The old railroad town of Ohakune sits among rolling green farmland in the centre of the North Island. Today it is better known as a ski town for the Turoa Ski Area, or as the carrot-growing capital of New Zealand. Now a link to the past, the Old Coach Road, is creating a new fun reason for people to visit Ohakune to either cycle or walk the track.
Originally a bridle track and then a dray road, in the early 1900s Ohakune’s Old Coach Road was upgraded to connect the north and south sections of the as-yet-incomplete Main Trunk Rail Line, between Ohakune and Raurimu.
The 38km section of road was used from 1906 to 1908, with passengers disembarking one train to travel along the road by horse and coach to the other train, during their three-day journey between Auckland and Wellington. This enabled the building of the Hapuawhenua and Taonui Viaducts so the rail link could be completed. The large Hapuawhenua Viaduct was built in just 10 months and was considered one of the most amazing feats of engineering for its time.
The 15km hike over the Old Coach Road sounded interesting, so our Oakura walking group choose Ohakune as the base for a series of hikes in November. The town sits near the entrance of Tongariro National Park and offers a range of additional walk options depending on your experience and fitness.
Over the years I had often stayed in Ohakune during the winter, enjoying the variety of ski terrains on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Ohakune is very busy on winter weekends, and when my youngest son was ski racing with Ruapehu Snow Sports I spent many hours on the phone or the internet trying to book a place to stay. Then I noticed a number of ski club lodges around town. So once I figured out how ski clubs worked, and found that anyone could join, we signed up with Aorangi Ski Club. Ski clubs offer an affordable, friendly way to stay in Ohakune during the busy winter season and are a great way to meet interesting people with a wide range of careers.