Does a ride through lush rainforest, lunch amongst the ferns and crystal blue rivers, and then an exhilarating return ride on a jet boat sound like a day too good to be true?! If you’re as serious about MTB adventure as we are then it will be right up your ally, and it’s definitely not too good to be true.
Why call it the Bridge to Nowhere?
The Bridge to Nowhere Track in Ohakune undulates (mainly descends!) 38km down the Mangapurua Valley and eventually along the Mangapurua River. The entire area has historic value: in the 1920’s, soldiers returning from war were offered settlements in the area in return for their service.
Building and sustaining life was difficult due to the dense bush, but riders today can still see remnants of homes and bridges from this time. The idea of the Morgan Bridge was hatched during the peak of settlement and was intended to improve and connect the pioneers to services.
However, upon completion in 1936, most of the families had packed up and left due to very difficult and very isolated living conditions… Hence, the Bridge to Nowhere:)
Riders begin this adventure at Mangapurua Junction. There is a short climb to begin with, about 4km of mellow pedaling. It’s good to get the muscles warmed up for a big adventure! As you casually climb, remember to turn around and see the lush rainforest views behind you.
One of the Haka Mountain Bike Tour guides, @scruffymorgs , popping the nose up today over the beautiful and seemingly totally randomly placed Bridge To Nowhere. Accessed either by a 34km trail or by a 32km journey up the Whanganui River from the tiny village of Pipiriki, New Zealand. We choose to ride in and Jet Boat out. Haka Style. #hakatours #bridgetonowhere #mountainbike #mountainbiking #trail #track #forest #bridges #backcountry #enduro #ride #wheelie #river #newzealand #nz #purenewzealand #travelgram #travel #instatravel #photography #getoutside #wanderlust #adventure #adventuretravel #tourguide #dh #downhill #guidelife #fightingboredom #lifestyle
It’s not that hard!
Various internet sites claim that this descent is “technical” and “difficult” but riders of almost any level should be absolutely fine as long as they ride within their limits. There are no mandatory features such as jumps or drops, and the trail is well maintained.
The most common challenge on this track is unpredictable mud, but getting dirty is part of riding bikes, right? Don’t be put off and miss out on this incredible experience!
The entire track is well marked and well ridden. Areas of the trail are prone to becoming muddy depending on recent weather, but don’t give it a miss! Just come prepared. Mud guards or fenders may be helpful, but mud tires are probably overkill, especially considering the aforementioned climb.
Because weather in New Zealand is always unpredictable and this ride goes deep enough to be considered “backcountry”, food and water, first-aid kits, rain gear, warm gloves, and proper bike repair tools are completely necessary.
As the trail winds downhill along some open bluffs, consider keeping speed controlled and riding within your limits.
Got your camera?
We recommends dismounting along some of the most exposed sections, and at any tight spot walking is totally acceptable, and offers an opportunity for photography! Impressive rock faces such as Battleship Bluff loom hundreds of meters overhead, lending an other-wordly feel to the track.
Once at the valley floor, the track zig-zags for nearly 20km, crossing the Mangapurua Stream several times via scenic swing bridges. Gutsy and coordinated riders can give riding the swing bridges a go… but those using caution or wide handlebars will be keen to amble and enjoy the views!
Oh, the views! Walls of ferns and endless ridgelines of native bush conjure up visions of Avatar meets Lost. Or perhaps it’s the lack of cell service!
Finally, cyclists will arrive at Morgan Bridge, the Bridge to Nowhere. The large, concrete bridge is incredibly scenic, spanning a large crevasse of tree ferns towering above the bubbling river. By this time you’ll be quite remote- and quite tired!
Take in the scenery and the striking dichotomy of concrete architecture and expansive nature around you and consume some calories as well as you wait for your exit from the bridge… a roaring jet-boat!
If the ride to the Bridge to Nowhere isn’t exciting enough for you, your chariot out surely will be! Feel the wind whip through your helmet-hair as you zip up-stream at 70km/hr.
Be amazed by the boat’s ability to skim just the surface of the water, speeding over shallow river edges and buzzing the edges of dense greenery. Let the spray cool you off from a long day on the bike!
The transportation back from the Bridge to Nowhere is as unique as the bridge itself!