42 Traverse • Grade: 3+ • Distance: 38-47km

The 42 Traverse has been the most popular mountain bike ride the Central Plateau for years. In many ways the 42 Traverse has been superceeded by new adventure rides that have been opened to mountain bikes in recent years. Still the 42 Traverse is an excellent adventure in an iconic part of New Zealand. It provides views of Mt Ruapehu and the Tongariro National Park as we as headwaters of Wanganui River. 

The 42 Traverse crosses the Tongariro Forest from the Tussock deserts of the National Park and finishes at the village of Owhango. This epic ride can be tailored in length and generally a grade 3 track but has some stream crossings and steeper section that classify as grade 4. There is even the option of a Pub or Cafe on Owhango at the end of the ride, so you’re all set for a debrief of your 42 Traverse adventure!

Grade: 3+             Distance 38-47km                Seasons: Best ridden in dryer months but can be done year round.

Riding direction: 

It is best to ride the 42 Traverse from the south end on SH48 because the north end of the trail in Owhango has a lower elevation making for an overall ride with more downhill than climbing. Be aware it is a 2 way trail and it is used by quads and 4WDs.


You will get wet feet! The slippery clay in some sections of the ride as well as the river crossings make for this ride to be best done in dryer conditions. The rivers rise in winter and become very cold. Also after heavy rainfall you can expect to be in water well above your knees. In dryer conditions all the river crossings are rideable, but watch out for the rocks!


The trail is marked with DOC stakes/sings along the way. There is a mixture of new and old stakes long the trail. Use common sense and look at each intersection carefully as a couple of them can be a little unclear. Also bring a map as there are loads of intersecting trails on 42Traverse. Do not use the map on this website, it is not suitable for navigation on the trail. Use NZ Topo ...

The 42 Traverse is in a remote location and there is no mobile reception along the way. We advise you hire a guide or take a Personal Locator Beacon at minimum. There is no road access along the trail. Only quad bikes can drive through. Tell a friend where you are going and use common sense. 

Drive times: Where to park and start your ride:
 To Owhango from:  To the start of the trail at SH48 from: South end of the trail:  North end of the trail:
 Taupo................................1h30min  Taupo................................1hr SH48  Owhango
 Turangi.............................1hr National Park Village..........15min Slab Rd Car Park  Whakapapa River Bridge
 Taumarunui......................30min  Taumarunui........................1hr       
 National Park Village........20min  Owhango...........................40min    

For a round trip shuttle park at: National Park Village, Taupo, or your location of choice.

Pick ups are available from any accommodation throughout the Central Plateau.


Logistics for this ride with a one way shuttle:
Meet in Ohwango at Cafe 39 South (you park your car here)
Shuttle to Kapoors Road (40min)
Ride 47km back to your cars in Owhango (4 - 6hrs)
$90 per person
Logistics for this ride with a round trip shuttle:
Shuttle from Taupo to Kapoors Road (1.5hrs)
Ride 47km to Owhango (4 - 6hrs)
Shuttle from Owhango Cafe 39 South to Taupo (2hrs)
$120 per person

Tread Routes is your Central North Island mountain bike guide, we have the largest range of trails to choose from and offer the most options. Our expert guides will not only show you way and provide insight into our land, but also teach you some bike skills as we go. With our guided experience you can be assured that you are in the best of care while in our remote wilderness.

Bike hire: We provide high quality hard tail mountain bikes for $60 per day. Most of our hire bike are in the $1000 - $1500 retail price range. High end dual suspension bikes are available on request. For your enjoyment it is important that you hire the right size bike, so we are here to help. When you contact us to make your booking the right information to get you on the right size bike. Helmets are provided with bike hire.

If you want to ride the trail on your own, buy the Kennett Brothers guide book: Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides or Volcanic Plateau 20 Best Bike Rides. These two books have an in depth description of the route and navigation.