Mountain Biking Ohakune
Ohakune is fast becoming one of the North Island's premier cycling destinations with fantastic trails ranging from easy 15-minute riverside tracks to 5-day cross-terrain expeditions.
Ohakune is fast becoming one of the North Island's premier cycling destinations with fantastic trails ranging from easy 15-minute riverside tracks to 5-day cross-terrain expeditions. Home of the Ohakune Old Coach Road and the starting point for the Mountains to Sea cycle trail.
Bikes can be hired from several operators in Ohakune. These companies can also transport you to trailheads and provide maps of the routes to help you on the way.
The law states that helmets must be worn at all times whilst cycling in New Zealand. All outfitters will provide a helmet with your hire and on the spot, fines apply if you are caught not wearing it.
Under 2 hour Mountain Bike Trails in Ohakune
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.
Te Pepe Bike Park
Te Pepe (the moth) is the local native Puriri moth that lives near the pump track in the low mountain ranges. The shape of the track is inspired by the symmetry of its body and wings.
Built by the local community, The Ruapehu Mountain Bike Club and Ohakune 2000 (a non-profit organisation focusing on the betterment of Ohakune and its surrounds)
Officially opened April 11th 2015
The purpose of a pump track is to improve your riding by learning how to use your weight on a bike more effectively. The aim is to maintain or increase your speed without pedalling. With practice, multiple laps are possible.
Great fun for young and old and all abilities.
Location: Corner of Old Station road and Mangawhero Road - Bottom of the Ohakune Mountain Road.
Half-day Mountain Bike Trails in Ohakune
Ohakune Old Coach Road - Stage one of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail
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 railheads 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 1900s, this was the largest wooden curved railway bridge in the world.
The terrain varies significantly 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.
Recommended riding during the summer months only, very muddy otherwise.
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 in 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: Tūroa Ski Area car park, Mount Ruapehu
Difficulty: Moderate – the ride itself is generally downhill on the 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 into the forest otherwise it’s the 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.
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!
Fishers Track - Extended
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.
Full day Mountain Bike Trails in Ohakune and the great Ruapehu region.
Mangapurua Track / Bridge to Now - part of the Mountains to Sea Cycle trail
Time: 4-7hrs cycling + 1hr jet boat transfer
Start Point: Mangapurua Road, Whanganui National Park
Difficulty: Moderate (Grade four)
Best time to ride: November - April
NOTE: A jet boat needs to be pre-booked prior to riding the trail.
The Bridge to Nowhere trail is gaining a reputation as one of the best day rides in New Zealand, combining interesting riding terrain with historical sites and topping it all off with a jet boat transfer down the river.
Through the forest, over the rolling hills, along the sheer face of Battleship Bluff and across the majestic Whanganui River, the Bridge to Nowhere trail offers a fascinating glimpse into post-war life in the central North Island. The variety it offers makes it a great experience for riders of all levels, although some experience is recommended.
In 1917 the Mangapura Valley was opened by the government to encourage settlement by returning World War I soldiers and their families. Up to 35 families lived in the valley at the height of its occupation. Built originally as a means of linking the valley settlements with the riverboat transport service, the bridge was in use for a mere 6 years before the valley was abandoned in 1942.
Follow in the footsteps of the post-war pioneers and visit the settlement plots that still bear the names of the families that occupied them. Then take a walk over the bridge and trade the steamboats for a high powered jet vessel for your return journey.
This ride is best enjoyed as part of an organised tour that will arrange transport to the start point, collect you at the finish and arrange your jet boat experience. These elements are difficult to co-ordinate on your own.
The 42 Travers
The 42 Traverse
Start Point: Kapoors Road, Tongariro Forest Park (SH47), 35mins’ drive from Ohakune – Transport available
Difficulty: Hard – not suitable for inexperienced riders
This is a first-class challenging track that takes its name from the forest through which it travels, previously known as State Forest 42. The forest is part of the Tongariro National Park and the trail is a fantastic mix of surfaces, gradients and scenery that will keep even the most experienced MTB rider interested.
Also known as the Tongariro Forest Crossing, the 42 Traverse is a journey into the sub-alpine forest in one of the most remote regions of the North Island. The trail begins with a gentle downhill gravel track for the first 6km before the deep valleys kick in. Descending a total of 570m into the heart of the forest your ride takes you to the depths of the valleys where three rivers divide your ride. It is here that you may need to carry your bike if the waters are high, so if you’re not a fan of getting wet then this is probably not the track for you!
Sweeping mountain vistas, the spectacular Canyon Valley and acres of forest await you and the terrain switches frequently between gravel, mud, rock and sand. Around 60% of the route follows old logging trails and it is not uncommon to meet 4WD vehicles, horses and trail bikes along the way.
The track is physically demanding with plenty of steep uphill sections and challenging descents. The beauty of this track is its remoteness but that also comes with a warning. There is no easy way out of the forest and, should you have an accident, it can be a long time before someone else comes your way. There is also little cell phone coverage in this region. ALWAYS carry emergency supplies including food, water, a full repair kit, a well-equipped first aid kit and an emergency blanket. You should also carry a map of the area (A Tongariro Forest Adventure Map or Raurimu NZMS 260, S19 are recommended) and a compass as, although the track is marked along the way, it is easy to take a wrong turn.
Warm, waterproof clothing is always recommended as the weather in the national park is known for its unpredictability. Eye protection is also a good idea as riders often encounter low hanging branches. There are sections of the track which require you to carry your bike so please ensure you are fit enough to do this before setting off. After heavy rain, the trails may be closed and the rivers impassable. The mud can also be a problem and cause sticky gears so check current conditions at the local DOC office before setting off.
All in all, this is a great track and if you are looking for something beyond your average MTB track then this is the route for you.
Transport to the trailhead is easily arranged and at the end of the day, you can call you to return transport from the historic village of Owhango. There’s even a nice pub in which you can have a well-earned drink whilst you wait for it to arrive! It’s the perfect end to a great day out.