The Tararua Traverse is a proposed cycle track linking Shannon and Eketahuna. It is beyond the means of ratepayers in Horowhenua and Tararua to fund and it was put forward for the first round of the National Cycleway funding. It missed out. So lets hope there is a second round of National Cycleway funding. The track would follow the Mangahao Road from Shannon to the white water kayaking course at the powerstation at Mangahao and then up the hill to the reservoirs. A new track would have to be cut between the No.1 Reservoir on the Mangahao River up the old Puketurua Track to Ngapuketurua (at 1094 metres) and then down a very long ridge coming out of the Forest Park at Kakariki West Road. From Kakariki West Rd to Eketahuna it is a flat ride on quiet rural roads. I’ve ridden the Shannon to the Dams route a few times and even that and back is a decent enough day out, so I can’t think the route over the tops is going to be particularly easy.
But I want people to think bigger. I think the Tararua Traverse should be part of a longer ride from Foxton Beach on the Horowhenua Coast to Castlepoint on the Wairarapa Coast. The first section is the short but pleasant ride from Foxton Beach to Foxton. From the start at the coastal carpark it would go through the parks to the Manawatu Estuary and follow the new paths along the edge to the boat club and then along the cyclepath to Foxton town.
There are numerous possible routes from Foxton to Shannon using the quiet roads, the levee banks of the river and the Moutoa Floodway. There’s also the Moutoa Reserve which could have its muddy and grassy tracks upgraded to cycleable. A bit of thinking outside of the square could also fix the problem of a lack of a safe cycle crossing across the Manawatu.
On the eastern side after Eketahuna the route follows roads to Castlepoint via Alfredton (there are a couple of small hills between Eketahuna and Alfredton), the Castlehill Road (flat), the Alfredton Tinui Road (big hill on a dirt road), the Manawa Road to Tinui (flat) and then the Masterton to Castlepoint Road to Whakataki (one moderate hill) to Castlepoint (undulating).
The route would be approximately 25km from Foxton Beach to Shannon. Shannon to Eketahuna by the Tararua Traverse is 86km. Eketahuna to Castlepoint is 78km. That’s a total of about 190km. As well as the new hut at Ngapuketurua, there’d be places to break the journey at Alredton, Tinui, Whakataki, Eketahuna, Shannon and Foxton.
Photos of the route (except for the bit over the tops, as I’m yet to get up there):