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Upokongaro to Tasman Sea

A fitting finale to the Mountains to Sea. The trail winds beside the lower reaches of the Whanganui River and through the artful city of Whanganui before reaching the Tasman Sea. From Upokongaro village this flat, easy trail follows the river to Whanganui’s city limits where it continues on cycle paths, suburban streets and pretty riverside boardwalk through the centre brimming with galleries, street art, cafes and more.

The final stretch heads through salt-tinged backstreets on its way to North Mole - Castlecliff – a moody, driftwood-strewn beach where this epic journey ends.


  • Whanganui River scenery
  • untamed Tasman Sea coast
  • flat, easy riverside riding 
  • Whanganui art & culture
  • cafes, restaurants & accommodation
  • heritage buildings
  • creative community (galleries and specialty glass workshops)
  • Whanganui River Markets (Saturdays)
  • historic riverboats 
  • fantastic cafes
  • Durie Hill Tunnel and Elevator

History & Background

Urban pathways navigate riders along the banks of the Whanganui River, through the heart of a historic and creative city and finally to the black-sand beach where the Whanganui River meets the Tasman Sea.

The mouth of the Whanganui River has been home to iwi for hundreds of years and was an early destination for European settlers. The development of a bustling port and an expanding national rail network made Whanganui an important transport and trade hub from the late 19th century. By 1916, Whanganui was New Zealand’s fifth biggest city.

The city’s heritage is still on display, with perfectly preserved Edwardian and Victorian architecture lining the main streets of the city. The Whanganui Regional Museum is home to a significant collection of taonga Māori. Two authentic riverboats still cruise the Whanganui River, and the Durie Hill Tunnel and Elevator has been operating for over one hundred years.

Today, Whanganui is a thriving community, known for its vibrant creative scene, beautiful city centre and welcoming culture. Riders will find plenty of reasons to stop and stay a while.

See more...

Trail Route

Travel the final reaches of the Whanganui river, discovering its special stories, vibrant communities and indulge in the delicious food from the many cafes enroute.  (And if it's a Saturday make the most of the offerings at the Whanganui River Markets).

From Upokongaro, take the road underpass and head over the cycle bridge.

Opened in December 2020, the impressive 130m curved structure connects the two villages removing a long detour for locals and a section of busy SH4 for cyclists.

Follow the cycle path down Papaiti Rd. This pleasant stretch will take you alongside the river, past rural landscapes and quiet neighbourhoods before reaching the Dublin St Bridge, one of three road bridges connecting both sides of the city.

Detailed track guide....

Need to Know

This grade 3 (intermediate) trail will suit riders of most abilities and fitness, including family groups. In summer, an afternoon onshore breeze means an earlier start means better chance of a tailwind riding back to the city. There is a small on road section through the relatively quiet SH4 (hence Grade 3) and some busier town intersections.  Most of the trail is off road on paved cycle paths - perfect for all the family.

It follows smooth cycle paths, boardwalk and urban roads. Riders need to be aware of traffic on the roads, and take extra care along the state highway section before crossing the new underpass and bridge at Upokongaro.

Mountain bikes, hybrids and touring bikes are all suitable. E-bikes will make short work of this easy section of the Mountains to Sea.

The trail is well signposted, and provided you don’t diverge too much from the river you can’t really go wrong. Brochures and leaflets available at the Whanganui i-SITE or downloadable from the website will, however, help you get the most out of your ride and time in the city.

The trail can be ridden all year round, and you’re never too far from shelter or welcoming hospitality and accommodation. Check the weather forecast, and if the weather’s looking iffy spend your time exploring the city instead.

  • There are a bike-friendly hotel and cafe in Ūpokongaro, and more shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in Whanganui than you can shake a bike pump at.
  • There is cellphone reception along the whole trail.
  • Shuttle transport is available from Whanganui.
  • There are several public toilets in Whanganui, including at the i-SITE visitor centre.

This is the final leg of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, which connects with the Whanganui River Road at the village of Ūpokongaro.

There is also some great off-road riding to be had around the city. Check out Whanganui MTB Parks for some more riding options.


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