Mangawhero River Ride
Start Point: Old Station Road, northern end of Ohakune or Burns Street at the southern end.
A family-friendly route which follows along the picturesque banks of the Mangawhero River as it meanders from one end of Ohakune Township to the other. This short ride can be extended to a full loop around the town which takes in spectacular views of the mountain and the surrounding rolling farmland. Depending on your route and on a clear day, at some points you can even see Mt Taranaki in the distance.
Ohakune Old Coach Road(Stage One of the Mountains to Sea Cycleway)
Time: 2.5 -3hrs one way.
Start Point: The Historical Ohakune Train Station. (However due to the lineal nature and the gradient of this cycle/walkway, the easiest and most rewarding way to tackle this ride is one-way from Horopito. Bikes and transport can be organised from Ohakune.)
This fantastic multi-terrain cycle track forms part of The New Zealand Cycle Trail and provides a great family-friendly cycle that is steeped in history. The 15km track winds beneath the cool canopy on the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu and offers a rare opportunity to get into the heart of one of the few remaining sections of virgin native forest in the North Island.
The trail was built in the early 1900s to ferry passengers by horse drawn coach between the two rail heads of the unfinished North Island trunk line. The cobbled route became obsolete with the completion of the railway and was lost to the forest for almost 100 years.
Following its rediscovery and restoration from 2002 onwards, Ohakune Old Coach Road has been steadily gaining popularity with cyclists and walkers for its diversity, the rich history that is recounted along the route and the unique opportunity to cycle across the impressive Hapuawhenua Viaduct. In the early 1900’s this was the largest wooden curved railway bridge in the world.
The terrain varies greatly along the route, ranging from well-constructed pathways of varying widths to the original cobblestoned roadway. Sections can become particularly muddy and slippery following heavy rain. It is recommended that you seek advice before cycling this route if you are less confident on a bike.
Start Point: Kariori Station Road, SH49, 10 minutes’ drive from Ohakune.
A great collection of forest roads take you through the scenic red and silver beech forest of Rangataua and up the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu. Much of the forest is rooted on the hardened lava flow from an ancient eruption.
There are four tracks in total, mostly metal forest roads, that can be combined into a full loop ride. Some of these tracks are exclusively bike tracks, however the West and Middle tracks are open to other users and conditions can be poor in wet weather. Maps of the tracks as well as suggested routes can are available from cycle providers in Ohakune. These trails are easily achievable by riders of average ability and fitness.
Distance: 16kms round trip.
Start Point: Clyde Street, Ohakune.
Difficulty: Easy with some steeper sections.
Ratamarie Road is a relatively easy cycle route through the working farmland of the Ruapehu region. The trail begins in Ohakune centre and follows SH49 east along Rangataua Road to the Ratamarie Extension turn off. Continuing on an unsealed track the trail passes through sheep and cattle farms (please close all gates along the route) as well as fields of vegetable crops for which the area is so famous. Ratamarie Road joins Lakes Road, with the opportunity for a side trip to the Lakes Reserve, before heading back along the main Raetihi road back into Ohakune.
Ohakune Mountain Road
Time: 1hr (3hrs if also walking the falls tracks)
Start Point: Turoa ski field car park, Mount Ruapehu
Difficulty: Moderate – the ride itself is generally downhill on sealed road however, with the speed that it is possible to reach, previous experience is recommended.
Descending 1000m in just 17km, Ohakune Mountain Road is a must for any thrill seeker. Reaching speeds of up to 70km/h is possible on the sealed route from the Turoa ski field car park into the centre of the township. Spectacular scenery and brake-testing corners combine to make this one of the best downhill rides in this region. On a clear day the forests of Whanganui National Park and the majestic peak of Mount Taranaki spread out before you as you make your initial descent from 1620m above sea level, down through the barren, rugged volcanic fields of Ruapehu. Further along the route the scenery changes as you enter the lush ancient native forest of the lower slopes and finally into Ohakune itself.
A stop at the Waitonga Falls walk on the way down is highly recommended. This 1-1.5 hour round trip visits the highest accessible waterfall in the Tongariro National Park, and the boardwalk across the Rotokawa alpine bog provides picture perfect views back up to the peak of Mount Ruapehu.
Ohakune Mountain Road takes approximately one hour to cycle, excluding the Waitonga Falls track, and is suitable for most ability levels.
Start Point: National Park Village Station, 25minutes’ drive from Ohakune
This relatively unknown track is part of the National Cycle Trail and takes you on a fantastic downhill stretch through the Erua Forest on into the peaceful Retaruke Valley with views of the surrounding volcanic landscape of the Central Plateau.
From National Park Village the road crosses the railway line and, after the initial 3kms, the trail heads downhill for 17kms descending 520m into the valley. Keep an eye out for the 4wd track that cuts in to the forest otherwise it’s metal road the whole way.
The final 9kms take you on a nice easy flat section alongside the Retaruke River. The track is a mix of gravel and grass, sections of which can become quite slippery in wetter conditions.
The final stretch of the trail is on metal roads which take you to Kaitieke First World War Memorial, at the junction with Oio Road, where your transport can collect you.
Fishers Track - Extended
Start Point: National Park Village Station, 25minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Begin the journey following Fishers Track. Once you reach the monument it’s a good idea to stop for lunch (bring your own as there is nowhere to purchase food in Kaitieke) before you attempt the muscle busting Oio hill, a 20km unrelenting uphill metal road to Owhango. This is definitely not a track for the unfit!
Tongariro Forest Loop
Start Point: John McDonald Road, 35 minutes’ drive from Ohakune
Difficulty: Very Hard
Also known as the John McDonald Loop, this track is one of the most challenging in the North Island. It requires excellent bike handling and great navigational skills as it traverses through the Tongariro Forest. This trail features every type of riding you could wish for and is perfect for the experienced rider who is looking for something to take it to the next level.
The track has plenty of ups and downs as well as a range of trail types and surfaces. Towards the end of the ride the track joins the 42 Traverse for a final uphill stretch back to the start point.
There are sections of the track where streams will need to be forded and bikes carried so be prepared to get wet. It is best attempted in dry weather and remember to take emergency supplies as this area is particularly isolated. You will need a detailed map and compass at the very least. A GPS unit is recommended.
For more information on trails in the Ohakune region please refer to the Kennet Brothers’ Classic New Zealand Bike Rides (ISBN 978-0-9582673-3-5) which contains comprehensive trail information as well as detailed trail maps.