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Mangapurua Cycle Track reopens, ready for eager cyclists

Keen cyclists and local businesses alike will be excited to hear the news that the Mangapurua section of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail has been re-opened following extensive work by the Department of Conservation team in Whanganui.

This key section of trail to the Bridge to Nowhere has been closed since April 2019, impacting dozens of businesses in the Ruapehu and Whanganui districts as riders couldn’t complete their summer adventure plans.

Thanks to the considerable investment by both DOC and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise, the reopening track has been assessed as the best it's ever been.

Richard Leggat, who completed the recent audit assessment on behalf of NZ Cycle Trail Organisation, commented that the trail is in "the best condition it has ever been and will provide a rewarding adventure ride experience into a very special part of New Zealand – and shouldn’t be missed".

With nearly 1000 riders expected to travel through the area as part of the Tour Aotearoa brevet in February and March – along with hundreds of eager advanced skills riders who have been waiting to complete their bucket list trip this summer – it will be a welcome boost to the many small businesses who support the trail.

Jet boat operator Ken Haworth of Whanganui River Adventures is excited to see the trail reopening after having had to turn away hundreds of bookings over the last eight months.

"…and we’re only one operator of many that support the trail with logistics, accommodation, food and more," Ken said.

With the missing link restored communities from Ohakune, Whakahoro and National Park, along the Whanganui River Road and into Whanganui all stand to benefit from a much-needed boost to their customer flow.

Director operations, Central North Island for Department of Conservation Damian Coutts was positive about bringing experienced cyclists back into the area.

"We understand the frustration many have been feeling about the extended closure, but our ground team have done to put in the hard mahi and deliver a safe track," he said.

Improvements to the trail include widening through most of its length, although riding a quality suspension mountain-bike is recommended. Repairs have also been made to culverts and downhill sections and temporary barrier fences along drop offs have been installed (in the longer term they will be replaced with more permanent options).

Grass and scrub has been cleared, including uncovering a section of the original Bridge to Nowhere settlement road and bluff sections have been widened – however this area is still subject to rockfalls due to the geology (papa), so care is required – especially Cody's and Hannah's Bluff – and work will continue over time to monitor and improve these sections.

Although now in great shape, Damian emphasised slips are still likely – especially following rain – and riders should be prepared to dismount and walk their bikes with the rider on the uphill side at times.

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 TÅ«roa to North Mole in Whanganui.

Mountains to Sea – Nga Ara Tuhono Trail champion and marketing manager Lynley Twyman says for those who don’t want to tackle the whole journey, there are plenty of options to complete individual sections.

"The trail not only brings new tourists into the area but also keeps them coming back," she says.

"Our target for the next 12 months is to welcome more than 15,000 riders through the trails – each staying an average of four nights in the trail area – that’s a lot of revenue into the area," Lynley says.

"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 – Nga¬Å Ara Tuhono is one of New Zealand’s 22 Great rides, navigating the journey from Turoa to the Tasman Sea via the Whanganui. It’s connected pathways create memories from an adventure through some of New Zealand’s most undiscovered and special places.

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