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

It doesn’t take long to plan. We’ve developed a guide with the NZ Mountain Safety Council to help you. Read and download the guide FREE and ensure you’re prepared for the following.

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

The New Zealand Cycle Trail produces a Directory of Premium Cycle Experiences promoting well over 100 different cycle tourism packages and experiences on the Great Rides around New Zealand. It’s a fantastic collation of information on the trails and what’s on offer. The Directory combines information on New Zeal...


An amazing new ‘installation’ is now in place on the Hawke’s Bay Trails. Over the past year Hawkes Bay Regional Council in collaboration, have been installing a ‘Celestial Star Compass’ at Waitangi Regional Park, near Clive. The transformation of this area is part of a long-term collaboration between the ...

A Buck A Bog

5 Jan 2018
The muddy bogs on the Kaiwhakauka Track of the Mountains to Sea are growing every time it rains. It's time to fix them, and with the help of BikeTaupo and YOU, we can do it. Pete Masters (apptly named master track builder) has just been through the track and reports that there are now 81 bogs, and 20 of them are whe...


TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Mountains to Sea Trail DATE: 17 May 2017 ISSUE: The slip on the Bridge to Nowhere Track has been cleared We are advised the Bridge to Nowhere Track is now Open, however care is required, thank you....


TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Mountains to Sea Trail DATE: 16 May 2017 ISSUE: Slip on the Bridge to Nowhere Track It has been reported that a slip on the Bridge to Nowhere track has occurred today closing the track. A team will be onsite tomorrow morning doing an assessment on what needs to be done to open it. Fu...


TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Mountains to Sea DATE: 11 April 2017 Please note DOC are assessing the state of the campsites on the Whanganui Journey today. All facilities on the Whanganui Journey are open, canoeists should be aware that the access tracks to some campsites may be silty. A rockfall on the Bridge to Nowh...


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