Many of us live close to a handful of great trails to enjoy in our downtime. There are only a handful however who are lucky enough not just to have the Rail Trail on their doorstep, but who use and enjoy it for work every day.
With work and play so entwined, it’s important to mix things up to keep rides fun and motivation high. The variety of experiences on offer along the Rail Trail, from Nature & Wildlife, Arts, Food & Wine, Family and History means there’s no shortage of great days out..
We caught up with Luen Wong, Co-Director of JollyBikes in Thames who lives and breathes bikes and trails. We discovered which easy section is perfect for e-bikes, why prep is key, and how a little moonlight can spin your wheels.
Q Who are you?
A I am Luen Wong, a co-owner of JollyBikes, and part of the great team based at our fabulous new premises - 96 Richmond Street in Thames.
Q What was the reason behind your adventure on the Hauraki Rail Trail?
A We live right on the doorstep, and so it's very easy for me to ride to work every day.
Q Which Sections did you ride, and do you have a favourite?
A As a Thames local I am spoilt for choice regarding the trail and I have ridden the whole lot at different times. For people who are wanting a short ride from Thames, the trail is sealed from Thames to Kopu (7km) which is ideal if you’re new to biking or want to try an e-bike. If you want to venture a little further it’s 12km from Thames to the Cheese Barn Cafe at Matatoki. So many great options to re-fuel make this a very popular ride.
Q What memory or experience on the Trail will stay with you most?
A A favourite ride that I like to do with a group of friends on a Friday after work is from Thames to the Coach House at Puriri (18km). Biking home by moonlight can be very exciting! Even a familiar trail offers a really different experience by night.
Q What is it for you that makes the Hauraki Rail Trail unique?
A The trail is accessible from so many townships, and it’s flat and can be ridden all year round. We feel very lucky to have it at our doorstep.
Q What advice would you give to others planning to ride the Trail?
A Always plan ahead, and be prepared for changes in weather. Take a little bit of food and plenty of water. Good footwear should be considered too. We’re always on hand to help plan your ride from Kaiaua all the way to Matamata!
Q Where are you hoping to adventure next?
A We are looking forward to the Te Aroha - Matamata section being officially opened. It will be a great asset to all the communities on the Trail.
The beauty of the Hauraki Rail Trail is the ability to tailor a ride to almost any length. There are plenty of options for return rides, one-way trips if you organise a pick-up, and of course leisurely E-Bike adventuring.
Take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east, travelling through verdant farmlands to Paeroa.
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.
The Matatoki Cheese Barn is a highlight, as is the Historical Maritime Park, once New Zealand’s most inland port. From March 2020 there will be alternative transport for cyclists into the township of Paeroa, via the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers.
Arrive into Paeroa early enough to fossick through the many antiques and collectables shops. World famous in New Zealand for its giant L&P bottle on the main street, there’s also accommodation and places to eat for riders looking to overnight.
If you’re short for time or don’t want to ride far, the easy ride from Thames to Kopu is just 7km. As you leave the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.
Alternatively take the JollyBikes Easy Cheesy Half Day Tour from Thames to the Matatoki Cheese Barn. This relaxed 60 minute ride through lush countryside includes a light lunch, e-bike hire and is suitable for the whole family.
There’s a variety of options for all budgets, and with a little help to make your ride more manageable, there’s something for everyone on the Hauraki Rail Trail.
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