The Manawatu Gorge
The Manawatu Gorge is result of thousands of years of land uplift and river scouring, and one of the main East/West links in the North Island for both State Highway 3 and the Railway use this divide carrying the Manawatu River.
The Department of Conservation has a walking track on south side, over the top of the Tararua ranges, through the bush, with some view of the wind farms. At the eastern end is the Balance reserve and picnic area. Here you'll find the "Beyond the Bridge" cafe. At the western end is the Ashhurst Domain and river access.
Once a year, the Woodville Lions Club organise the very popular Track & Tunnel walk, walking the length of the gorge on the railway tracks and through the tunnels. Numbers are limited, and are by ticket only.
Below is an old Railway Line / Steam Train Postcard, postmarked 1910 and two comparisons from 2013 (thanks to Chris Carran for sharing the colour images). Click on the pictures to open
Manawatu Gorge tours offer jet boat sightseeing packages on the Manawatu River. See their website for other packages and accommodation.
These are reasonable fishing grounds, with Trout in both Manawatu and Pohangina rivers. If you need assistance, Manawatu Fly Fishing can help you out.
The Department of Conservation has a pdf fact sheet about walkways in the gorge. Horizons have a pdf document about the bio-diversity in the gorge.
The Saddle Road
Provides an alternate 'north of the gorge' National Highways route to the Hawkes bay when the Manawatu Gorge is closed, through farmland with good views of the Pohangina Valley, Ashhurst, The Wharite TV transmission mast, the Manawatu plains, Palmerston North, and then Northern Wairarapa and Southern Hawkes Bay, with the towns of Napier, Hastings Woodville, Dannevirke, Pahiatua and Masterton on the eastern side. The road takes you between the windmills of the Meridian Energy Wind farm, with views to some of the Tararua Ranges and the wind farm there. Viewing area and information board on the top of the range.
The old Saddle Road bridge was washed away in the February 2004 floods and the new bridge was opened in July 2006. A combined Palmerston North City Council, Tararua District council and Tranzit NZ Project.
The new saddle Road bridge over the Pohangina River
The Wharite communications building and tower is owned and operated by KORDIA (was BCL ). Prominent and with awesome views (on a good day) in the Manawatu, Wairarapa and the southern Hawkes Bay, this is the site for TVNZ's transmitter, Tararua TV's transmitter and several other local radio station transmitters.
Please Note that access is by steep, narrow, often rough and uneven gravel road from the Woodville side of the Ruahine rangers. Take extreme care when using it. Telecom NZ, the NZ Police, TV3, TV4 and SKY also use this mast for broadcast and communications.
North and South Range Road
Along the northern Tararua Range, between the Manawatu gorge at the Balance and the Pahiatua Track, is North Range Road and South Range Road.. This is a public access road, but not one you would want to take your family car along. Good for cyclists and 4 WD and off-road motorbikes. There is an article about the track a written from a cyclists point of view below.