The safest way to bridge the high traffic route between Ohakune and Taihape, the OTT follows a series of backroads and a couple of busier stretches of main highway.
Starting at the gateway of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail at Ohakune Junction, this route traverses the volcanic plateau and quiet valleys to the town of Taihape where the Gentle Annie Heartland Ride begins.
A lack of road shoulder on the west side of the SH1 section means this ride should only be ridden from north to south.
From Ohakune Railway Station, head north on Ohakune Mountain Road, under the railway line and turn right on Railway Row. After 1 km, re-cross the railway line and turn left down Dreadnought Road and cycle to Rangataua village.
Head down Marino Street to SH49, turn left and ride along the highway for 6km to Whangaehu Valley Road. (note that the highway is narrow in places, so ride with care and, if possible, ride it when traffic is light, i.e. early in the morning or during lunch time).
Follow Whangaehu Valley Road for 13km (25km from Ohakune) then turn left up Owhakura Road. Follow Owhakura Road for 13km then turn right down Turakina Valley Road. Turn left onto Ruanui Road and climb away from the Turakina Valley to Mataroa. Ride through Mataroa village and follow Mataroa Road to SH1, just over 4km away.
The next 3km takes you along SH1 to the outskirts of Taihape. Approximately 300 metres of this stretch of highway has a narrow shoulder and must be ridden with care, keeping as far left as possible.
A helpful source of information about this ride, and other Heartland and Connector Rides, is Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by the Kennett Brothers.
The surface of this trail is sealed road, unless you decide to take the 4WD road option at Rangataua village. The majority of the route follows quiet country roads with very little traffic however there are two sections on State Highway where rides should take particular care and keep as far left as possible.
The route follows SH49 for 6km between Rangataua and Whangaehu Valley Rd, with moderate traffic, 100km/h speed limit and narrow shoulder in places.
The route follows SH1 for approximately 3km between Mataroa Rd and Taihape; with high traffic, 100km/h speed limit and narrow shoulder in places.
Due to a lack of shoulder on the western side of the SH1 north of Taihape, this route should only be ridden from north to south.
FITNESS & SKILLS
Due to traffic levels and the odd stiff climb, this is a grade 4 (advanced) ride suitable for reasonably fit riders with cycle touring experience.
TYPE OF BIKE
Road bikes or touring bikes are most suitable for the terrain, unless you take the 4WD road option at Rangataua village where a mountain bike or touring bike with knobbly tyres will be more suitable. E-bikes are also suitable, provided they have sufficient battery capacity. Riders should ideally have basic mechanical skills and carry a tool kit and spares.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
Most of the route is well signposted, but a map will prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way. Kiwimap Whanganui, Marton, Taihape is best for this route.
This route can ridden all year round although it can be cold and wet on the volcanic plateau at any time of year, and snow isn’t uncommon in winter. Good wet-weather gear is therefore essential. Riders should check the forecast before setting off.
Accommodation is available in Ohakune and Taihape only.
FOOD & WATER
There are cafes and supermarkets in Ohakune and Taihape. Riders should have sufficient food and drink for the entire ride. River/stream water should be boiled or treated.
The Northern Explorer train and Intercity buses stop in Ohakune.
Cellphone coverage is limited outside of Ohakune and Taihape.
Public toilets can be found in Ohakune and Taihape.