Ride a top north island multi day adventure cycle trail, this 85km ride traverses some of New Zealand’s most diverse and fascinating environments.
Discover stories and secrets of a remarkable forest…ride a trail journey through time deep in the heart of the North Island.
The Timber Trail, originally known as the Central North Island Rail Trail or Pureora Timber Trail, in the North Island of New Zealand is an 84-kilometre cycleway (also used by walkers and hunters) in Pureora Forest Park, fully opened in 2013, with 35 bridges (built by DoC staff, community max workers, or contractors), including 8 large suspension bridges (one of the longest on a NZ cycleway, much more stable than the swing bridges used on older tracks).
It is one of several cycleways developed as part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail and passes through some of the last remaining podocarp forests of rimu, totara, miro, matai and kahikatea, as well as some exotic forestry and regenerating bush.
About half the trail is on the track-bed of the old Ellis and Burnand Tramway, including a spiral and tunnel.
It is recommended to start your 2-day trip on the Timber Trail from Pureora (Northern end of the Timber Trail) to Ongarue.
Although there is a hill climb up to Mt Pureora, it is considered easier to ride from this North to South direction.
Fit riders can cover the trail in a day. Accommodation and cycle transport can be arranged at Camp Epic (camping/Glamping), Pureora Cabins, Pa Harakeke (campervans, camping and two chalets), Timber Trail Lodge, or at the Blackfern Lodge, Waimiha.
An alternative is the 4-bed Bog Inn Hut (normally for walkers), built of totara slabs. Bog Inn Hut is located 2 kilometres off the trail at the foot of Mt Pureora.
It originally housed scientists studying a nearby wetland. Since 2013, several local farmers and B&Bs have been offering nearby accommodation, meals, and shuttle services for the trail.
The official end of the Timber Trail is the historic village of Ongarue, which is 2 km after Bennet Car Park and has a range of historic buildings over a century old and built of native timbers.
The village has a camp site with toilets and picnic table and two established accommodation providers on its main street – Timber Trail Centre and Flashpackers – who offer a total of 8 rooms with two hot tubs and a laundry.
There are three main access points to the Timber Trail:
North – Pureora Village, signposted from SH30 between Te Kuiti and Mangakino.
Centre – from Piropiro campsite at the end of Kokomiko Rd, Waimiha.
South – Ongarue, signposted from SH4.
Activity Type: Mountain Biking
Time: 2 Days
Level of Difficulty: Grade 2 & 3
Distance: Pureora to Piropiro
Level of Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Time: 40 km
While the trail may be ridden in either direction, the topography will encourage most people to ride from north to south, ie from Pureora to Ongarue.
- Easy, single-file riding for the first 4 km
- Climb for 15 km
- Predominantly ay be ridden in either direction, the topography will encourage most people to ride from north to south, ie from Pureodownhill for the following 18 km
- Easy, single-file riding for the final 3 km.
Distance: Piropiro to Ongarue
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time: 45 km
From the Piropiro Campsite, ride 2 km to the bollards at the end of the road and then climb steadily to the Maramataha Bridge, the longest and highest bridge on the trail at 141 m and 53 m respectively. The trail then climbs up to the ‘Terminus’ clearing. It is all downhill from here to Ongarue with another 18 bridges to cross.
- Single-file riding for the first 2 km
- Climb for 15 km, passing Maramataha bridge near marker 44
- Predominantly downhill or flat for the remaining 27 km
- Some side-by-side riding.
Total Distance Covered If Multi Day: 19.4kms
Easy: Grade 2
Standard: Mostly flat with some gentle climbs on smooth track with easily avoidable obstacles such as rocks and potholes.
Intermediate: Grade 3
Standard: Steep slopes and/or avoidable obstacles possibly on narrow track and/or with poor traction. There may be exposure at the track’s outside edge.
- Bike – preferably a Hard tail or full suspension Mountain Bike with knobbly tyres. (Make sure it’s recently been serviced by a competent mechanic)
- Bike Shoes (consider spare cleats and screws)
- Bike Gloves
- Bike repair kit (containing spare tubes and puncture repair kit, tyre boot, chain lube, spare chain and links 10cm), chain breaker, spare derailleur cable, multi tool, duct tape and cable ties, spare derailleur hangar for your bike frame.) See our video on how to make on trail repairs.
- Bike pump
- Backpack (including a hydration pack is handy)
- Waterproof jacket
- Thermal layers (the weather can change in this environment)
- First Aid Kit including a survival blanket and a pocket knife
- Food – bars, sandwiches (Maintaining your energy levels helps to reduce fatigue and maintain your concentration and enjoyment – avoid those hangry moments)
- Sunscreen and Insect repellent
- Water (and maybe an extra bottle of electrolytes)
- Mobile phone (you can turn this to flight mode to preserve battery, and then you can take even more photos and videos to share)
- PLB – Personal Locator Beacon (at least one per 4 in a group). These can be hired from shuttle operators or i-Site in Te Kuiti and Taumaranui.
Torch/Headlamp – fully charged
- A map of the trail so you can monitor progress/navigate
This list assumes you are staying overnight in one of the great accommodation options along the way (so pack a separate bag including your toiletries, PJ’s, some comfy post ride clothing etc and hand to your shuttle operator for drop off).
The Timber Trail begins in Pureora Forest and is easily accessed off SH30 between Te Kuiti and Mangakino. The central part of the trail, can be accessed from Piropiro campsite at the end of Kokomiko Road, Waimiha, and from Ongarue, via SH4 at the southern end.