After crossing Slippery Creek, the track starts to level out before reaching Johnson’s (19km), named after the farmer who collected mail from Mangapurua Landing and distributed it through the valley twice a week. Take a break here or camp overnight.
Continuing down the valley you pass various grassy clearings and papa clay bluffs which are named after the settlers. Their memories live on in wooden signs marking the sites of the original houses and their plantings of exotic trees and shrubs that still flourish here.
The old Bettjeman’s Farm (22.4km) is identified by a straight row of poplars lining the road. The family was one of the first to settle the valley, and some of the last to leave in 1942.
A chimney stack and plants such as holly and cotoneaster are all that’s left of what was once a thriving homestead and bunkhouse which even had its own tennis court. There’s a toilet and a good water source from the stream by the old house site.
A gentle descent takes you to Bartrum’s swing bridge. From here the trail navigates a series of sheer bluffs where riders should dismount as advised by signs. There are also several narrow swing bridges with access steps that require manoeuvring your bike by the back wheel across.
Near Cody’s House, keep an eye out for Current Bun Bluff with its spherical boulders sticking out of the cliff face.
At Waterfall Creek, there’s a 1.5km side-trip up the true left to see the actual cascade. Hellawell’s (27km), once the site of community picnics and hockey games, makes a great spot to linger.
Further along the valley is Battleship Bluff, one of the most striking features along the track. Resembling the prow of an old ship, it presented one of the greatest obstacles to early settlers who spent two years blasting a route across the mighty cliff face. Don’t linger in this papa bluff country and do follow the dismount and walk signs with your bike on the fall hazard side
As you emerge from bush and old homestead clearings the Bridge to Nowhere (32.7km) suddenly appears. It’s an incongruous yet impressive sight arching elegantly across the steep ravine with the Mangapurua Stream 40 metres below. Just beyond the bridge is a lookout track that winds up above the Mangapurua Stream for lofty views of the bridge and surrounding bush.
The final section is mostly board walk. This is a popular day trip walking track: share with care.
The Landing used to be the main supply point for the valley but is now used by canoeists on the Whanganui Journey and jet boat operators running guided trips or collecting riders and bikes for the transfer downriver to Pīpīriki.