Timber Trail New Zealand
The Timber Trail located in the North Island of New Zealand is a part of the New Zealand cycle trail, (Nga Haerenga), a national project to build a world class network of cycle trails .
The trail 85km long runs from Pureora Doc field center in the north to Ongarue. It is situated west of Taupo and south of Hamilton in the North Island of New Zealand. MAP. Vehicle access is only available from the Northern and Southern ends as well as the mid section at Piropiro flats DOC campsite.
Most people take two days to ride the trail, north to south being the obvious choice due to the lower elevation of the southern section.
We decided to stay at the midway point, (Piropiro Flats), take the shuttle to the start at Pureroa DOC center and ride the 40km back to Piropiri flats, then an extra 6km back to our accommodation at Black Fern Lodge.The second day we left Piropiro flats for the 45km ride to Ongarue.
The Black Fern Forge .The Forge is situated down stream from the Lodge on the pretty Ongarue Stream. It has accommodation for groups of people. Pillows and pillow cases are provided, shower and toilet facilities make for a great base for this two day ride. Miles, the fisherman in our group, partook in a spot of fly fishing for the trout that inhabit the stream. Needless to say he came back empty handed but with great tales of monsters spotted but not enticed to partake in the artificial fly’s.
A charming, rustic lodge in an idyllic setting, hosts Kerry and Maria have done a great job providing a unique,
friendly environment. What better than a hot shower then sit around the table, wood fire burning and discuss the days ride over a few glasses of red.The few glasses became a few bottles and feats of the day became more exaggerated. Sore muscles were forgotten and new ventures panned.
The local shuttle transported us to the start at Pureora DOC center where the trail meanders through native bush. Its worth while taking the short detour to view the historic crawler tractor. We all had a crawl over it and posed for a photo shoot. There is a gradual traverse of MT Pureora then along the Hauhungaroa Range(day 2), then the descent to Ongarue. There is a magnificent podocarp forest as well as three other distinct ecological areas on the trail. The first day is the more difficult of the two mainly due to the elevation of the ride. While suitable for beginners, a reasonable degree off fitness is required to enjoy this leg of the trail.
Stopping for a lunch break in the forest with just the sound of the odd bird, ( and your weary mates), helps cement the fact we were certainly in a remote area.
The halfway point of the ride is Piropiro Flats DOC, from there we had a 6 km ride off the trail back to Black Fern Lodge where we had a hearty meal and sat around marveling over our achievements of the day.
An optional shuttle ride, (worth the $5), back to the midway point to continue the 45 km ride to Ongarue. New tracks link up with the old bush tramway that was used to haul native logs to the mill. Evidence of the tramway is everywhere, deep V cuts and large tramway embankments that must have been backbreaking work many years ago, to enable a favorable gradient for the tramway. There is even a spiral and tunnel at Ongarue making this one of the highlights of the trail. We were cycling a trail where forest workers toiled in the early 1900s. The tramway operated from its construction in 1922 to closure in 1955.The old tramway makes the gradient friendly for cyclists.
On day two we crossed a series of swing bridges especially constructed for this trail, (some of the largest in the county), crossing Maramataha,
Waione, and Mangatukutuku valleys, providing a stunning viewpoint to look at the forest.
After the spiral there is a descent of approx 10km which provides a thrilling downhill ride. Novice riders need to take care but if you have some experience on a mountainbike, this section is a real blast. From here there is a 4 km flat ride through farmland to the finish at the carpark where our shuttle was waiting to collect us for the trip back to Black Fern Lodge.
This is classed as a grade 2 to 3 ride. Certainly you need a certain degree of fitness to enjoy this. I imagine sections could be very muddy in wet periods but the trail is very cycle friendly, especially the sections that follow the old tramway.
The tramway section and suspension bridges are highlights of the trail and help create a memorable ride.
Take your time to enjoy the magnificent forest in this part of the country, huge native trees, mosses, ferns and plenty of bird life provide the backdrop to an exhilarating two day ride through this special area of New Zealand. The ladies in our group spotted a wild pig beside the track. You might get a chance to chase them down the track as these riders did. (Timber Trail pigs)
Cycle this trail with a group of friends and enjoy their company at your accommodation afterwards, somewhere like Black Fern Lodge. If you enjoy the solitude, this is a safe ride to do by yourself, although there is no cell phone coverage for much of the trail, so be sure to leave details of your plan with someone.
Overall, not to be missed and worth repeating.
We hired mountain bikes from and get our bikes serviced at Matakana Bicycle Hire , situated at Matakana, north of Auckland. Awesome service from a true, blue cyclist.
If you have cycled any other awesome trails please leave a comment below.