Cape to Cape – across the central North Island

Kōpiko means to go back and forth, meander, wander or ramble. The Kōpiko Aotearoa cycle trail traverses the North Island of Aotearoa/NZ at its widest point – a challenging course of over ~800kms comprised of remote back country roads and cycle trails. It’s a tough, multiday, endurance ride with over ~10,000 metres of climbing.

The Kōpiko Aotearoa trip at a Glance…

Note: we are doing the shortened course via Whakatane (see map below) in 2024 due to slips and flooding around Tiniroto and Wairoa. The actual days of riding will be 8 to 8.5 with two transport days on either side.
Price: NZD $3,600 inc GST. Add $920 inc GST if e-bike hire is required.
Dates: Leaving Sat 09 Mar 2024 to Thurs 21 Mar 2024 (Sun 10 Mar is the first day of riding)
Time commitment: 10 days (8 riding, and two days either side get to and from the trail)
Who is it for: Seasoned cyclists, capable of 80-110 kms of varied terrain riding each day. You will need to prepare.
Ride starts at: East Cape Lighthouse
Ride ends at: Cape Egmont Lighthouse
Departs from and returns to: our Rotorua base, secure car parking here
Total kilometres: approximately 800kms
Accommodation styles: from glamping to holiday cabins, community halls to resorts & motels, most likely excluding ensuite bathrooms. In places accommodation is very limited as the route is remote. Single supplements are possible in some locations.
Best bike: hardtail mountain bike, full-suspension mountain bike, gravel bike
E-bikes: yes, e-bikes can be charged along the way
Max number of riders on the trip? 10

What Track & Trail Cycle Adventures provides…

  • Secure lock-up for your car at our Rotorua base and/or Rotorua airport transfers
  • Daily ride information, map files for your phone, route notes & Spot tracking
  • All accommodation (9 nights)
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners (except on the rest day)
  • Water, riding snacks and sunscreen
  • Basic mechanical support and first aid
  • Carry your luggage forward
  • Support vehicle (in some places the van cannot be on the route)
  • Carbon offsets for the van and your travel to the start
  • All the transport ex Rotorua
  • Bike hire if needed
  • fees and entries
  • … what you provide: you ride, have fun, be awesome and see the less trod parts of NZ

The Ride – shorten in 2024

  • A total distance of 800km spread over 8 days of riding. Excludes a rest day in Rotorua and a day at either end getting to and from the course.
  • While E-bikers are certainly welcome, it’s important to note that this cycle tour is primarily intended for human-powered cyclists. The riding distances and daily stages have been specifically tailored to accommodate ordinary pedal bikes.
  • Daily riding distances have been planned to be challenging but achievable and to allow plenty of time for photo stops, to explore the local towns and points of interest along the way.
  • We encourage an early start so that you have time to recharge at the end of the day.
  • 80-115 km riding per day on wonderfully remote and scenic riding route. Approximately 60% sealed roads, 27% quiet gravel roads and 13% cycle trails.
  • The KōpikoAotearoa trail involves a lot of ascent. You will need to train for that.
  • The cycle trails in New Zealand include diverse terrains and typically involve a riding pace ranging from 9 to 15 kilometers per hour.
  • Single track, gravel or road biking experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.
  • A hardtail mountain bike or a touring bike with off-road tyres is the ideal bike.
  • Our support vehicle is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle or a lift up the steepest inclines.

The Route Map – shorten course in red for March 2024

Boiling Mud Wai o Tapu

Kōpiko Itinerary: East Cape to Cape Egmont

This section may be subject to small changes right up until the start of the tour. Note: Days 3 to 7 are changed or removed in 2024 so only 8.5 days of riding plus two transit days.

Drive time: 4 hours 20 min 293 kms
Depart at 10 am. There’s no riding today but sit back and enjoy the drive out to East Cape. Leaving Rotorua you’ll pass by four lakes, before emerging on the coastal planes near Mt Putauaki and Awakeri. Passing through Whakatane, the popular beach township of Ohope and onto Opotiki… and out to the East Cape.

Time & Distance: 6 hrs 10 mins and 111 km
Elevation gained: 785 metres gained, highest point 151 metres, lowest point 4 metres
Surface: first 16 km is gravel, then seal the rest of the day.
Your first day of riding starts at East Cape lighthouse. We’ll have you there for first light – that’s the world’s first light each day. At Te Araroa, you may wish to stop for a picture of the oldest Pohutakawa or a coffee at Twilight Cafe or East Cape Manuka Cafe. Carry on through Hicks Bay and Cape Runaway and into Waihau Bay for lunch. Rest and then roll onto Te Kaha for the night.

Time & Distance: 8 hrs and 113 km
Elevation gained: 1,726 metres gained, highest point 794 metres, lowest point 7 metres
Surface: the first 55 kms is on seal, then gravel to Mōtū Village.
The Pacific stretches off to your right. You’re in Whale Rider country now. Whaakari/White Islands broods off shore. The first half of your day is on sealed coastal road, then you turn south and start your first big climb on gravel of the tour towards Motu Village. It’ll be a demanding afternoon, but a rewarding one. You’re in Te Urewera now (and for the next two days).

Time & Distance: 6 hrs 90 kms
Elevation gained: 1,089 metres gained, highest point 671 metres, lowest point 146 metres
Surface: the first 30 kms of the day is on seal, but after that, gravel. Finish on a short section of seal.
Your ride today passes right by the Rere Rockslide and Rere Falls. From the falls we will do a side trip to Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of NZ before resuming the ride to … well, nowhere in particular. In the afternoon you will drop from 600 metres to 200 metres… but what goes down goes back up again.

8 hrs 5 mins hours and 115kms
Elevation gained: 2,394 metres gained, highest point 665 metres, lowest point 83 metres
Your topo map will look like the teeth of a saw today. There’s no other way to say it – it’ll be a big day. You will cross over the boundary between Gisbourne and Hawke’s Bay. You will pass the impressive Te Reinga waterfall, ride through the village of Ruakituri and, well not much else. You’ll be on high country farm roads with glimpses of the sea. There is spectacular downhill in the last quarter of the day so save your legs for that. The early Piripaua Power Station heralds more substantial hydro you will see in the next day’s ride. But wait there’s more… from Tuai you will climb up to Lake Waikaremoana before overnighting on the lakes edge.

7 hrs 2 mins hours and 111kms
What a treat this day is! It starts with a descent into Ruatahuna, then past Minginui and on to the famously unvaxed Murupara. You’ll ride over waterfalls and through the most beautiful rain forest. But it’s remote – you’re not in Kansas now Toto. Still, you will be able to get a coffee at the general store in Ruatahuna after riding through packs of horses that stand lazily on the town’s roads. Passing the Whirinaki Forest on your left (last untouched, old-growth forest in NZ), you will arrive in the comparative metropolis of Murupara. Your day ends with a climb up to Rainbow Mountain on Highway 5. Then shuttle to Rotorua for 2 nights and a well earned rest day.

0 hrs 0 mins hours and 0kms
With the Ureweras done and dusted, you have put the hardest part of the ride behind you. There is the opportunity to rest and relax on this hump day in Rotorua. Or maybe not… the grade 2, 32 km Whakarewarewa loop track might be your special way to relax and unwind. Or maybe the pools at “The Secret Spot“, or walk in the Redwoods or around Te Puia Thermal Valley.

4 hrs 19 mins hours and 76kms
After a day’s rest we resume at Rainbow Mountain at the intersection of highways 5 and 38. We check out to boiling mud (see video) nearby before heading west to Ātiamuri, Whakamaru and onto Mangakino – all towns with dams and hydro power stations built in the 50s. In the morning we will be riding through the beautiful Waikite Valley to the Ātiamuria Dam, then on the southern section of the Waikato River trail to Whakamaru. We overnight in Mangakino close to Lake Maraetai and the domain.

7 hrs 52 mins hours and 95kms

There’s a big day ahead, two third of which is climbing on gravel forest road or gravel path. There are some good photo ops though at the Arataki swing bring, at the “centre of the North Island” marker and at the entrance to the Timber Trail. At the 13km mark into the Timber Trail, at about 990 m elvation, there is a huge reward for all that climbing! The ride down from the high point of the Pureora Forest Park to Piro Piro flats is definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

6 hrs and 95kms
The first half of our day completes the southern side of The Timber Trail including more swing bridges, rail cuttings and the Ongarue railway spiral. Interpretive signs bring the forest’s history to life. Leaving the Pureora Forest, we head south then west to Ōhura towards The Forgotten Highway.

Centre of the Timber Trail to Ongarue and on to Ohura

Leaving Ohura, you ride 60 kms on untrafficked, gravel roads over saddles and through tunnels and arrive at Whangamomona for a pub lunch. The route’s interpretive signs will give you interesting background on the area, its rail and road history, who lived there and what they did. We finish at Purangi or Tarata today, in range of Cape Egmont light house for the final day.

Ohura – Whangamomona – Purangi to Tarata

5 hr 40 min 103 kms
Your last day of riding – and the exciting finale to your trip! Leaving Purangi, the terrain starts to flatten and drop onto the coastal plans. After passig through the Tarata Tinnel, keep looking south for glimpses of the snowcapped Mt Taranaki and west out over the Tasman Sea. You cross the 125 year old Bertrand Rd suspension bridge, into Lepperton and then over the Te Rewa Rewa bridge, south down to the coast on the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway beside Fitzroy Beach. The afternoon’s ride sees you exit New Plymouth through a series of reserves and parks. Shortly, you climb steady to Pukeiti on the western slope of Taranaki, possibly stopping for refreshments at the Founders Cafe before descending through Parihaka and onto the lighthouse. YAY! YOU MADE IT.
Overnight in New Plymouth.

Tarata – Lepperton – New Plymouth – Pukeiti – Cape Egmont

4 hr 20 mins 308 kms driving
This is transport day. We return to Rotorua via Te Kuiti and Highway 3 & 30. However before leaving New Plymouth the group may choose to go to the Govett-Brewster Regional Gallery or a stroll in Pukekura Park or visit the Piopio Berry Orchard on the road home.

Bikes, Food & Accommodation

Are you BYO bike? If you are driving to the start of the tour in Rotorua, you may like to bring your own bike. There are a few bike styles that work well on the Kopiko. In order:

  1. Hardtail mountain bike
  2. Full suspension MTB (with rear shock pumped up)
  3. Gravel bike
  4. Touring bike
  5. E-bikes…. whatever your bike, gravel tyres are bestbut not road bikes

You are responsible for the fitness of your bike. Please get it fully serviced before you join the tour. It will be doing ~800 km on some of the roughest terrain in the country and parts will not be available.

Your bike must be able to carry 1.5 litres of water, your rain jacket, snacks, phone, spare inner tube and sunscreen so a handlebar bag, front roll or frame bag is recommended. Avoid backpacks as they put too much pressure on your sitting bones, affect your balance and are too hot in summer.

Track & Trail has a fleet of NZ-designed Sinch e-bikes available for hire in small, medium and large frame sizes. The cost is $920 incl GST to hire an e-bike for the tour. If we do not have your size we will hire it in Rotorua for you. Contact Peter if you plan on hiring any type of bike.

The tour includes all breakfasts, lunches, evening meals and snacks. We are able to cater for vegetarians and some coeliac. If this includes you, it is crucial to advise us of this well before the tour begins.

Typical meals Include:

  • Breakfasts – Fresh fruit, muesli, yoghurt, toast and spreads, hot drinks including Nespresso. 
  • Lunches – Picnic-style lunches, bread or rolls and filings such as cold meats, eggs, cheese & vegetables.
  • Snacks – Fresh fruit, muesli bars, nuts and baking.
  • Evening – Prepared by your tour leaders, local accommodation or nearby restaurant

Accommodation is included for all 13 nights of the tour. Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. The Kopiko is a very remote, rural riding route and the availability of accommodation is limited with often only basic options available. We will be staying in a combination of motels, holiday park cabins, farm stays, lodges, a hotel and one community communal accommodation. Where possible we choose accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, however it more likely bathrooms will be shared.

Accommodation is on a share twin basis. If you’re travelling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another same gender biker. If you do not wish to share a single supplement is available. *Single room options may not be possible at all in some locations.

Safety comes first! The main threats are; getting lost, getting cold, running out of water, sunburn and some pretty loose driving by hunters. We are here to mitigate as many of those risks as possible but care and attention will be required from you at all times.

This cycle tour includes rides of 80-115 km per day. The daily itinerary below gives distances and time in the saddle each day. It also shows daily vertical metres gained. Over the course of the tour, this will add up to almost two Mount Everests, so preparation is required to avoid running out of steam.

Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:

  • Riding on gravel and other unpaved surfaces
  • Riding hills, lots of them! In a day you may climb 1,500 to 2,000 metres in rises and falls.
  • Riding 3-4 times a week with rides of 50-80km in length.

The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure!

Kōpiko Trip Price

NZD $3,600 inc GST plus bike hire of $920 inc GST if required.

Singles
– If you’re travelling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another rider.
– If you do not wish to share let us know early. A single supplement of about $80 per day will apply. 

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Exclusions

The tour price does NOT include:

  • getting to Rotorua
  • optional activities
  • personal equipment (bags, helmets)
  • bike repairs
  • alcoholic drinks & random café stops
  • emergencies. Cost of emergency evacuation by ambulance or helicopter is at your own cost.

If you have to leave the tour, we will we help you arrange transport back to Rotorua at your own cost. You may wish to take travel insurance.

Please read our Terms & Conditions carefully before booking.