The Central North Island is home to some of the best cycling and mountain biking trails in the country. At the beating heart are the internationally recognised cycling towns of Rotorua and Taupo. These are complemented by the cycling centre of excellence based at Cambridge's Avantidrome, eight of the Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trails and a raft of backcountry adventure trails and ever-expanding trail networks. Welcome to trail heaven ...
- A father and son stop to watch the wildlife on the Timber Trail. Photo: DGLT
- Riders walk across a log during an adventure exploring the remote Te Iringa trail near Taupo. Photo: Camilla Rutherford
- A family enjoys the Lion's Walk Trail on the shores of Lake Taupo. Photo: DGLT
- Australian mountain biking journalist Mick Ross rides back toward Kinloch on the W2K section of the Great Lake Trail near Taupo, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison
- Casey Brown walks the Tongariro Crossing during a North Island adventure. Photo: Camilla Rutherford
- A couple stop to soak in the experience of a fire on the beach along the Hawkes Bay Trails, Napier. Photo: Tourism Hawkes Bay
- Lewis Hart drops into a trail at Oropi Mountain Bike Park, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. Photo: Derek Morrison
There is something here for every type of rider from a family looking for a laidback cycling holiday with great scenic experiences to a seasoned pro looking for an adventure experience they'll never forget. Best of all, these trails can be ridden all year – few ride locations can deliver that promise.Derek Morrison, adventure sports photographer and writer Share
There are eight Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail in this region each offering a unique experience:
- Hauraki Rail Trail
- The Timber Trail
- Waikato River Trails
- Great Lake Trail
- Te Ara Ahi - Thermal by Bike
- Motu Trails
- Hawke's Bay Trails
- Mountains to Sea
The eight cycle trails are bolstered by some of the world's best trail networks. Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest (aka Redwoods) offers more than 130km of beautifully groomed trails and, together with the gondola-accessed Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park and a cycle-centric business community, has attracted the world's best events including the biggest mountain biking festival in the world: Crankworx. Each March Crankworx takes over the town as the best athletes and media swarm into Rotorua for a week of cycling at its very best.
Only an hour from Rotorua you'll find Taupo with its access to four of the Great Rides, Craters Mountain Bike Park and a string of iconic rides all within striking distance of the town centre. It's no surprise to learn that the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has awarded Taupo Silver-level Ride Centre status in 2012 and backed that up with a Gold-level Ride Centre status for Rotorua in August 2015.
Linked by Taupo, Ruapehu is a volcanic wonderland with a series of iconic trails and tracks with the adventure dial turned right up.
But that is just the beginning. Cast your net a little wider and you'll discover the trail gems of The Coromandel, the urban links of the Bay of Plenty and some of the most iconic trails of Eastland, like the historic and picturesque Motu Trail. Then there's the trails of the Hawke's Bay that loop in wineries and restaurants for a culinary and ride experience that is unequaled.
Or head west in Hamilton-Waikato and mix in some surfing at the world-famous points of Raglan with a loop of Mt Karioi. Explore the native trail network at Te Miro or relax with the family on a gentle ride along the banks of the Waikato River.
Your journey starts here ...