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Kaiaua to Thames
Thames to Paeroa
Paeroa to Waihi
Paeroa to Te Aroha
Te Aroha to Matamata

Rail Trail Tales With The Cheese Barn At Matatoki

The Cheese Barn at Matatoki can be found along the Thames to Paeroa section of the Hauraki Rail Trail.  This 34km leisurely ride passes through lush farmland with expansive views across the Hauraki Plains and the Coromandel Ranges.  With the Historical Maritime Park, and the quaint townships of Thames and Paeroa to explore, it makes for a fun and manageable day ride.

The Cheese Barn was established in 1994, using milk from their own herd of 100 cows.  More recently Ray and Jenny Ridings who have a family run farm in Kerepehi supply organic milk for the cheese making. The Cheese Barn owners Cathy and Kelvin have produced some award winning cheeses, all of which are produced on site.

Complementing the delicious array of food, homemade Gelato and Sorbet are now on offer, to keep you cool on your ride.  You’ll also find BioGro certified organic cheeses, yoghurts, and products that are unhomogenised, gluten free, no GMO, artificial additives, antibiotics, growth hormones or chemical sprays.

The range includes Traditional Dutch Gouda, Feta, Camembert, Brie, Halloumi, Blue, Mozzarella, Natural Liquid Yoghurt, Lactose Free Yoghurt, Kefir Yoghurt, Buttermilk, Greek Yoghurt, Quark, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream & Ghee.  

Earlier this year, the team were the recipients of three Awards. The Champion Award and a Gold Medal for their Organic Halloumi, and a Bronze Medal for Organic Gouda from the New Zealand Cheese Awards 2023. They were also awarded the Kiwi Labels Champion Greek/Cypriot Style Cheese Trophy.

There is a BYO Cafe, cheese tastings, and a fabulous animal farm for visitors to enjoy.  The family of alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, budgies, quails, canaries and goats offer great entertainment for the whole family. The Cheese Barn is open Monday to Sunday 9.00am - 4.00pm (cafe closes at 3.30pm) with cooked breakfast available Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am until Midday.


At the Barn with Cathy and Kelvin…


Photo: Cathy - Sorbet & Gelato aficionado


Q    Who are you?

The Cheese Barn at Matatoki.  Kelvin and Cathy Haigh, owners/operators of the cheese and ice cream making side of the business.


Q    What inspired you to become an Official Partner of the Trail?

We are lucky enough to be located right along the Hauraki Rail Trail.  Being just under an hour’s ride from Thames we get quite a few cyclists calling in, so it’s only natural to become an Official Partner.  There’s plenty to eat, see and do at the Cheese Barn, to offer visitors a memorable experience on the Trail.  It’s a great local and regional asset that we want to support.


Q    Which Sections have you ridden?  Do you have a favourite?

I often do a short morning ride from here towards Kopu.  Sometimes I go towards Paeroa and like to stop at the bridge in Puriri to see if I can spot a Turtle in the river.  I’ve only seen one once before.  It’s a peaceful ride through farmland and a great way to start or end the day.


Photo: Turtle spotted on the Trail


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

Once we drove to Waikino and rode from there to Waihi.  We caught the Goldfields Railway vintage train back to Waikino which was fun.  Riders can take their bike on the train, and it’s a stunning 30 minute journey through the Karangahake Gorge.


Photo: Goldfields Railway


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

It’s a pretty flat and easy ride.  We get all age groups coming here, and once had an 84 year-old man ride out from Thames and back.  The trail from the Cheese Barn through to Thames is ideal for e-bikes too.


Q    Why should visitors to the Trail stop off for a visit to the Cheese Barn?

We are a leisurely 11km ride from Thames which is a good distance to cycle before you’re ready for a stop and a coffee or lunch.  Now you can also have a Gelato or Sorbet ice cream made right here using organic milk.  There are so many mouthwatering options to choose from.


Photo: Gourmet options for foodies at the Cheese Barn


Q    Where are you hoping to adventure next?

We rode the Otago Central Rail Trail last year which was fun.  We want to do more of the famous Great Rides in New Zealand, like The Bridge to Nowhere in Whanganui, and the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail in the South Island.


If you would like to adventure on Cathy and Kelvin's favourite sections of the Rail Trail, we’ve put together some highlights to kickstart your ride.


Thames - Matatoki (24km return)

This ride heads along the Thames waterfront before following the trail through lush countryside to the Cheese Barn at Matatoki. 

Time your ride to enjoy the Grahamstown Market, held every Saturday from 8am - 12pm on Pollen Street in Thames. You'll find locally produced plants, fruit and veg plus bric-a-brac, second hand goods and books, arts and crafts, fine food, cheeses, specialty oils and much more.

Whether it's a quick coffee fix or fish and chips, a stop at The Wharf offers the perfect waterside location, looking out across the water to boats, seabirds and shore life among the mangroves. 


Photo: Grahamstown Market, Thames


Photo: Shortland Wharf, Thames


Thames - Kopu (14km return)

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.

Jandal on the Mandel by artist Ricks Terstappen is situated between Kopu and Thames, alongside the Hauraki Rail Trail just past the airport entrance heading south.

The jandal was the first of many sculptures to be installed and is a fun piece that captures the laid-back summer spirit of Thames and The Coromandel.


Photo: Nikki Scott - Jandal on the Mandel by artist Ricks Terstappen



If time is on your side, take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east through verdant farmlands to Paeroa. Fascinating Māori, industrial, education and geological history converge at the Thames School of Mines, one of New Zealand’s largest and best-preserved mining schools, and an interesting place to start your adventures.


Photo: Thames School of Mines


Thames to Paeroa Map


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