Join Track & Trail’s Waikato River Trail self-guided adventure and ride beside the mighty Waikato River over 3 spectacular days. Starting in Ngāruawāhai you spend the first day on the Te Awa River Ride riding to Hamilton Gardens, then on to Cambridge and Karapiro. You start the second day with a jet boat ride to the beginning of the Waikato River Trail at Pokaiwhenua Stream, ride to Arapuni (and the Rhubarb Cafe) and on to Mangakino. Then on the third day you ride from Mangakino to Whakamaru (and Russmans Cafe) and on to Ātiamuri or Ohakuri Dams. It’s a beautiful ride with many of points of interest along the route… so use the book now button to express your interest and tell us about your group.

3-Day, self guided Te Awa & Waikato River Trails at a glance…

Price: NZD $1,380 per person inc GST. Add $345 inc GST for 3 days if e-bike hire is required.
Time commitment: 3 days
Dates: Your group can choose their own dates. Minimum of four people required.
SuperGold Card discount of 10% applies to mid-week days.
Inclusions: breakfast and dinners. Jet boat ride to connect the two river trails. Visit to the amazing Hamilton Gardens
Accommodation style: guesthouse and lodge
Who is it for: grade 1, 2 & 3 cyclists, capable of riding an average 57 kms on well-formed and dedicated cycle paths and trails. The surface is sometimes concrete, wooden boardwalk, gravel path or forest trail. The riding just south of the Waipapa dam has some grade 3 riding in it.
Ride in Ride Out: the cyclists ride in and out of their accommodation. The van only transports the riders to the start and from the finish and carries bags and food between stages. A van is not near the riders all day.
Leaving from: Karapiro
Total kilometres: 168.4 kms
Most suitable bike: this ride will suit almost all bike styles except road bikes
BYOB or Hire: BYO bike or hire a Sinch e-bike from Track n Trail.


  • You drive to Cambridge, arriving before 9am on your chosen dates. Track & Trail loads your bike and overnight bag on our purpose-built trailer and drive you (75 mins) to Ngāruwāhia and the Breaking Bread Café. You have a coffee and cake before heading south towards Hamilton.
  • You ride the Te Awa River Ride to Hamilton Gardens and spend an hour in the fabulous Hamilton Gardens and themed pavilions. After lunch at the garden’s cafe (own care) you ride on to Cambridge and look around the stores and cafés, visit the Grassroot Velodrome
  • Evening and morning meals will be served here and are included in the trip tariff.
  • PDF of the Te Ara River Ride
  • Roll your bike across the road to the boat ramp and get on board for a 15 kms thrilling jet boat ride. Pick up the Waikato River Trail at Pokaiwhenua Stream – the most north end of the Waikato River Trail. Ride to the Rhubard Cafe (check hours, own care), then over the suspension bridge at Arapuni and on to the Waipapa Dam. There is a road section from Arapuni Dam to Waipapa Dam to which is mostly sealed with a short section of unsealed road. This section includes some long steep climbs.
  • The trail becomes more sporty south of the Waipapa dam with grade 3 sections but well worth the effort. You can expect S bends and boardwalks and forest trails but no alternate route. As you get close to Managkino you will get a great view of the Maraetai Dam an many interesting sites and artifacts related to the dams construction.
Waikato River Trail
waikaot river

After breakfast at the lodge in Mangakino, your day starts with a 12km ride offering picturesque views along Lake Maraetai. Soon after leaving the village, you’ll encounter the 70m long Mangakino Stream suspension bridge.

Upon reaching Whakamaru Dam, a short ride leads to The Dam Café or Russmans in the village, ideal for a break and lunch. Consider taking away a sandwich and stopping beside the river an hour or so down the trail.

The Whakamaru to Atiamuri section of the trail meanders alongside the Waikato River through pine forests and native bush, bordering farmland. On the opposite shore, sheer bluffs provide a striking backdrop.

Throughout this southern stretch, Lake Whakamaru remains a constant scenic companion. Just before the Atiamuri Dam, you’ll encounter the half-million-year-old Pohaturoa volcanic plug, a remarkable and historically significant feature.

What Track & Trail provides…

  • shuttle service; riders, bikes and bags on day 1, carry bags only forward on day 2, riders, bikes and bags day 3.
  • guesthouse and lodge accommodation (couple or twin share basis)
  • 2 evening meals, two breakfasts. Lunch is own care in cafes (list provided)
  • optional extra: e-bike

Route Map – showing both trails, points of interest and accommodation

Bikes & Safety

Are you BYO you own bike? Hardtail mountain bikes, e-bike or gravel bikes are all good for this trip. Road bikes not so much. You are responsible for the fitness and security of your bike. Please get it serviced before you join the trip. There will not be service options over weekends. TYour bike should be able to carry 1 litre of water, your rain jacket, snacks, phone, spare inner tube and multitool.

Track & Trail has a fleet of NZ-designed Sinch e-bikes available for hire in small, medium and large frame sizes. The cost is $115 incl GST per day to hire an e-bike for the weekend. If we do not have your size we will hire it for you. Contact Peter if you plan on hiring any type of bike.

Though much of the riding is on dedicated paths, some sections are shared with pedestrians and at times you will have to cross main roads. Care is required by you in both cases.
The surface of cycle paths also varies considerably and can include gravel, debris/overhang from vegetation or uneven concrete surfaces.

Trip Price

NZD $1,380 pp inc GST plus bike hire of $345 inc GST for 3 days if required.

10% discount applies for Gold Card Holders on mid-week trip.


The tour price does NOT include:

  • getting to the start
  • personal equipment
  • bike & puncture repairs
  • alcoholic drinks & café stops
  • emergencies. Ambulance