I’m prepared for flak for putting my opinion out there on one of the newest National Cycle Trails – especially as I haven’t ridden the South Island’s Alps to the Sea yet (I hear it’s wonderful).
But as far as the North Island goes, the Timber Trail in the King Country has it all – vast panoramic views; well constructed, interesting tracks; virgin native forest; constantly changing landscapes; massive high long swing bridges, (which made us gasp in wonder as each one came into view); historic tram routes and early logging settlements with great story boards to tell their tale; lovely downhill runs, one serious long uphill and good gradients for the rest of the time.
On top of this, the accomodation places are genuinely unique and provide comfortable and generous hospitality. We were on a high on this trip, as the experience was truly inspirational.
Continue reading 'Up There with the Best of Them – The Timber Cycle Trail'»
We’re very happy to report that the auto counters the Rail Trail Trust installed on the Gorge section of the Hauraki Rail Trail recorded 12,000 cycle trips in January, making it second only to the Queenstown trail in popularity in the NZCT network.
We hear unofficially that another 15,000 were on their bikes in the Gorge in February – in addition to the many who made the trip in earlier months.
This would certainly explain why, on our recent visit, we found Paeroa buzzing with cycling groups all over the town. We were impressed by the energy and vitality, as cyclists cruised the main street on their way to the Trail and checked out local cafes and shops.
The Gorge is full of natural and historic character which makes it worthy of this patronage. Sadly, the trail sections heading out from Paeroa to Te Aroha and in the other direction to Thames leave a bit to be desired in terms of track quality (drifts of deep shingle) and bland landscape. We suggest some photos / interpretation panels are needed to tell the story of this part of the former railway line.
Until these arrive, there are still many reasons to get to Paeroa to explore and enjoy these attractions:
- One of our readers highlighted how close the Trail is to Auckland, with good accomodation: “Left Newmarket just after 6pm Friday, and were at Karangahake River Lodge well before 8pm. It’s a great place to use as a base – clean comfortable cabins and bunkrooms, and a fully functional kitchen / dining room. Good value and only 200m from the trail.”
- Te Aroha at the south end of the trail is a historic treasure with wonderful ambience, good cafes, accomodation and superbly maintained old character buildings, hot pools, flower gardens and park dating from the early 1900s. We fell for Banko cafe, which is a period delight with excellent home baking and dainty cups. The town is easily reached using SH 26, which runs parallel to the official trail. By overnighting in Te Aroha we were able to set off early for an easy 4km ride out to the Wairongomai Valley. It has good walking tracks thru’ native trees, and interpretation panels telling the story of the short-lived but large scale 1880s gold mining operation. The old settlement, tramway and incline which was established in the valley is still evident from historic remnants. We were back in Te Aroha by 10.30am for a yummy brunch at Ironique Cafe.
- Waihi is also well worth visiting. A recent trail visitor wrote: “At Waikino, the Goldfields Railway service had laid on an extra train at 9am to take us and our bikes to Waihi. The rail trail will be extended from Waikino to Waihi within the next 12 months. Until this happens the option of one way by bike, and one by train is ideal. In Waihi we cycled round the rim of the Martha Gold Mine, which was the most strenuous part of the ride, but well worth the effort. This was followed by excellent coffee at the Ti Tree Café, and then back to Karangahake.“
Every one of us who gets out on the trails, stays overnight and helps these historic towns demonstrate the financial benefits of cycle touring is helping raise the profile of cycling and its value to the NZ economy. Join the growing team of cycling ‘change agents’, and have heaps of fun at the same time.
(Thanks to Jim and Libby for providing photos and stories for this item)
In the past few weeks I have heard that thousands of Aucklanders have taken day trips down to ride the Hauraki Trail. Great!
11 years ago I rode the Central Otago Rail Trail. At that stage it was 2 years old, and I met only foreign tourists. The Trail helped them fall in love with our landscape, its history and our people. In subsequent years Aucklanders heard about the Trail, and have contributed to its spectacular success in delivering many millions of $ annually to boost the local economy.
These Aucklanders often contacted Cycle Action on their return to our city, having rediscovered the joys and freedom of cycling. While I don’t have the stats to prove it (yet), I believe they are part of the renaissance of cycling for transport and everyday trips being recorded in many parts of Auckland.
This summer’s gorgeous cycling weather has encouraged me to take friends to ride 3 amazing new cycle routes. In each case I have been guided by The Kennett Bros’ delightful and authoritative cycle touring book. We have explored :
- ‘The Missing Link’ between Dargaville to Poutu. It’s part of the Kauri Coast Trail which will soon be part of the National Cycle Trail (NCT). Lots to see and do!
- ‘The Old Coach Road’, part of the NCT which takes you from Ohakune to Smash Palace at Horopito. Not to be missed!
- ‘Mountains to the Sea’, also part of the NCT linking Ohakune to Whanganui via the Bridge to Nowhere and the Whanganui River. Days of wonderful cycling, landscapes and history.
Next weekend I’m off riding the Timber Trail from Pureora to Ongarue, a new route.
Before Easter I will make time to blog about each of these trips, as they are every bit as good as the Central Otago Rail Trail. They’re a bit more challenging – but I did them easily, and I’m not known for my fitness (apart from that of my tongue). I’ll tell you about memorable restored country hotels and other accomodation we enjoyed (including Mellonsfolly Old West Town), cafes, landscapes, history, stories and people we met along the way.
In the meantime, block out Easter to try one of these Cycle Trails. It will keep you going on a high thru’ winter and give you stories to tell your friends for weeks to come. And it will show that Aucklanders are not just café cyclists who can only do day trips!
Heaps of people have been riding the new National Cycle Trails during the holidays. The Kennett Bros’s superb ‘Classic Cycle Trail‘ book sold out before Christmas and a reprint is keeping supplies coming. North and South in February has a 7 page story at the back “Wheels Are Rolling” with brilliant photos of Jonathan Kennett on some of the more adventurous rides.
There are some impressive stats showing growing popularity – 22,000 people rode the Waikato River Trails for the 11 months to October 2012; 25,000 people got out on the most popular part of the Mountains to the Sea route (map link) – probably the scenic and easy Coach Rd section near Ohakune. Others, like Alps 2 Ocean in the South Island (map link and photo at right) are not even half done, yet the completed sections already offer impressive rides through some stunning stretches of NZ.
Continue reading 'Those National Cycle Trails are going down a treat!'»
If Confucius was still around to visit the Coromandel, I would suggest he take some time out and go for a nice ride along the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Myself, my partner and some family friends went to test out Auckland’s nearest New Zealand Cycle Trail in December, and we had a great time.
Since some of our party weren’t keen on multi-day rides, we based ourselves in Paeroa (in the southwest of the Coromandel area). You could consider it the “centre” of the rail trail, with routes running north to Thames, south to Te Aroha and east to Waihi, through beautiful Karangahake Gorge.
Continue reading 'Confucius on the (Hauraki) Rail Trail'»