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Kaiaua to Thames
Thames to Paeroa
Paeroa to Waihi
Paeroa to Te Aroha
Te Aroha to Matamata

3 Day Rides On The Hauraki Rail Trail

The 197km trail showcases some of Waikato and Coromandel’s best scenery and lends itself to multi-day adventures.  Comprising of five sections, each varying in length from 23km to 55km, riders can comfortably traverse one section each day. 

With options to start your ride from Kaiaua in the North, or Matamata in the South, and multiple access points in between, Tour Services are available to transport you and a bicycle to your start point, or shuttle you back at the end.

The Rail Trail is perfect for all kinds of adventures, so begin your research and planning on the website.  Our basic Ride Planning Guide is a good resource to get you started, with some of the support and logistics information at the end of these itineraries.

With some of New Zealand’s Must Do’s found in the Coromandel, stay and play longer in this magical region, and explore the many attractions and activities along or near the Trail.  All showcase the uniqueness of this idyllic destination.  Take a break, escape, and adventure.

We’ve put together four options for a 3 Day Ride on the Hauraki Rail Trail.  There’s a ride starting in the North, South, or centrally, plus an Advanced rider option which takes in the entire Trail across just 3 days.

 

 

Ride One - Kaiaua - Thames - Paeroa - Waihi

 

Photo: Kaiaua Coastline

 

Day 1

 

Section A - Kaiaua to Thames

Map


Kaiaua - Thames - 55km (5-6 hours)

Starting from the seaside village of Kaiaua in the North, the trail winds around the edge of the shallow Firth of Thames, over chenier shell banks and through wetlands of international significance.

At the Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre you can learn about the area’s precious birdlife and incredible feats of the Godwits annual migration.  Bird-hides offer the chance to view the shorebirds up close, and identify the various migratory species.

From Miranda Holiday Park and Hot Pools, the trail skirts around the Firth, following stop banks for much of the way.  Expansive views of coastal wetlands, verdant farmland, and the volcanic Coromandel Ranges provide a dramatic backdrop.  Refreshments are available in the villages of Waitakaruru, Pipiroa, Kopu and Thames.

The quirky Bugger Cafe is just 50 metres from the Pipiroa Bridge and makes for an easy stop on your journey.  Food is fresh, seasonal and local wherever possible, catering for breakfasts, morning and afternoon teas, lunches, snacks and drinks, and has a good child friendly selection.

From the Kopu Bridge the trail turns north to reach Thames.  Built on the pioneering industries of gold mining and kauri logging, it’s full of character with plenty of dining and accommodation options.  As you approach the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.  Amongst the new artworks is a giant Jandal, and a six metre tall toy train, which capture the imagination and bring a new light to the coastal town.

 

Day 2

 

Section B - Thames to Paeroa

Map

 

Thames to Paeroa (34kms) 

Take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east, travelling through verdant farmlands to Paeroa.  Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at the Thames School of Mines, one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools in the heart of the Hauraki gold fields.

The section of trail begins at first following the old railway line out of Thames town, and then on through lush farmland with memorable views across the Hauraki Plains and forested Kaimai Ranges.

The Matatoki Cheese Barn is a highlight, as is the Historical Maritime Park, once New Zealand’s most inland port.  From Summer 2020 there will be alternative transport for cyclists into the township of Paeroa, via the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers. 

Arrive into Paeroa early enough to fossick through the many antiques and collectables shops.  World famous in New Zealand for its giant L&P bottle on the main street, there’s also accommodation and places to eat for riders looking to refuel or overnight.

The Refinery Cafe is nestled in the heart of Paeroa and comes complete with Mt Atkinson coffee and 50’s inspired boutique accommodation.  There’s a good range of counter food, a blackboard menu and grilled sandwiches to keep even the fussiest tummies full.  Produce is free range and local where possible, with new treats added all the time.

 

Day 3

 

Section C - Paeroa to Waihi

Map

 

Paeroa to Waihi (24 kms one way or 6 - 8 hours Return Trip)

The most popular section of the Rail Trail follows the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge.  A deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges.  Home to a spectacular regenerating forest and wildlife paradise, it is an absolute must for any nature enthusiast. 

The stunning staircase Owharoa Falls are nestled in the heart of the Gorge, and make an ideal picnic spot while riding the Trail.  If it’s warm enough cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear fresh water.  

The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino.  Riders can take their bike on the train for the 30 minute journey to Waikino Station.  Re-fuel at the Waikino Station Cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge.  The Falls Retreat Bistro is a stunning haven, and an ideal stop for lunch.  The renowned wood fired oven serves gourmet pizzas, and the a la carte menu utilises seasonal home grown and local produce.  The Bistro is a must for gastro lovers, and riders are advised to book in advance or check ahead for seasonal opening times.

Also to be found are the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Train and Museum.  Here you’ll find many remains from what was once a vast industrial area.  The cycle back towards Waihi follows a picturesque river.  The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing back in historic Waihi township. 

Waihi is a picturesque heritage town and New Zealand's 'Heart of Gold', with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open-pit mine that is still fully operational.  Visit the Gold Discovery Centre for an interactive experience which makes the gold heritage come alive.

The Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk is an easy but spectacular walk which begins at the Cornish Pumphouse.  It rises gently to the edge of the open pit for the overwhelming view down into the vast chasm.  The wide gravel path continues West on an easy gradient around to the highest point on the North wall where the view is breathtaking.  Interpretative signs offer interesting facts about Martha Mine as you complete the 4km loop back to the Pumphouse.

 

 

Ride Two - Paeroa - Waihi - Paeroa - Te Aroha - Matamata

 

Photo credit: Regan Thompson - Martha Mine, Waihi 

 

Day 1

 

Section C - Paeroa to Waihi

Map

 

Paeroa to Waihi (24 kms one way or 6 - 8 hours Return Trip)

The most popular section of the Rail Trail follows the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge.  A deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges.  Home to a spectacular regenerating forest and wildlife paradise, it is an absolute must for any nature enthusiast. 

The stunning staircase Owharoa Falls are nestled in the heart of the Gorge, and make an ideal picnic spot while riding the Trail.  If it’s warm enough cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear fresh water.  

The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino.  Riders can take their bike on the train for the 30 minute journey to Waikino Station.  Re-fuel at the Waikino Station Cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge.  The Falls Retreat Bistro is a stunning haven, and an ideal stop for lunch.  The renowned wood fired oven serves gourmet pizzas, and the a la carte menu utilises seasonal home grown and local produce.  The Bistro is a must for gastro lovers, and riders are advised to book in advance or check ahead for seasonal opening times.

Also to be found are the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Train and Museum.  Here you’ll find many remains from what was once a vast industrial area.  The cycle back towards Waihi follows a picturesque river.  The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing back in historic Waihi township. 

Waihi is a picturesque heritage town and New Zealand's 'Heart of Gold', with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open-pit mine that is still fully operational.  Visit the Gold Discovery Centre for an interactive experience which makes the gold heritage come alive.

The Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk is an easy but spectacular walk which begins at the Cornish Pumphouse.  It rises gently to the edge of the open pit for the overwhelming view down into the vast chasm.  The wide gravel path continues West on an easy gradient around to the highest point on the North wall where the view is breathtaking.  Interpretative signs offer interesting facts about Martha Mine as you complete the 4km loop back to the Pumphouse.

 

Day 2

 

Section D - Paeroa to Te Aroha

Map

 

Paeroa to Te Aroha - (23 kms, 2-3 hours)

From Paeroa it’s an easy journey down to the township of Te Aroha.  Heading south, this leisurely section passes through lush Waikato farmland dotted with dairy cows and farm animals.  The magnificent Ranges separate the Waikato in the West from the Bay of Plenty in the East.

Te Aroha is a small and rural town, with a lovely domain, and is home to some great walkways, quirky art and cafes.  There are a variety of accommodation options in and around Te Aroha.

Nestled in the beautiful domain at the foot of Mount Te Aroha is the Te Aroha Mineral Spas.  Renowned for their healing properties since the 1800’s, it’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles and unwind after a days riding.

If you’ve got energy to burn, Adventure Te Aroha's river Kayak Tours provide the perfect half day excursion from the Hauraki Rail Trail.  From its source at the Blue Springs the Te Waihou winds its way gently northwards.  A variety of different tours are offered, and Custom Tours can be tailored to suit needs on request, but must be booked in advance. 

The Te Aroha Holiday Park offers a unique country camping experience in one of New Zealand’s few remaining traditional holiday parks in the Waikato.  Set in beautiful rural settings, surrounded by dairy farms and views of Mount Te Aroha, there are plenty of biking and tramping tracks.  All amenities are just a few minutes drive or short walk from the Park.

 

Day 3

 

Section E - Te Aroha to Matamata

Map

 

Te Aroha to Matamata - (37 kms, 2-4 hours)

This gentle section of trail passes by fertile plains, significant horse studs, goat farms, and groves of scented trees.  The Old Forge Kitchen in Te Aroha West takes its name from the history of the site and will set you up for the day.  The 120 seat cafe/restaurant is open 7 days from 7am - 3pm.  A full selection of cabinet food, brunch and lunch menus, and great coffee is available, and there's plenty of parking for bikes.

Make time for a detour to the mesmerising Wairere Falls found nearby the trail just before reaching Matamata.  The return walk to the viewing platform at the base of the Falls takes about an hour and a half.  It's an attractive walk along a well-maintained track.  Please note the track isn't suitable for bikes.

Stop off at The Firth Tower built in 1882 by Josiah Clifton Firth and stands on rising ground commanding extensive views.  Visitors can enjoy the tranquil gardens, picnic under venerable oaks and explore the museum displays housed across 13 buildings. 

The Housewithnonails is host to visitors from all over the world, providing a truly luxury experience.  Sitting quietly in its beautiful location, just off the Trail in Wardville, the totally handcrafted barn is unlike any other homestay in New Zealand.  Riders can stop for coffee and cake and learn about the unique home.  Contact host Jen to discover options for quick visits, tours and overnight stays.

Exclusive tours of the Hobbiton Movie Set can be organised for groups, recounting fascinating details of how the beautiful Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth.  Visitors can enjoy a Festive Feast lunch or alternatively the Evening Banquet Tour at dusk includes a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit. 

Matamata is a rural town nestled at the base of the scenic Kaimai Ranges.  It offers a range of walking options, golf courses, and an extensive selection of Cafés and Accommodation, making it a great place to unwind or stay after riding the Trail.

 

 

Ride Three - Thames - Paeroa - Te Aroha

 

Photo credit: @x.escape.reality.x on Instagram - Mt Te Aroha 

 

Day 1

 

Section A - Kaiaua to Thames

Map

 

Thames - Pipiroa (44km return)

Built on the pioneering industries of gold mining and kauri logging, Thames is full of character with plenty of dining and accommodation options.  Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at the Thames School of Mines, one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools in the heart of the Hauraki gold fields.

This pleasant outing takes in the Thames waterfront, with its arts trail sculptures and other interesting sights.  Heading across the Kopu Bridge towards Pipiroa, this easy 44km (return) section of trail takes around 4 hours.  Refreshments are available in the villages of Pipiroa, Kopu and Thames.

 

Day 2

 

Section B - Thames to Paeroa

Map

 

Thames to Paeroa (34kms) 

Take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east, travelling through verdant farmlands to Paeroa.  

The section of trail begins at first following the old railway line out of Thames town and through lush farmland with memorable views across the Hauraki Plains and forested Kaimai Ranges.

The Cheese Barn at Matatoki is a highlight, as is the Historical Maritime Park, once New Zealand’s most inland port.  From March 2020 there will be alternative transport for cyclists into the township of Paeroa, via the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers. 

Arrive into Paeroa early enough to fossick through the many antiques and collectables shops.  World famous in New Zealand for its giant L&P bottle on the main street, there’s also accommodation and places to eat for riders looking to overnight.

The Refinery Cafe is nestled in the heart of Paeroa and comes complete with Mt Atkinson coffee and 50’s inspired boutique accommodation.  There’s a good range of counter food, a blackboard menu and grilled sandwiches to keep even the fussiest tummies full.  Produce is free range and local where possible, with new treats added all the time.

 

Day 3

 

Section D - Paeroa to Te Aroha

Map

 

Paeroa to Te Aroha - (23 kms, 2-3 hours)

From Paeroa it’s an easy journey down to the township of Te Aroha.  Heading south, this leisurely section passes through lush Waikato farmland dotted with dairy cows and farm animals.  The magnificent Ranges separate the Waikato in the West from the Bay of Plenty in the East.

Te Aroha is a small and rural town, with a lovely domain, and is home to some great walkways, quirky art and cafes.  There are a variety of accommodation options in and around Te Aroha.

Nestled in the beautiful domain at the foot of Mount Te Aroha is the Te Aroha Mineral Spas.  Renowned for their healing properties since the 1800’s, it’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles and unwind after a days riding.

If you’ve got energy to burn, Adventure Te Aroha's river Kayak Tours provide the perfect half day excursion from the Hauraki Rail Trail.  From its source at the Blue Springs the Te Waihou winds its way gently northwards.  A variety of different tours are offered, and Custom Tours can be tailored to suit needs on request, but must be booked in advance. 

The Te Aroha Holiday Park offers a unique country camping experience in one of New Zealand’s few remaining traditional holiday parks in the Waikato.  Set in beautiful rural settings, surrounded by dairy farms and views of Mount Te Aroha, there are plenty of biking and tramping tracks.  All amenities are just a few minutes drive or short walk from the Park.

 

 

Ride Four - Kaiaua - Thames - Paeroa - Waihi - Paeroa - Matamata

 

Photo credit: Craig Oakley - Matamata 

 

3 Day (Advanced) - Ride it like you stole it - 197kms

This head down, 3 day ride is ideal for those who are wanting to cover the entire Rail Trail in the shortest possible time.

 

Day 1 - Kaiaua to Paeroa (83kms)  Section A & Section B

Depart Kaiaua, coasting along the chenier plains.  Hop off your bike and take a short walk up to the Bird-Hides at the Robert Findlay Reserve, then make your way through the wetlands.  Take the short detour to Thames following the arts trail, where you'll find great lunch options.  Heading east, travel through lush farmlands to Paeroa.  Arrive in time to explore the antique shops, and quench your thirst with a bottle of 'Famous in New Zealand' Lemon & Paeroa. 

 

Day 2  - Paeroa - Waihi -  Paeroa (48kms)  Section C

Travel from Paeroa through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi.  This deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges is home to a spectacular regenerating forest and wildlife paradise.  It’s an absolute must for any nature enthusiast. Take time to explore the gold mines, relics and the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Train and Museum.  Here you’ll find many remains from what was once a vast industrial area.  Return to Waikino on the Goldfield’s Railway vintage train.  A whole day can be spent in the Gorge, as there is plenty to see and do.

 

Day 3 - Paeroa to Matamata (60kms)  Section D & Section E

Travel south under the watchful gaze of Mount Te Aroha.  Explore the art work of Adrian Worsley in Te Aroha township, and enjoy the domain with its spa pools, geysers and walking tracks.  Head south crossing over the active train line that passes under the Kaimai Ranges.  From Firth Tower it is a short journey into the township of Matamata, home of the Hobbition Movie Set.  Cold refreshments and great food await, or book early to enjoy an evening out at the Green Dragon Inn.

 

 

Support & Logistics

 

If you are travelling independently

With good preparation, research, and planning, a self-guided ride offers freedom and independence.  You can ride at your own pace, stop to take extra photos, and laze for longer over lunch if you desire.  If you intend to ride self supported, it’s a good idea to leave the car at the end of your ride and book a shuttle back to the start. 

 

Choose your accommodation

You can book one of the many accommodation options on or near the Hauraki Rail Trail, through our Official Partners, the local information centre, or contact the business directly.  Whatever your budget there’s plenty of options to get a good rest, from motels to holiday parks, lodges, historic houses and luxury quaint cottages. 

 

Food & Drink

The Hauraki Rail Trail has an abundance of eateries with delicious food, either alongside the trail or nearby.  The region is famous for its fresh food straight from the ocean and homegrown local produce.  Choose from cafes, wineries, and gourmet wood fired pizzas to refuel your body.

 

Secure parking

Secure parking is currently available at Secure Storage in Te Aroha, Paeroa RV Centre in Paeroa, and Andy's Storage in Kopu.  Miranda Holiday Park no longer offer this service.  If for any reason you consider parking at an alternative venue, please seek permission prior to leaving your vehicle.  

 

Book your ride through Tour Services

Supported tours have the advantage of providing planning, support, transport, and local knowledge of the Trail and region.  Their expert guidance will enrich your experience, so you can relax and make the most of your adventure.  You can find Operators on and around the trail, with Thames, Waihi and Paeroa the major hubs.

Seeking local knowledge is a great way to work out which route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.  A fully supported tour with luggage transfers, bike hire, routes, meals, and accommodation organised for you, means you can unwind and soak up the scenery.

 

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