Take a ride through history: cycling in the Bay of Islands

Rolling hills, lush farmland and native rainforest – find out why the Bay of Islands is the perfect backdrop for your next cycling holiday.

Picture the Bay of Islands in your mind and you’re likely to envisage exactly what it ‘says on the tin’ – sparkling blue seas brimming with marine life and a vista of enticing deserted islands just waiting to be explored. But turn your back on the sea for a moment (it’s hard, we know!) and you’ll find a region of rolling hills, lush farmland and native rainforest – the perfect backdrop for your next cycling holiday.

Northland’s warm, mild climate means it’s a great spot for cycling any time of year. You can explore the region by bike on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail (in Māori, 'Pou Herenga Tai'), a scenic bicycle path easily accessible from the Bay of Islands.

At present the cycle trail is 20 kilometres long, with extension work in progress. Parts of it follow ancient Māori trails, trodden by the ancestors of today’s local iwi. When complete it will reach all the way from Horeke in the inner Hokianga harbour to Opua at the entrance to the Bay of Islands, joining the east and west coastlines.
The current trail is a two to three-hour easy cycle offering views over Lake Omapere and the Bay of Islands. Built on an old rail corridor, it features an 80 metre-long tunnel dating back to 1915.You’ll literally be pedalling through history as you cruise through villages and settlements formed by Māori iwi (tribes) and by early European settlers in the 1800s.

The trail includes on-road and off-road riding, with its gentle gradient and smooth surface making it an easy ride for cyclists of all ages and fitness levels. Starting just out of Kaikohe, the hub of the Far North region and the heart of the great Ngāpuhi iwi (tribe), you’ll enjoy expansive views as you travel towards the small town of Okaihau.

A unique feature of the trail is the series of Pou or wooden statues which stand alongside the trail like silent guardians. Hand-carved by local iwi from trees in the district, these Pou bring to life the stories of both Māori and Pakeha settlements in and around the area.

With the picturesque Hokianga district in the west, Lake Omapere (the Far North’s largest lake) and farmland to the east, you’ll find scenic resting places and photographic opportunities all along the trail – set your own pace and soak up the tranquillity.

Twin Coast Cycle Trail handy info

  • Make sure you bring sunscreen, sunglasses and your camera.
  • Bicycle and helmet hire is included in a Top Trail cycle tour. Top Trail bicycles are all modern Giant brand Trailglide and Bolder models in a variety of sizes for men, women and children. Step through cycles are for women available and all models have gel seats for a comfortable ride.
  • If you’d prefer to make your own way, the cycle trail is suitable for any bicycle with fat tyres.

Other cycle trails in the Bay of Islands

Kerikeri Historic Trail: This short 1.5km trail takes you through some of Kerikeri’s most important heritage locations, starting by the famous Stone Store and Mission House, and passing through Kororipo Pa and Rewa’s Village.

Aroha Island: Around 12km north of Kerikeri, Aroha Island is a sanctuary for native birds like the kiwi. It is linked to the mainland by a causeway is open to the public, with gates generally open from 9.30am til 5.30pm. There is a loop walk around the island at the end of the causeway, with markers for sites of interest.

Lake Ngatu: This freshwater dune lake is just north of Kaitaia and has a walking track around part of its perimeter that can be cycled.


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