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Tags:
Level: Intermediate
Length: 21 mi (33.8 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: One-way
Elevation: +424/707 ft
Total: 9 riders
 

Mountain Biking Bridge to Nowhere

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#19 of 381 mountain bike trails in New Zealand
#2519 in the world

The Bridge to Nowhere is a piece of New Zealand folklore, an icon of kiwi culture. Even as it was being built in 1936 this area was being abandoned. Land had been allotted to returning soldiers after the First World War. It was free - they just had to convert the bush to farmland. Despite their blood, sweat and tears it was too remote, rugged and infertile for profitable farming. Eventually all the farmers gave up and left. The land reverted to bush. Today the bridge stands proud and true, spanning a ravine, alone without adjoining roads, surrounded by ferns and trees - a monument to broken dreams. ---

So the walk or ride to the Bridge to Nowhere is like a pilgrimage. It's a good ride too. ---

The best way to do it is to get a shuttle from Raetahi to the start of the Mangapurua Track. Ride that track to the bridge and then a little beyond to the Whanganui River. There you catch a boat down to Pipiriki and then a mini-bus back to Raetahi. That may sound complicated and difficult but it's not; just get in touch with the "Bridge to Nowhere Lodge and Tours" company, www.bridgetonowhere.co.nz and for $135 you're all set - apart from the pedalling! ---

The trail starts with a one to two hour steady climb up a farm track to Mangapurua Trig - the only spot on the trail with cell phone reception. From there it's a three or four hour downhill ride to the bridge and the Whanganui River. Along the way there are stunning views of surrounding bush clad hills that go on forever. You pass wooden signs with the names of the families who settled there. There are rows of exotic trees marking house sites and grassy areas yet to revert to bush. Lower down the valley the river has cut deep gullies with steep bluffs where signs tell you to walk your bike. Then, out of nowhere, the Bridge appears. It's bizarre - almost like new - lost in its own time warp - out of touch with reality. From the bridge it's a few minutes down to the landing on the Whanganui River where you and your bike catch the boat for an exhilarating half hour ride down to Pipiriki where you transfer to the bus back to Raetahi. ---

The ride is not difficult but it is remote - a great one day back-country adventure with lots of down-slope riding. ---

Text by jimcummings

Before you go
  • No Drinking water 
  • No E-bikes permitted 
  • Fat biking allowed in winter 
  • No Fee required 
  • No Lift service 
  • No Night riding allowed 
  • No Pump track 
  • Restrooms 
Getting there
Catch the shuttle at Raetahi Holiday Par, 10 Parapara Road (State Highway 4) right near the centre of the village.
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Copops (on Feb 22, 2018)
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Good (on Feb 23, 2018)
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Reviews

  • Desperado
    *****

    This is a stunning one day out-back ride into history - a place of myths, legends and icons. There is not only the bridge but also the legendary Whanganui River and now the ride itself. It's more than a ride it's a wonderful and inspiring experience.

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  • Jim Cummings
    ****

    It's a great ride - a one day back-country adventure - and down hill most of the way after the first hour. It's rich in history - the bridge is a piece of New Zealand folklore. The jet boat ride is spectacular.

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