Mountains To Sea Trail Tour
Ride from the volcanic slopes of Mt Ruapehu to the Tasman Sea at Whanganui.
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This journey will take you through two National Parks. You will discover pioneering railway history before you ride to the infamous Bridge To Nowhere, and then follow an ancient Maori river highway. Also experience two very different boat rides.
Scheduled or custom dates
Click on a date to book a tour, or click Request More Info to tell us when you would prefer to ride the trail.
Trail grades are based on technical difficulty only.
Please note this video is produced by Tourism New Zealand and not all of the features in this video are included in our base package. For example the accommodation at Mellonsfolly Ranch is an optional upgrade for groups of 10+ only.
About the Tour
Just as the name suggests, the Mountains To Sea trail stretches 233km from the slopes of Mt Ruapehu in the volcanic central plateau to the Tasman Sea at Wanganui.
This 5 day journey will take you through two National Parks, the Tongariro and the Whanganui. After descending from the treeless volcanic mountain slopes of Mt Ruapehu you will then traverse the base of the mountain in lush native bush as you discover intriguing railway history on the Ohakune Old Coach Road. Next you journey along pioneering tracks all the way out to the Bridge To Nowhere. This an architectural relic that has become symbol of a failed settlement known as Mangapurua. From the middle of nowhere you then travel on and ride beside an Maori river highway all the way to the black sand beaches where the Whanganui River meets the Tasman Sea.
The Mountains To Sea is the most diverse trail in the NZ Cycle Trail network, it combines purpose built cycle trail, both gravel and paved rural backroads, a historic coach road, and access tracks of pioneering settlers. Last but not least, it also a includes two unique boating experiences on the river that are symbolic to the trail and our story as a nation.
These are the inclusions of the base package. Also see the optional extras below and don’t hesitate to ask us about further customisation.
Four nights of accommodation
Your first night will be the beautiful mountain village of Ohakune on the south western side of Mt Ruapehu. On the following 3 nights you will enjoy quaint rural cottages that are right on the trail, so you can ride door to door. The accommodation has been carefully selected as it the locations are key the flow and logistics of the tour.
Dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch are supplied by the accommodation on nights 2 and 3. Diner and breakfast only are supplied by the accommodation on night 4. We will provide you with more details about food and beverage inclusions and logistics.
Round trip transport from Taupo, Ohakune, National Park, or Turangi
Ohakune is essentially the starting point (Day 1 pick up point) of the trail, so you can meet us there or we can provide transport from/to accommodation in the other towns mentioned. If you would like to be picked up elsewhere it may be subject to extra cost.
You want to be comfy at night so we transfer your baggage the accommodation each day. You only ride with what you want for the day. Distances by road from one accommodation to the next are up to 1.5hrs drive.
Jet boat ride
On the third day of the tour the trail ends in the middle of nowhere on a bank of Whanganui River. The only way out is to zoom down the river by jet boat for 45 minutes. This is not only essential to logistics but it is also a fantastic way get on the river and see it’s deeply gorged banks cloaked in native bush.
Vintage paddle boat ride
On the last day of the tour you can board a vintage paddle boat that was once steam powered. This refurbished boat used to take people up and down the Whanganui River to access the communities before the road existed.
Emergency Locator Beacon
We prioritise safety on our tours and make use of great technology.
Having a guide is a great way to maximise the enjoyment of the ride. Our guides will not only show riders the way, they will also brief riders on upcoming trail segments. A guide can explain some of the history and geography of the area. Our guides know the emergency access points and where the hazardous parts of the trail are. Contact us for details and pricing.
Hard tail (front suspension only) $250 for five days
High-end full suspension mountain bikes $500 for five days
E-bikes (electric mountain bikes) are available in hard tail and full suspension models. Contact us for more details
Our bikes are high quality and are serviced between every use. They come standard with flat pedals, but we can fit Shimano SPD pedals for you on request
Can we include a photo or two of our hire bikes. We would like to display at least 2 models.
Extra nights of accommodation
We can include extra accommodation in Taupo or Ohakune for the night(s) before and/or after the the ride. A 15% booking fee than applies. Ask us for options.
We can pick up your group from Taupo, Rotorua, or Auckland airports. Contact us for pricing.
Day 1: 33km • Grade 2
Tread Routes will pick you up from your Taupo accommodation in the morning. If you choose to spend the night before the tour in Ohakune (or other locations) you can be picked up on the way. Any hire bikes booked will already be loaded on the shuttle. From Taupo it is a 2.5hr shuttle (or 25min from Ohakune) to the start of the trail at Turoa Ski Field. Our driver will then set up the bikes and provide a briefing about the trail. The fully guided ride starts at 1700m above sea level on the rocky slopes of Mt Ruapehu, in the Tongariro National Park (a dual World Heritage Site). After an exhilarating descent on sealed road down to Ohakune Village, the ride then takes to a historic coach road which has been re-developed for cycling and includes historic viaducts and intriguing railway history. Night 1 accommodation is at chalets in the mountain town of Ohakune.
Day 2: 43km • Grade 2
After breakfast(not included) you will be collected from your accommodation in Ohakune for a short shuttle to Horopito where you continue the ride. The trail enters rural setting as you follow some little used gravel roads into remote countryside. The route takes you passed picturesque rivers and through rugged valleys. Comfortable cottage accommodation and hearty country food awaits riders for the evening. The accommodation is directly en-route, and baggage is transferred daily.
Day 3: 39km (+33km in jet boat) • Grade 3+
The Mangapurua Track (Aka: Bridge To Nowhere Trail) is the hardest, most hazardous, and most remote section of the Mountains To Sea Trail as it follows forgotten valleys in the Whanganui National Park. The special guided ride on day 3 will begin around 9am. The Mangapurua Track is full of pioneering history, amazing views, big bluffs, rough single track, and ends at the infamous Bridge To Nowhere. From here the essential and unique river experience begins as riders board a jet boat for a 45min ride downstream to a tiny riverside village for the night. Comfortable cottage accommodation and hearty country food awaits riders for the evening.
Day 4: 47km • Grade 2
The fourth day of the tour is on the Whanganui River Road (which is a sealed road) making for a faster, easier riding surface. This historic road is packed full of features, including a historic church, a flour mill, and old settlement sites that embody a mix of Maori and European history. There are sweeping views of the Whanganui River as the road follows the steep bush clad river banks and iconic kiwi farmland before reaching the cottage accommodation for the night, which includes dinner and breakfast.
Day 5: 38km • Grade 2
After riding the last section of the Whanganui River Road, you can board a vintage paddle boat for an 11km cruise down the river to the Whanganui CBD. Paddle boats are an integral part of the cultural history of the Whanganui River.
The ride then follows urban cycleways and roads through Whanganui city before reaching the black sand beaches of the Tasman Sea at the Whanganui River mouth. You will then be shuttled 3.5hrs back to Taupo. (Clients can be dropped off in Ohakune, National Park, or Turangi on request).
Remoteness, limited access, and limited accommodation services, mean that you need logistical expertise and first hand knowledge to make a Mountains To Sea Tour run smoothly. We are the experts and know all the details. The accommodation we include has been carefully selected as it the locations are key the flow and logistics of the tour.
Your first night (after the Day 1 ride) is be the beautiful mountain village of Ohakune on the south western side of Mt Ruapehu. We have selected good quality self contained 2 bedroom chalets that are warm and comfortable. They have kitchens and spa pools.
On the following 3 nights you will enjoy a variety quaint rural cottages that are right on the trail, so you can ride door to door. Each on has it’s own character and story that is tied to the location. They are owned and managed by locals people who provide great hearty food to fuel your cycling adventure.
If you are booking as a couple or small group (ie: your own group is not filling our tour), you must expect that you may be sharing the accommodation with our other clients. If you have a group of 9 – 11 people the accommodation will be exclusive you your group. Prices are based on a twin share arrangement, so if you are a single person and want your own room, you may have to pay single supplement rates. Contact us for details.
A moderate level is required for this tour.
The shortest day is 33km and the longest day is either 47km. You should expect to be on your bike for around 4-7hrs per day (this includes a little stopped/rest time on the trail).
You will need some off-road cycling experience to safely complete this tour.
The two major trail sections are on Day 1 and 3, the rest of the trail is on public roads (both gravel and sealed roads) Riding the Mangapurua Track to the Bridge To Nowhere on Day 3 is when you will encounter the most technically challenging part of the trail. The Mangapurua Track is extremely muddy during or after rain, and also has sections where the trail is exposed to cliffs. There is also interesting history that is very easily missed if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Most of this tour is Grade 2, while Day 3 is Grade 3+. If you are not sure what a Grade 3 trail is like, please visit our Trail Grades page. If you have very little off-road cycling experience, Day 3 will be very challenging for you. Contact us for details and consider hiring one of our guides.
The group size for this tour can be anywhere from 4 to 10 people.
Singles or couples may join others to make up the minimum numbers. Ask us whether we have others going on the dates you are interested in.
On self-guided tours you are not expected to ride with the other people booked on the tour. It is designed for “at your own pace” riding. You may simply like to catch up with the other riders and share some tales from the trail over a meal at your accommodation.
On fully guided exclusive tours (where you have a guide dedicated to your group), the guide will informally structure the ride so the group can stay together as much as possible. After all, cycling is a social activity, and we help to ensure it’s fun for everyone.
Why is accommodation the night before the first day of riding not included?
People have different travel plans and want to stay in different places the night before the ride. You may like to stay in Taupo and take our shuttle from here, or you may like to drive to Ohakune yourself and meet us there.
Can the accommodation the night before/after be included?
Yes. We can book it for you at one of our preferred providers in Taupo or Ohakune, but it will subject to a booking fee that is the equivalent of 15% of the Taupo accommodation price.
What if I think Day 3 might be too hard?
Let us know now. If you think you will be challenged, you should consider our guiding service. Alternatively we can make transport arrangements for you to skip that entirely day. There is no option to ride just part of it.
What if it’s too wet to ride the Mangapurua Track on Day 3 ?
We are experts on this trail and will offer advise about attempting in the wet. We will make judgement on the weather and may have to shuttle you to your next accommodation, so you skip the ride. We can not delay the tour by a day and wait for rain to pass as all the accommodation is pre-booked.
Do I have to take the paddle boat ride on Day 5?
No. You can ride along SH4 instead if you prefer, but be careful of traffic. We strongly advise the paddleboat as it is a unique part of the history of the Whanganui River and is safer than riding the highway.
What about the “Northern Arm” of the trail from National Park Village?
There is an alternate start to the Mountains To Sea Trail. You can start in National Park Village instead of Ohakune. However by doing this alternate start you do not get to start at the ski field and you must ride a technical Grade 4 section of trail (the Kaiwhakauka Track). See out Mountains To Sea Trail page for more info.
Can I hire a bike from you?
Yes. We have hard tail and full suspension models available and will help you choose the right bike for the tour. We can also supply E-bikes. All our bikes are high quality and very well maintained.
Should I hire a guide?
It largely depends on your level of cycling experience and what you aim to get out of the ride. There are a lot of different elements packed into our guiding service: safety management, historical and geographical interpretation, riding skills tips, mechanical skills, emergency management, and more. We know how to help you get the most out of the ride. On the Mountains To Sea Trail you can choose guiding for all 5 days or just parts of the trail if you like. Some groups hire a guide for Day 3 only. Contact us for more info.