Pipiroa to Kopu CLOSED - Click here for more info

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

3-Wheeling On The Hauraki Rail Trail

Natalie Gauld is a Pharmacist, Mum, and loves to enjoy the outdoors. In March 2022, Natalie was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). MND is a degenerative neurological condition that causes the death of nerve cells that control the muscles in the body. As these nerve cells die off the body can no longer activate these muscles, causing them to weaken and waste away.

MND usually develops in people over the age of 40, with symptoms advancing rapidly and patients have an average life expectancy of only 2-3 years from diagnosis. Stephen Hawking was probably the most famous person with it, but he was not typical, living over 50 years with the condition.

Those with MND eventually become paralysed, gradually losing the ability to move, speak, swallow or even breathe. How quickly these symptoms progress varies greatly from person to person. Over 300 New Zealanders currently have MND right now.

Natalie’s MND is slow progressing and so she is doing everything possible to make the most of life while she can. She has a three-wheeler electric pedalling machine called a Motom to help with this.

Natalie is riding as much as she can of five Great Rides across New Zealand, and any other interesting rides she can find. Whilst doing this she’s also raising awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease New Zealand, and fitting in work wherever she can.


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld undertaking Karangahake Gorge on her Motom 3-Wheeler.


Many of us use cycling for every day journeys, for transport, leisure, and exercise. Historically cycling networks have been designed around two wheeled bikes, and with able bodied cyclists in mind.

There is however a growing demographic of cyclists with a disability, whom with improved technology and equipment have been introduced to a mind blowing, world expanding opportunity to explore our trails like never before.

For cycle trails to be accessible to the disabled community, it requires a continuous and uninterrupted journey, where riders feel safe and comfortable. Trails need to be step free, barrier free and spacious. Across the Hauraki Rail Trail Network, cattlestops are 1300mm wide, and the bridges at their narrowest 1100mm wide, which makes the Trail accessible to most.

These considerations are also important for kids, novice riders, and older people riding our trails. They foster inclusion and a sense of independence, ensuring more of us can access the physical, emotional, practical and social benefits of cycling.

Natalie is documenting her Summer of Motoming and earlier this year she had an adventure on Section C of the Hauraki Rail Trail. She has also ridden Section A between Kaiaua and Waitakaruru, and looks forward to riding further once the stop-banks works are complete. Natalie told us she found both trails wide and easy to ride for a mountain bike or her three-wheeler. They were delighted to have no barriers to lift over on either Section, making it particularly three-wheeler friendly. Here’s what she had to say.


Karangahake Gorge (ous) - 48 km total riding

The Karangahake Gorge ride is said to be the prettiest part of the Hauraki Rail Trail, and riding it in the warm sunlight was, as Matt said, so good for the soul.

We planned this ride months ago when I announced I would ride as many trails as possible in the summer (and autumn) of 2023 alongside fundraising for MND NZ. Tracey, my sister in the UK, was keen to join in, so we planned to ride the Karangahake Gorge when she visited.

It was a beautiful, interesting, enjoyable and relaxed ride on wide trails mostly meandering along the Ohinemuri River with plenty to see including native bush, bridges, little and big waterfalls, gold mining history and a tunnel.


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld enjoying the river


Adding to the general gorgeousness of this trail were the autumn leaves floating down all around us and onto the river below. Riding behind me, Matt noticed a trail of dancing leaves following me, swept up from the track by my Motom.

Cold air emanated from the opening of the 1 km tunnel, and the temperature dropped as we continued inside, with a drip from the tunnel ceiling dropping icily on my face. This is the first tunnel we’ve found on a rural bike ride with a row of lights to guide the way.

Flooding in the February storms damaged the bike trail with parts well under water, but the trail people worked hard to get the full Waihi-Paeroa ride open for Easter 2023 (thank you!). We could see the recent major repairs on the trail, trees down, banks washed away and evidence of flood waters draping grasses on wires 7- 8 metres above the existing river.


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld - The Cutting


Lunch at The Refinery in Paeroa was the tastiest ever scrambled eggs with mushrooms, and there was plenty of room for the bikes. We then had twice the pleasure from the trail riding back to Waihi, arriving just as dark clouds closed in and rain started.

This trail was great for a three-wheeler. We did not need any lifts over barriers and it was wide enough everywhere. The Hauraki Rail Trail would be the perfect place to have a three-wheeler available for hire to ride the trail (hint to Waihi Bike Hire). Eddie was a great source of knowledge when we hired the bike for my sister at Waihi Bike Hire and the Gold Discovery Centre, and looked very happy when he tried out the Motom.


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld


Kaiaua to Waitakaruru

One of the joys of riding the first part of the Hauraki Rail Trail - Section A: Kaiaua to Thames is the wading birds. We did this in summer, timed it with high tide, and went to the bird hides with the camera and zoom lens. 

At the weekend you will often find volunteers from the Pūkorokoro Shorebird Centre have a scope visitors can look through, to see the wonders out on the shell bank and wading in the waters feeding. 


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld


There, particularly in the summer, you will find godwits in their thousands (kuaka, the birds that fly non-stop from Alaska for our summer), red knots (huahou, most of which migrate from Russia for our summer), spoonbills (kōtuku ngutupapa), pied stilts (poaka), oyster catchers (torea), wrybills (ngutu parore the only bird in the world with a sideways bending beak) and pied shags (Kāruhiruhi). White-faced herons (Matuku moana) fly languidly above the trail, or feed in the stream alongside. 


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld


Riding along the coast from Miranda towards Kaiaua we saw more wading birds on the tidal flats. This trail has no tree cover, so it can get pretty hot in summer. Early or late summer are probably the better times to ride it. We look forward to the stopbank work being completed to allow us to ride it again to Thames and back. 


Photo credit: Natalie Gauld


« Back to articles
xeno web development - xeno web development