Introducing kids to an established and easy ride like the Hauraki Rail Trail comes with multiple benefits. The quality surfaces, steady gradients, off road and away from traffic, and with support available for bike hire, accommodation and transport.
Riding is fun, but having a range of activities, sights, and points of interest along the trail makes the Rail Trail an ideal destination and raises the enjoyment of your holiday. Keep kms low for the first few rides, and exploring the bridges, tunnels, rivers, and historic relics helps break up the day into smaller goals.
Consider what’s available at the end of each day’s riding. What are the accommodation options, where will you feed everyone, what other transport or support is required, and what interesting things are there to see and do? To help kickstart your adventure, we've put together a handful of options for accommodation, dining and activities.
Riding the Trail is free, and you can organise your trip so that it doesn’t cost the Earth. The region has some excellent camping grounds, and they’re a great way to meet other families in a friendly environment.
Camping grounds bathroom and laundry facilities are shared, and you can cater for yourself in the well equipped communal kitchens. The camps are sited in small townships where you can buy food, which allows you to travel light. Bear in mind it pays to book ahead during the busy Summer season.
Award winning Miranda Holiday Park offers a choice of first class self-catering accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. Situated on the scenic Auckland / Coromandel Pacific Coast Highway, it’s an oasis with hot mineral pool on-site and offers a great get away for the whole family.
The Te Aroha Holiday Park is 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 walking, biking and tramping tracks. All amenities are just a few minutes drive or a short walk from the Park.
Alternatively Shunters Cottage is an authentic 1900's Railway Cottage located within the Goldfields Railway complex in Waihi, just meters from the Trail. Offering greater privacy, the Cottage provides a perfect location from which to explore Waihi, Waihi Beach, Karangahake, Waikino and beyond.
If you’re keen to find a central base,The Refinery Guard's Cottage in Paeroa offers charming self-contained accommodation set in the grounds of the historic Gold Refinery building. The cottage is light filled and comfortable with retro inspired decor. Similarly their newest addition, The Miner's Cabin is a calm and peaceful space.
If you’re starting from Kaiaua, the Bugger Cafe is just 50 metres from the Pipiroa Bridge and makes for the perfect stop on your journey. Food is fresh, seasonal and local wherever possible, catering for breakfasts, morning and afternoon teas, lunches, snacks and drinks, and include a good child friendly selection.
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.
The Waikino Station Cafe is the ideal place to stop. Known for delicious and affordable home-style food made on the premises, the team can also serve large groups on a tight schedule. Pop in for lunch or refreshments and take the 30 minute train journey between Waihi and Waikino which has a bike wagon on the train.
The Old Forge Kitchen in Te Aroha West takes its name from the history of the site. Its new incarnation sees a 120 seat cafe/restaurant 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 cars and bikes.
Nestled in the beautiful domain at the foot of Mount Te Aroha is the Te Aroha Mineral Spas and Swimzone. It’s the perfect way to soothe tired muscles, and fun in the heated pools for the kids is guaranteed. Hire the BBQ, relax and unwind, it’s a great place to end the day.
The Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre is a great destination to encounter some of New Zealand’s amazing birdlife. Visitors can find information, birding tips, environmental education, accommodation and view shorebirds up close from the bird-hides.
Photo credit: Pūkorokoro-Miranda Shorebird Centre - Jason Mills
The giant 7 metre high 1.3 metre diameter structure stands pride of place in Paeroa. The Lemon & Paeroa drink is found only in New Zealand and in specialty New Zealand stores overseas. Stop for a fun photo and join the commemorations of enduring love for this iconic Kiwi drink.
The Cheese Barn at Matatoki 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.
Visit the dramatic Karangahake Gorge and the 1km spooky railway tunnel. The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily timetable between Waihi and Waikino. Riders can take their bike on the steam engine for the 30 minute journey between stations. Re-fuel at the Waikino Station Cafe and relax in the picturesque Waikino Gorge.
Waihi Gold Mine Tours take you inside the fence to experience modern day gold mining up close. Visitors are shown every stage of the process from ore extraction and crushing, through to final processing. Rattle the drill, crank the handles and immerse yourself in interactive activities at the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre.
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. Alternatively you might choose to stay centrally in one place, exploring different sections of the trail, and returning each day to the same base.
For those wishing to relax, 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 make the most of your adventure.
A fully supported tour with luggage transfers allows you to travel from A to B without the kitchen sink. Everything is arranged for you. From bike hire, to routes, meals, and accommodation. With a light load, and your route planned, you can relax and soak up the scenery.
No matter how slowly or far you want to ride, if you’re ready for a family adventure there’s a great option for everyone. With a little research and careful planning, hopefully you’ll be cultivating a lifelong love of cycling in your kids.
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