Top 5: North Island Cycle Trails

The magnificent Maramataha Bridge |
The magnificent Maramataha Bridge |

1. The Timber Trail 

An unforgettable forest ride in the central North Island featuring the mighty Maramataha suspension bridge (141m), historic logging relics and the Ongarue Spiral - once the main tram line for the timber trains.

Fully immerse yourself in North Island native bush. |  <i></i>

The Timber Trail is a must do for wilderness and nature lovers, as well as those who love learning about New Zealand’s history. A night at the off-grid Timber Trail Lodge in the heart of the Pureora Forest Park is a welcome stop at the mid-way point along the trail.   

Length: 85km (2 days).
Difficulty: 64% easy, 36% intermediate.
Start Point: Pureora.
End Point: Ongarue Township.
Ideal for: Intermediate cyclists or experienced riders that enjoy remote forest rides, bird-life and wilderness.

2. Pou Herenga Tai - Twin Coast Trail 

A spectacular cycle journey in the ‘winterless’ north, from the Bay of Islands to Hokianga Harbour.  Along the way, you’ll encounter some of Northland’s best coastlines, beautiful waterfalls, rolling farmland and the famous Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa.

Cycling the easy trails next to the harbour |  <i>Ruth Lawton Photography</i> Enjoying a well deserved lunch stop by the coast |  <i>Ruth Lawton Photography</i> Twin Coast Cycle Trail |  <i>Ruth Lawton Photography</i>

Following a smooth rail trail, cycle paths, wetland boardwalk, suspension bridges and country roads, the Twin Coast Trail is both relaxing and highly rewarding, with opportunities to visit various cultural sites and attractions while enjoying the warm local hospitality.

From Paihia, a side-trip by ferry to Russell, the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand is a must do or head to Waitangi to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum of Waitangi.

Length: 87km (2-3 days).
Difficulty: 75% Easiest, 20% Easy, 5% Intermediate.
Start/end point: Opua or Horeke.
Ideal for: Introductory riders and families who are looking for a relaxing cycling holiday on easy trails around coastal areas. 

View trip ---> 

3. Remutaka Rail Trail

From urban café’s and galleries on the fringes of Wellington city, to the forested Remutaka Ranges and wild coastlines of Palliser Bay, the Remutaka Cycle Trail is arguably the North Island’s most diverse cycle trail. The trail follows the Hutt River, before joining an old railway line, taking you up to a 576m tunnel near the summit.

Cycling through the Remutaka Ranges |  <i>Sarah Bennett</i> Cycling through the pretty countryside of rural Wairarapa |  <i>James Coleman</i> Local wine tasting |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

After your decent, a detour will take you into Wairarapa’s wine country, a great place to stay the night and visit a local world-class wineries. The rugged and remote south coast offers epic views of the Cook Strait and the Kaikoura Ranges on a fine day, and is an incredible part of NZ that many are yet to visit. 

Length: 115km (2-3 days).
Difficulty: 15% Easiest, 27% Easy, 42% Intermediate, 16% Advanced.
Start Point: Petone, Wellington.
End Point: Orongoronga River.
Ideal for: Experienced cyclists looking for diverse scenery, mixed terrain and good coffee and wine. 

View trips that feature this trail --->


4. Hauraki Rail Trail

Just a short drive from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, the Hauraki Rail Trail is one of NZ's most leisurely trails. Ride at a relaxing pace as you follow the path of two historic railway lines from Kaiaua on the Shorebird Coast, to Matamata (home of Hobbiton).

Crossing a sturdy bridge on the Hauraki Cycle Trail

Steeped in gold-mining history, the breath-taking Karangahake Gorge is a highlight of the trail with impressive views down into the Waitewheta River as you ride along the old Paeroa to Waihi railway line. Take a side-trip to the popular Waihi beach or visit the Miranda Shorebird Centre.  

Length: 197km (3-5 days).
Difficulty: 98% Easiest, 2% Easy.
Start Point: Kaiaua.
End Point: Matamata (Hobbiton).
Ideal for: Introductory cyclists and families looking for a leisurely multi-day cycling holiday.

View trip --->


5. Waikato River Trail

Following New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River Trails wind their way through native bush, exotic forest, remote farmland and boardwalks in the heart of the North Island. The trail is divided into 5 sections, ranging in terrain from intermediate to expert along a mix of smooth wide trails, and undulating single track.

Waikato River Trails7 (credit Jodi Sweetman-Waikato River Trails)

The 425km Waikato River features a number of dams and tranquil hydro-lakes that make this trail that much more of a delight. The trail is easily accessible from multiple access points with cyclists opting for 1-day and multi-day rides.

Length: 103km.
Difficulty: 46% Intermediate to 54% Challenging.
Start Point: Karapiro.
End Point: Atiamuri Vilage.
Ideal for: Reasonably fit and experienced cyclists with some off-road experience.

View trips that feature this trail ---> 


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