Manawatu Scenic Route

2 Days


Mangaweka to Ashhurst


  • Ancient native bush
  • Gardens & heritage
  • Crystal-clear rivers

Best time of year

All year

Journey through heartland New Zealand and discover hidden valleys, vast rolling farmland and ancient native bush. Best driven over two days, you'll experience real kiwi backcountry where the journey is as much a part of the adventure as the destination. Discover secret swimming holes, explore scenic walks and hikes, experience high altitude horse treks as well as world class gardens, heritage collections and delicious artisan producers dotted along the way. 


The Ruahine Ranges viewed from Pohangina Valley.

Photo by APG and Destination Manawatu

Day 1 / 2

Mangaweka to Apiti

31 mins

42 km

26 mi


Beginning in Mangaweka, make sure to check out the iconic Main Street tucked away just off the main highway. This is a main road frozen in time – the perfect place take a stroll, and you'll feel like you've been transported to the early 1900's! From Mangaweka, head north and turn right into Ruahine Road.

Your journey begins with the Mangaweka Bridge, leading you through a deep viaduct steeped with white papa cliffs. Soon after, you will pass the Ruahine Dress Circle Reserve, a local hot spot with waterfalls and swimming holes; the perfect rest stop. Continue on and you’ll pass Ruapuna Park & Museum - a great place to stop for those that love gardens and history.

If you’re ready to get off the road and go for a hike, take a detour onto Renfrew Road to experience Rangiwahia Hut Track, a must do when in Manawatu. Back on the route, you’ll pass Mangahuia Wetlands, the ideal spot for some bird watching or a picnic. If you’re seeking a dose of adventure, visit the team at Table Flat Trekking and enjoy a horse trek over a magical high altitude landscape.

Take a short detour into the township of Apiti to the Apiti Bar & Grill, the perfect place to meet the locals, enjoy a drink and one of their locally-famous meals. To stretch your legs, wander down the road and take a stroll around Mageo Woodcraft & Garden - their unique onsite woodcraft and pyrography shop is great to pick up a couple of kiwi souvenirs. There are plenty of accommodation options in Apiti for the night. 

Rafting in Mangaweka

Start in mangaweka

Located on the Rangitikei River banks, Mangaweka is great place to break up your journey through New Zealand with a little adventure.

Apiti means 'gorge' in Maori, describing the high hills and gullies that surround the township.

End in Apiti

Located at high altitude, Apiti is a charming rural village with a thriving community heart.

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