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The Timber Trail

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Considered one of the highlights of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, The Timber Trail is fast becoming a must-do ride for riders of all skill and fitness levels. Rated a Grade 2-3, the 85km trail traverses through ancient forests with spectacular scenery complemented by the rich and unique history of the area. It is an unforgettable adventure experience.

A big part of this trail’s appeal are the expansive views offered by the eight large suspension bridges along the trail, the splendour of the forest, and the sounds of birdcalls as you meander across the very remote heart of the North Island. A special feature includes the impressive 141m-long crossing of the Maramataha Stream set 55m above the stream bed – making it the longest suspension bridge open for cycling in the country.

A spectacular adventure ride that takes you deep into the Pureora Forest Park. The scenery is stunning and there are some amazing views from the suspension bridges along the way.

Sarah Ulmer, Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Share

Watch: Megan Gale rides The Timber Trail with Sarah Ulmer and Sam Gaze

Kiwi Olympic gold medalist Sarah Ulmer described The Timber Trail as “a spectacular adventure ride that takes you deep into the Pureora Forest Park”.

“The scenery is stunning and there are some amazing views from the suspension bridges along the way. This is an intermediate-level ride and is the perfect adventure for those wanting to explore our beautiful backcountry and fascinating history,” she smiles.

The Timber Trail is a purpose-built, easily accessible 85km cycle trail. The track follows two old logging tramways through some of the North Island's most beautiful forest areas. Features along the trail include many rivers, waterfalls and exotic forestry. Riders can choose to ride a section of the trail as a day ride, or can ride the entire trail over a few days. It’s the perfect weekend destination within easy reach of Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Wellington. Pureora Forest Village is the main start location for this ride, however if you are after an uphill challenge, you can choose to ride from Ongarue. An alternative option for riders who wish to ride a section of the trail, is to begin mid-trail at Piropiro campsite on Kokomiko Road.

The Timber Trail is best suited to riders with a good level of fitness. The trail rises to 980m above sea level and can be cold – even on a summer’s day. Therefore riders are encouraged to carry warm clothing and wet weather gear at all times. There are minimal water stops along the way and mobile coverage can be patchy. For safety, all riders are encouraged to carry an emergency locator beacon and to let others know of your travel plans.

In winter conditions can be particularly slippery with sections of mud, so take extra care and be mindful of the shorter daylight hours. Always check the weather forecast before you depart. Get that right and you’re in for a unique and memorable adventure.

Towns at each end of The Timber Trail, Taumarunui to the west and Benneydale at the eastern end, both offer accommodation and there are accommodation options along the trail.

Insider Tips

  • If you’re into the history of this forest, then take a little longer as the interpretation panels are excellent and you’ll want to soak in the experience.
  • If you’re short on time, then the 45km section from Piropiro Campsite to Ongarue is superb for a day out.
  • There are two short loop rides at the start of the trail in Pureora Forest Village that are suitable for families.
  • There is no reliable mobile phone reception on this trail.

Getting There

The Timber Trail is best accessed from Hamilton, Taupo or Taumarunui. Hamilton is a one-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland Airport (112km), Taupo is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland Airport (264km) and Taumurunui is a four-hour drive from Auckland Airport (312km). The trail starts at Pureora Forest Village a two-and-a-half hour drive from Hamilton (153km), a one-hour drive from Taupo (81km) or a one-hour 10-minute drive from Taumarunui (75km).

Tell Me More

The Timber Trail is a trail that is maintained by the Department of Conservation. You can see the DOC website for information on their services and tracks in New Zealand.

The Timber Trail forms part of the Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail, for information on the trails we recommend visiting NZCycleTrail.

To further explore these regions try Visit Ruapehu, Destination Great Lake Taupo and Hamilton-Waikato Tourism.

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