Trail Updates
  • Section 3
  • 45km
  • 3–5 hours
  • Grade 3 (intermediate)
Highlights
  • beautiful rural landscapes
  • views of Tongariro's volcanoes
  • quiet country roads
  • super-scenic Manganui-o-te-ao River

Middle & Ruatiti Roads

Following quiet roads, this meandering journey offers ever-changing scenery from the tussock-covered plateau to a deep, green river valley bordering Whanganui National Park.

Linking the Ohakune Old Coach Road with the Mangapurua Track, this long and occasionally hilly section is mostly ridden by riders completing the whole Mountains to Sea Trail but has plenty of merits, including pretty scenery along the meandering Manganui-o-te-ao River.

Riding the Trail

Middle & Ruatiti Roads are mostly used by riders completing the whole Mountains to Sea Trail, and although relatively scenic it’s not commonly undertaken as a standalone ride. Many riders preferring to catch a shuttle to the start of the Mangapurua Track.

Overall, the ride is downhill, losing around 400m in elevation over 45km. However, some steep climbs – especially towards the end of Ruatiti Road – make it best suited to fit cyclists.

From Horopito, Middle Road is 1km south along busy SH4, so riders need to have their wits about them for this short section.

From there, riders turn right and head west for approximately 14km to the junction with Ruatiti Road which winds through increasing hilly farmland.

Halfway along Ruatiti Road (15km from the junction) is Ruatiti Domain, where there are toilets and basic camping. This hidden gem is particularly pleasant in summer when visitors and locals enjoy swimming and fishing in the pretty Manganui-o-te-ao River.

Note that after the Domain, the road turns to gravel for the final 15 km to the start of the Mangapurua Track.

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Need to Know
  • This is a Grade 3 (intermediate) ride suitable for most rider abilities although a decent level of fitness is required to enjoy its undulations and length

  • Although both roads are generally in good condition, riders should ask local operators about the latest conditions as washouts and slips can occur.

  • Road traffic is generally very light, however, riders should be prepared to meet vehicles at all times and be especially careful on the State Highway and around corners.

  • A ship-shape bike and sound mechanical skills are must too as it’s a long way from a bike shop.

  • Mountain bikes, hybrids and touring bikes will cut the mustard, although a mountain bike is essential for riders continuing on to the Mangapurua Track. (Checking the conditions on the Mangapurua is also essential as it can turn into a bike-breaking quagmire in the wet.)
  • Mountains to Sea Trail markers along the way mean there is little chance of getting list, although a map or GPS will reduce the chance of any wrong turns.
  • The weather can change quickly in these parts and it can get cold and wet, and there’s little shelter en route. Riders should always check the forecast in advance, and take clothing for every eventuality
  • There are no shops or visitor services except for the campsite and toilets at Ruatiti Domain where it is recommended that water supplies are boiled or treated. Riders should therefore carry sufficient supplies to last the whole journey.
    Although there’s some cellphone reception along Middle Road, it’s virtually non-existent along the Ruatiti Road.
  • A PLB (personal locator beacon) is recommended for riders continuing on to the Mangapurua Track.
  • Shuttles can transport riders and bikes to Horopito, or directly to the start of the Mangapurua Track for those wanting to skip the road sections.
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