Mountains to Sea

OverviewTrail Status: Open

Ohakune Junction — Whanganui North Mole (3-6 days, 217km)


From the fringes of Mt Ruapehu to the coastal shores of Whanganui, this route encompasses majestic mountains, stunning native forest within two National Parks, and the spiritual, cultural and historical highlights of the Whanganui River.

The Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail takes in the alpine grandeur of Mt Ruapehu, historic coach road and bridle trails, the legendary Bridge to Nowhere, jet boat and kayak transport options for the Whanganui River link to Pipiriki. From there a country road trail abundant with history and culture alongside the Whanganui River links Pipiriki to the Tasman Sea at Whanganui.

The trail is a joint initiative involving the Ruapehu District Council, Whanganui Iwi, Whanganui District Council, Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

Suitable for all abilities of cyclists, the trail includes a mixture of off and on-road trail, which can be enjoyed in sections or in its entirety. It’s recommended that you start from Ohakune which offers a 217km journey [including a 32k river section which will be completed by boat or kayak] which is a grade 2-3 ride.

There is an alternative start from National Park which is slightly shorter at 209kms [including the river section] however this does include a grade 4 section so is recommended for more experienced riders only.

About Ohakune

The official start of this trail is in Ohakune, a small alpine town in the Ruapehu District. Spend some time before your ride exploring stunning National Park walks within minutes’ drive of the town, local cafes, bars and restaurants, grab a game of golf, head into the hills on horseback, give fishing a go or just relax in readiness for your big ride. There is a wide range of accommodation in Ohakune from camping grounds and hostels through to boutique lodges and a 4 star hotel.

About National Park Village

The alternative start taking in a Grade 4 section of the trail starts in National Park Village, the adventure centre of the dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park. Spend some time here taking a chairlift to the top of Mt Ruapehu at Whakapapa summer or winter for a coffee at the highest café in NZ , attempt the legendary Tongariro Alpine Crossing or sacred Crater Lake hike, go stand up paddleboarding, take short walks in the National Park with rivers, waterfalls, mountains and stunning flora and fauna. Don’t forget about your ride though!

Be Prepared

The best time of the year to ride the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail is spring, summer and autumn however the trail is open all year. Snow is not uncommon in winter and during the height of summer temperatures in the river valleys can exceed 30 degrees celsius. Always check the long range weather forecast before you head out on the trail and be aware for rain forecast that could affect river levels. Talk to one of the trail partners or the region’s I-Sites to discuss your plans.

The Maungapurua Track has some potentially dangerous bluffs that should be walked. The Kaiwhakauka and Maungapurua tracks should not be ridden after heavy rain. Both tracks have sections of sticky mud that, when wet, can clog up wheels.

The Mountains to Sea is a Grade 3 (Intermediate) cycle trail. A reasonable level of fitness is required to ride the entire trail and mountain bikes with front suspension are recommended. Those choosing the alternative start at National Park must be aware that there are Grade 4 (Advanced) sections along this route.

The trail includes a number of sections that follow public roads, where you should be prepared to meet vehicles. You will also encounter stock grazing along the roadside.

Please take extra care crossing the ford near Horopito Village. Do not attempt to cross after heavy rain if water is flowing over the ford, as there is a hazardous pool just downstream.

Public toilets are available at Ohakune and National Park Train Stations, the Kaitieke monument, the Mangapurua car park and at villages located along the trail.

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE is limited outside of Ohakune, National Park and Whanganui. Due to the length and remoteness of the trail, it’s recommended that you carry an emergency location device - these are available for hire from a number of local tourism operators.

DRINKING WATER is only available at Ohakune, National Park Village, Whakahoro, Taumarunui, Raetihi, Pipiriki and Whanganui. It's recommended that water drawn from the river and streams along the trail be boiled (3 min), filtered or treated before drinking.

Weather Info

Weather conditions on the Central Volcanic Plateau can be changeable over the day. Snow is not uncommon in winter and during the height of summer temperatures in the valleys can exceed 30°C.

Riders are advised to be prepared for all weather conditions and carry basic survival equipment in case of severe weather. While severe weather is unusual and generally forecast, a lack of preparedness can have dire consequences.

Whanganui has a more temperate climate with relatively few extremes compared with many other New Zealand centres. Summers are warm and dry with temperatures averaging between 12-30°C. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between 4-14°C.

Trail Partner

Inspiration, News and Updates

Ride for Good is an exciting new community fundraising event taking place on The New Zealand Cycle Trail over Easter 2017. The exciting new off road cycling event is all set to take place on The New Zealand Cycle Trail, taking in some of the greatest views and scenery that you will experience anywhere in the world. ...


One of the most spectacular and challenging sections of the Pou Herenga Tai - Twin Coast Cycle Trail will be opened by the community this month. The final 28km Okaihau to Horeke leg of the 84km trail will be opened on 18 March with a morning cycle, run or walk event. It will be followed by a prize giving hosted b...
Due to a significant slip, please note the Mangapurua Track on the Mountains to Sea Trail is closed below Johnsons Campsite. Work is scheduled on the track next week to create a temporary walk track around the slip until it can be cleared completely. There is no damage to the section of track from the Mangapurua...


Jonathan Kennett, Cycling Author
The Mountains to Sea Trail is a fantastic mountain bike adventure from the Central Plateau volcanoes, across massive viaducts and the Bridge to Nowhere and down through Whanganui National Park to the Tasman Sea. JONATHAN KENNETT – Cycling Author