Day 21 | Ruatiti to Pipiriki

The Bridge to Nowhere

Date: 9 Feb 2024
Grade: 2, 3

With only 40 km in total, including a gentle 300 m climb over the first 15 km, we felt we had plenty of time to get to the 1.30 pm jet boat, but we had read warnings of these tracks so set off early (for us) at 7.30 am.

The 10 km warm-up climb  is a 4wd road and there are magnificent views back to Ruapehu and over the vast empty National Park and King Country. Towards the top you start to see memorial signs recording the post-WW1 soldiers who set up their rehab farms here.  About 20 years on, they and their families were forced to leave, broken and broke, after enduring astounding hardship so remotely. We read most of them and then realized time was passing quickly and sped down the road to the last 15 or so kilometres of single track – the part that makes the track grade three and is positively dangerous when wet. There are seven very narrow swing bridges to walk across and as well, seven bluffs you have to walk around, which make for quite slow going. People have been seriously injured or even died on this section.  We had seen no one for five hours and we felt we were very remote.

We got to the landing with half an hour to spare and met six other cyclists who had started at 6:30, coming up the other route – one of whom was slightly injured from a fall at the beginning of the Kaiwhakauka. We were pleased that we’d decided to avoid it.

The jet boat ride down the river was an exhilarating half-hour high speed run to the tiny village of Pipiriki. Our comfortable cabin at the tidy Pipiriki campground was a welcome sight, as we were quite buggered as well as mind blown.

And still it hadn’t rained.

Supplies: Basic takeaways at Pipiriki Camp

Accommodation: Pipiriki Camp
These videos are best viewed on a computer screen. Turning your phone sideways helps.

This shows our route including the jet boat ride, adding 20+km to the trip.

Total distance: 62.62 km
Max elevation: 625 m
Min elevation: 47 m
Total climbing: 820 m
Total descent: -1175 m
Total time: 07:53:06
Download file: day21.gpx

Battery use: 50% | 312Wh


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