• Cycling on trails and back country roads
  • Short hikes
  • Canoeing
  • Jetboat
  • 11 nights hotel/motel/lodge
  • 9 Dinners
  • 6 Lunches
  • 11 Breakfasts

12 Days$NZD

Trip Code: SOG7368

Trip highlights

  • Cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail between historic gold towns and through the stunning Karangahake Gorge
  • Follow the trails along the mighty Waikato River and visit Hobbiton, famous film set used in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
  • Explore Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, a showcase of NZ’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements
  • Ride the trails on the shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest Lake formed by a supervolcanic eruption
  • Cycle the iconic Timber Trail through majestic native forest, staying in the Timber Trail Lodge in the heart of the forest
  • See the magical Whanganui River up close by bike, jetboat and canoe
  • Enjoy Heartland NZ cycleways through the Manawutu and Wairarapa regions
  • Stay the night at a boutique Martinborough vineyard, dining at a local historic hotel.

Explore remote coastlines, untouched hinterland and stunning back country trails on this remarkable tour from Auckland to Wellington. We'll travel north to south experiencing the 'spine' of mountain ranges running through the middle, with gentle rolling farmland on both sides coupled with mystical native forests and fast flowing rivers. The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcanic and thermal area.

Our journey begins on the Hauraki Rail Trail riding beside the Shorebird Coast, following historic railway lines and through towering gorges. Next, we experience the mighty Waikato River Trail, passing through forest & farmland along New Zealand’s longest river.

The adventure continues, exploring some of the trails around Lake Taupo, New Zealand's biggest Lake, formed by a supervolcanic eruption many years ago. Then we journey into the mystical Pureora Forest to ride the 87km Timber Trail discovering mighty swing bridges, historic timber milling sites & experiencing 2 nights in the purpose-built lodge in the middle of the forest.

2 nights staying on the Volcanic Plateau provides opportunity to spend a full day adventuring in the Whanganui National Park, exploring the River by jet boat and canoe through gorges and amongst native bush. We follow our on-water adventure with a cycle alongside the River on a delightful back country road finishing in the coastal town of Whanganui.

Next we head to the hidden gem of the Manawatu region to ride past soaring cliffs and lush farmland against the dramatic backdrop of the Ruahine Range.

A short transfer to Masterton for our final ride on quiet roads to Martinborough, a winegrowing region, particularly celebrated for its Pinot Noir wines. Staying on a vineyard there'll be time to enjoy the local wine before our final dinner at The Martinborough Hotel, described since 1882 as one of "the finest hostelries ever erected in any inland town in New Zealand".

The following morning it’s a short drive to our capital city, Wellington, where riders can spend some time exploring before either flying home or flying to Christchurch the following day to join our South Island adventure

Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand. Meeting at a central hotel in Auckland in early afternoon our trip starts with a short introduction and an overview of the trip itinerary and protocol, whilst enjoying a welcome drink. After a bike fitting we'll head to the waterfront for an introductory ride to test the bikes and spin the legs. Tonight we enjoy our first group meal and celebrate coming together and the fantastic riding ahead. Accommodation: Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre

Meals:  D

Today starts with a short drive South to Kaiaua on the Shorebird Coast to start riding the Hauraki Rail Trail. After a bike fitting and safety talk, it’s an easy, flat, 10km ride to a hide where we check out the area’s precious birdlife. From there, the trail skirts around the Firth of Thames, offering expansive views of coastal wetlands and verdant farmland, with the volcanic Coromandel Ranges as a dramatic backdrop. Lunch fuels us for our afternoon’s ride to Kopu, crossing the Waihou River before heading south on the old railway line through lush farmland into the township of Paeroa, ‘world famous in New Zealand’ for its giant Lemon & Paeroa bottle. Dinner at your leisure tonight. Options are limited on a Sunday evening but there are several ethnic restaurants open. Accommodation : The Racecourse, Paeroa Cycling Distance: Up to 66km or 41mi; 167m or 548ft

Meals:  B,L

Our second day starts with a delicious breakfast at a local café, before embarking on probably the trail highlight, following the Ohinemuri River into the dramatic Karangahake Gorge, a sharply winding canyon formed by the river. Highlights include the cascading Owharoa waterfall, fascinating gold mining sites and an amazing 1100-metre long railway tunnel. We retrace our steps back to Paeroa for our final ride to the rural town of Matamata. Along the way we’ll ride through Waikato farmland with wide-ranging views across the Hauraki Plains. There will be the opportunity to visit the famous Hobbiton film-set, used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton films, although this will mean missing the final section of today's ride. Cycling Distance: Up to 59km or 49mi; +220m or 722ft Accommodation : Tower Road Motel, Matamata

Meals:  B,D

Our day starts with a 1hr 15 min transfer to the start of our ride on the Waikato River Trail. This follows a stretch of the mighty Waikato River through the North Island’s rural heartland flowing through striking hydro dams, and pools into tranquil lakes. We will enjoy riding 2 of the 5 trail sections, passing through exotic and native forest, wetlands and pretty recreation reserves. Memorable sights include volcanic outcrops and a gorge, hydropower stations, dams and suspension bridges. At the end of our ride we drive 30 minutes to the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Park, full of interesting geothermal features often wreathed in clouds of steam from the heat just beneath your feet. We’ll end our day with a very short drive to Lake Taupo, at the heart of New Zealand's central volcanic plateau and the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. Cycle - 38km or 24mi; 363m or 723ft Accommodation : Anchorage Resort, Taupo

Meals:  B,D

Lake Taupo boasts a wonderful network of trails both winding up from the Lake along the Waikato River and around the Northern rim of the Lake. Highlights of the first trails include some of the best viewing points of the aquamarine waters of the Waikato River, fun winding singletrack, the mighty Huka Falls, stunning native bush, the Aratiatia Dam, geothermal streams, native punga tree groves, and a stand of giant Redwood trees. In the afternoon we’ll enjoy riding through native wetlands and bush and regenerating forest as well as sweeping descents to secluded bays, perfect for a dip at the end of the day. After loading up, we head to the Timber Trail Lodge in the heart of the Pureora Forest and our home for the next 2 nights. We check into our accommodation and unwind in anticipation for the next day's adventure. Cycling Distance: Great Lake Trails – upto 33km or 21mi, 441m or 1446ft Accommodation : The Timber Trail Lodge

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast it’s a 50 min drive to the start of the Timber Trail on the edge of the Pureora Forest. The trail follows old logging roads and tramlines linked with well-constructed unsealed tracks and a series of thrilling suspension bridges. We get the hard work out of the way this morning, climbing for 14km with stunning views until we reach the highest point of the ride. From here it’s mostly downhill for the rest of the day, winding down the side of Mt Pureora and across the flanks of the Hauhungaroa Ranges with a couple of amazing suspension bridges to cross along the way. We finish the day at Piropiro Flats right by our outstanding accommodation and hospitality at the Timber Trail Lodge. For those still with energy to burn, there's the option of a short bush walk from the Lodge. Cycling Distance: Timber Trail - 36km or 26mi; 608m or1994ft Accommodation : The Timber Trail Lodge

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we head back into the native forest and cross over a tumbling gorge on one of the highest and longest swing bridges in the country, keeping a lookout for New Zealand’s native pigeon, the beautiful Kereru. Today’s climbing consists of 2 much shorter uphills compared with yesterday’s ascent, with the 2nd one finishing at the Ongarue Tramway terminus. From there it’s mostly downhill all the way to the end following the old tramway. We pass remnants of the region’s logging history, more swing bridges and the fascinating Ongarue Spiral and its rather spooky, old tunnel. The trail continues downhill to Ongarue. We then load the bikes and drive 90mins to Ohakune, a quaint ski village at the base of Mount Ruapehu, which will be our home for the next 2 nights. There will be the option of a 17km ride up the highest sealed road in New Zealand for those keen for a late afternoon activity! Cycling Distance: Timber Trail - 43km or 27mi; 495m or 1624ft Accommodation : Powderhorn Chateau, Ohakune

Meals:  B,L,D

The Whanganui National Park is another special place which was created to protect the upper reaches of the Whanganui River. Once an important transport route for both Maori and early European settlers, the river flows from Tongariro National Park to the Tasman sea through wild lowland forests. A short transfer to Pipiriki and we start our adventure with a 55 minute jet boat journey upriver 32 kms to the Mangapurua Landing, through an area of spectacular natural features with deep river gorges covered with lush native vegetation. From the drop off it's an easy grade 40 minute walk following in the footsteps of the early pioneers along the old roadway to the “BRIDGE TO NOWHERE” where you will stop for lunch on this historical monument of a bygone era and learn the history from your local guide. The next part of your adventure is canoeing back down the Whanganui River to Pipiriki, through a landscape of remote hills and bush clad valleys. We'll pass through the scenic gorge of the Manganui o te Ao River and the Ngaporo and Autapu rapids should provide plenty of excitement. More exotic trees and farmland, an eel weir and the Paparoa rapid follow before reaching the boat ramp below Pipiriki village. A short transfer back to Ohakune for a second night. Cycling : No cycling today - jetboat and canoeing Accommodation : Powderhorn Chateau, Ohakune

Meals:  B,L

Today we're back on our bikes to complete our adventure in the Whanganui National Park. We head back to Pipiriki and ride south along the Whanganui River Road, a fully sealed road but gently undulating with a couple of challenging ascents near the start and finish. The effort, however, is well worth it, not least of all for the elevated views along the river, but also for the many Maori and European heritage sites along the way. Between them, they tell quite the story of New Zealand’s early settlement, beginning with early Maori for whom the river was a primary highway. Major landmarks include Hiruharama (Jerusalem), a catholic church and convent built at the end of the nineteenth century and the restored Kawana Flour Mill, built in 1854. We finish our ride in the picturesque riverside city of Whanganui, one of the first cities to be founded in NZ. There will be time for a short explore of this arty city before a 1 hr 30 min transfer to our accommodation in the Manawatu region. Cycle : upto 62km orr 39mi; 950m or3116ft on back country road Accommodation : Makoura Lodge, Manawatu

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we stay off the beaten track on a scenic and often surprising journey through rural Manawatu, full of natural wonders, local history and country hospitality. We wind our way up the Mangawharariki Valley, following deep sided Papa cliffs with wide ranging views to the Ruahine Ranges and vistas of snow covered Ruapehu in the distance. The ride includes stunning climbs and descents overlooking the Kawhatau River and meanders through pretty valleys and native bush. Cycle upto 70km or 44mi, 1170m or 3,838ft Accommodation : Solway Copthorne Hotel, Masterton

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we enjoy our final North Island ride on the Wairarapa Cycleway. This is a pleasant touring route with stunning views of the Wairarapa region and plenty of rural charm. We’ll take a mid-morning breather by the delightful Gladstone church before finishing this pretty ride in the small town of Martinborough. Martinborough is the heart of Wairarapa wine-country with plenty of opportunities for tastings and cellar-door dining. It offers a heart-warming blend of down-to-earth rural charm and sophisticated indulgence. The village centre itself is leafy and attractive. We are staying at the historic Martinborough Hotel, so this afternoon feel free to just relax right there, cruise the boutique shops, explore one or more of the many cellar doors or we can head across to explore another lovely Wairarapa town, Greytown. We finish the day with our final group dinner to celebrate the end of a trip of lifelong memories and new friendships. Cycle 60km or38mi; 402m or 1318ft Accommodation : Martinborough Hotel

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast at a local cafe we head across the Remutaka Ranges to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city where you will be dropped at a central Wellington location. If you're joining the People Cycling South Island tour you'll have the next 2 days free to explore this vibrant city. Highlights include a visit to Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced ecosanctuary and an incredible slice of wilderness, discovering our stories at our National Museum, Te Papa, riding the historic Cable Car, a visit to Weta Workshop, the home of movie-making magic, or a wander along the waterfront. Cycling : No cycling

Meals:  B


  • Tasty breakfasts (x11), lunches (x6), dinners (x9) catered to all dietary requirements
  • 11 nights comfortable motel/lodge/hotel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • 2 Professional qualified driver/guides
  • Jetboat and canoe excursions on the Whanganui River
  • Tasty nutritious snacks, drinks and treats
  • Daily People Cycling happy hour drinks and nibbles
  • Hire of a hybrid bike with wider tyres perfect for riding on gravel, forestry trails and shingle (includes helmet)
  • Full vehicle support along the trail including trailer for luggage
  • Transport pick up from Auckland hotel and drop off in central Wellington
  • Pre departure information kit to help you plan and prepare
  • Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • Trail maintenance fees paid to all Trail Trusts

  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages (other than breakfast, trailside or daily happy hour)
  • Optional activities
  • e-Bike Hire (a surcharge is payable)
  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Airport Arrival and departure transfers
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own bike drink bottle)
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance

About Your Leader

Tom Ryan and Cynthia Lyons from People Cycling will be leading this tour supported by expert local guides from Adventure South. Our guides are one of our biggest assets and we pride ourselves on their level of quality and high standards. We provide you with two of our expert guides to maximise your enjoyment and overall experience. You’ll know you’re in safe hands as all of our guides are certified in first aid and CPR and many of them are trained bike mechanics. They come from all walks of life but our guides have a common desire to give you the best possible experience, fun and lots of fond memories to take home with you.


Bike information

Trail Surface



The trip is graded moderate. You will need a good level of fitness and we suggest 2-3 hours of cycling three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. You will need to be able to cycle 50-60km each day and as much as 80km on the longest day. The trail surfaces vary from hard packed to loose gravel yet all are purpose built for off-road cycling and are well maintained. We recommend training on gravel trails and Greenways, and completing a multi-day ride prior to your trip to get used to being in the saddle for long periods of time. The tour is fully supported and if at any stage you feel like having a rest from cycling you will be able to ride in the support vehicle.

Departure dates


Base Price

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Electric Bike HireNZD$600
  • Single SupplementNZD$1825
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed People Cycling Best of North Island NZ Great Rides trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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