In my advocacy for the National Cycleway I have said that a route could be chosen that went on non-busy local roads through the boonies and rural back blocks and sign-posted from one end of the country to the other. Then the route could be altered as off-road routes were completed. That way we would have a cycleway by the end of the new year and it could get people riding it and gaining momentum and popularity. The Pohangina Valley Road is the type of road I meant.
I started by unloading the bike off the back of the car at the Ashhurst Domain in the Manawatu. You know you’re in the Manawatu with views like this:
and the Boxing Day traffic was close to nil, probably like most days:
The road continues up the Pohangina Valley. The Pohangina River rises on the west side of the Ruahine Ranges, the hills on your right shoulder as you ride north. Here’s a view overlooking the river.
The route is largely flat and paved, except for a few kilometres on the western side:
About 10km past Ashhurst there is a bridge over the river, and a loop can be made by riding up to the next bridge. This sign marks the further point of the ride for a 50 km loop starting and ending at the Ashhurst Domain.
After Ashhurst there is a cafe open weekends in Pohangina village, and an Irish themed cafe/bar 10kms out of Ashhurst, near Raumai. There is camping at Totara Reserve, with powered sites if you need to recharge your bike’s batteries. The campground would be 40km from Palmerston North if you’re heading north.
Northwards it’s a long way through to Taihape, but also using Gentle Annie a low-traffic, lots of hills, lots of adventure route over to Napier could be ridden. It’d take a few days.