione Stream, follow the main track right down the  valley for a few hundred metres. The track then hangs another sharp right and climbs steeply from the stream for a couple minutes then swings left and sidles down the valley again. Before long, you will dive down steeply to meet the mainford across Waione Stream. This is the halfway mark, and the first significant climb starts here. the First major turn-off on the right is the Pony Club Track, which descends to the head of the Whanganui River. Unless you wish to go swimming, just stick to the main track called Dominion Road, and you will ride through lovely native bush and past  Te Kaha and Waterfall Bridge before blasting down to the Whakapapa River Bridge.

Most people arrange to be picked up at the Whakapapa River Bridge, although it’s only a 10 minute ride to Owhango if you’re keen. There is a picnic area, toilets and swimming hole near the bridge and up at Owhango, a pleasant pub and accommodation.

Notes: This is an isolated area that has seen many bikers get really lost. Take extra clothing,food, a compass, and afirst-aid-kit and someone responsible  who knows where you are.

Support Services:

National Park Backpackers offers a shuttle service ($30 per person) email  nat.park.backpackers@xtra.co.nz or Ph 07-892 2870 or

arrange transport and MTB Hire  from Kiwi Mountain Bikes www.kiwimountainbikes.co.nz or 0800 562 4537

Accommodation is available at Owhango and National Park and  Free camping at Owhango end of the track( 1km east of Whakapapa River) after a big storm check with Whakapapa Visitor Centre 07-892 3729 to CHECK THE TRACKS ARE OPEN the Waione Stream ford is ocasionally impassable due to flooding.

2) Tongariro River Trail***

Turangi

Grade 2 Time 1-2.5 hours Distance up to 15km 

This scenic loop is suitable for all riders. However, it’s heavily used by walkers and anglers -ride carefully( Keep Left at all times) always give way to other users and avoid during public holidays and holiday season .

Track Conditions 1% sealed raod, 99% single track

How to get there From the Turangi I-Site, ride east, through the highway underpass and down to the Tongariro River on Arahori Street. Ride through the park at the end of the street and you’ll find the Tongariro RiverTrail.

Route: Turn right and follow the walkway up river for 5-10 minutes. At a Y-Intersection with’Waikari Loop Walk’sign, verr left and then just keep folowing the small Tongariro River Trail signs. They will lead you to the National Trout Centre ( a great diversion if you have the time). The trail continues from the end of the trout centre car park and goes to a small car park at red hot pool. Hang left and drop down to the river to cross the large swing bridge 100 metres away. After crossing the bridge, follow the main track down river to Turangi. Do not turn left down on the anglers track: they soon run out at the river. The track  rolls up and down through a mixture of forest and farmland on its way down to another swing bridge at Major Jones Pool, just next to town( you passed it on the way up). From the bridge you have two options:

Option one: Re-cross the Tongariro River here and head back into Turangi via any one of the obvious access roads, This is the easiest option.

Option two: Don’t cross the bridge. but instead head straight on the Tongariro River lookout track.  The track climbs high above the river then drops down a swag of swichbacks to a big bridge on Highway 1. Ride under the bridge and then cross it on a footpath. At the time of writing, there was a good coffee cart in the car park at the end of the car park. From here, a easy concrete path lead back you back to the Turangi  i-Site( ie where started).

Notes: The Coffee Cart beside the highway is alsoa great place to start this ride. For accommodation Book at www.bnblive.com book the luxury  Tongariro Lodge at www.bnblive.com or at  www.turangi.co.nz . There is a bakery and  supermarket opposite the i-site. www.Ebikerentalsnewzealaland.com offers ebike rentals from half a day) Tread Routes offers transport from Taupo  027 446 2408  www.treatroutes.co.nz

 

3) Tree Trunk Gorge***

22km South of Turangi

Grade 3 Time 2-4 hours Distance 19km

This popular ride follows beautiful native forest single track and is within cooee of the most impressive gorges in the Central North Island.

Track Conditions 35% sealed road, 25% 4WD track, 40% single track.

Maps NZTopo50 BH35 Turangi is worth getting

How to get there From Turangi, head south on Highway 1 for 22km before turning left onto  Tree Trunk Gorge Road( signposted) Park just out of site of the main road. or from Taupo turn right on to Tree Trunk Gorge Road

Route: From the highway, coast 5km down to the Tongariro River Bridge and check out the gorge. Cross the bridge and carry on for 500 metres before turning left signposted 4.6kmto Kaimanawa Rd’.This is the start of the Tree Trunk Gorge track. This track weaves through native forest, dealing out a steep little climb, four picturesque river fords and two wooden bridges en route. At the first stream crossing, look upstream to find the ford( which is impossible to cross when in flood) On the other side, continue following the orange markers. You are well ready for a rest by the time you reach the picnic/camping area beside the gravel road. Cycle out of the picnic area on to the gravel road, after 50 metres, turn left onto another single track. At the end of the sweet 1.6km track, cross the Pillars of  Hercules bridge. There is a sign to follow: MTB Track to SH1′. On the far side of the bridge, follow the main track gradually uphill, past several turns-off, for 4.5km out to Highway 1. Turn left and follow the highway for 2km back to Tree Trunk Gorge Road.

Notes: Be careful not to run over walkers. Turangi has a good range of accommodation go to www.bnblive.com the best being the Tongariro Lodge aor go to www.turangi.co.nz or visit the i-site in town.  For Ebike & MTB Bike rentals www.ebikerentalsnewzealand.com  0800 400 900 or for transport Tread Routes  027 446 2408 or 07-377 8319  www.treadroutes.co.nz

4) Sash and Door**

National Park

Grade 3 Time 1.5-2 hours Distance 23km

This loop is ideal for those bad-weather days when the mountain is closed for skiing and cabin fever set in. Approximately half of the ride is on historic tramways built to get timber out of the forest for windows and doors.

Track conditions:35% gravel road, 45% single track, 20% 4WD track.

Route: From the National Park railway station ( also a cafe), ride north for 200 metres and cross the railway line before heading south on Fishers Road. When Fishers Road turns right, continue straight ahead on Pehi Road, keeping your eyes peeled for small signs. Shortly there is  a short steep climb up to a historic bush tramway that has recently been opened up for cycling. This tramway wa built for the Marton Sash and Door Company so that bush locomotives could transport logs out of the forest to be taken south to Marton. The tramway provides excellent riding through lovely forest. When the track splits you can go either way ( the track on the right is longer). Both lead to a  gravel road (  Cuff Road), where you turn left. Ride down the gravel road to the next intersection, then turn right up Erua Road and take the next left onto a new single track that follows Waimarino Stream back down to Erua Road. Cross the bridge and take the first left onto a track ( it is signposted). You follow a mix of tracks and gravle roads, and even and old sealed road, back to National Park. You will need to hop onto the highway for a short section to cross Waimarino Stream on the highway bridge. The last few kilometres to National Park run beside the railway line.

Notes there are plans to extend the track to Horopito to connect with the Mountain to Sea Track. National Park is a small town next to Tongariro National Park. For  accommodation go to www.bnblive.com . There is a Cafe in the old railway station building a petrol station and general store www.nationalpark.co.nz

5)Bridge to Nowhere

Whanganui National Park

Grade 3+ Time1-3 days Distance 135-km loop

Set in the heart of a national park, the bridge is an iconic symbol of engineering perseverance and polical folly. There are several ways to tackle this adventure; we describe the two-day option below, but you can arrange for shuttle  to make it a one-day trip.

Track conditions: 30% sealed road, 24 gravel road, 8% 4WD track, 15% single track, 23% river

Maps the map to take is Whanganui Parkmap 275-05

How to get there: The best palce to start and finish this ride is Raetihi, 11km west of Ohakune.

Day One: This is a big day, so  you really need to get away by 9am.first of all, there is a 40-km (2-3 hours) back-country ride to start of the Mangapurua Track. Take Highway 4 north out of town, the take Ruatiti Road west. Stick to the main road the rest of the way. The first half to Ruatiti Domain is  mostly downhill-fast fun on sealed road. Keep on Ruatiti Road, which narrows and becomes  gravel, waeving through trees and across side streams down to Crotons Road and the start of the Mangapurua Track. All  going well,  it’ll take you 3-4 hours to ride the next 38km along the Mangapurua Track to the Bridge to Nowhere. From the parking area, head left through a gate and cruise up a well-graded 4-km climb. This is only big climb of the day. After an hour, you will reach a ‘ National Park” sign. About 2km after entering the National Park, you will reach a Y-intersection by a large pou(carved pole) where the Kaiwhauka Track branches off down to Whakahoro. Continue along  the ridge, and you will soon pass a steep walking track( signposted) on your left that goes up to the Mangapurua Trig. The track is all downhill from here and will take fit riders approximately one and half hours to get to “the Bridge to Nowhere”: it’s  areal hoot. Make sure you veer right at the “Stafford” sign. Half an hour after that sign, you reach a large clearing in the valley that is a good place to rest and regroup. The track follows the valley  gently downhill  all the way to the bridge; so gently, it’s almost flat. There are many narrow swing bridges, a few bluffs and several bluffs and several large clearings en route. The Bridge  itself, quite aptly, appears out of nowhere, It was opened in 1936 and had become overgrown bt 1984.Doc has restored it, and it now looks weirdly fresh and new in it’s ancient surroundings. There is a lookout track 100 metres on from the bridge and toilets a few hundred metres  further on again. The steep ride down to the Mangapurua Landing and the Whanganui River takes about 15 minutes. There is a shelter 200 meters before the landing. From the landing we recommend you organise a jetboat to the “Bridge to Nowhere Lodge” then canoe down to Pipiriki. This enables you to do the whole trip without  carying any camping rear. Plus you can have  a big dinner and breakfast at the lodge. However if you are in a hurry, you can head straight down to Pipiriki and get a shuttle from there back to Raetihi.

Day two: The paddle down the river  takes about 5 hours from the bridge to Nowhere lodge if you allow plenty of time for photos. Much of the river is like a long, narrow lake with hardly any flow at all,  but there are several grade 2 rapids to negotiate. From Pipiriki, cycle 28 km up to Raetihi (2-3 hours). It’s a quiet winding road with great bush scenery in the first half and mountain views in the second.

Notes: The history of the Mangapurua Track is interesting. First world war veterans were give farms in the  Mangapurua Valley. The Government assist in building the impossible road to “the Bridge to Nowhere”. It did not last long and nor did some of the settlers. Raetihi is the best base for the trip. for accommodation visit www.bnblive.com Raetihi website www.raetihi.com to organise transport contact Bridge to Nowhere info@bridgetonowhere.co.nz 0800 480 308 or www.bridgetonowhere.co.nz   Transport only from Mangapurua Landing down the river, and up to Raetihi cost appron$115 per person.  in 2014 the jetboating, lodging and meals and canoeing option cost $285 per person.

Jetboating & accommodation from Whanganui River Adventure 08000862 473  or visit www.whanganuiriveradventures.com who provide the only accommodation in Pipiriki.

 

6) Ohakune Old Coach Road***

Ohakune

Grade 2+ Time 2-3 hours Distance 14km one way

Historically and scenically this is one of the most popular rides in the Central  North Island region. If you have small children riding one way start at Horopito as its basically all downhill to Ohakune.

Track conditions: 35% gravel road, 15% 4WD track, 50% single track

Route: From the Ohakune railway station, It is impossible to miss the signposts at the start of the trail. Ride northwest under the huge New Zealand Cycle Trail sign and across a new cycle trail bridge. The trail runs along the side of  Old Station Road then Marshall Roadfor about 10 minutes before crossing a small bridge on your right and heading up into the hills. The track surface is rocky in the first section of the hill climb (approx 600 metres)-remnants of the century-old cobbled “Coach Road”. There are several fasinating interpretation panels along the way, many massive rimu to admire and ,  just of the main trail, two huge  rail  viaducts and tunnel ( the old rail viaduct is no longer in use, which you can walk across).The last stretch to Horopito follows farm roads. Give yourself two hours  to complete this 14-km  uphill trail to Horopito and at least one hour to fly downhill to Ohakune ( assuming you don’t stop  to look around especially at the huge viaducts, definitely worth the break).

Notes: This trail is the first section of one of the NZ Government’s  “New Zealand Cycle Trail project”.  The Mountain To Sea , Bridge to Nowhere   and Whanganui River Road are also.

Ohakune is a large tourist town on the southside of Tongariro National Park for accommodation go to www.bnblive.com ph 0800 400 9000 for E-Bikes Rentals visit www.ebikerentalsnewzealand.com or sportx.nz the town has everything from  a great New World supermarket , fantastic Cafes, Fish and chip shops and goods Hotels and restaurants and more.  for info visit www.ohakune.info or visit  the Ohakune  i-site. For Transport & also  bike hire contact contact Mountain Bike Station  www.mountainbikesstation.co.nz 0800 385 879

 

Turoa downhill to Ohakune ( Colins Turoa flyer)

Also the mountain downhill ride from the Turoa car park to Ohakune is one of the most exciting down hill rides in Central  New Zealand , Surface tarsealed , distance approx  10kms, Grade 4 (traffic on the road so be very careful and do not exceed 30kms/hr.   How to get there  ( drive to the Top Turoa car park from Ohakune township).

Five more exciting rides:

Fishers Track*

Grade 3 Time 3-5 hours Distance 17km mostly downhill or 50-km loop

Here’s a scenic , mostly downhill, trip for riders in search of gravel roads and a bit of grass track.

Track conditions 70% gravel road, 30% grassy single track

This is signposted as part of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail. Starts at National Park railway station (also cafe) ride north 200 meters and cross the railway line before following Fishers Road over a hill and down into the Retaruke valley. Part way down, the road becomes a grassy track for 5km, then meets Kurua Road, After approx 2 kms, Kurua road meets Upper Retaruke Road. Turn right and ride another 12km, to  T-intersection with Oio Road, where there is a war memorial in the middle of nowhere. Once you meet the memorial, you can turn left to ride down the valley to Whakahoro and the Blue Duck Lodge, or turn right and follow the’Raurimu’ signposts  up to Raurimu, then turn right at Highway 4 and continue climbling up to National Park.That is a really good workout.

Accommodation visit www.bnblive.com or 0800 400 900 for E-Bikes  www.ebikerentalsnewzealand.com, also visit www.nationalpark.co.nz and  for Transport and MTB Bike hire  Kiwi Mountain bikes 0800 562 4537 www.kiwimountainbikes.co.nz

Tongariro Forest Loop**

Grade5+ Time 5-8 hours Distance 41 km ( advance riders only)

This is a good challenge for young and fit bikers with considerable MTB experience. Choose a dry day and take grippy shoes, safety lasses, a long-sleeved top and full-fingered gloves. Expect a toitoi thrashing, a freezing tramp down a mountain stream and difficult navigation.

Track conditions 35% gravel road, 30% 3WD track, 20% single track, 15% unridable

Start from Taurewa, just 2kms south of the Outdoor Pursuits Centre(OPC) on Highway 47. All the old buildings at Taurewa are now part of OPC. At Taurewa, cross a footbridge at grid  reference 230 717. Nip around the sde of the Lions Lodge and rise down the old forestry road( Pukehinau Road). Pass John Mc Donald Road on your left, then  the Taurewa Intake track on your right. Then, a grid refernce 194 740, you’ll reach Danhars Road( signposted). Turn right down Danahars Road. It narrows to single track and delivers you to a flat area above Mangatepopo Stream. At the northwest corner of the clearing, a tiny track drops down to the stream. There are ropes to help, but they  may not be safe. Expect to take 15 minutes to reach the bottom. Walk and wade down the valley for 45 minutes to the old OPC-Owhango track where it fords the Mangatepopo Stream. You might see the OPC end of the trackon your right-continue down stream for a further 200 metres to find an uber-steep quad-bike track on the left bank. Grovel your way up this and you will reap the reward of being able to ride your bike again. At  the next major intersection, turn right and tackle a steep downhill leading to a bridge( of sorts) and veer left 300 metres later. Watch out for two more dodgy bridges in short succession(Slow down on them).Continue on the main track and, after about 20 minutes you will sidle around the east side of a large knoll and meet up with the42 Traverse track just above the Waione Stream. Head southwest on the 42 Traverse-It’s a 40 minute climb to the Echo Canyon lookout  at grid reference 163 770. after  a well deserved rest, continue along the 42 Traverse, then descend to the Pukehinau track turn off, on your left, at grid referencec 152 743.

Blast down this forestry road for 1km, then keep look out for a small track branching of on your left. This seems to be the sole domain of quad bikes these days, and is rutted from top to bottom.It leads back to Pukehinau Road where you started.Enjoy, if you dare!

Notes: Don’t even thinkabout attempting this ride after heavy rain.NZTopo50 BH34 Raurimu is essential, although not all roads are marked accurately. A GPS is a good idea.’

 

Tukino Mountain Road*

Grade 2  Time 2-4 hours  Distance up to 28kms return

This ride involves just over 600m of climbing/descending and offers amazing views of MT Raupehu, the desert and Kaimanawa Forest Park.

From Turangi, head south on Highway 1 for 32km. Turn right onto the Tukino Ski field access road and park a few hundreds in from the highway. Follow the main 4WD track towards Mt Rauapehu. Just over halway up, you will pass DOC signs pointing out where the round-the mountain walking track heads off.Carry on past these signs up a steep section to the telecomminications transceiver and then around the hill to tackle the last stretch up to the ski field. From the ski field, head back the same way  you came, watching out for sandy/snowy patches. It isa natural surface road the whole way, and outside the ski season there is virtually no traffic.

 

Kaiwhakauka Track **

Whakahoro, 52km west of National Park

Grade 4  Time 2hours Distance 20km

When dry, this old tramping track provides a fine alternative start to the Bridge to Nowhere ride.

Track conditions 50% 4WD,50% single track

Maps  The Whanganui Parkmap 273-05 is the best to take

The Kaiwhakauka Track starts from Whakahoro and finishes near the MangapuruaTrig( on the way to the Bridge Nowhere) Youcan pedal New Zealand Cycle Trail routes to Whakahoro from either National Park or Taumarunui.

From National Park. its 52km or from Taumarunui it’s 65km. both routes are mostly downhill and well signposted.  You can also drive 44km down Oio Road,  which starts from Highway 42km south of Owhango.

The Track is signposted as part of the Mountain to Sea Trail, It starts off as an easy farm track, heading south towards the Whanganui National Park boundary. After passing the park boundary gate,however, the track becomes a single track, with several narrow bridges and some steep drop-offs onthe sides. The single track lasts for 5kms, then breaks out onto farmland again, and a 4WD track climbs for 3kms to the Mangapurua Track. From the track intersection your choice are turn right and ride up to the Mangapurua Trig and possibly all the way to the Bridge to Nowhere or turn left to head down to Ruatiti Road,and onto Raetihi, Of course, you can also just head back the way you came-it is more fun going downhill!

Notes: Blue Duck Lodge and Cafe at Whakahoro 07 895 6276 or book accommodation at www.bnblive.com visit www.blueduckstation.co.NZ a cool place a interesting mix of recreation with conservation of natural and cultural heritage. On a budget there is a DOC campsite and cabin at Whakahoro.

 

Kiko Road Loop*

Motuoapa Near Turangi

Avery short, but great fun, easy loop. Well worth it.

Grade 3 Time 1 hour Distance 4km loop

This ride is short riding from Motuoapa, where thereis a store that sells ice creams. Drive 10 km north of Turangi on Highway 1, to get to Motuoapa, a further 1km north, turn right onto Kiko Road. Drive 17km up the end of Kiko Road where you will find a car park, a picnik area and toilet.From the car park, a km loop follows a benched track, passing through lush and varied forest that includes matai, miro, red and silver beech, kamahi and rimu. Also keep an ear out for Kaka flying overhead.

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