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

Hauraki Rail Trail Boredom Busters

Whether it's after school, weekends or holidays, filling time constructively with children is no easy task. But with a bit of advanced planning, and a handy list of ideas, there's plenty which can be done to keep them out of mischief. 

Keep an eye on your local district council, tourist information centres, local papers, community centres and library to see what's on in your area. 

Keeping youngsters entertained is no easy task. The good news is, there are lots of free activities on and off the Trail to enjoy, and a few that don't cost much. 

So if you’re keen to plan an outing or two, we’ve put together some good options to keep you and the rest of the family happy.


Hop on the bikes

Of course this has to be our number one pick. Introducing kids to an established and easy ride like the Hauraki Rail Trail comes with multiple benefits, together with quality surfaces, steady gradients, and away from traffic.

Riding is fun, and having a range of activities, sights, and points of interest along the trail makes the Rail Trail an ideal place to spend with kids. As a rule of thumb, pick what would be a reasonable distance for an adult and halve it. 

Factor in regular stops for snacks, and research the places you want to explore. Bridges, tunnels, rivers, and historic relics all help to break up the day into smaller goals.


Photo: Section C - Paeroa to Waihi


A Super Short Ride

Waihi - Waikino (7km one way)

The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a timetable between Waihi and Waikino. Riders can take their bike on the vintage train for the 30 minute journey to Waikino Station, where there’s plenty of space for parking. Re-fuel at the Waikino Station Cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge, and then head back by bike. 

Also to be found are the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Tramway 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 and is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing back in historic Waihi township. 


Take A Ride On The Goldfields Railway Train

The 30 minute journey between Waihi and Waikino travels along the original rail bed alongside the Ohinemuri River, and is a fun trip even without the bikes. With its fabulous scenery, and historical mining sites, it’s a Must Do. There’s a variety of ticket options available, and children under 2 travel for free. A Family pass costs $35 one way, or $55 provides a round-trip ticket for two adults and two children. You can find more information about the timetable and booking here.


Photo: Goldfields Railway


Go for a walk

You’ll find enjoyable walks both on and around the Rail Trail. Throw some water and snacks into a backpack and explore, and give them a map to plot the route you’re taking. The Karangahake Tunnel Loop Walk takes you along the Ohinemuri River and over the lower Waitawheta River, and includes the 1100m railway tunnel, so ensure you pack a torch or head lamp. Part of the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, the Loop takes 45 minutes. This walk can start at the main Karangahake carpark or further North at the carpark by the Karangahake Hall. On your walk make sure you look out for the glow worms.


Photo credit: Outdoor Kid - Karangahake Gorge Tunnel (looking for bugs!)


Take a photo with the L&P Bottle in Paeroa 

Stop for a fun photo and join the commemorations of enduring love for this iconic Kiwi drink. The giant 7 metre high 1.3 metre diameter structure stands pride of place in Paeroa, with the Lemon & Paeroa drink found only in New Zealand and in specialty New Zealand stores overseas. You can access the bottle from the Trail by going under the Criterion Bridge rather than crossing the road... a little town secret!


Photo credit: Giant L&P Bottle in Paeroa - @nikkiscott80 


Eat Fish & Chips

Kids love Fush & Chups and Summer wouldn't be the same without them. There's a few options along the Trail to enjoy this Kiwi staple including Kaiaua Fisheries at the northern end of the Trail, and at The Wharf in Thames.



Create a treasure hunt

Pair up with another family and make a treasure hunt for each other. Treasure Hunts are fun for kids of all ages and encourage everyone to get active and enjoy the outdoors. For older kids they provide a great opportunity to develop new skills, such as leadership, communication and problem solving.


Waihi Goldmine Tour   

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 Experience.


Photo credit: @globetrottingnomads - Martha Mine and Pit Rim Walkway 


Martha Mine Pit Rim Walkway

If you’re visiting Waihi, this is an easy but spectacular walk. The walk begins at the Cornish Pumphouse and 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.


Picnic & Swim

Enjoy the close proximity of the sea along the Shorebird Coast or at Waihi Beach, or the many rivers along the Trail. Water has a calming effect on children and burns off energy at the same time. The stunning staircase Owharoa Falls are nestled in the heart of the Karangahake Gorge. The Falls make an ideal picnic spot while riding the Trail. Lunch is more fun on a rug, especially when you can cool off with a swim in the crystal clear fresh water. Alternatively there's lots of fun on offer at Te Aroha Swim Zone.


Photo credit: Caleb Bird - Owharoa Falls 


Riverboat Rides

Riverboat rides and wharf jumping make for perfect Summer adventures. Hop onboard the riverboat which transports visitors from the Historical Maritime Park along the Ohinemuri River and into Paeroa township.


Photo: Historical Maritime Park Riverboat - Paeroa


Discover the Art Trails

Explore Te Aroha township and enjoy artist Adrian Worsley’s unique sculptures made entirely from recycled materials. Look out for the series of sculptures functioning as bicycle racks and a drinking fountain, including a Daschund and giant penny farthing.


Photo: Bike rack and water fountain sculpture by Adrian Worsley in Te Aroha township


Enjoy Nature

The Bush Discovery Trail is part of the Bullswool Farm Heritage Park Bush Reserve. Visitors can learn about native New Zealand birds, trees and aquatic life. The Farm is a few minutes away from the Karangahake Gorge Walkway, and a unique slice of rural paradise. The working farm has a variety of animals in their natural flocks and herds, ranging from miniature horses and cattle to deer and donkeys. Family Passes are available too, and you can just turn up on the day.


Photo credit: Bullswool Farm Heritage Park Bush Reserve


Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre

The Kaiaua to Kopu section of the Trail is unique, offering great natural attractions which can be enjoyed from the cycle trail. Stop off at the Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre where you can learn about the area’s precious birdlife, and then head to the bird-hides to view the shorebirds up close. 


Photo: Pūkorokoro–Miranda Shorebird Centre 


Cool off and make a splash at the Pool

Set in a natural bush setting, Swim Zone Te Aroha's heated pools and outdoor spa provide the perfect place to play and relax for all ages. The outdoor setting provides a great option for groups to hire the BBQ and complete the day.


Photo: Swim Zone Te Aroha


Kayak on the Waihou River

Adventure Te Aroha's river Kayak Tours provide a perfect half day excursion from the Hauraki Rail Trail. From its source at the Blue Springs to where it enters the Hauraki Gulf, 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. 


Photo credit: Adventure Te Aroha


Immerse in fantasy with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set

Whilst not a budget activity, 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. The enchanting village offers a fun and magical day out for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy a Festive Feast lunch or alternatively the Evening Banquet Tour at dusk includes a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit. 


Photo credit: Craig Oakley - Hobbiton Movie Set


Here's a handful of other stories with tips, tricks and useful information if you're biking with children, or as a family.

Making Bike Rides Fun For Kids

Biking Adventures With Kids In Tow

Family Friendly Holidays On The Hauraki Rail Trail

One Day Rides On The Hauraki Rail Trail


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