You cross over tussock, through bush and down a grand river, exposed to nature and all its elements.
There are two National Parks to savour – the Tongariro and the Whanganui. Both are dramatic and spiritual places with rich Māori and European history.
Manawatū received its name from Hau, the great Maori explorer. On his quest to find his wife who had left him for another lover, Hau pursued her along the south-west coast of the North Island. He came across the Manawatū River. In awe of the sight and in fear he might not be able to cross it, he said "Ka tu taku manawa" (My heart stands still).
Entering Manawatū at the town of Bulls, the route takes in pastoral landscapes and the town of Feilding. Then it travels to Palmerston North. From there, it is on to the daunting Tararua Ranges.