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Manawatū cycleway:

on the country road

Part of the Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail's official Heartland Ride.

 This stunning multi-day ride through Manawatū is one of the best ways to experience the region, taking you from Mangaweka to Palmerston North city.

Cyclists will be treated to some of the very best New Zealand has to offer, including soaring white mudstone cliffs in Mangaweka, the dramatic backdrop of the Ruahine Ranges and lush farmland along the Pohangina Valley terraces. 

This off-the-beaten-track takes you on a journey to hidden places and tucked away treasures. Discover country cafes and pubs, heritage sites, galleries and gardens, to scenic reserves, day walks, swimming holes, glow worm caves, and camping spots. 

A full two days is recommended to experience the Manawatū Cycleway. Allocate plenty of time to stop and absorb the scenery and relax at one of the many country retreats.

Cyclist touring Manawatu
Apiti Tavern Manawatu
Limestone creek caves Manawatu


2-3 days

Mangaweka to Palmerston north

Distance: 115km each way
Surface: 100% Sealed Roads
Grade: Advanced
Elevation: 37m - 664m

DAY 1.

Manawatu cycleway apitiCycling in Manawatu NZ
Ruahine Dress Circle, Manawatū

Mangaweka — Apiti

40km, 2.5-4hrs


The Manawatū Cycleway starts at Mangaweka, heading off SH1 onto Ruahine Road. You will be greeted by soaring white papa (mudstone) cliffs as you come d0wn the hill and cross the Mangaweka Bridge. Stop at Awastone Riverside Cafe for a coffee and bite to eat (open from October to April), or pre-book a rafting or kayak trip.

Once you’re all fed and watered, your journey will lead you through a deep gorge steeped with white papa cliffs. From here, you’ll pass the Ruahine Dress Circle Reserve, with waterfalls and a unique swim hole. It’s a beloved local secret!

Rangiwahia is 20km from Mangaweka. It has public toilets, campsites, free Wi-Fi and is home to the Rangiwahia Scenic Reserve. Back on the road, back track north 1km on Te Parapara Road. Be sure to savour the views along this particularly scenic stretch.

Visit the Ian McKean Pinetum for incredible views and walks, or continue your journey down Main South Road to Mangahuia Wetlands. The private wetland paradise is a series of ponds that are home to native birdlife and trout. Entry is free, just shut the gate!  

Heading along Main South Road, you’ll travel through the dramatic Mangoira Gorge. Discover the magic of mother nature on a 11km detour down Table table road to Limestone Creek Glow Worm Caves. Let the adventure being! A change of shoes in recommended, they will get wet! 

Back on Main South Road, continue down and detour onwards into Āpiti village for a highly regarded meal at Āpiti Tavern and free camping at the Āpiti Domain.

where to stay

Distance from Mangeweka
- Mangaweka Campground (1.2km)
- Awastone - Beautiful campground with cafe (1.6km)
- Mairenui Rural Retreat - Farmstay (10km)
- Āpiti Domain Campground - (41.1km)
- The Last Church in Āpiti – Renovated cosy church. (40km)
- Makoura Lodge - Luxury country stay with onsite activities. (48.1km)

Bike Shuttle awastone

Top Tip!

Book a bike shuttle pick up from Palmerston North to Mangaweka with the team at Awastone.

Āpiti — Ashhurst

56km, 3-5 hrs


Keep your camera on hand, the landscapes of Pohangina Valley are worth stopping for, especially in autumn when the foliage turns gold. 

From Āpiti, it’s 26km to Springvale Gardens & Accommodation, or 35km to Totara Reserve campground.

This area is rich in native bush and has a good range of bush walks for all abilities. Head down past the historic Komako Church and you will find Totara Reserve, a playground of native bush, glowworm caves, swimming holes and campsites with great facilities.

In summer, look out for blueberry picking, located 350m before you hit the popular swim spot of Raumai Reserve.

Continue on Pohangina Valley East Road and turn left onto Pohangina Road (on weekends, a 5km detour into Pohangina Village is worthwhile to visit County Fayre, a community run tea room and Luttrells White Pine Gardens and Museum.

Get yourself back on track and you’ll soon come through to Ashhurst, a colourful town offering all your basic needs. Stop for an ice cream and discover local pottery artist Suzanne MacAllen, or explore Ashhurst domain where there is camping and base facilities.


- Springvale Gardens - Best time during October and November
- County Fayre - On weekends this is humming with coffee and Devonshire teas.
- Blue Acres Blueberries - Pick your own blueberries (late Dec - Jan)
- The Herb Farm Café and gardens

where to stay

- Springvale Bed & Breakfast - Landscaped gardens with B&B. 
- Pohangina Base - Campsites and bunk rooms. 
- Totara Reserve - Campsite
- Ashhurt Domain - Campsite
- Ashhurst Inn - Room

Manawatu cycleway apiti to ashhurst routeTotara Reserve swimming Manawatu

Day 2.

Cool off at Totara Reserve
Blue berry picking Manawatu

Top Tip!

Blueberries are ripe for picking late December to early January at Blue Acres Blueberries Picking.

DAY 3.

Manawatu cycleway ashhurst to palmerston north city routePalmeston North street art tour on bikes
Street Art in Palmerston North


22km, 2.5hrs


Enjoy an easy ride into Palmerston North. ‘Palmy’ has plenty to offer the visiting cycle-tourer. Take a street art and sculpture self tour, explore museums and galleries and book a night out at Centrepoint Theatre or Regent on Broadway

If you're feeling hungry, sit back and relax as you fuel up with some of the best cuisine, expertly crafted with options galore.


From Cambridge Avenue, turn left onto State Highway 3 (Napier Road). Continue down and pull off to the left before the bridge, then ride down under the bridge and onto the first section of the Manawatu River Pathway. You’ll ride along for 3km before turning right onto Raukawa Road, bringing you back out onto SH3.

Turn left and head along SH3, keeping to the shoulder for 2.6km then turn left onto Te Matai Road. Follow Te Matai Road until Riverside Drive. Turn left down Riverside Drive and at the end of this road is the second section of the Manawatu River Pathway. You’ll follow a gentle, undulating path that follows the Manawatu River into Palmerston North.

After 6km on the Manawatu River Pathway, cross under the Fitzherbert Avenue Bridge, then to the right (where you can detour into the stunning Victoria Esplanade gardens and Wildlife Recovery Centre and cafe) and head up Fitzherbert Avenue. It’s just 2km to The Square (Palmerston North City Centre).

where to stay

Pick your Palmerston North accommodation, settle in and relax as the days drift away.  Stay in inner city stylish hotels to a homely Bed and breakfast, we've got all the options covered.


the square palmerston north bike

Top Tip!

Palmerston North i-SITE has luggage lockers and showers you can hire. A great option before you start explore the city.


Autumn Campaign Hub Tile 1

Key things to remember in the outdoors:

Stick to the trail and respect the environment by making sure you the only thing you leave behind are footprints.

The weather can change in an instant. Make sure you plan ahead, take the right clothing and adequate food, water and supplies.

  • Tell a trusted Person your plans and when to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. 
  • Get an up-to-date weather report from the Metservice website before setting off.
  • Follow the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.

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