- Trail Running
Riding AreaWhanganui National Park
AKATe Araroa Trail
Hiking SAC ScaleT3 Demanding Mountain Hiking
DirectionBoth DirectionsPopular direction shown
eBike AllowedYes up to Class 1
Global Ranking#22906 in Mountain Biking
Local Popularity100 in Mountain Biking [+]
- 100 in E-Biking
- 100 in Trail Running
- 100 in Hiking
Ruatītī Road end to Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka junction
Time: 4 hr 30 min walking, 2 hr cycling
Distance: 10.8 km
Accessed from Ruatītī Road, the track climbs gently from the gate at the road end through private farmland, regenerating scrub and pockets of native bush. As you climb into hill country there are stunning views of the Tongariro National Park to the east.
A carved tōtara pou has been erected at the track junction to symbolise the ngahere (forest) and provide spiritual and cultural safety for visitors. The pou also pays tribute to the settlers of the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka Valleys.
Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka junction to Mangapurua Landing
Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka junction to Mangapurua Trig
Time: 30 min walking, 15 min cycling
Distance: 1.4 km
Continue heading west towards the Whanganui River you'll soon reach the Mangapurua Trig sign. This area provides a lunch or camping spot, with water and toilet facilities. The water is from a spring on the inside of the road bend just past the trig and the toilets are located about 25 m off the main track on the original access road. A sidetrack leads up to a cleared viewpoint. On a fine day, there are sweeping views of Tongariro National Park to the east and Mt Taranaki to the west.
Mangapurua Trig to Johnson’s
Time: 2 hr walking, 1 hr cycling
Distance: 6.8 km
From the Trig the track heads steadily downhill, passing the only uncut section of forest in the Mangapurua Valley. The first swing bridge in the valley crosses Slippery Creek and a further 1.5 km along you reach Johnson’s.
As you move down the valley, you cross the grassy clearings that were created by the early settlers. Many of the papa bluffs are named after settlers that farmed the surrounding land. The names of these settlers also live on in the wooden signs installed along the track marking the location of the original house sites. Common features in the valley are the rows of exotic trees that mark the road and the house sites.
The large flat at Johnson’s makes a good camping spot. The campsite has a shelter, water supply and toilet. The original farmer Edward Johnson collected the mail twice a week from the Mangapurua Landing and distributed it through the valley.
Johnson’s to Bettjeman’s
Time:1 hr walking, 30 min cycling
Distance: 3.4 km
The track continues down the valley road to the abandoned Tester house which was the location of the first school in the valley, started in 1926 with seven children.
There are a number of large flats in the upper valley as you head towards Bettjeman’s. The other feature is the Himalayan honeysuckle. This introduced weed acts as a nursery plant for natives in much the same way as gorse.
Bettjeman’s to Hellawell’s
Time: 1 hr 30 min walking, 45 min cycling
Distance: 4.6 km
The Bettjeman house site is easily identified by its straight row of poplars that line the old road. The Bettjeman family was one of the first settlers to arrive and last to leave when the valley was abandoned in 1942. All that remains today is the old chimney stack and exotic plants such as holly and cotoneaster.
There is good water supply from the stream near this house site and a toilet. Roughly 1.5 km from Bettjeman’s is Bartrum’s swingbridge, access for quad traffic ends at this bridge.
From Bartrum’s the valley becomes narrow with the track going around a series of bluffs. Care must be taken while crossing these bluffs as the Mangapurua Stream may be as much as 70m below – mountain bikers must dismount and walk, with your bike between you and the fall hazard.
Of particular note is the long bluff downstream of Cody’s house site. It's sometimes called Currant Bun Bluff because of the rounded exposed boulders located within the papa cliffs. Take extra care at this part of the track as it's narrow. A short distance further down the valley is Waterfall Creek with Hellawell's on the southern side. This was the location of many community picnics and hockey games. A 1.5 km side trip up the true left of the creek provides views of the waterfall.
Hellawell’s to Bridge to Nowhere
Time: 1 hr 30 min walking, 45 min cycling
Distance: 5.7 km
The track continues to follow the true left of the Mangapurua Stream before descending towards the Bridge to Nowhere.
About an hour from Hellawell’s is Battleship Bluff, named for a feature across the Mangapurua Stream, resembling the prow of an old battleship. The bluff posed the greatest difficulty for the early road builders. Two years were spent terracing the bluff from the top using gelignite.
Continue along the narrow track which dips and climbs crossing streams and small bridges down the valley. Watch out for falling rocks while passing bluffs.
Almost out of nowhere you will turn the corner onto the historic Bridge to Nowhere. From the concrete bridge, you can see the remains of the old suspension bridge used between 1920 and 1936. This old bridge and its two predecessor wire cages were vital to the initial settlers for the transport of all supplies.
Bridge to Nowhere to Mangapurua Landing
Time: 40 min walking, 20 min cycling
Distance: 2.7 km
This section of track is well used by visitors to the Bridge to Nowhere. This can be a very busy section of track in the warmer months. Mountain bikers need to look out for walkers and vice versa. There are toilets halfway between the bridge and the river at Hunter’s Clearing and shelter near the landing.
The Mangapurua Landing was the main access point to the Mangapurua Valley during the early years of settlement when the paddle steamer provided the only transport option. The landing is now used by jet boaters and canoeists.
Alternative one-day cycle options
Other one-day cycle options on the Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka Track include:
From Ruatītī Road end, past the Mangapurua Trig and down the Mangapurua Valley to the Bridge to Nowhere and the Mangapurua Landing. This is a popular backcountry adventure ride, and can also be done from Whakahoro.
From Ruatītī Road over to Whakahoro via the Kaiwhakauka Track or vice versa.
Source: Department Of Conservation
The Bridge to Nowhere Track is an incredible ride that includes a huge range track styles, stunning scenery and untouched New Zealand bush. It's one of the best 'adventure rides' on the North Island and a must for all mountain biking enthusiasts. To get to the start of the Bridge to Nohwere Track (also known as the Mangapurua Track) you can ride from either Ohakune, Raetihi or National Park. Regardless of where you start you can expect about a 2 - 3 hour ride to the start of the track, so begin your day early if you intend on riding all the way to the Bridge to Nowhere. The ride from either Raetihi or Ohakune includes 20kms of downhill on a quiet, tar-sealed country road - it's a great way to stretch out the legs Starting in Raetihi head out of town on Valley Road heading north toward King Street and State Highway 4. After a kilometer Valley Road turns into State Highway 4 (SH4). Continue along here to 2.8 kilometers until you come to the turn off for Raetihi Ohura Rd. This is a narrow back country road with very little traffic. It is very winding in some parts and it seems to get progressively narrower - although it is all tar sealed for the 20 kilometers to Ruatiti Domain. Ruatiti Domain is a delightful spot to stop for a picnic or rest on the side of the Manganuioteao River. It is actually a free camping area with water and toilets and during season you are sure to find a few fishing folk here taking advantage of the world renowned trout fishing in the river. The area is also well known for the Whio (native Blue Duck). From Ruatiti Domain head out on Ruatiti Rd as it turns into very much a single lane gravel road. After just over 5.5 kilometers you will come to a cross roads where Ruatiti Road turns into Crotons Rd. Follow Ruatiti Road until you see a signpost for the track on your left. This gravel road is undulating but includes no significant climbs. In total you can expect to take between 2 to 3 hours to get from Raetihi to the start of the Mangapurua Track. It's just about 35kms from here to the Mangapurua Landing - most of it downhill It's worth noting this is remote backcountry terrain with no cell phone signals. Fitness-wise, it's a Grade 2 but when factoring in the remoteness and technical sections, it's more of a challenging Grade 3. Be prepared with an emergency kit, never ride alone and consider bringing along a Spot Tracker in case of emergency. From the signposted start of the Mangapurua Track, you start with a well-graded but challenging climb. Over the course of about 4 kms, you'll climb just about three hundreds metres on a 4 wheel drive farm track - find your granny gear and be sure to stop every now and then to look back at the mountain views behind you. The wider upper valley track is shared with quad bikes (mainly pig hunters) so you will need to be aware of this and also hikers/walkers on the Bridge to Nowhere Walk section of the ride. From the Mangapurua Trig the track literally flies down into the valley for about 7 kilometers before it flattens out and meanders downstream (Mangapurua Stream) along the valley floor for a further 20 kilometers crossing countless swing bridges. Finally travelling along the valley floor the Bridge to Nowhere quite literally appears from nowhere from around a corner You can expect to complete the Mangapurua Track to the Bridge in 3 - 4 hours - including many stops along the way to check out some of the historic house sites that were home to early settlers. The track is nearly 100% ride able apart from the dozen or so swing bridges; it is still a bit technical in some downhill parts and some of the exposed sections where the track crosses bluffs. You can expect to hop off your bike a couple times to cross these bluffs. The large concrete "Morgan Bridge" was completed in 1936 - but by the time it was finished the settlers in the area had pretty much packed up and left the bush to claim the land back. You can still see the remains of the original swing bridge that provided essential supplies to those settlers in the 1920s from the new bridge. About 100 metres down from the bridge is a lookout track and toilets are there also. A short 20 minute / 3km track takes you from the Bridge down to the Mangapurua Landing on the edges of the Whanganui River. Finally, you need to have organised a pick up from a local Jet Boat operator. They will pick you up from Mangapurua Landing and jet boat you on a fantastic adventure 30km down river to Pipiriki where you can either catch a bus back to Raetihi or cycle the 28 kilometers back to Raetihi. One great option is to stay halfway down the river with the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge - they will organise the jet boat pick up for you or alternatively an awesome experience is to canoe from Mangapurua Landing down to the Lodge for the night before jet-boating out to Pipiriki in the morning. It is not a hard ride on a quiet road - but I guess that depends on how tired you feel after the previous 100km
Local Trail Association
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trail development & maintenance.
Traditionally Indigenous Territory
More Stats for Mangapurua Track (Bridge To Nowhere Walk) mountain bike trail trail
Altitude change-899 ft
Altitude min222 ft
Altitude max2,077 ft
Altitude start1,121 ft
Altitude end223 ft
Distance climb8 miles
Distance down11 miles
Distance flat2 miles
Avg reverse time03:06:34
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- Snow Groomed
- Snow Packed
- Snow Covered
- Freeze/thaw Cycle
- Prevalent Mud
- Very Dry
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Mangapurua Track... Trail Reports
Nov 28, 2020 @ 9:49pmNov 28, 2020
|Trail is open. Care is required in the wet. Crews are working on upgrading some of the bluff sections over Summer. Caution required around work...|
Aug 15, 2020 @ 9:27pmAug 15, 2020
|Large slip -trail closed for bikes. There is a large slip where the track has fallen into the river,5 km upstream from the Bridge to Nowhere. This...|
Aug 15, 2020 @ 9:27pmAug 15, 2020
|Major slip 5 km upstream from bridge to nowhere. Track has fallen into river - temporary track around climbs 30 m straight up bank and isn’t...|
Feb 7, 2020 @ 12:14pmFeb 7, 2020
|Trail is in really good condition. Slips have been cleared, lots of work has been done ????|
Dec 4, 2017 @ 1:00pmDec 4, 2017
|Mostly dry track. Slips cleared.|
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- 33 miles avg distance
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