eBike along the Old Coach Road

Last weekend we explored a new cycle way with e-bikes. Here some photos and information for you to follow the trails’ rich pioneer history and diverse landscapes.

Ride the Old Coach Road at the Taonui Viaduct
Ride the Old Coach Road at the Taonui Viaduct

General information on the Old Coach Road

Location: North Island, Central Plateau, Tongariro National Park

Start/End: Ohakune township (or from carpark on Marshall’s Road) to Horopito or vice versa

Length/Time: The distance is about 15km each way. Riding time on s standard mountain bike: 3 – 4 hours return, half the time on an e-bike; as a walk it takes about 4-5 hours per way.

Grade: 2 Easy – half-day experience, suits all levels of cyclists

Highlights: Mount Ruapehu, Haeremaere Stream, Taonui Railway Viaduct, Old Hapuawhenua Viaduct, Hapuawhenua Tunnel, Waimarino Plains.

Experience a Historic Cycle Trail

We would classify this ride as an easy to ride Historic Cycle Trail. Most parts follow a historic cobblestone road. Along the way you will find pioneer stories on information panels, that illustrate the history of the coach road and the railway construction. The original road linked two rail heads of the unfinished North Island main truck line over a distance of 39km. In 1906 coaches ran the four hours journey to connect the trains. In November 1908 the main trunk line was completed and by February 1909 Wellington was finally directly connected with Auckland.

Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail

The Old Coach Road is the first section of the multi-day Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, which opened in July 2010. This easy bike ride rises about 135 meters steadily over a total distance of 9 kilometres between Ohakune and Horopito. It includes moderate hill climbs, ride more uphill when starting from Ohakune and mostly downhill from Horopito. A shuttle operates between Ohanuke and Horopito if you like to ride the trail only one way.

Railway Viaducts and other highlights

The easiest option is to start the trail at Horopito. In this tiny settlement don’t miss the famous car wreckers ‘Smash Palace’, also known from a 1980s cult movie with the same name. Follow the path along pastoral land and enjoy the volcanic landscape scenery. The majestic Mount Ruapehu stands high in the sky and dominates in the background.

In the first section of the trail, you follow along the Haeremaere Stream. Here you find the remains of a former railway bridge, before you come to the railway line. Cross carefully and watch out for trains. The Northern Explorer passes thru around 1.30 pm (southbound train) on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and around 1 pm (northbound train) on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Train passengers making their Scenic Journey between the capital and the biggest city throughout the heartland of New Zealand.

Further down the track follow the sign to the resting area at Taonui Railway Viaduct. A spectacular view across the stunning red-coloured Taonui Viaduct and down into the lush green valley, gives you a glimpse of what to expect when riding on. The trail offers a variety in landscapes. Along the way you find plentiful Ponga ferns and also pass many large rimus in the virgin native forests. Soon you will cross the Taonui Stream over a bridge before you climb a short uphill section.

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The Old Hapuawhenua Viaduct and Tunnel

The highlight of this track is the, 284 meters long and 45 meters high, the curved engineered Old Hapuawhenua Viaduct. It got fully restored in 2009 and offers visitors great views of the surroundings which include its modern replacement. After climbing another moderate hill, you can detour into the Hapuawhenua Tunnel that ends suddenly, to make way for the new railway line. On your way towards the carpark, on Marshall’s Road, you can enjoy expansive views over the pastoral landscape of the Waimarino Plains.

Watch a video of this cycle trail

Interested in an organised ebike tour?

Find out more about a self-drive tour and riding ebikes on dedicated cycle ways in New Zealand…

eBike NZ

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