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Great Rides Driving Economic Growth

New Zealand’s iconic cycle trails are experiencing a boom in popularity, and new research shows they are driving economic activity in the regions, as well as benefits for health and wellbeing.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has released two reports into cycle trails and cycle tourism. The first report analyses the 22 Great Rides in the Ngā Haerenga cycle trail network. The second report provides insights into cycle tourism trends here and in Australia.   

The evaluation is part of monitoring the performance of the Great Rides. It details how the 22 New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides are impacting trail users, the communities in which the trails are located, and New Zealand as a whole.


Photo: Hauraki Rail Trail - Te Aroha to Matamata 


The findings provide compelling evidence that New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides are having positive impact to New Zealand. Aside from the apparent economic benefits, Trail users enjoy their trail experience and the multiple benefits it brings. Cycling is good for our physical and mental health, offers social connection, and enables us to engage with our environment, culture and heritage.

Following the border closure in 2020, Kiwi families increasingly took to their bikes and to walking in the great outdoors. There was a corresponding surge in spending and economic activity in the regions, with cyclists and walkers spending more on accommodation, food, beverages and hospitality providers.


Photo: The Falls Retreat, Karangahake Gorge


The two reports show that New Zealand’s cycle trails and cycle tourism are more popular than ever. The reports, The 2021 Evaluation of Ngā Haerenga Great Rides and the Cycle Tourism Insights Research Report, looked at the performance of the Great Rides, the return on investment on the trails, the physical and financial benefits to New Zealand and its people, as well as trail usage and cycle tourism opportunities.


Insights Snapshot


Almost 2.19 million trips on bikes and foot were taken on the 22 Great Rides trails in the year to 30 June 2021.


A total of $11 million of health benefits for those using the trails, with many cyclists reporting an improved sense of wellbeing and mental health.


Cycle trail users brought an estimated direct economic contribution to regions of more than $950 million.


The importance of cycle trail managers and their volunteers, who planted nearly 25,000 trees along Great Rides trails.


Australia is a growing market for cycle tourism in New Zealand.


The 2021 Evaluation of Ngā Haerenga Great Rides and the New Zealand Cycle Trails and Cycle Tourism Insights Research Report are available to read on the MBIE website here


With some of New Zealand’s greatest Must Do’s found in the Coromandel, there is every reason to ride, and stay and play longer in this magical region. The 197km Hauraki Rail Trail traverses some of Waikato and Coromandel’s best landscapes and lends itself to multi-day adventures. So, take a break, escape, and explore.

The 5 Sections of Trail vary in length from 23km to 55km, meaning riders can comfortably enjoy one section each day. With the option to start your ride from Kaiaua in the North, or Matamata in the South, you’ll find Tour Services available to transport you and a bicycle to your start point, or shuttle you back at the end. 

The Rail Trail offers all kinds of adventures, and you can begin your research with our basic Ride Planning Guide. We’ve put together a 5 Day Ride on the Hauraki Rail Trail setting you off from Kaiaua in the North. Visitors with a preference to end their ride along this stunning coastline can simply enjoy the itinerary in reverse. A 5 Day ride allows visitors to explore attractions and activities along or near the Trail, which showcase this unique and idyllic destination.


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