Mountains to Sea

  • mountains-to-seamountains-to-sea

Cycleway Category: Official NZ Cycling TrailCycleway Tags: Grade 2, Grade 3, and Grade 4

  • Ohakune Junction — Whanganui North Mole (4-6 days, 317km)

    Please Note: The Mountains to Sea Trail is open however three sections have been temporarily closed:

    • Whanganui River Road section closed
      Major flooding in June 2015 has closed the Whanganui River Road and the road between Pipiriki and Raetihi. These roads are likely to be reopened for 4WDs in July. The riverside landings are also closed as they are covered in metres of silt, which is like quicksand.
    • Optional Kaiwhakauka section closed
      Due to the collapse of the Depot Bridge, the Kaiwhakauka Track is closed until further notice. The Mangapurua Track is still open. Cyclists planning to ride the Mountains to Sea Trail to the Bridge to Nowhere should start from Ohakune rather than National Park.
    • State Highway 4 section closed
      Due to increasing traffic volumes and a lack of space on Highway 4 for cyclists, the 9 km of the cycle route on the highway from the southern end of River Road down to Whanganui City is closed until further notice. Cyclists may wish to arrange a taxi van from Whanganui Taxis (ph 06-343 5555) or River City Taxis (ph 06-345 3333) to shuttle them down this section. From the Whanganui i-SITE there is an off road path most of the way to the sea.

    The Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail uses a combination of local mountain biking trails, public roads and a jetboat to take riders from the mountains of the Central Volcanic Plateau to the sea in Whanganui.

    Riders will traverse two national parks that are rich in natural and cultural heritage, enjoying stunning scenery along the way.

    The Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail is a joint initiative involving the Ruapehu District Council, Whanganui Iwi, Wanganui District Council, Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.


    The Ohakune Old Coach Road covers virgin native forest and can be ridden from the railway station in Ohakune to Horopito or vice versa. Follow the original trail used to transport passengers between the two rail heads of the unfinished North Island truck line during the 1900’s. Highlights of this track include the historic Hapuawhenua Viaduct and the pitch black Hapuawhenua Tunnel.


    Starting from National Park, Fishers Track requires minimal fitness levels which makes it a great option for beginner mountain bike enthusiasts. There is a short climb, winding through stunning native bush before descending down through farmland. Advanced riders can continue from the end of Fishers Track to Whakahoro and access the Bridge to Nowhere via the Kaiwhakauka Track.


    The Mangapurua Trig is a great place to stop for a break, with spring water and toilets available. On a clear day the breathtaking views take in Tongariro National Park and Mt Taranaki.


    This large concrete bridge was completed in 1936 and now stands in the bush in the middle of … well … nowhere.

    The bridge was built across the deep Mangapurua Gorge to provide access for pioneering farmers. The intention was to build roads to it later, but the area proved to be too remote.

    While no roads lead to the bridge, it’s a popular attraction that is accessible by mountain bike, tramping or a boat or kayak trip followed by a 45-minute walk on maintained bush trails.

    Be Prepared

    Autumn is recommended as the best time to ride the Mountains to Sea – though the cycle trail is open throughout the year.

    The Maungapurua Track has some potentially dangerous bluffs that should be walked.

    The Kaiwhakauka and Maungapurua tracks should not be ridden after heavy rain. Both tracks have sections of sticky mud that, when wet, can completely clog up wheels.

    The Mountains to Sea is a grade 3 (intermediate) cycle trail – though there are easy (grade 2) sections that can be ridden, independently of the more challenging sections of trail. A reasonable level of fitness is required to ride the entire trail and mountain bikes with front suspension are recommended.

    The trail includes a number of sections that follow public roads, where you should be prepared to meet vehicles. You will also encounter stock grazing along the roadside.

    Please take extra care crossing the ford near Horopito Village. Do not attempt to cross after heavy rain if water is flowing over the ford, as there is a hazardous pool just downstream.

    Public toilets are available at Ohakune and National Park Train Stations, the Kaitieke monument, the Mangapurua car park and at villages located along the trail.

    MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE is limited outside of Ohakune, National Park and Whanganui. Due to the length and remoteness of the trail, it’s recommended that you carry an emergency location device – these are available for hire from a number of local tourism operators.

    DRINKING WATER is only available at Ohakune, National Park Village, Whakahoro, Taumarunui, Raetihi, Pipiriki and Whanganui. It’s recommended that water drawn from the river and streams along the trail be boiled (3 min), filtered or treated before drinking.

    Weather Info

    Weather conditions on the Central Volcanic Plateau can be changeable over the day. Snow is not uncommon in winter and during the height of summer temperatures in the valleys can exceed 30° C.

    Riders are advised to be prepared for all weather conditions and carry basic survival equipment in case of severe weather. While severe weather is unusual and generally forecast, a lack of preparedness can have dire consequences.

    Wanganui has a more temperate climate with relatively few extremes compared with many other New Zealand centres. Summers are warm and dry with temperatures averaging between 12-30°C. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between 4-14°C.

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