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Tree Trunk Gorge

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Tree Trunk Gorge trail is a beautiful undulating 12km out-and-back ride among stands of native red beech trees on the lower reaches of the Kaimanawa Ranges in Kaimanawa Forest Park. As you ride the Tree Trunk Gorge track, keep an eye out for the wonderful views of the Tongariro River and the surrounding mountains. Towards the southern end of the track the volcanic peaks come beautifully into view from an exposed ridge.

Be prepared for that sense of adventure and a real New Zealand experience as you traverse through the native beech forest of Kaimanawa Forest Park. You will be adventuring, so make sure you take the necessary items (spare tubes, pump, food etc) and treat this ride with the respect it deserves. There will be river crossings, steep rutted hill climbs and the terrain can be rocky in places. There is limited cellphone coverage on the trail.

This trail takes you on a picturesque journey through the Kaimanawa Forest Park. It passes through classic North Island beech forest, across streams and rivers and over two impressive gorges. The ride is most suited to experienced riders, or intermediate riders wanting a challenge.

Sarah Ulmer, Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Share

Watch: Tree Trunk Gorge with Sarah Ulmer

The Tree Trunk Gorge track can be ridden as an out-and-back trail, or as a point-to-point starting at Tree Trunk Gorge Road near State Highway 1 and finishing at Urchin Camping Area off Kaimanawa Road. Shuttles operate out of Turangi and Taupo to service this ride.

For a return trip on this trail allow 2-4 hours to complete it. The riding is Grade 4 – the terrain will suit those with good mountain biking skills and a reasonable level of fitness. 

If you can tick all of those boxes then you're in for an incredible experience. Make sure you take some time to check out the Pillars of Hercules – just a 15-minute ride from the Urchin Camping Area.

Insider Tips

  • There is very limited cellphone reception on this trail.
  • This is a there-and-back trail, so you will need to be prepared to ride back, unless you have pre-booked a shuttle.
  • The ranges of the Kaimanawa Forest Park formed 300-145 million years ago through sedimentary processes. This means the terrain consists of course-grained greywacke (sandstone), however some metamorphic rock exists in this area from past volcanic eruptions!
  • Interestingly, the track is built on an old access road that was once used for the development of a hydro-electric water scheme in the Ruapehu area.

Getting There 

The Tree Trunk Gorge track is best accessed from Taupo. Taupo is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland Airport (264km) and an hour drive from Rotorua (81km). Taupo is a two-hour drive from Hamilton (153km). The trailhead start point is just over an hour’s drive (72km) south of Taupo – just 15 minutes south of Turangi where you'll find the trailhead at the end of Tree Trunk Gorge Road off SH1.

Tell Me More

The Tree Trunk Gorge Trail is maintained by the Department of Conservation. We recommend visiting the DOC website for information on their services and tracks in New Zealand.

To further explore these regions try Visit Ruapehu and Destination Great Lake Taupo.

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