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Great New Zealand Motorcycle Rides | The 42 Traverse

Motorcycles riding the 42 traverse trail, Tongariro, New Zealand
Riding the 42 Traverse is a must do for any Kiwi adventure rider

It’s no secret that New Zealand is full of great motorcycling routes. In this series, we hope to fill you in on some of the must-know info on some of NZ’s best motorcycling offerings so you know what to expect before you put rubber to the road.

The 42 Traverse is a challenging adventure ride located in the central North Island and we reckon it is a must do for any aspiring adventure rider!

A 46 kilometre long multi-use track through the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area, the 42 Traverse presents challenging terrain through fantastic native forest and the awesome Canyon valley, with superb views back to the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.

The route, an old logging road that gets its name from the original 'State Forest 42', is popular for a range of outdoor recreation activities: mountain biking, quad and trail biking, four wheel driving (summer only), horse riding, fishing, hunting and hiking. -

The Route

Starting at Kapoors Road off State Highway 47, the main 42 Traverse track crosses an alpine wonderland of challenges before finishing at the town of Owhango on State Highway 4 some 46 kilometres later. Allow up to five hours to complete the track (we knocked it off in under three) and unless you are well equipped and a skilled off road rider it is recommended you don’t attempt this track alone. The track itself varies in surface from a sandy pumice-like surface at the eastern end to mud, clay and rocks. Tyres with appropriate tread are a must.

The 42 Traverse is narrow in places with just enough room for a 4x4 and could be considered twin track. Some sections resemble a walking track with good gravel coverage while other sections offer good challenges from steep rocky slopes to slippery muddy hills. One hill in particular (below) is a real challenge and requires a decent amount of momentum to conquer on a motorcycle.

The route also features up to five small stream crossings. These range from very easy to mildly challenging, but care should always be taken due to their loose rocky base. Water levels can be significantly higher after periods of rain so make sure you know where your air intake is.

There are plenty of track offshoots to explore as well if you aren’t pressed for time.

Potential Hazards

While technically a one way track according to the DOC website, some users do enter the traverse from the Owhango end, so caution needs to be used at all times. Other potential hazards for motorcyclists include other riders, mountain bikers and 4x4s which all frequent the track as well as the natural hazards of the track itself.

What To Take

As an alpine trail the 42 Traverse requires respect. Make sure you take water to drink (it’s thirsty work riding) as well as snacks to keep your energy up. Due to its location the 42 Traverse can get quite cold so warm clothing that can easily be removed is highly recommended.

Lastly, take a camera! This is a spectacular slice of New Zealand and you‘ll want to stop and grab pics of the fantastic views of the Central Plateau’s volcanoes.


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