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Photo Credit: Gary Patterson Great Rides APP

Rail Trail Tales With Gary Patterson & The Great Rides APP

New Zealand is a great destination for active cycling or mountain biking breaks, with accessible riding trails and tracks near most cities and towns.  You’re guaranteed a cycling holiday to remember, with beautiful landscapes found around each bend.

The 197km Hauraki Rail Trail showcases some of the region's best scenery, and as a Grade One (Easiest) trail, it’s suitable for all fitness levels and cycling abilities.  Although the Trail can be enjoyed as manageable day sections, this versatile trail lends itself to multi-day adventures.

A seemingly endless network of forest trails, abandoned railways, farm tracks and other backcountry routes usher riders through an array of stunning backdrops.  Cyclists can make interesting detours to enjoy walking, arts, culture, local hospitality and a wealth of attractions.

We caught up with Gary Patterson of the Great Rides APP to discover what he loves most about the Hauraki Rail Trail.  Why his favourite section is the Karangahake Gorge, and a top tip for eager travellers considering an adventuring on the North Island’s easiest cycle trail.


In The Saddle With Gary Patterson


Q    Who are you?

A    Gary Patterson of the Great Rides App


Q    What was the reason behind your adventure on the Hauraki Rail Trail?

A    I visited the trail to collect GPS data for the Great Rides App and take some photos to update the app.


Q    Which Sections did you ride?  Do you have a favourite?

A    The most recent section I have ridden was Section C from Paeroa to Waihi. This is the most popular and varied ride which is understandable given the tunnel, history and the river gorge you pass through.


Q    What memory or experience on the Trail will stay with you most?

A    Riding through the foundations that once held the cyanide tanks at the gold stamper battery site near Waikino.  The honeycomb nature of these concrete structures is a real treat, and also provide a perfect photo shoot spot for a magazine for which I write.


Q    What is it for you that makes the Hauraki Rail Trail unique?

A    It's an easy trail in proximity to the majority of our country’s population, with a journey that explores the Hauraki area.


Q    What advice would you give to others planning to ride the Trail?

A    Download the Great Rides App and enjoy the unique offerings of each small town the trail passes through.


Q    Where are you hoping to adventure next?

A    It depends on what trail section changes next to GPS it for the app.  I will be back at the end of 2019 to visit the new section from Te Aroha to Matamata which I am really looking forward to in due course.


Gary’s favourite spot, The Victoria Battery can be found on Section C of the Rail Trail.  This section takes cyclists through the picturesque Karangahake Gorge, with its historic mining relics, bush clad mountains and through a 1km railway tunnel.  It can be entered at Paeroa, Karangahake, Waikino and Waihi and is a Grade 1-2 (Easy) trail.


If you want to follow in Gary’s footsteps, we’ve put together two easy rides for you to enjoy on Section C of the Rail Trail.


Waihi - Waikino (7km one way)

The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a daily 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 cafe and picnic areas in the picturesque Waikino Gorge. 

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


Karangahake Gorge Tunnel To Waikino Station (6.6km one way) 

Starting at Karangahake Gorge carpark, this ride takes you through the Karangahake Tunnel.  The trail winds its way along the edge of the Waitewheta River, offering some of the best scenery of the journey.  The track is flat, and the terrain easy.

Cool off at Owharoa Falls with a swim in the crystal clear fresh water.   Indulge your appetite at Falls Retreat amidst the trees, or in the rustic restaurant.  The trail continues along Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, and through the Victoria Battery.  Riders can take the train from Waikino Station on to Waihi.  You can view and download the map for both rides here.


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.  With its fabulous scenery and historical mining sites, it’s a Must Do when riding the Rail Trail.

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.  Great value for families and friends seeking an extra fun adventure on this section of the Rail Trail.


Get Some Help Planning Your Ride

To help plan your accommodation, bike hire, shuttle transport or guided tour, take a look at the services offered by our Official Partners.  There’s a variety of options for all budgets, and with a little help to make your ride more manageable, there really is something for everyone on the Hauraki Rail Trail.


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