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Biking The Old Coach Road with Kids

By Jo 1 year agoNo Comments

When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride with kids, we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To have a ‘great day’ on the bike with kids there are simple things to think about, plan and do.  In this story I am going to introduce you to riding the Old Coach Road with Kids.

Where is it?

The Old Coach Road Bike Trail is located in Ohakune in the centre of the North Island.  The trail traverses between the town of Ohakune and Horopito.

What is it?

The Old Coach Road was a section of the main trunk railway line that in the early 1900s was incomplete. So between 1906 and 1908 passengers would have to disembark from the train to travel by horse and coach through the Old Coach road largely covered in cobblestone. The road also provided access to completing this missing section on the main trunk line and in 1908 with the railway line complete the services of the road was no longer required. You now get to enjoy the road by bike (or by foot) and appreciate the history of this area as well as understand some of the challenges and hardships faced in these times and be impressed by their successes and achievements.

Is it doable?

Biking Distance? The old coach road is 15km one way or can be ridden as a there and back trip for a 30km round trip. Shuttles are readily available from Ohakune and they will drop you and your bike at Horopito  allowing you to leisurely make your way back to Ohakune. This is definitely the way to ride. Horopito is about 500ft higher than Ohakune therefore offering more of a downhill experience.  You would need to allow 2 hours plus if enjoying one way and 4 hours plus if riding the round trip.

Biking Surface? The biking surface is variable. It includes a wide trail sometimes grassy/muddy farmland, sometimes old cobblestones to a compacted surface that can contain a few rocks and tree roots. There is also single track to enjoy.

Biking Skills required? This is NOT a technical ride. Some of the skills involved are riding uphill, downhill, cornering and picking a riding line to avoid some obstacles but generally there are not too many obstacles and there is plenty of space to avoid them.

Level of biking fitness? This will either be a 2 hour ride or a 4 hour if doing the round trip. Do you have the endurance levels required? If riding in the downhill direction then fitness requirements will be less though remember there is still some uphill.

Can you ride with Kids Attached? The Towhee Tow Rope could be the asset you need to get some younger kids riding on their own bike through this ride… at least stashed in your bag with the ability to pull it out if needed.  The Mid mount – Shotgun Mountain Bike Seat is a good option for riding with younger kids attached and a rear bike seat are all options on this trail for those who are experienced riders.


Feeling Comfortable

It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you will always want to feel comfortable. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day’ on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are comfortable on the bike.

Water – you will need enough to last the length of your ride.  There is no tap water available along the trail.

goUnders- Kids Padded Bike Underwear

Protection for the Kids – As they are riding a bike for up to two hours plus and there is a chance for accidents – bike gloves, covered arms, covered legs, good helmets are some protection options.  Please make them wear shoes.   Comfort on the seat can be a big factor so consider padded bike underwear – goUnders for Kids, see photo to right.  Worn under their shorts or leggings these ‘undies’ protect soft tissue & prevent chaffing.

As you are riding for a period of time…the weather can change make sure you carry options for keeping warm, dry and protected from the sun depending on the time of year you ride and the conditions on the day.

Food –  A muesli bar or a bit of chocolate can be a great motivator or reward at the top of a hill and as we mentioned above they will have to do some uphill biking.

Being Safe

It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you will always want to be safe. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day’ on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are safe on the bike.

Map The trail is signposted along the way. You can follow the signs from Ohakune Railway Station along station road and onto Marshalls Road to the Marshalls Road carpark where you can access the trail. If being dropped at Horopito there is really only one way to go…  so get on the trail and ride.

First Aid – Carry a basic biking first aid kit in your bag or on your bike.  Have a more comprehensive kit in the car or a refill pack incase serious patch ups are required.  Grazed knees, elbows and irrigation for eyes are the most common minor biking accidents.

YouAm I safe to Mountain Bike Ride? A checklist to complete that ensures YOU are safe to goRide.
Bike – goRide pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe? A simple checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order.

Having Fun

If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride. There is so much fun to be had on a bike – the pace you go, being close and connected with nature, your ease to detour from the trail…I wonder what is around this corner, and your ability to stop and get off your bike means you get to discover all sorts of things along the way. Sometimes you will know about and plan to enjoy things and then there are those wonderful surprise discoveries.

Some things to look out for on the Old Coach Road.

This ride is filled with history. Some of that history can be read along the way on information boards as well as viewed in the viaducts and tunnels. There are certainly many little stops to enjoy on the way. Taonui Viaduct, crossing the Hapuawhenua Viaduct, entering the curved tunnel.

More can be read about the history and things to see: Department of Conservation and the official Old Coach Road website.


Looking out to the Hapawhenua Viaduct


Crossing the Hapawhenua Viaduct….don’t look down!


The Taonui Viaduct.

Does it fit?

Does the ride fit with what you want to achieve? 15 km one way of stunning single track and some  farmland riding. Predominantly downhill but definitely some hill climbing involved.  If riding a return trip – there and back – 30km of riding and more uphill riding involved. There are lots of great things to discover and enjoy along the way. Also all those good things you get from a bike ride, sunshine, fresh air, feeling healthier, feelings of achievement – you did it! You never know what else you might discover.

If you won’t have your bike with you if you are visiting Ohakune there are bike hire options available.

Did you ride the Old Coach Road ? Did you have a great day on the bike?

What went well? What could you work on next time? It’s all about taking steps and small gains…oh the places you’ll go, the things you will see.

  We would love to hear about your ‘great days’ on the bike.

get Inspired and goRide -Riding The Old Coach Road with Kids – a great day on the bike.

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