Rides

Ohakune Old Coach Road

About the Ohakune Old Coach Road

Part of the Mountains to Sea trail network and one of New Zealand’s Great Rides, the Ohakune Old Coach Road is a popular trail for riders, runners and walkers alike. 

As a 15km (or 17km from Ohakune town) there and back trail, this can be ridden in either direction.  Due to the overall drop in elevation (170mtrs), the Horopito to Ohakune direction is a favourite for riders going one way.

The trail follows an old 1800’s road that connected New Zealand’s main trunk line. The rail corridor skirts through the stunning Tongariro National Park. Showcasing some of New Zealand’s best native sub alpine bush, it features tunnels, bridges and a pair of spectacular curved vintage viaducts. The story of how the trail came to be is well told by the many story boards dotted along the trail. 

The trail surface varies but note that large sections are cobbled (and a little rough) so a full suspension bike is recommended.

The trail is well serviced by shuttle operators operating from both National Park and Ohakune.

About Ohakune

Ohakune is a little gem, with loads of great accommodation options like Bombardino Chalet, a New World supermarket, lots of cafes and bike shops. 

We like to visit the TCB bike shop who offer bike rentals and a shuttle service too. And we always stop in at The Mountain Rocks Café when we visit for a coffee.

There are loads of other great adventure rides in the area such as Fishers Track, The Bridge to Nowhere and 42nd Traverse to name just a few. If you feel like an adventure on foot, there are loads of good walks in the area too. If you prefer skis instead, Turoa is just a few minutes from town.

Getting there

Sitting on the edge of Ohakune, this is an easy trail to find. We opted to park and ride from the train station in Ohakune and do a there and back ride. 

From Ohakune town it is a short ride past the jump park, alongside the road to get to the main car park at the start of the trail. 

If you prefer to do a one way ride you can catch a shuttle to Horopito to start or at the end of your ride.

Mountains to Sea have a great downloadable and printable map.

Scenery

Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, Hapuawhenua Tunnel & Viaduct, Taonui Viaduct

Pitstops

The Mountain Rocks Cafe, New World Supermarket, The Powderkeg Bar

Grade

Grade 2 easy riding
90% on hardpacked double track with lots of cobbles. 10% along a roadside

Stats

2 hours ride time (eBike)
17kms in length
170mtrs climb

Old Coach Road on Trailforks.com

Riding the Ohakune Old Coach Road

Note: As we had our eBikes, we decided to ride a there and back from Ohakune, so that is the way we have described it in this review. Others may opt to ride one way starting at the Horopito end.

Starting from the train station in Ohakune, you simply follow the pathway over the bridge. Turn left past the dirt jump park (or rip some jumps if that’s your thing) and then follow Old Station Road turning right at the intersection at Marshalls Road.

The trail is well marked with old railway sleepers featuring carved arrows indicating direction.

Soon you will arrive at the main car park at the edge of the Tongariro National Park and the start of the trail.

After a few gentle climbs you will be rewarded with some great views Southwest towards Whanganui and an occasional glimpse of Mount Ruapehu to the North.

Heading North you will come to an intersection with the Hapuawhenua Tunnel which is worth exploring before heading onwards (Note: it’s gated at the far end so you can’t go too far).

A few zig zags up a short climb and you will find yourself rolling through what feels like an ancient section of sub alpine native forest where Giant Rimu punch through the forest canopy.

As you exit the cover of this forest section you will scoot under the edge of the new Hapuawhenua Viaduct as the old Hapuawhenua Viaduct reveals itself across the valley.

You can ride across the old viaduct; it offers a great view. There’s a toilet and park bench on the far side, we thought this was a good place to take a break from the bike.

Heading back across the viaduct you have a gentle climb back into beautiful native forest where you will pass some interesting historical sites accompanied by information boards to check out (I won’t spoil them here). 

After a few kms you will cross a small bridge before arriving at another good rest spot at the bush camp picnic table.

From here you roll through more stunning bush sections before heading down towards the Toanui Stream and then under the new and old Toanui Viaducts. At the top of the hill there’s a great lookout over the old viaduct and another good rest spot.

From here the bush begins to thin out as you eventually need to cross the main trunk line itself.

Soon you will pass the old Haeramaere Bridge another reminder of the trails history. 

From here you have a short ride to the trail exit through farmland, along Clydes Access Road to the Horopito Carpark. This section offers stunning views across to Ruapehu.

Final Thoughts

Over the years, Teresa and I have ridden the Ohakune Old Coach Road several times and that’s a testament to how good this ride is. As a one-way trip, it’s not a big ride but it is rewarding, and the trail surface makes it accessible for most riders abilities. For a bigger ride a there and back is a good day out. 

The Ohakune Old Coach Road has the perfect mix of accessibility, adventure, native bush and interesting sites that makes this one of our favourites.

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