With the recent development of the New Zealand Cycle Trail – Nga Haerenga, there is now more choice that ever when it comes to choosing family friendly rides. Round up your family and come exploring with us …
The Central North Island provides the perfect selection of easy going trails for families that are new to mountain biking. This fun activity will create memories that your family will cherish for years to come.
So, what defines a family friendly ride? Smooth and fast rolling trails with no major hills or technical sections. These trails are perfect for families to gain confidence and improve fitness at their own pace, while sharing the experience of each trail. The trails also have plenty of places for picnicking, swimming and camping along the way.
1: Hauraki Rail Trail
Our number one family trail is the Hauraki Rail Trail. While the full trail is 82km in length, you can choose to ride just a section of the trail. The Hauraki Rail Trail showcases some of the best scenery in New Zealand. It is rich in pioneering history including the Karangahake Gorge, an historic gold mining town and luxurious mineral spas. This easy to ride, Grade 1 trail is suitable for all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
We suggest riding the 12km from Hikutaua from the Convenient Cow café, to Paeroa. Stop here and have a world famous Lemon and Paeroa (L&P) soft drink before deciding whether to keep going or to turnaround. If your fitness is feeling good, travel onwards over a number of bridges and through many long railway tunnels. Here riders can either take the vintage train, or ride the remaining 8km to Waihi.
2: Waikareao Estuary Loop
Our second trail for families is the popular Waikareao Estuary Loop in the coastal metropolis of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. The 9km of well-marked trail features boardwalks, bridges and plenty of cycle-friendly cafés as it winds around Waikareao Estuary, just above the high tide line in this beautiful wetland environment. Keep an eye out for the abundant bird life, which includes brightly coloured kingfishers, herons, grey ducks, pied stilts and oyster catchers. The trail is mostly flat with only slight undulations through some of the native bush sections. Allow up to two hours to complete the full loop at a leisurely pace.
3: Te Ara Ahi
The third trail we recommend is the Te Ara Ahi trail on the outskirts of Rotorua. This family friendly ride offers 47-51km of Grade 2-3 cycling through a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers. The thermal hot spots are rich in Maori history, folklore and geothermal flora and fauna. And there’s a hot swim in a forest river right alongside the trail. We suggest you take the shuttle out to Kerosene Creek or Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and ride the mostly downhill trail back to Rotorua.
4: Hawke’s Bay Trails
Our fourth recommendation is the culinary and viticulture experience of the Hawke's Bay Trails. This trail network boasts over 200km of cycling tracks that meander between Napier and Hastings. The trails provide a flat network stretching over the Heretaunga Plains. The trails provide year-round cycling and will suit most cycling levels. There are three distinct sections with unique cycling features, such as expansive ocean views, world-class wineries, and beautiful New Zealand countryside. Pick your own pace here and make a weekend of it.
5: Great Lake Walkway
Number five on our favourite family list is the Taupo Great Lake Walkway (aka Lion’s Walk). Rent some bikes from the many rental shops in downtown Taupo before setting off along the shores of the lake. Take your time and enjoy a swim, ice cream or lunch as you soak in the spectacular surrounds – you may even catch a glimpse of the big three: Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe.
The cycle trails of the Central North Island provide a safe yet unique opportunity to experience some of the very best character of New Zealand. Traverse around stunning lakes, through native forest and across quiet farmland. With more than 1000km of trails in the region, you are spoilt for choice – there is always a trail waiting to be ridden. Give your family an experience that will be remembered for years to come.
Take Me There
We've preloaded these trails into an itinerary ready for you to plan your bike hire, guides and accommodation. Start planning your family cycling holiday here.