Old Coach Road
Lonely Planet review for Old Coach Road
The original 16km coach track from Ohakune to Horopito dates from 1886, when it was built largely by hand by workers living in canvas tents and operating in harsh winter conditions. It was gradually upgraded to carry passengers and goods, and used until 1909, when SH49 opened. A recent restoration has rescued it from obscurity, creating this excellent walking and cycling route.
The gently graded route contains a number of unique engineering features, including the historic Hapuawhenua and Toanui viaducts – these are the only two remaining curved viaducts in the southern hemisphere. It passes through ancient forest of giant rimu and totara that survived the Taupo blast, being in the lea of Ruapehu.
If you're cycling, you're best to start at Horopito for a slightly downhill ride finishing at Ohakune Railway Station (allow four hours). Mountain Bike Station offers transfers to Horopito or you can undertake a full-day's return ride.