Track & Trail’s central North Island 5-day tour gives you an overview of many of the amazing trails available on the North Island’s central volcanic plateau. Apart from 5 days of fantastic riding, we’ll be showing you many of the points of interest; hydro and geothermal features, waterfalls, hot pools, Māori history, secluded swimming spots, staying at quality accommodation and eating great food.

The new Waikato Expressway connects Aucklanders to Rotorua with a comfortable 2.5-hour drive, much of it under overhead lights. South Islanders can fly into Rotorua Airport (free transfers). Overnight in Rotorua on Friday before the briefing on Saturday morning, the first day of the Tour. Bring your bike, or we can provide or hire one for you (see the “Bike Hire” tab below).

At a Glance…

Price: NZD $2,175 inc GST. Add $575 inc GST if e-bike hire is required. Add $270 inc for a single accommodation supplement
Time commitment: 5 days
Dates: Sat 24 Feb 2024 to Wed 28 Feb 2024. Reserve a place now.
Who is it for: grade 2 cyclists, capable of riding 45 kms of well-formed track each day
Ride starts at: Hamurana, Rotorua
Ride ends at: The Secret Spot, Redwood Bike Park, Rotorua
Total kilometres: approx 200 kms
Departs from and returns to: Rotorua
Accommodation styles: based on twin share, separate gender modern bathrooms are shared
Best bike: hardtail mountain bike, full-suspension mountain bike, gravel bike.
BYOB or Hire: BYO bike or hire a Sinch e-bike from Track n Trail.

What Track & Trail provides…

  • Secure lock-up for your car at our Rotorua base and/or Rotorua airport transfers
  • Daily ride information, map files for your phone and route notes
  • Basic mechanical support and first aid
  • Carry your luggage forward
  • Support vehicle (in some places the van cannot be on the route)
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, water, riding snacks and sunscreen
  • All the transport ex Rotorua
  • Route accommodation (mostly motels)
  • Bike hire if needed
  • … what you provide: you ride, have fun and be awesome

The Ride

  • A total distance of 225km spread over 5 days of riding. Arrive the night before the tour starts.
  • Daily riding distances have been planned to be achievable for less experienced riders, allowing allow plenty of time for photo stops and points of interest along the way.
  • We kick off at around 8:30am each day to allow for contingencies.
  • 40-45 km riding per day on well-formed scenic routes. No riding on any roads.
  • NZ cycle trails have variable terrain and generally slow riding speed.
  • A mountain bike or e-bike would suit this tour. Road bikes would not be suitable.
  • Our support vehicle is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle.

Maps

Itinerary: Waikato River, Timber Trail, Great Lake, Whakarewarewa Loop

Drive time: 55 mins
Depart at 10 am.

What an exciting day ahead! Today you’ll ride the southern half of the Waikato River Trail. The mighty Waikato river, originating in Taupo, will be right beside you all day.
You’ll pass three hydroelectric power stations and dams; Atiamuri, Whakamaru and Mangakino and learn about their creation and contribution to NZ’s economy since the 1950’s.
The trail is not quite flat but nor does it have any big hills. The surface is gravel single track. We end our ride at the Mangakino Domain (great swimming spot) and are overnighting at Lake Maraetai Lodge.

After overnighting in Mangakino, we head up to Benneydale to the northern entrance of the Pureora Forest Park to start the first day of the Timber Trail. You’ve probably heard a lot about the Timber Trail and you won’t be disappointed. In the first 13 km you climb up to 990 m before making a long descent to the center of the forest. Keep your ears and eyes open for the kōkako re-introduced to the forest in July 2021. Kereru and Kaka are also found here. We meet up at Piro Piro Flats midafternoon for a cup of tea and cake before returning to Mangakino for a relaxed evening.

We restart riding on the Timber Trail at Piro Piro Flats. Today you complete the second half of the Timber Trail riding over swing bridges and railway cuttings and the famous Ongarue spiral. You might want to stop and read the many interesting interpretive signs detailing the history of the railway, or cool off with a dip in a stream or pause to look out from the many views to the west.

Day four is Taupo day. Fine weather will give you many views south to the Tongariro National Park, and Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe.
We’re going to be riding the northern edge of Lake Taupo from Whangamata Rd down to Kawakawa Bay, on to Kinloch for lunch and then over to Whakaipō Bay. Though only grade two riding there’s plenty of up and down today as you ride up from secluded beaches on the lake’s edge up to headlands and lookouts then back down again.
There will be an option for people interested in sport riding to spend the day at Craters of the Moon bike park.
We end the day with a visit to the Huka Falls and a calming soak in the Wairakei Terraces hot pools.

On day five we return to Rotorua. Our grand finale is the incredible Whakarewarewa Loop track (below). This is an awesome 32 km trail that encircles the Redwoods mountain bike park, climbing up to sweeping vistas above Lake Rotorua, passing Rotokakahi/The Green Lake and Tikitapu/Blue Lake on expert and newly created tracks. On route between Taupo and Rotorua we will do some site seeing stopping Lava Glass and the other at some amazing mud pools just south of Rainbow Mountain/Maungakakamea, the Owls rest. We can end our day and the tour with a beer or a hot tub at the Secret Spot.

Bikes, Food & Accommodation

Are you considering 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 this trip. Here are the options:

  1. Hardtail mountain bike
  2. Full suspension MTB
  3. E-bike
  4. Gravel bike

You are responsible for the fitness of your bike. Please get it fully serviced before you join the tour. It will be doing 250 kms off-road and parts service centres might not be immediate to hand.

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 $575 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. Read the Bike Hire Agreement.

The tour includes all breakfasts, most lunches and evening meals and snacks. We are able to cater for vegetarians and coeliac. If this includes you, it is essential to advise us of this before your tour begins, so that the support vehicle can be stocked with the necessary supplies.

Typical meals Include:

  • Breakfasts – fresh fruit, muesli, toast and spreads, hot drinks.  Cooked breakfast on occasion.
  • Lunches – picnic-style lunches, bread or rolls and filings such as cold meats, cheese & vegetables.
  • Snacks – fresh fruit, muesli bars, nuts and baking.
  • Evening – prepared by your tour leaders, local accommodation or restaurant.
Mareatai Lodge accommodation
Your modern, spacious and bike-friendly accommodation. Twin-share basis.

Accommodation is included for 4 nights of the tour. We will be staying at the Maraetai Lodge in Mangakino.

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.

Safety comes first! The group will carry a personal locator beacon and first aid in the Pureora Forest. In other places, the van will be close by. Our T&Cs explain what we will do in bad weather. Track & Trail are here to mitigate as many risks as possible but care and attention will be required from you at all times.

This cycle tour includes rides of 40-50 km per day. Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:

  • Riding on gravel and other unpaved surfaces
  • Riding hills.
  • Riding 2-3 times a week with rides of 25-50 km in length.

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

Trip Price

NZD $2,175 inc GST plus bike hire of $575 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 may apply. 

Exclusions

The tour price does NOT include:

  • getting to Rotorua
  • optional activities
  • personal equipment
  • 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.