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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 Kaimai 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.  They are part of the Organic Milk Hub.  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.  

There is a licensed Cafe, cheese tastings, and a fabulous animal farm for visitors to enjoy.  The family of alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, budgies, quails, canaries and Cookie the spotty sheep offer great entertainment for the whole family.


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 one 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.


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: Happy customers


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. 


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.

Thames to Paeroa Map


Paeroa to Waihi (24 kms one way or 6 - 8 hours Return Trip)



Photo credit: Caleb Bird - Victoria Battery, Karangahake Gorge


The most popular section of the Rail Trail follows the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge.  Home to a spectacular regenerating forest and wildlife paradise, it is an absolute must for any nature enthusiast. 

Owharoa Falls are nestled in the heart of the Gorge, and make an ideal picnic spot.  If it’s warm enough cool off with a swim in the crystal-clear fresh water.  A second lesser known falls can be found upstream for those willing to climb and get their feet wet.

The Falls Retreat is a stunning haven, and offers award winning dining and boutique accomodation options.  Book ahead to enjoy the casual Social Pizza Nights on selected Fridays.  Or for a little extra luxury, the Paddock to Plate Dining Experience on Saturday evenings is a 4-course degustation menu.  Sunday lunches offer the perfect family style set menu. 

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.  Re-fuel at the Waikino Station Cafe, known for delicious and affordable home-style food.

If time permits, the Windows Walk starts in the Karangahake Gorge carpark area and is about an hour round trip.  Along the track visitors can observe relics of the many processes that took place in extracting gold, including tunnels, roasting pits, and the stamper battery processing plant. 

Explore 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 towards Waihi follows a picturesque river through farmland, before finishing in historic Waihi township. 

Waihi is a picturesque heritage town.  Visit the Gold Discovery Centre for an interactive experience which makes the gold heritage come alive.  Then wander across the street to view Martha Mine up close, and take the tour to experience a modern working gold mine in action. 

The Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk is an easy but spectacular walk which begins at the Cornish Pumphouse.  The 4km loop walk rises gently to the edge of the open pit for the overwhelming view down into the vast chasm. 


Photo credit: Jason Mills - Waihi Cornish Pumphouse & Martha Mine


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