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5 Winter Adventures On And Around The Hauraki Rail Trail

Winter is a great time for adventuring on and around the Hauraki Rail Trail.  It can be wished away, or used well.  It’s mild in the North compared to our Southern counterparts, and the busy crowds of Summer are long gone.   

Whilst some of us remain determined to hit the trails for long days in the saddle, there are plenty who’d rather find the best hot chocolate around.  So rather than lose your biking mojo, combine one section of Trail with a local activity and feel a little smug.

We’ve put together 5 Winter Adventures to tack onto your ride.  Choose from indulgent treats, indoor and outdoor adventures, and activities for the whole family and more.  Other attractions and activities which showcase the uniqueness of the area can be found in the See & Do section of the website.  

 

1  An Indoor Adventure

Thames School of Mines

Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools in the heart of the Hauraki gold fields.  In 1885 Thames became the location of one of 30 national Schools of Mines, opened to stimulate the returns from mining.

Guided tours bring this special Heritage New Zealand site to life with captivating stories about the Hauraki area’s people and places.  Thames School of Mines is an excellent venue for school or group tours, and a great place to start your Hauraki Rail Trail adventures.

 

2  An Outdoor Adventure

Walk the Mt Te Aroha Summit Track

Wrap up and discover the walking tracks up and around Mt Te Aroha with their stunning views of the Waikato region.  The Summit Track starts at the Mokena Geyser in Te Aroha Domain and quickly ascends to the Whakapipi Lookout.

The lookout provides panoramic views over the Hauraki Plains.  The hike to the lookout takes about 45 minutes.  The track continues through a small saddle and then steeply up for another two hours to reach the top.

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 after the walk or a days riding.

 

3  A Middle Earth Adventure

Experience the magic of Hobbiton

With fewer crowds than the summer months, Winter is the perfect time to explore the region's iconic Middle earth attraction.  With most tourists returned to warmer hemispheres it’s a great opportunity to take a tour of Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata.

In the heart of New Zealand, you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire, as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.  Fall in love with the Alexander family sheep farm, with the mighty Kaimai Ranges towering in the distance.

Your guide will escort you around the set, showing the most famous locations and explaining how the movie magic was made.  The tour includes the 12 acre set, past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and the world-famous Green Dragon.

 

4  An Adventure for Your Tummy

Indulge at the The Falls Retreat

The Falls Retreat is the perfect escape from busy life and an ideal stop when cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail.  Visitors can enjoy delicious food and warm hospitality in this beautiful setting.  Located in the Karangahake Gorge, The Falls Retreat offers award winning dining and accomodation options.

The wood fired oven serves gourmet pizzas and rustic slow cooked food.  The weekly changing a la carte menu utilises seasonal home grown and local produce.  The Bistro is open 5 days for lunch and dinner (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) from 11.30am - late.

 

5  An Adventure With The Kids

Eat cheese and visit the Farm at Matatoki Cheese Barn

If you and the kids love cheese, Matatoki is a must.  This cheese factory also has a licensed Cafe, cheese tastings, and a fabulous animal farm.  The family of alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, budgies, quails, canaries and Cookie the spotty sheep offer great entertainment for the whole family.

 

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