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Kaiaua to Thames
Thames to Paeroa
Paeroa to Waihi
Paeroa to Te Aroha
Te Aroha to Matamata
Photo: Emma Walters and Brad King

Hauraki Rail Trail Tips With Emma Walters

The Falls Retreat offers perhaps one of the most memorable experiences along the Hauraki Rail Trail. For a decade, this exceptional venue opposite the Owharoa Falls has offered visitors award winning dining and boutique accommodation options. Like many of our Official Partners they are a family-run business, and try to live and do business ethically using local and homegrown products. 


Photo credit: @fallsretreat on Instagram - The Falls Retreat


With so much to see and do around the Gorge it's been the perfect place for a family weekend, a romantic getaway, or just a place to rest tired legs after cycling the trail. The team have also enjoyed tailoring functions and weddings, and run regular cooking workshops and gardening courses designed to give top tips and lots of knowledge. 

Book ahead to enjoy The Feast - a 2 course set menu starting with a Grazing Board, followed by a choice of mains and optional dessert showcasing their seasonal garden produce and NZ artisan food suppliers. There are also options for children and larger Group bookings. You can find more information, menus, and make a reservation here.  

The Falls Retreat Cooking Workshops are very popular, and designed to give you top tips and lots of knowledge to take home and practice. There's a range of options including bread making, pickling, preserving and fermenting, and pasta from scratch. You can learn more about the courses on offer here.


Photo credit: @fallsretreat on Instagram - Jams, pickles and chutneys


Located opposite Owharoa Falls, cycling from their house to Waikino Train Station for an ice cream is a regular favourite for owner Emma Walters and her two children. At the Victoria Battery the kids can hop off their bikes and run loose, explore the historic relics and play hide and seek. It's only a 20 minute ride and ice cream at the end is a great motivator for little legs.

Here's Emma's picks for when you ride through Karagahake Gorge.


Go swimming at...

Owharoa Falls of course! Located at the bottom of our driveway, literally steps away from The Falls Retreat, and why our kids call it our waterfall and have a daily ritual of an after dinner swim.


Photo credit: @fallsretreat on Instagram - Owharoa Falls


Have lunch...

In the great outdoors! Book a Hauraki Rail Trail Package with us, which includes bike hire and a gourmet picnic with filled rolls featuring artisan produce and organic salad greens, seasonal fruit, homemade chocolate brownie and a selection of our homemade sodas to enjoy along the way.


Cycle along...

The Karangahake Gorge section from Waikino to Paeroa. This is the jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Rail Trail, and includes dramatic scenery, suspension bridges and tunnels. This only takes 1- 2 hours from The Falls Retreat to Paeroa and is suitable for all ages and abilities.


Photo credit: Margaret Corbin - Waihi to Paeroa, Ohinemuri River


For an extra adventure...

Ride on the Goldfields Railway vintage train from Waikino to Waihi. Enjoy an ice cream or coffee at the Waikino Station Cafe before hopping on the train. You can then take your bikes onto the open carriage on the train and enjoy a leisurely return ride back along the river.


Photo credit: Margaret Corbin - Goldfields Railway


Don’t miss...

The Windows Walk. Located in the Karangahake Gorge Reserve, you can park up your bikes for a stunning walk that also takes in a bit of history to explore the old gold mining tunnels of days gone by. *Please note the Windows Walk is currently closed whilst safety assessments and remediation works are undertaken. Until this walk re-opens you can find lots of other super walks here. You can check the DOC website here for updates.


Remember to pack...

A torch for the 1.1km long tunnel and the Windows Walk.


Photo Credit: @martycapener_photography on Instagram - Karangahake Gorge Tunnel


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