The Bridge to Nowhere trail is a New Zealand classic. As the name suggests, it's pretty remote and leads to... NOWHERE! There is good reason for it to be soo popular to. It's not just because of the bridge (though it is a bit of an anomaly) that was constructed in 1935 to open up the Mungapurua Valley for some lucky farmers doing it hard. What makes the trail great is the views, the Bluffs, the Forest, and the fact that the only logical way out when you're done is to get a jet boat to shuttle you out.
Opportunities have to be taken advantage of..
To catch the shuttle to the start of the trail really you need to be staying close to Raetahi (10 min from Ohakune). We drove down the night before and noticed that it was going to be such a nice sunset we headed up the Turoa access road to have cheese and crackers and a hot drink before hitting the hay.
The next morning it was an early start to meet at the Raetahi Holiday Park to meet up with Ben who was in charge of the transport side of things. We loaded the trailer with bikes, gave him our gear we didn't need to see until we arrived at the lodge, and headed into the hills.
In a little less than an hour from leaving Raetahi, we were on our bikes and enjoying the gentle climb up to the trig. Along the way we were treated to views of the central plateau and a nice easy surface of good gravel.
up up UP!
Pretty gradually you do the majority of the climbing in the first hour.
Once you get to the top, you have the option to go and sit on a long drop or go for a short 5 minute walk to a picnic table were you get some incredible views on a clear day. Rumour has it you can see all the way out to Mt Taranaki and Ruapehu.. We weren't so lucky with the clouds, but we could see the expanse of Whanganui National Park.
A memorial for the families that did it hard in the Mangapurua Valley
It feels good when you get to this point because you know that the hardest part (the uphill) is all behind you. From here there are only a few little climbs which are all relatively short.
From the top of the climb on, I would describe the trail as a 4WD track. This is where you are losing most of the altitude and it's not too technical apart from the odd shallow creek crossing that it's pretty easy to get off and walk through.
In the valley
This is the type of land most families set up camp on and had a good go at farming.
Once down in the valley, the trail gets even more narrow gradually turning into single track. For me, this was the best riding. Down in the valley you start to go past more old farms, bluffs, and you start to get a new perspective looking up and around you at the forested hills and scenery.
Landslides are common in the area. Be ready for anything!
The bluffs that the road was blasted out of way back when are incredible. They are unstable and slips are pretty common so it does pay to get as much information as you can before you start planning a trip into the area. For us, the landslides just provided some great features. No problem at all.
Imagine being gifted a plot of land in here to try and turn into pasture...
The trail flattens out, the forest gets thicker, and before you know it you reach the Bridge to Nowhere! Usually to reach the bridge it takes about 5 hours or so (depending on the weather and track condition). For us the trail was in excellent condition and nice and dry so we did it in under 5. This gave us a little more time to have a rest and get some photos at THE bridge.
From here you have two options. One is to turn around and go back the 35km to where you came from and the other is to continue on 20 minutes to meet a jet boat and head downstream. We of course took the latter!
A great end to the trip
A great way to garuantee a smile on your dile after a great day out!
We opted to stay down by the river and did so in comfort at the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge. The lodge has comfortable rooms, a bar, meals, and it is very remote. The only way in is by boat and it's a great way to stay immersed in this wonderful piece of paradise before heading back to the real world.