Grade 1-2 | Easiest to Easy
Embrace unique adventures, friendly locals and gold mining history along the Hauraki Rail Trail, one of the easiest cycle trails in New Zealand.
Start your journey in Kaiaua. Ride along chenier banks beside the Firth of Thames, taking in the Shorebirds and lush farmlands with magnificent views to the Coromandel Ranges. Discover the incredible journey of the migratory Godwits at the bird-hides of the Pūkorokoro-Miranda Shorebird Centre. Travel south through the RAMSAR wetlands of international significance before reaching the Arts Trail, guiding you into Thames where you’ll find great options for food and accommodation.
Take the morning to explore the gold-mining heritage of Thames before heading east, travelling through verdant farmlands to Paeroa. Stop at one of the many cafes along the trail, including the The Cheese Barn at Matatoki for a sample of the region’s best with a great coffee or wine. Ensure you arrive early into Paeroa to explore the antique shops, and quench your thirst with a bottle of 'Famous in New Zealand' Lemon & Paeroa.
A whole day can be spent in the Gorge, so take your foot off the pedal as there’s plenty to explore. The majestic Karangahake Gorge offers many treats including Karangahake Winery Estate, and one of the Coromandel’s best restaurants, The Falls Retreat. Pack your togs as you may want to take a dip at one of the swimming spots along the way. There’s a historic hotel, and old railway station where you can catch the vintage train to Waihi and see a working gold-mine up close at the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre.
Enjoy the downhill ride through Waikino back to the Victoria Battery. A museum and underground kilns offer interesting insight into the gold-mining days of the 1900’s. Dip your toes in the pool beneath the Owharoa Falls, where Waka (canoes) used to gather. On the way back you won’t need to pedal through the 1km long tunnel, as the gentle gradient will pull you through. Stop for lunch at one of the cafes or the winery at the western end of the tunnel. Explore the artwork of Adrian Worsley in Te Aroha township, and the domain with its geysers and walking tracks. Finish the day with a soak at the Te Aroha Mineral Spa.
The newest section of Trail takes you through some of New Zealand’s richest farmland. Just 6km out of town you’ll find The Old Forge Kitchen, where delicious fare will set you up for the day. Heading south, you’ll pass the freshly mown grass of goat farms worthy of golf-course status. Riders pass the impressive Wairere Falls, thoroughbred horse-farms, and Firth Tower with its peaceful grounds and antique displays in the many buildings. Finally on arrival into Matamata (home of the Hobbiton Movie Set) enjoy a well earned rest out of the saddle. Cold refreshments and great food is available at one of the many bars and restaurants, including the Green Dragon Inn but you’ll need to book early.