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

Easter Rides For Chocolate Lovers

With Easter just a few weeks away, it offers a perfect long weekend of biking adventures and delicious chocolate treats of course. We all love holidays, and if you’re partial to a sneaky egg or two, be sure to include something chocolatey in your backpack.

Rather than feeling the need to add in extra rides to make up for over indulgence, just think ‘everything in moderation’ for the winning combination. No one wants to associate the bike with punishment, as opposed to the fun, joy and freedom two wheels can provide.

If you’re looking to combine a ride with mouthwatering temptations en route, we’ve picked a few fabulous options to help get your outing underway. Why not organise your Easter ride with friends and family, and create a cycling Easter Egg hunt along the way.

The Hauraki Plains boast a thriving paddock to plate philosophy. Stop at the roadside stalls and select homegrown delights to add to your picnic. Visit boutique producers, taste the flavours of the region, and enjoy discovering the people and stories of all that is fresh, homegrown and distinctly local.

With multiple access points from Kaiaua, Thames, Paeroa, Waihi, Te Aroha, Waikino, Karangahake Gorge and Matamata, you can tailor your ride to almost any length.  Here’s a few popular rides suited to leisurely chocolate laden adventuring.

 

Section A: 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.

A visit to the Miranda Farm Shop, Café and Gallery is a Must Do. Factor in a little extra time to enjoy the work exhibited in the Gallery. Located next door to the café, there are regular exhibitions of New Zealand print makers, painters, ceramicists and sculptors.

Following stop banks for much of the way, riders can enjoy expansive views of coastal wetlands, verdant farmland, and the dramatic Coromandel Ranges. 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. The Wharf offers perfect waterside inside and outside dining, looking out across the water to boats, shorebirds and mangroves. Choose from fresh seafood, platters, wedges and seafood chowder. Or pop next door to place your fish n chip order to enjoy with a cold or hot drink.  

 

Photo: The Wharf - Thames

You can download a map of the trail here.

 

Section B: Thames to Paeroa - 34kms (3-4 hours)

This richly historic area was once only accessible via the two rivers, Waihou and Hikutaia.  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.  If you choose to ride the whole section, there’s good accommodation and places to eat for riders looking to overnight in Paeroa.

 

A Short Ride: Thames - Matatoki (14km return)

This ride heads along the Thames waterfront before following the trail through lush countryside to the Matatoki Cheese Factory & Farm.  If you love cheese, Matatoki and their award winning cheeses is a must. There is a licensed Cafe and cheese tastings are available. Complementing the delicious array of food, homemade Gelato and Sorbet are on offer to keep you cool on your ride. 

The adjacent animal farm and family of alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, budgies, quails, canaries and Cookie the spotty sheep, offers great entertainment for the whole family.

 

Photo: The Cheese Barn at Matatoki

You can download a map of the trail here.

 

Section C: Waihi - Karangahake Gorge (32km return)

This popular ride starts in the historic town of Waihi, with a gentle downhill into Karangakahe Gorge, crossing bridges, and staying close to the river.  The Victoria Battery and Museum attractions and 1100m spooky tunnel are a must.  As are the waterfall and Windows Walkway.

Catch the train and enjoy a great selection of food and drinks at the Waikino Station Cafe, or get away from the hustle and bustle at the stunning Falls Retreat. You’ll find all the options to fill a hungry tummy here

The Falls Retreat is an impressive haven, located just opposite the Owharoa Falls. Visitors can enjoy delicious food and warm hospitality at this beautiful venue which offers award winning dining and boutique accommodation options.

Book ahead to enjoy the Social Pizza Nights on selected Fridays, for those wanting a casual style of dining.  Or for a little more luxury, the Paddock to Plate Dining Experience on Saturday evenings is a 4-course degustation menu.  Sunday lunches offer the perfect family style set menu. 

There are “in-house” dining options available for all overnight guests.  This means you can enjoy a 2-course restaurant quality meal in the comfort of your own cottage.  A continental breakfast is included as standard, or you can upgrade to a cooked breakfast, both of which are also delivered to the cottages.

For quick visits there's a super range of chutneys, pickles, jams and other delights to take home and share with loved ones. All are made in house using home grown produce from their kitchen veggie gardens.  

 

Photo: The Falls Retreat

You can download a map of the trail here. 

 

Section D: Paeroa to Te Aroha - 23kms (2-3 hours)

This leisurely ride through lush farmland under the gaze of Mount Te Aroha (‘the Mountain of Love’) offers a leisurely ride beside the Kaimai Ranges down to the township of Te Aroha.  This small and rural town has a lovely domain, and is home to some great walkways, quirky local art and cafes.

A good option before leaving Paeroa is The Refinery Cafe.  Promising Mt. Atkinson coffee, food and smiles, The Refinery is firmly set in the history of the area, with the building originally commissioned as the National Bank Gold Refinery in 1914.

Read a book over coffee or browse the huge collection of vinyl and put on a song or two.  Free range and local produce is offered where possible, and the delicious Baking is made on the premises.  Choose from the selection of counter food, or the blackboard with new treats added all the time.

 

Photo: The Refinery - Paeroa

 

Sculptor Adrian Worsley designs and constructs unique and original sculptures entirely from recycled materials from his studio in Te Aroha.  Adrian’s artistic flair is evident throughout the town, and includes a special fit out for the Ironique Cafe, which is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving freshly prepared and innovative options for everyone.

You can download a map of the trail here.

 

Section E: 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.

Alternatively, Café 77 is situated right on the Trail half way between Te Aroha and Matamata, in what was once the old derelict Manawaru Dairy Factory.  Welcoming cyclists not only for great food, coffee and drinks, there’s also a wide range of bike racks, an air compressor and bike tool kits to keep you comfortable on your journey. 

 

Photo: Café 77 - Manawaru 

 

Make time for a detour to the 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 and best undertaken when you've finished your ride.

Stop off at The Firth Tower built in 1882 by Josiah Clifton Firth which 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 has been host to visitors from all over the world, providing a truly luxury experience.  Sitting quietly in its beautiful location 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, event hosting, pop up gigs 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 linger longer after riding the Trail.

You can download a map of the trail here.

 

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