Central Plateau

Central Plateau


As seen in Episode 10


Tongariro river trail.

Beginning at the State Hwy 1 bridge in Turangi heading clockwise leads with the only challenging climb of the trail, leading to a viewpoint of the Tongariro river. Following into a well graded downhill into flat trail. Regardless of direction, this section is probably best walked for less skilled or confident riders. 

The trail itself meanders its way alongside the Tongariro river through bush and alongside farmland, mostly a well maintained gravel path suitable for all seasons. There are a few little sections in the forest that will spice up the ride for the more experienced rider while providing no hassle for beginners. A shorter loop (approximately half) can be taken across admirals bridge or continue the full loop to cross another suspension bridge south of the national trout centre. Note: approach to this swing bridge at both ends is a walk and man handle your bike, but track is well equipped to make this simple. 

Final thoughts. Beautiful autumn colours, mountain and river views. Trail was popular and frequented by courteous users, spent the majority of the loop in solitude.

Smiles/hr Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wildlife: 1/2

Scenic: 1

History / Points of interest: 1/2

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visit again: 1/2


Pillars of Hercules. 

The best viewpoint is from the track to the left of the bridge (which heads to urchin campsite). About 10 minutes in a track appear to the right off the main track. About a 2 minute walk on a worn but unmarked track brings you to a clear viewpoint. Be sure to keep back from the edge as there is no safety railing.


The Pillars of Hercules mountain bike / walking track continues from the viewing bridge to the desert road. About a 40 minute ride (DOC posted time) on double track. A nice quick ride on an old school cycle trail. Track climbs gently most of the way, about 200 vertical meters in total. Recommend riding it in both directions to avoid State Hwy 1 for safety reasons. Perfect if you’re based at Urchin or Kaimanawa Rd camp sites.


Smiles/hr Rating: 3.5

Wildlife: 1/2

Scenic: 1

History / Points of interest: 1/2

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visit again: 1/2


Tree Trunk Gorge track.

Leaving from Urchin campsite the well formed dual use track makes it way into the gorge from which it takes its name. The track descends and ascends steeply in places and care would be advised for less experienced riders. Peppered with water crossings which require a dismount, these range from small creeks to a wide stream which was anything from ankle to nearly knee deep when taking the wrong line across. The one way ride taking approximately an hour finishing at tree trunk gorge road. It is possible to ride out to the Desert road and connect with the Pillars of Hercules track, though we don’t recommend it. 

Final thoughts: Provides enough challenge for an experienced rider to keep it interesting, combined with challenges of terrain, this is our must do ride. 

Smiles/hr Rating: 3.5

Wildlife: 1/2

Scenic: 1

History / Points of interest: 1

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visiting again: 1


Camping:


Kaimanawa  Road Campsite:

Split into two sections, this campsite is most suited to vehicle camping. The upper section (Right at the end of the access road) is a cut de sac large enough to turn around only. To the left is the larger campsite and vault loo. Again, best suited to vehicle camping as it is predominately a gravel carpark. A shell of what appears to be its former self, the flat section is now fenced off with danger warnings out to risk of falling trees. Our pick is to continue to Urchin campsite further down the road. 

Smiles/hr Rating: 1.5

Wildlife: 1/2

Scenic: 0

History / Points of interest: 0

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visiting again: 0


Urchin Campsite:

Nice campsite. Camp includes a few fire places and a vault toilet. Perfect base for walking or Tree trunk gorge as this track leaves from the campsite.

A short 5 minute drive or follow a bush track for 20-25 minutes to start your exploration of Pillars of Hercules. 

Good bird life including many Kereru, Robin and Morepork and prepare to be treated to a great night sky.

Smiles/hr Rating: 4.5

Wildlife: 1

Scenic: 1

History / Points of interest: 1

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visit again: 1/2