What do you associate with the words ‘old coach road’? Showing my ignorance here, but I didn’t think of cobbles! Lots of cobbles on this old coach road – not the smoothest ride and to think each stone was fashioned and laid by hand – wow! A wonderful historic ride over viaducts and through rainforest – towering ancient podocarps – always breathtaking in their beauty.Cynthia Roberts, The Roaming Ecologist
Ohakune is more than carrots and snow – you can now cycle from the Mountains to the Sea – the North Island version of Alps to ocean. From Turoa Skifield, along the Wanganui River and out to the Coast. It is one of New Zealand’s 22 Great Rides (download the app). We have time to do just one day and opt for the Old Coach Road.
It is recommended to start at Horopito, and having done it that way, we would recommend that too. We rang up and booked a shuttle with TCB who were great – they leave at 10am, 12pm and another in the afternoon. $15pp including bike transportation. If you need a bike or ebike, you can book one too. ]
While we waited to leave I spotted a coffee flag across the road and discovered Kombi Ohakune – serving coffee out of an old VW Kombi van. Brought back memories of my first car which was a 1963 combi. Great coffee and people.
Horopito, as well as being the start of the Old Coach Road is also the home to the famous Smash Palace wrecking yard – made famous by Bruno Lawrence’s 1981 movie Smash Palace. As Smash Palace in High Street Christchurch is one of my hangouts, was great to revisit the original. I also found out there is a Smash Palace music venue in Gisborne too!
Much of the track is through the Tongariro National Park, there was some spectacular examples of Toi – the Mountain Cabbage Tree with its distinctive wide leaves.