This road in the central North Island comprises stone paving and improvements on a track started in the 1880s. When the North Island Main Trunk railway was being constructed the road was upgraded for the all-weather horse drawn coach service, which ran between the 39 km gap separating the railheads. This service operated from late 1906 and the completion of rail link in November 1908.
The road is notable for its use of stone setts which work in the same way as present day concrete block pavers. They were used as a solution to the twin problems of a great scarcity of tough roadstone in the area, and the need to carry high point wheel loads imposed by convoys of coaches in high rainfall bush terrain.
The original road was between Matapuna and Ohakune. Part of the Old Coach Road was incorporated into what is now State Highway 4. The section between Horopito and Ohakune remains remarkably well-preserved, as part road, part walking track.
This place has been recognised by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 1 historic place (List no.7574) and it is also part of the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) Historic Area (List no.7793):
The southern terminus is on Marshalls Road, Ohakune, (GR 227133995E;6198405N). The northern terminus is near Horopito (GR 2714975E; 6203685N). It runs alongside (and crosses) the North Island Main Trunk railway reserve.
The Ohakune Old Coach Road walking track is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Additional image gallery details
Road between the Ohakune and Makatote rail-heads . Post and telegraph collection: Mainly mail coach photographs ca. 1880's.. Ref: 1/4-019577-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Taonui viaduct [circa 1905 to 1912]. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948: Collection of post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-000200-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of these images.
Ohakune to Horopito, Central Plateau, generally following the North Island Main Trunk railway's route.