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This has to be one of my favourite “all weather” rides in the region. It’s a great alternative on a rainy or windy day when hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not possible or when the ski fields of Turoa or Whakapapa are closed. It’s the perfect “Plan-B” or “Plan-A” if hiking for six to seven hours is just not your thing.
Currently The Old Coach Road is the only mountain bike trail allowed in the Tongariro National Park. This 15km trail follows the historic Old Coach Road between Horopito and Ohakune before the line was finally completed in 1909. This track is part of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail.
The Ohakune Old Coach Road is one of New Zealand's premium trails giving cyclists and walkers alike a glimpse into the past of what life was like using horse and coach and the hardships involved in building railways in the region. This trail is suitable for most weather conditions, thanks to its high quality construction and native forest canopy which offers good protection from wind and rain.
The best way to experience this fabulous combination of history and nature is to start in the settlement of Horopito, centrally located along SH-4 almost halfway between Ohakune (approx 10 mins) and National Park Village (approx 15 mins) as the ride is mostly downhill, with a few short climbs thrown in for good measure.
The trail offers you spectacular scenery, with a view of Mt Ruapehu at the start of the ride, to the lush native bush sections, followed by the impressive structure of the original Hapuawhenua Viaduct, 284 metres long, and 45 metres above the stream below.
The world famous A J Hackett ran New Zealand's first bungy jump off the old Hapuawhenua Viaduct in 1987.
If you’re in the right place at the right time you, might see the new Northern Explorer or a freight trainer cross the new Hapuawhenua Viaduct.
From the Hapuawhenua Viaduct back to Marshall Road, be sure to check out the tunnel, it’s a real highlight.
Once, completed you can reward yourself with a well-earned coffee or a spot lunch at one of the many eateries in Ohakune.
There are a number of bike hire operators in the area, some of whom will happily pick you up from your accommodation in Horopito, Ohakune or National Park Village and collect you at the end of your ride and bring you safely back again.
As far as accommodation is concerned there is a wide range of options to choose from. If you want glorious mountain views consider staying in Horopito which due to its great “central to everything” location is rapidly developing into the gateway to the Tongariro / Ruapehu District and it’s only a short 10 min drive to the restaurants and shops of Ohakune. Consider Ohakune if you prefer to walk to the restaurants (you might have to sacrifice the views) and the same goes for National Park Village.