People often ask what makes the Hauraki Rail Trail special, and it would have to be it’s versatility at the top of a long list. With it’s easy, flat and predominantly smooth terrain, the Trail can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities, and you don’t need to be fit as a fiddle.
With multiple access points from townships along the Trail, there are many groups who gather to make the most of the tranquility, variety and fun on offer. One such group is the Pokeno Tramping Group who organise walks in the Hunuas, Coromandel, Northern Kaimais, Waikato and Franklin regions.
Marlene Lynam has walked and cycled sections of the Trail several times over the years. Last year the Group walked from Waitakaruru heading towards Kopu. Marlene shared with us what memory of the Trail will stay with her most, and where the Group are headed next on their collective adventures.
My name is Marlene. I'm a keen tramper and also like to bike the many cycle trails around the country. My last outing on the Trail was a scheduled tramp for our Tramping Group to walk a much loved section of the Trail. We feel spoilt for choice with the many tracks and trails across the region and love having the Rail Trail at our fingertips.
A very manageable walk we enjoy as a group is from Pipiroa to Kopu one way. It’s a wonderful part of the trail which takes in great views inland of farmland and of course the expansive coastline. We've had a number of great adventures, and a few years ago a group of us cycled the whole trail in a weekend. Day 1 Thames to Paeroa to Karangahake Gorge. Day 2 back to Paeroa and on to TE Aroha with a shuttle back to Thames. It was a great ride and it felt wonderful to achieve so much all in one big adventure as a group. Multi-day rides really let you immerse yourself in the experience.
I particularly like the Rail Trail as it's close to home. It's also predominantly flat which I like, and there are lots of options to walk or cycle. We often think about undertaking big walks and rides, yet it's easy to keep putting them off. My advice would be to just choose a section and give it a go, even if you just have half a day to spare. That’s the beauty of the trail, there are so many access points which make quick rides or walks really manageable.
A favourite and most scenic section for me would have to be from Paeroa through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi. The scenery here is such a great contrast to other parts of the trail, and the Gorge is breathtaking. It's a section of the Trail you can explore time and again and always discover something new.
In the spirit of true adventuring, a group of 8 of us have booked to cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail in late April next year. This trail is 150 kms and we will be cycling over 4 days. We’re also looking forward to exploring the new section of trail from Te Aroha to Matamata some time after the New Year.
If you would like to follow in Marlene’s footsteps, here’s a one day ride to enjoy on Section A of the Rail Trail. Alternatively you can walk the section from Pipiroa to Kopu in around 3 hours. You can view and download the Trail Map here.
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.
From Miranda Holiday Park and Hot Pools, the trail skirts around the Firth, following stop banks for much of the way. Expansive views of coastal wetlands, verdant farmland, and the volcanic Coromandel Ranges provide a dramatic backdrop. Refreshments are available in the villages of Waitakaruru, Pipiroa, Kopu and Thames.
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. As you approach the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.
Twelve trampers met at the Bugger Cafe in Pipiroa. While the drivers ferried the cars to the Kopu end of the Trail, the rest of us had time to enjoy a coffee at the cafe. Upon their return, we crossed the highway to join the Trail, first crossing the road bridge over the Piako River. The Trail then continued along the top of the stopbank skirting the Firth of Thames with lush farmland on one side and mangroves/saltmarsh on the other with the Coromandel hills in the distance. Along the way, we encountered three lots of cyclists, heading to Pipiroa. We stopped for a snack/drink stop and continued on until we spotted a calving cow in distress in a nearby paddock. Fortunately, we had some farm wise trampers in the group, so Mike and Carl went to the rescue to help the cow get back up on it's feet. Fortunately this was a success, our good deed for the day, so we carried on our merry way. We could see the Kopu bridge in the distance, but it seemed to take ages to reach it. We crossed the new bridge, admiring and reminiscing about the old bridge below us. By this time, light drizzle had started but we made it to the cars without getting too wet. We returned to the Bugger Cafe where we all enjoyed coffee, chips or cake to round off the day.
Distance walked 13.13 kms
Total time on trail 3 hours 11 minutes.
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