In an age of uncertainty, one thing's for certain: New Zealand’s cycle trails get better by the day. Here’s the latest round of updates on our Great Rides and Heartland Rides, presented from north to south.
Marae stay on the Pou Herenga Tai/Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Right on Northland’s glorious two-day cycle trail, 2km from Moerewa township, Te Rito hapū offer special and intimate overnight stays that begin with pōwhiri, whakatau and waiata (welcome, storytelling and song). Manuhiri/guests are invited to share delicious, home-cooked kai in the modern whare kai (dining room), and sleep in traditional marae-style in the magnificently carved whare tipuna (ancestral house). The people of Te Rito offer a warm welcome and are open to enquiries around specific experiences and group sizes.
Plan your Twin Coast/Pou Herenga Tai trip here.
Hauraki Rail Trail extends in both directions
Two new sections will extend the fabulous Hauraki Rail Trail by over 40km, giving visitors even more reason to stretch out their trip and see even more on New Zealand’s most popular Great Ride.
In the south, the trail used to end at Te Aroha. But no longer! A new, equally easy section now crosses the fertile plains, passing significant horse studs, making its way to Hobbiton at Matamata where visitors can get their Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fix. The official opening is 1 November, but the trail can be ridden now. Keep an eye on the Rail Trail’s official website and Facebook page for the latest updates.
Meanwhile, in the north: a new section of trail is also nearing completion! From December, all going well, riders will be able to start their Rail Trail journey from Kaiaua, where the trail will head off-road all the way to Miranda and beyond. Tracing a route around the Firth of Thames, over chenier shell banks and through wetlands of international significance, there’s plenty of opportunities to spot flocks of feathered friends for which the ‘Shorebird Coast’ is famous.
For more inspiration, read the trail’s Ride Experiences blogs.
The Sacred Kingfisher, one of over 130 bird species you could spot on the Shorebird Coast (bennettandslater.co.nz)
The Waikato River Trails Taniwha
The Taniwha is a very cool all-comers bike/run/walk event on the Waikato River Trails being held on Saturday 7 November. There’s something for everyone – solo and teams – from the cruisy cyclist to the keen mountain biker, all the way up to the marathon runner. Courses wind along the mighty Waikato, taking in native bush, exotic forest, wetland boardwalks, fun singletrack and lovely views.
Find out more and sign up here.
Mountains to Sea’s Mangapurua Track opening
The Mangapurua Track re-opens for its summer season on Labour Weekend (24 October). Recent work by DOC has improved the trail considerably and ensures the Mangapurua’s legendary status as one of New Zealand’s classic day rides. If you’re a reasonably fit and experienced rider – and love the thought of the wonderful Whanganui river jet-boat trip – put the Mangapurua on your summer cycling itinerary, or better still – ride the full Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail all the way from Mt Ruapehu to Whanganui.
Plan your Mountains to Sea adventure here.
Happy cyclists on the Bridge to Nowhere (bennettandslater.co.nz)
A great vintage on the Hawke's Bay Trails
No visit to the Bay is complete without knocking on at least a few cellar doors, many of which have had a revamp during winter and lockdown. Around a dozen line the route of the Wineries Ride, including official partner Sileni Estates – established in 1998, and like their Greek mythological namesakes, they have a love of wine, feasting and generally having a good time.
While you’re winding your way around the vines, be sure to check out the Hawke’s Bay Trails’ fab new information panels.
Plan your Hawke’s Bay Trails trip here.
Wheeling through the vines on the Wineries Ride (Hawke's Bay Trails)
One of three brand-new information panels on the Wineries Ride (Hawke's Bay Trails)
Remutaka Cycle Trail's striking Siberia Bridge
How many more beautiful new bridges can our cycle trails get? Answer: plenty! A recent notable addition is the Siberia Stream suspension bridge on the Wairarapa side of the Remutaka Rail Trail, the most popular day ride on the Remutaka Cycle Trail. Built to withstand some of the strongest winds in the country – it’s not called Siberia for nothing – its pleasing curves and gentle sway make it a thrill to ride over. It’s a great photo op, too!
There’s more good news for Remutaka Cycle Trail riders: early summer will see the opening of the new Wainuiomata connector ride bridging the two ends of the Great Ride. The 28km (2–3 hour) route follows the Coast Road from Orongorongo River mouth, through Wainui village, over the hill via Te Hikoi Ararewa/Wainuiomata Shared Path (and Pukeatua bridge & lookout), through Seaview to reach Waione Bridge where the Hutt River Trail begins its journey up the Hutt Valley.
Siberia Bridge – lovely curves and a gentle sway (Jimmy Young)
Tasman’s Great Taste Trail Tapawera link
The Great Taste Trail keeps getting better, this time with an extension to the trail network linking Kohatu and Tapawera where you’ll find a cafe, pub, shops and a tiny museum in the old railway station. Around the halfway point is the Hidden Sculpture Garden & Gallery where you can wander around outdoor art and visit the gift shop.
The new section of trail be open by Labour Weekend – keep an eye on the Great Taste Trail Facebook page for details of the grand opening.
Official partner the Gentle Cycling Company offers a chance to ride this new section on its fabulous, fully supported four-day Tapawera Loop taking in the entire Great Taste Trail.
The new Kohatu to Tapawera section of trail is amazing – no bull! (Tasman's Great Taste Tail)
Coppermine Trail downhill improvements
The exhilarating downhill section of this awesome one-dayer is now a bit easier thanks to extensive trail work completed over winter. Suitable for solid grade 3 (intermediate) to grade 4 (advanced) riders, it starts at Coppermine Saddle (the trail’s epic highpoint) and flows down towards Maitai Dam courtesy of some lovely berms and great trail grading. Beyond the dam, it’s an easy cruise back to town for well-deserved refreshments.
If you’re in the area this weekend (September 26), why not Conquer the Coppermine? This one-day event, powered by official partner Gravity Nelson, has been running for over 10 years. If you get your skates on it’s not too late to enter, or stick it in your diary for next year!
Find out more about the Coppermine Trail here.
The Coppermine Trail – one of New Zealand's greatest one-day MTB rides (Virginia Woolf Photography)
West Coast Wilderness Trail discounts & deals
Discover why this coast has the most on the 136km West Coast Wilderness Trail amidst rainforest, pristine rivers, tranquil lakes and rugged beaches, backed by stunning panoramas of the Soutrhern Alps. Operators are currently offering deals and discounts galore on accommodation, bike hire and tours – check them out on the official trail website.
Queenstown Trail marathon and more
The annual Queenstown Marathon will be held on the Queenstown Trail on 21 November, with a percentage of entry fees going towards the trail trust. Find out more and sign up here.
Planning a family holiday in Queenstown and want to get out on the trails? Check out their Top 5 Family-friendly Rides.
Also, tour company Around the Southern Lakes are now running multi-day tours on the Queenstown Trail and other local rides. Read more about them here.
The Edgar Bridge over the Arrow River on the Queenstown Trail (Better By Bike)
Around the Mountains Spring events
Two family-friendly events are taking place amongst the majestic lake and mountain landscapes of Southland’s spectacular Great Ride.
First up is Cycle & Celebrate on 29 November, held on the 15km section from Five Rivers to Lumsden. It finishes with a gala day with music, pop-up markets and food stalls.
The second event is the Down River Dash, to be held in December, that winds along a 23km course from Centre Hill to Mossburn. Keep an eye on the trail’s Facebook page for more details.
Trail improvements and a raft of new trail partners are set to make your riding experience even better this summer. Visit the Around the Mountains trail page and start planning your southern cycling adventure now!
Mavora Lakes – Lord of the Rings-worthy scenery on the Around the Mountains (bennettandslater.co.nz)
AA Traveller – Must Do's Cycling Guide is full of inspiration
New Zealand National partner, AA Traveller, has a new Cycling Must Do’s Guide coming out in November). It features all the Great Rides as well as many others (also available in print from AA offices and i-SITEs). You can also browse all sorts of cycling stories on their AA Directions online magazine.