Motu Trails

OverviewTrail Status: Open

Dunes Trail — Motu Rd Trail — Pakihi Track — Motu Trails Loop (1-3 days, 11-91km)

With three trails to choose from (or the option of combining them all) the Motu Trails offer a range of cycling itineraries depending on your age, fitness level and riding ability.

You can ride for a few hours or a few days, with trails ranging from an easy ride along the coast through to an advanced mountain bike ride deep in the bush.

The Dunes Trail is an easy gravel path running parallel with the coastline of the Bay of Plenty for 11km. It’s ideal for all riders and there is a shop next to the Tirohanga Beach Motor Camp selling ice creams and drinks – just the ticket for a beautiful summer’s day!

The Motu Road Trail goes from the end of the Dunes Trail to the rustic settlement of Matawai, 67km away. It follows a quiet country road past scenic farmland and through forested conservation reserves, with just the right amount of hills to suit those keen to build up their fitness.

The Pakihi Track is the third trail in the Motu trilogy, and although it is mostly downhill it includes Grade 4 (Advanced) mountain biking on a narrow trail through remote native forest.

The 91km Motu Trails Loop offers you a taste of all three of the Motu Trails, starting and ending your ride in Opotiki.

Opotiki activities

On the border of the Bay of Plenty and Eastland, Opotiki sits where the Waioeka and Otara rivers meet. The town is a delightful holiday spot thanks to its coastal location and temperate climate.

With a driftwood-lined coast and an enchanting atmosphere, Opotiki offers up a pristine ocean playground. The beaches here are long and unspoiled and only speckled with visitors during summer, and the rivers are well stocked with fish.

Watersports abound here – choose from kayaking, scuba diving, surfing and swimming.

Motu Falls

At Motu check out the new Motu-vation Cafe. And take a 5km detour to visit the beautiful Motu Falls on the wild Motu River. View the falls from a high swing bridge, and walk on into Whinray Reserve. Birdlife is plentiful here, including Kereru (Wood Pigeon), Fantails and North Island Weka.

Be Prepared

The Motu Trails traverse a remote area of New Zealand. If you're planning a long ride you’ll need to go well prepared.

Toilets are available at the Hikuwai Reserve on the Dunes Trail, Matawai, Motu and at the start and end of the Pakihi Track.

All roads are open to the public so expect vehicles at any time. Take care crossing fords after heavy rain. There are two fords on the Motu Road Trail. The Motu Road Trail requires a reasonable level of fitness.

The Pakihi Track is well formed, and with 25 bridges, the gradient is almost all gentle downhill, dropping over 400m altitude over 21km. The track is rated advanced because in places, there are steep drop-offs to the side. A mountainbike is advised.

The full 91 km Motu Trails Loop of the Dunes Trail-Motu Road-Pakihi Track takes most riders 6-9 hours, in one or two days. Toatoa Farmstay or for the adventurous, the Pahiki Hut, are good options to stay. There are no shops beyond Opotiki and Tirohanga. Another option is to link in the heartland ride of Rere Falls Trail to create a stunning two-five day Coast to Coast adventure from Gisborne to Opotiki (or vice-versa).

All trails are signposted. You can get a trail map at Gisborne, Opotiki and Whakatane iSITES. Motu Trails Official Partners also have the trail map. Or you can download a trail brochure from

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Coverage is very poor if not unavailable on most of the trails. You can get coverage on the Dunes Trail and coming back into town on the Pakihi Track.

DRINKING WATER: It’s recommended that you carry all your water. Tank water is available at Motu and water can be drawn from the river and streams along the route, however it is recommended that this be boiled (for 3 minutes), filtered or treated before drinking.

Weather Info

Take enough layers. The Motu Road Trail peaks at almost 800m altitude, and the start of the Pakihi Track is 600m altitude. At that height, it can get cool.

The Motu Trails offer you year-round riding. The Dunes Trail especially is warmed by the coastal Eastern Bay of Plenty environment. The upper sections of the Pakihi Track and Motu Road Trail can be cool in winter, but the riding surface is firm with little mud.

Trail Partner

Trail Updates

Many of Nga Haerenga's cycle trails are steeped in history and folklore. These recently sited Maori Pou (or poles) are a vibrant addition to the Motu Trails Cycleway, and make quite an impression with their commanding colourful presence. The Motu Trails offer incredible biking along stunning beaches and through native...
Chris Southwood - Cycling Author
Pakihi Track is one of the most awe-inspiring mountain bike experiences on the planet. Carved through pristine native bush, it clings to the sides of steep gorges before snaking along the edge of the emerald Pakihi Stream. CHRIS SOUTHWOOD – Co-founder at Flow Mountain Bike