OverviewTrail Status: Open
Central North Island — East Coast (2 days, 136km)
The Gentle Annie is a remote, multi-day ride that traverses picturesque high country sheep stations, untouched rugged river valleys and vineyards between the Central North Island and the East Coast.
These two regions are worlds apart in their natural heritage and landscapes, offering a challenging but exhilarating ride that is not for the faint hearted.
The route also follows the Inland Patea Heritage Trail, one of the North Island’s best kept secrets, retracing an ancient Māori route between Hawke’s Bay and the Inland Patea district, around the headwaters of the Rangitikei River and its main tributaries the Moawhango and Hautapu Rivers.
The Gentle Annie cycle route is graded Advanced due to a number of steep gradients. A reasonable level of fitness is required.
There is minimal traffic along this route at any time of the day, but cyclists should be prepared to meet stock and logging trucks.
This route is exposed and travels through remote high country with limited places to shelter. So go well prepared for all weather conditions, no matter what time of the year you ride. Take clothing sufficient to cope with a range of temperatures. Food and camping equipment will also be required.
During winter there is a strong possibility of snow and ice on the road. However the scenic rewards for the more adventurous cyclist on a clear winter’s day are truly magnificent.
Services & Accommodation
Taihape and Napier, at each end of the trail, offer heritage attractions for visitors and a range of quality accommodation, restaurants and local retailers to cater for all your cycling needs.
However there are no shops in between on the Gentle Annie, so you will need to carry all your supplies.
Two campgrounds and a farmstay provide the only accommodation along the route. The Rangitikei District Council’s Springlands Suspension Bridge Campground approximately 40km from Taihape and the Department of Conservation-managed Kuripapango Campground a further 36km along are basic campgrounds with toilets and good swimming holes – but no showers or drinking water.
If you’re after a comfortable night's sleep, the Willowford Farmstay (signposted on Willowford Road) is located 35km from Fernhill.
In case of inclement weather there is basic shelter provided by a barn at Otupae Station (60km from Taihape) and a long shelter belt of pines at Ngatoma Station a bit further on.
A shelter, drinking water and toilets are also available at the Blowhard Bush Reserve (50km from Fernhill). Note this reserve is located about 600m down Lawrence Road.
DRINKING WATER: Water can be drawn from the river. While it is mostly suitable for drinking, it is recommended that water be boiled (3 min), filtered or treated before drinking.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: There is virtually no mobile reception outside of Taihape or Fernhill.
BEST TIME TO RIDE: The Gentle Annie can be cycled year round, although cyclists should be wary of weather conditions during winter and go well prepared. Cold winds, snow and ice are potential hazards.