Mountain Biking 42 Traverse

3-6 hrs

46 km


  • Eerie volcanic scenery
  • Long, fun downhills
  • Babbling rivers & native bush


Grade 3


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A New Zealand classic from way back, this predominantly downhill wilderness ride serves up spectacular volcanic scenery and beautiful native bush.

Riding the trail

In the days before New Zealand’s mountain biking explosion, the 42 Traverse was arguably the country’s premier mountain biking ride. The fact that it still rates as one of the best is testament to its thrilling downhill runs and the beauty of the scenery surrounding it. If you're mountain biking in Taupo or Ruapehu regions, this is a trail not to be missed!

Named after the old State Forest 42 it traverses, this is very much a wilderness ride. It starts on the fringe of Tongariro National Park and quickly dips down into regenerating native forest rich with birdlife, following a series of old logging roads.

Although the overall altitude descent is 570 metres over 46 km, an undulating course means a fair number of serious climbs will be encountered. Obstacles such as such as rocks, ruts and river crossings crank up the thrill-factor further.

Along the way are many lookout points from which to admire the views complete with active volcanos – Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe. A notable highlight and prelude to one of this mountain biking trail’s most exhilarating downhill sections is the viewpoint above Echo canyon, a great place for a break and breathtaking views before speeding down to Waione Stream.

The tiny village of Owhango signals the end of the ride where the atmospheric old hotel is a good place for a debrief and well-earned refreshments.

In theory, the 42 Traverse can be ridden all year round, but despite some gravelling the surface can become seriously slippy and claggy in the wet, and after heavy rain rivers can become impassable. As with all riding adventures around the volcanic plateau, visitors are well advised to check in with one of the expert local mountain biking operators who can provide information on the latest trail conditions.

Rides nearby

Mountains to Sea, Ohakune Old Coach Road, Bridge to Nowhere, Great Lake Trail, Timber TrailCraters MTB Park

Plan your mountain biking holiday

  • Key Mountain Biking Tours Operators

    Enjoy the freedom of riding without the hassle of logistics by taking a guided or self-guided mountain bike tour.

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  • New Zealand Mountain Biking Tips & FAQs

    Few countries in the world serve up such diverse riding – from urban forest trails to rugged, remote mountaintop tracks. Plan to stay safe and savour them.

    Read more

  • New Zealand Travel Guide

    Planning a biking holiday to New Zealand? Read our practical travel advice before you depart.

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