Why you'll love travelling Ohakune's Old Coach Road

14 December 2015

Category: History


New Zealand might have a young history in the grand scheme of things, but you'll still find numerous interesting relics of the past throughout the nation. When one of these antiques is an old, winding road, it opens up a world of potential adventure for the modern day tourist! Let's find out why you should consider hiking one of the North Island's most beloved examples of such history: the Old Coach Road, Ohakune.

Take the road less travelled

In pre-1900s New Zealand, most travel was done on foot, by horseback or in a cart. While the decision was made towards the end of the 19th century that there should be a railway connecting Auckland and Wellington, this type of project would, of course, take time to build. In the central North Island, where there was still a gap between railheads in the lands beneath the mighty Mount Ruapehu, a trail was needed to link the train stations.

This is why the Old Coach Road exists near Ohakune. As construction continued on the tracks, passengers and workers needed a way to ferry themselves and materials from one station to another, as the distance was too great to walk. A cobblestone trail was created in 1906, and it saw heavy use for the next two years. Of course, when the railway was finished, it was need no longer existed, and thus it faded into disuse and distant memory.

Nowadays you can hike this fascinating trail, which has become a protected icon of the region and a wonderful tourist attraction. It is approximately 10 kilometres long, taking five hours to complete, and has information boards dotted along the way to recount its century-old history. You'll weave beneath luminous rimu trees, cross an old steel-lattice railway viaduct and be able to stand in an old tunnel, long abandoned.

From old railway to new

Your entire holiday could have a NZ railway theme. One of the most exciting, yet fantastically leisurely, ways to get to Ohakune is via KiwiRail Scenic's awe-inspiring Northern Explorer trip. It begins or ends in Wellington, linking the capital to our largest city, Auckland. On our Ohakune Break Escape package, you'll have plenty of time to explore the heritage township on either a one, two or three-night experience, set up in the beautifully rustic Powderhorn Chateau for accommodation.