The Ultimate Guide to Cycling and Mountain Biking in Ruapehu

With nearly 500 kms of epic trails to discover including the iconic Timber Trail and Mountains to Sea - Ngā Ara Tūhono Cycle Trails, this is the ultimate guide to cycling and mountain biking in Ruapehu.

Otherworldly landscapes, magnificent mountain peaks and awe-inspiring rivers, ride to your own rhythm to take in the scale and serenity of Ruapehu’s Greater Outdoors. From the UNESCO Dual World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park to the waterways and byways of Whanganui National Park, wind your way through alpine villages, mountain towns and historic relics to discover the best of Ruapehu by bike.

Home to the Timber Trail and Mountains to Sea - Ngā AraTūhono, two of New Zealand’s Great Rides. Ruapehu offers over 400 km of epic trails of local gems and world-class rides to discover. Read on to discover everything you need to know about cycling and mountain biking in Ruapehu!

All abilities, all year-round

From easy to expert grades like the iconic 42 Traverse, the cycle and mountain bike trails in Ruapehu caters to a range of skill levels for all riders. With four seasons of adventure at your doorstep, there is always a good reason to plan a ride in Ruapehu for some outdoor pedal-powered fun. For some inspiration, read up on what the ultimate mountain biking itinerary in Ruapehu looks like here.

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Ride easy with shuttle and bike hire providers

With bike hire and shuttle operators ready to organise everything from your bike of choice to transport, it’s easy to enjoy a cycling holiday in Ruapehu. Choose from a range of mountain bikes, as well as e-bikes that are cleaned, tuned and ready for you to hit the trails. Cycling and mountain biking in Ruapehu is great with kids too! Families travelling with children have the option to hire children’s mountain bikes and BMX bikes as well as child seats and clip-on bikes for younger children.

Timber Trail

Embark on a journey of discovery through the heart of the Pureora Forest on the iconic Timber Trail. This grade 2-3 ride sweeps through 84 km of undulating terrain, amazing bridges, ancient forests, unique wildlife, timber milling relics, spectacular suspension bridges plus the world’s only bikeable railway spiral. A two-day, year-round ride with one-of-a-kind accommodations along the way, the purpose-built Timber Trail experience is a must-do in Ruapehu and celebrates the rich heritage and history of this special place in the world.

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Mountain bike riders on the Timber Trail

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Maramataha suspension bridge                                                                                                                   

Mountains to Sea - Ngā Ara Tūhono

Capturing Tongariro National Park’s raw volcanic mountains, rural hills enveloped in pristine and regenerating native bush, wetlands hiding rare and special treasures, ancient layers of geology, the Mountain to Sea- Ngā Ara Tūhono Cycle Trail is one of New Zealand’s most diverse Great Rides. Following the renowned Whanganui River, as it travels from the waters of Pureora, Tongariro and Ruapehu, the connected trails traverse all the way to the Tasman Sea. Connect and combine one or more of the eight scenic trails that navigate from Ruapehu to Whanganui, including Ohakune Old Coach Road, Fishers Track and the Mangapurua Track (Bridge to Nowhere) with its added jet boat ride for single day and multi-day adventures. For those keen to experience the full journey, you can choose from the 231 km Classic via Ruatiti or the 214 km Adventure via Kaiwhakauka.

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Ohakune Old Coach Road

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Bridge To Nowhere 

A natural wonderland of terrain and landscapes

From unique volcanic landscapes to stunning sub-alpine native forests, Ruapehu offers a diverse playground for riders to soak up Our Greater Outdoors. With a stunning backdrop of mountain peaks and ever-flowing rivers, each ride lets you experience our place in the world from a unique perspective as you take in panoramic lookouts, secret waterfalls, heritage sites, spectacular swing bridges and historic viaducts. When cycling and mountain biking in Ruapehu, you can choose from a doable Grade 2 backcountry ride up to a Grade 4 ride with more challenging, technical tracks and exhilarating descents.

Family-friendly pump tracks and rides

Local pump tracks in Raetihi and Ohakune means the kids can get out there and have two-wheeling fun. The Te Pepe Bike Park and Pump Trackin Ohakune, located at the end of the Mangawhero River trail, is a great place for all ages and abilities to test out their cycling and mountain bike skills with a fantastic track packed with turns and jumps of all shapes and sizes. You can read about other family-friendly places to ride in Ruapehu here.

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Kids on The Hapuwhenua Viaduct

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Kids on the Ohakune Old Coach Road

Cycling and mountain biking events in Ruapehu

From women’s mountain bike retreats to annual events like the Ruapehu Express or the Raetihi Gutbuster, there are a range of fun and family-friendly cycling and mountain biking events in Ruapehu to discover. For the latest events year-round, take a look at our events page here.

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Cyclists at the beginning of the Raetithi Gutbuster

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Cyclist at the T42 event                                                                                                                                    

Cycling and mountain biking safety

Cycle and mountain biking safety is paramount. Always do a gear check before you ride, check the trail status for any track changes or hazards and always let someone know where you’re riding and for how long. The changing alpine environment in Ruapehu is always something to consider when planning a ride in our Greater Outdoors. If you are hiring bikes from a local operator or using a shuttle service, make sure you ask about any recent trail updates before hitting the trails and check out the Mountain Safety Council website for mountain biking safety and tips.

Stay and play in Ruapehu

From Ohakune to National Park Village, Ōwhango, and beyond Taumarunui to Ongarue, Ruapehu is a fantastic base for all cycling and mountain biking holidays. With over 400 kms of trails to discover, you’re never too far from a great trail to ride. As you drive up along the Adventure Highway on State Highway 49, you’ll discover cosy alpine villages and mountain towns to make your base for the best cycling holiday. Many accommodation operators offer shuttle services, can help organise bike hire and provide local tips on where to ride. Looking for a few good places to refuel after a great ride? From historic pubs to cosy cafes, check out all the wonderful places to eat, drink and be merry in Ruapehu here.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your next adventure in Ruapehu and start pedalling the trails in Our Greater Outdoors! Find out more here.

Posted by on 20 March 2022