Te Hangāruru trail section construction underway

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After years of planning, ground will be broken on Te Hangāruru today beginning the major missing connection from Horopito (and Ohakune Old Coach Road) and Waimarino – National Park on Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono Great Ride. This first phase of the trail will follow abandoned roadways and bush tramway sections initially terminating at the Last Spike and the proposed Pōkākā ecosanctuary and will include the longest suspension bridge in the country.


The trail is being constructed in partnership with Uenuku and Ruapehu District Council as part of the Mountains to Sea cycle trails, allowing cyclists and walkers to connect to the people and environment of Waimarino, a special part of the world that includes blocks of native bush largely untouched, rich in history and ecology unique to the region.


In total, the trail will be 29.4 km from Horopito to Waimarino/National Park. The project will be constructed in two phases, first from Horopito to Pōkākā, 11.5kms of trail with boardwalks, a formed trail and seventeen bridges (including four suspension bridges) in the heart of subalpine podocarp forest and wetlands complete with young tawhairauriki (black beech), kanuka, manuka, pōkākā trees and harakeke. It is planned to open Phase One by the end of March 2024.


The completed trail will have stunning views across the Waimarino plateau mountains, with the longest suspension bridge in the country stretching across 200m of the Makatote River Viaduct.


Special consideration has been made to ensure that the project will create the least disturbance to our native flora and fauna. The trail also creates opportunities for additional trapping of pest species as we work to regenerate the environment for future generations.


Thanks to the considerable investment from funds provided by Government, managed and administered by Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit. It’s really encouraging to see construction getting underway on this project. Te Hangāruru will provide an important linkf or cyclists and walkers between Horopito and Waimarino – National Park. It will eventually be an important addition to the Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono Great Ride


Ruapehu Mayor Weston Kirton said that the ground-breakingfor the Te Hangāruru ‘missing link’ celebrates a historic moment of unity and progress between Council and Uenuku. “This stage of the project marks an important step in our relationship with Uenuku as we endeavour to support their aspirations and help build resilience and sustainability into the Ruapehu tourism economy,” he said.


The trail is a unique partnership with local iwi Uenuku who have been part of the planning since inception and will create training and development opportunities for local rangatahi to become trail builders, ensuring the development and maintenance of the trail remains in the hands of skilled kaitiaki for decades to come. Additionally, the connection through the Pōkākā ecosanctuary will give cyclists the opportunity to hear the call of kākā, kererū, and many other native birds, while also promoting sustainable tourism.


Aiden Gilbert Chair of Uenuku Charitable Trust said Pōkākā will be the first predator-proof, iwi-led ecosanctuary in New Zealand, incorporating a visitor centre and café and offering wildlife tours and guided cultural walks.


“It will also be a centre of excellence for mātauranga Māori inspired education. As an adjunct to Pōkākā, a nursery will be established to provide native plantings for the ecosanctuary and surrounding lands in the wider area,”he said.



“We are thrilled to partner with Ruapehu District Council to bring a cycleway through our ecosanctuary.”


The Mountains to Sea network of trails is a significant drawcard to both the Ruapehu and Whanganui districts – with iconic sections including the Ohakune Old Coach Road and Mangapurua Bridge to Nowhere bringing riders on an exciting and diverse journey from Tūroa to North Mole in Whanganui, and with riders being able to complete individual sections or tackle the whole journey – it brings not only new tourists into the area but also keeps them coming back.


Lynley Twyman – Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono Trail Champion expects that once completed, this section of trail (along with the Te Ara Mangawhero section) will bring more than 35,000 additional visitors to the area annually.


“With each visitor staying an average of four nights in the trail area, the local economy will benefit greatly,” she said.


“Another significant bonus is getting primarily New Zealanders into an area largely undiscovered – and the more we appreciate what we have, the more we treasure it!”



Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono is one of New Zealand’s 23 Great Rides, navigating the journey from Tūroa to the Tasman Sea via its connected pathways creating memories from an adventure through some of New Zealand’s most undiscovered and special places.


Visit mountainstosea.nz/Te Hangāruru for more information.


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