The Mount Karioi Loop ride is a Grade 3 trail that conveniently starts and finishes in central Raglan. From the town centre, you can ride for 45km around the entire Mount Karioi (also known as The Sleeping Lady), a 2.4 million year-old extinct volcano. The trail travels along gravel roads as it meanders through private farmland with spectacular views of the Tasman Sea below. This challenging half-day ride guides riders 950m above sea level, with views stretching down New Zealand’s West Coast beaches and seascapes.
The Mount Karioi Loop challenges riders with several short uphill climbs as the loop meanders up from the township and around the western flank of Mt Karioi (756m). The views of the west coast along this section are amazing with raw swell energy crashing into large amphitheatres far below. Watch out for surfers driving this road in search of waves. The reward for all the climbing is a series of enjoyable downhill sections that can be ridden at high speeds for competent riders. This is a great trail for fitness fanatics wanting to test their lung capacity and beat the times posted in the annual mountain bike race held here.
The annual Karioi Classic – Cycle the Mountain mountain bike race takes place in winter each year with 43km, 57km and 85km options around the beautiful mountain.
A decent level of fitness is required to complete the whole loop and you will need to take plenty of water and food with you on hot summer days – there are no shops or easy access to water once you leave Raglan.
For those with a thirst for adventure consider adding a climb to the summit of Mount Karioi into your loop. About 13km from Raglan on the western flank of the mountain you will come across Te Toto Gorge (also worth exploring if you have time). Te Toto Gorge is where the Mt Karioi Track starts. Allow 2-3 hours to reach the summit and budget some time to take in the sweeping views from some stunning vantage points.
- There is plenty of car parking available at Te Kopua Domain, Marine Parade in Raglan.
- Raglan is famous for its left-hand surf break – one of New Zealand’s most famous surfing spots, so bring your board!
- Fresh water can be hard to find, so take plenty of your own water – especially when riding in the summer heat.
The Mount Karioi Loop is best accessed from Raglan. Raglan is a 40-minute drive (45km) from Hamilton. Hamilton is a one-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland Airport (124km) or Taupo – a three-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland Airport (264km). Access to the trailhead starts and finishes centrally in the Raglan Township.
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Explore more of what the Waikato region has to offer here.
The Raglan i-Site is a great place to visit for local information.
Want to give surfing a try? Try the team at Raglan Surfing School.