Tongariro River Trail

Walking And Mountain Biking in Turangi

Turangi Walking MapThe Tongariro River trail area in Turangi offers a fantastic range of walking and cycling routes from 20 minutes to 3 hours, which are accessible on foot or bicycle from Riverstone Lodge & Backpackers. The main route is the Tongariro River Trail, which could also include a trip to the Tongariro National Trout Centre or perhaps hire a fly fishing guide and sample the great  trout & fly fishing available along the trail.

Another recommended ride from urban Turangi is the easy 5km return trip to Tokaanu Village, the Tokaanu Thermal Pools and adjacent thermal walk – which could easily be done after riding the Tongariro River Trail.

Toward National Park, Taupo & Western Bays

South of Turangi the Kaimanawa Forest Park offers more demanding mountain bike tracks. Heading into the Tongariro National Park via SH47 there are short walks at Lake Rotoponamu & Te Porere Redoubt (10min & 25min drive), a range of options at Whakapapa Village (45 min drive), between Turangi and Taupo, and to the west near Tokaanu, Pukawa and the Western Bays.

Tongariro River Trail

tongariro-river-trail-mapDistance: 15km
Walking: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cycling 1 hour 30 minutes
Grade: 2

The Tongariro River Trail is a popular tourist cycling and walking loop track which begins and ends in Turangi and is shared between anglers, mountain bikers and walkers. One of the unique features of the Tongariro River is the rare Whio (Blue) duck population.

The trail follows an attractive scenic easy-to-ride loop mostly along the banks of the river through mature beech forests, manuka and fern groves, with views over farmland to the Kaimanawa Forest Park. There are several picnic spots, with car parks and toilets at the Tongario National Trout Centre (30 minutes biking).

The trail heads up river on the true left bank via the Tongariro National Trout Centre and at the Red Hut swing bridge, crosses over and returns down river on the true right.  The ‘angler access’ tracks lead to the river and in some cases form mini loop tracks back to the main trail.

If you do not begin from Riverstone there are several options of where to start the trail and to leave your car. You may wish to park at the iSite and take the SH1 tunnel underpass, go through Taupahi Reserve and then head up river. Another option would be to park at the SH1 road bridge, the Koura St carpark at the Major Jones swing bridge of even the Tongariro National Trout Centre.

Tongariro River Mountain Biking

Tongariro River Trail


The river gained international status in the 1920’s for its trout and fly fishing when well known American author Zane Grey visited three times and included his tales in The Anglers El Dorado, one of the world’s more famous angling books . The trails were developed for angler access by Tongariro prison labour, when a fishing camp was built for the Queen Mother to fish the Tongariro River in 1928. Later the huts were moved down river forming the beginnings of the Tongariro National Trout Centre.

In 2010 the Advocates for the Tongariro River promoted the idea of the Tongariro River Trail, a vision for a network of trails following the Tongariro River which could be ridden over 3-4 days. Stage 1 of this project – the completion of the trail from the Trout Centre to the Red Hut car park and rerouting and upgrading some of the existing trail – was completed in 2012.

Tongariro National Trout Centre

Walk as Part of The Tongariro River Trail (30 minutes walk one way)
4 km south of Turangi off SH 1 (5 minutes drive)
Open 10.00 am – 3.00 pm

Set on the banks of the Tongariro River the Tongariro National Trout Centre contains a fascinating history of the Tongariro trout fishery which they share through their ecology and sustainability education programs. There is a working trout hatchery, a Whio (Blue) Duck breeding creche and an aquarium gives great close up views of rainbow trout. There is a scenic short walk along the river and picnic and barbecue areas nearby. Regular ‘fish out’ days for young anglers to catch their first trout always get a big turn out so book in advance for these.

Hiring Mountain Bikes

  • The bikes at Riverstone Backpackers are fine for most rides
  • For specialty Tongariro River touring bikes contact Tongariro River Motel. These bikes feature wide comfy seats, rear carriers with pannier bags, foot stands, low centre bar for anglers in waders to make it easier to get on and off. All bikes have fishing rod carriers and bike locks
  • For even more robust mountain bikes try Tongariro River Rafting Mountain Biking who offer quality late model bikes, guided mountain biking adventures and a shuttle service to the more remote trails

Tongariro River Loop Walk

Time: 1 hr loop walk
Begins: Major Jones footbridge to northern end SH1 road bridge, though the track can be walked in either direction

After crossing the Major Jones footbridge the trail heads down river and climbs steeply to the top of the cliff above the SH1 road bridge with views over the Tongariro River, Turangi township to Mt Pihanga, and the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park. Cross the SH1 road bridge and continue the walk upstream to the Major Jones Bridge or downstream to Riverstone Backpackers. This side of the river is an easy flat walk in a more urban setting. The loop can be included as a natural extension of the Tongariro River Trail.

Learn more…

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