The home of Raglan mountain biking

Bridge to Nowhere (somewhat unconventionally)

First thing’s first: ditch the common advice, ignore the usual route and you will wonder why most people bike this track using the Mangapurua Track and head in a southerly direction.

We started our BTN experience from Blue Duck Station, a family run farm-cum-tourist base for activities on and around the Whanganui river, with a strong conservation ethos and a genuine interest in looking after their guests. Blue Duck Station run their own jet boats on the river, so we had a 30 second ride from our accommodation to our transport, and were chaperoned by the station’s patriarch, Richard Steele, for the majestic 45 minute ride down the Whanganui River. reflections2


The upper reaches of the Whanganui are simply breathtaking; high, bush topped gorges and clear dark green water. The river draws many tourists to do multiple day kayak and canoe trips, as well as the single day jet boat excursions, and is well worth a trip in itself.bikes overtake canoes

Much to the perplexity of the 50 or so riders we met coming the other way, we rode the track ‘backwards’. Most choose to end the ride with the river, but this way we started with a gentle single track climb, a middle section of 4WD drive track, and an end of steeper single downhill track (courtesy of the varied and very fun Kaiwhakauka Track).


The area is full of remnants of a sad but interesting history; the area being given to returned WWI soldiers to farm, but proving to be unviable, the settlement was abandoned shortly after the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ was built.

The track follows the Mangapurua Stream and affords breath taking views down to the water below. The often exposed track is not for the faint hearted, and bikers are encouraged by DOC signs to get off and walk when the track narrows. However, the ride is for the most part not particularly technical and can be ridden by those with limited single track experience.happy campers


Just past the Mangapurua trig at roughly the half way point, riders can choose to continue on a graded 4WD track to Raetihi (which most ride on the way up), or veer left and enjoy farm tracks and 15km of single track on the Kaiwhakauka. This is a thrilling and sometimes challenging downhill with something for everybody.

BBQ at the end of the dayThe Kaiwhakauka ends at Blue Duck Station, which is well set up for tired bikers. It has a cafe that offers breakfast through to evening meals, and has a choice of accommodation for very reasonable prices. We stayed at River Lodge, which overlooks the Whanganui river, and offers a choice between bunk rooms or private rooms, a kitchen and lounge with log burner, and a fabulous deck positioned to make the most of the vista. The station and the ride route are the Whanganui’s best kept mountain biking secret. Hopefully more people will buck the trend and the reputation of a ride that is already established as one of the North Island’s best, will soar.

Ride time: between 4 and 6 hours.

Blue Duck Station and the Kaiwhakauka Track can be accessed via Oio Road just outside of Owhango, State Highway 4.


1 Comment»

  Niall Stewart Darwin wrote @

Nice ride and write up 🙂

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