Long weekends away offer the perfect combination of biking adventures together with an excuse to indulge in all things delicious. Short breaks are great for the whole family, and if you’re partial to gastro heaven, this might just be the ride for you.
The Hauraki Rail Trail has an abundance of eateries with delicious food, either alongside the trail or nearby. The region is famous for its fresh food straight from the ocean and homegrown local produce.
If your ideal spin on the bike includes mouthwatering temptations en route, we’ve selected a few delicious options to help get your outing underway. Choose from cafes, wineries, and gourmet wood fired pizzas to refuel your body.
The Hauraki Plains boast a thriving paddock to plate philosophy, with plentiful fruit orchards, a flounder fishery and abundance of roadside stalls selling free range eggs and produce at the gate.
Stop at the 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 day rides suited to leisurely indulgent adventuring.
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.
Thames - Matatoki (return)
22km (2 - 3 hours)
This ride heads along the Thames waterfront before following the trail through lush countryside to Matatoki Cheese Factory & Farm. If you love cheese, Matatoki is a must. There is also 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.
You can download a map of the trail here.
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 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.
Massive concrete walls, double height stud capped with huge timber beams and Rimu roof structure certainly fitted the grandeur of purpose. The large, light filled space is cosy and welcoming, with armchairs and a roaring fire over winter and rustic outdoor tables and ivy covered walls in summer.
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.
Some of the best organic fair trade coffee, gluten free cakes and delicious snacks to eat in or takeaway. There's also a selection of organic produce, gluten free products, dietary supplements, creams lotions and potions, cards and lots more.
Sculptor Adrian Worsley designs and constructs unique and original sculptures entirely from recycled materials from his studio in Te Aroha. Works feature a clever blend of materials and finishes, breathing new life into the inanimate objects around him. Throughout the town, closer inspection reveals signs of Adrian’s artistic flair including a special fit out for the Ironique Cafe. Open 7 days a week they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving freshly prepared and innovative options which cater for everyone.
You can download a map of the trail here.
The most popular section of the Rail Trail follows the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge. A deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges. This distinctly different landscape includes the cascading Owharoa waterfall, photogenic gold mining sites, the charmingly old-fashioned Victoria Battery museum, and freaky Windows Walkway that burrows through a shadowy side-gorge.
Waihi - Karangahake Gorge (return)
8km (2 - 3 hours)
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. Get away from the hustle and bustle at the stunning Falls Retreat. Or reward yourself and relax with a glass of craft wine at the Karangahake Winery Estate. You’ll find all the options to fill a hungry tummy here.
Formerly the Ohinemuri Winery, the Karangahake Winery Estate is located in the stunning Karangahake Gorge. The Winery and Restaurant are couched in a native bush and formal garden setting above the Ohinemuri River. A 160m track leads from the tunnel entrance on the Trail to the Cellar Door, making it a great place to stop and indulge.
The Falls Retreat is an impressive haven, 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 venue offers award winning dining and boutique accomodation options.
Stay in the secluded Rose Cottage or Waterfall Cabin, surrounded by native bush and birdlife, and just a minute away from Owharoa Falls. If you’re celebrating a special occasion visitors can book one of the many packages available.
These include the Romantic Getaway with massages and pamper packages in the comfort of your cottage. Or choose from the Girls Getaway for a night of relaxation and pampering with luxury bath robes and Prosecco on arrival. And for the Guys there’s an outdoor experience which includes bike hire, craft beer and fly fishing.
The renowned 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 a must and riders are advised to book in advance or check ahead for seasonal opening times. For quick visits there's a super range of chutneys, pickles 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. You can download a map of the trail here.
This new and gentle section of trail passes through fertile plains, significant horse studs, goat farms, groves of scented trees, scenic Wairere Falls, ravines, Stanley Landing and the Firth Tower. There are excellent options for accommodation and eateries on arrival into Matamata for riders wishing to overnight or linger longer.
The Housewithnonails is 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. Situated a little before Matamata, it offers a perfect night of indulgence and incredible home cooked food to celebrate nearing the end of your ride.
On arrival guests are welcomed by an inviting porch. The bold oak door and antique Welsh knocker hinting at the experience awaiting. A unique home full of character and personality, and a pure reflection of hosts Jen and Dewi, and their burgeoning efforts to share their space with strangers who depart as friends.
The Old Forge Kitchen is a deli, kitchen and catering business, located in West Te Aroha right on the Hauraki Rail Trail and takes its name from the history of the site. Once an old Forge making stage coach wheels and later horseshoes, it was also a local store and antique shop. More recently it was home to the Swiss sausage factory. Its new incarnation sees a 120 seat cafe/restaurant open 7 days from 7am - 3pm, with a full selection of cabinet food, brunch and lunch menus, great coffee, and a garden area under the old oak tree for enjoying the view of the mountain.
Exclusive tours of the Hobbiton Movie Set can be organised for individuals or groups. Personal guides escort you through the twelve acre site recounting fascinating details of how the beautiful Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Visitors can also choose to enjoy a Festive Feast lunch in the Party Marquee. Alternatively the Evening Banquet Tour lets visitors experience Hobbiton Movie Set at dusk with a guided tour of the Shire and a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit.
You can download a map of the trail here.
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