Day 20 | Taumarunui to Ruatiti

A day off, heavy strategizing and bit of cheating

Date: 8 Feb 2024

I won’t trouble you with another post like this, but I wanted to record the sort of planning we often have to do.

From Taumarunui the broad plan was to go to Whanganui via the ‘Mountains to Sea’ route – biking to Mangapurua Landing and jet boating to Pipiriki. However, on looking at the detail, it wasn’t so easy.  We had to juggle food availability, accommodation options, track difficulty with loaded bikes, jet boat booking, and incoming weather.

The Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua tracks are papa clay surfaces; smooth when dry but very slippery and sticky when wet. We had a two-day window before predicted rain.

Option A. The official TA route – to Whakahoro, then up the Kaiwhakauka track to the/Mangaparua track.


  • Off the main road


  • Kaiwhakauka is Grade 4 and apparently a very difficult, muddy single track at the start.
  • The pricey Blue Duck Lodge is the only accommodation at Whakahoro other than camping.

Option B: Horopito to Ruatiti and the start of the Mangaparua track.


  • The bit of the ‘Mountains to the Sea’ trail that we hadn’t yet done.
  • Mangaparua track ascent, when dry, is much easier than the Kaiwhakauka.
  • Affordable accommodation at Ruatiti Backpackers


  • Not possible if track is wet
  • Requires 74 km on SH4 with no shoulder and deadly kiwi drivers trying to kill us
  • at least one more day
  • No suitable accommodation on the way


Option C: If it rains,  SH4 to Raetihi then down to Pipiriki via the road.

Our “rule” for this trip: “no vehicles except ferries”, went out the window at this point because Option B with a shuttle dealt with the delay, the danger and the difficulty.  The lovely people at  Tamaranui Canoe Hire  have daily buses and vans going to and from Pipiriki servicing their 4/5 day canoe trips, and a rudimentary camp site above the river, with cabins. They could take us south the next day.  We settled in to a cabin, stocked up at the supermarket, and did absolutely nothing for the rest of the day,  which was just what we needed.

By the way, Taumarunui is home to possibly the Best Coffee since Jolt at the Trunk Cafe.

The next day we were dropped at Horopito (Smash Palace if you’re old enough) and had a pleasant 40 km mostly downhill run to Ruatiti Station cabins, where we were rewarded by our first sighting of a karearea in flight, ke-ke-ke-ing across the still cloud-free sky. If the threatened rain came early we would have to back track to Raetihi so I slept uneasily, waiting for the first drops, luckily in vain.

Supplies: stock up before you go, takeaways at Pipiriki at the end of the next day.

Accommodation: Ruatiti Station cabins

These videos are best viewed on a computer screen. Turning your phone sideways helps.

Total distance: 41.13 km
Max elevation: 736 m
Min elevation: 242 m
Total climbing: 445 m
Total descent: -840 m
Total time: 03:16:53
Download file: day20.gpx

Battery use: 50% | 312Wh


Posted in Eta

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