Easy - Intermediate
Stretching between the Bay of Islands in the east to Hokianga Harbour in the west, this journey is rich in history and local hospitality.
Coastal views, wetlands, native forest and rolling farmland can all be enjoyed on this coast-to-coast ride between the popular Bay of Islands and peaceful Hokianga Harbour. Following smooth rail trail, dedicated cycle paths and country roads, it also offers an opportunity to visit historic and cultural sites while enjoying the sub-tropical climate for which Northland is famous.
Featuring on- and off-road riding, this trail is generally flat and wide with a smooth surface and gentle climbs, making it suitable for riders of most abilities.
Travel from the famously beautiful Bay of Islands to remote, picturesque Hokianga Harbour, or vice versa.
A deservedly popular option is the 14km return trip from Opua, near Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Starting at the marina cafe where there are bikes for hire, this super-easy trail follows an old railway line alongside a wetland and across an impressively restored old bridge to the charming wee station at Taumarere. The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway runs occasionally between the station and Kawakawa.
Famous for its quirky Hundertwasser toilets and offering numerous other visitor services, Kawakawa is the setting-off point for a 6km stretch to Lucas Road. Another 7km section following the old railway line from Mangakahia Road (near Kaikohe Airport) to Kaikohe is also open.
From Kaikohe town centre, it’s also possible to cycle the 14-kilometre section to Okaihau.
View the trail map here.
A predominant grading of 1–2 (easiest to easy) makes this a ride for most abilities. A hybrid bike is suitable for most terrain, although a mountain bike will ensure maximum comfort and safety. The trail is well signposted, with some sections following historic Māori pathways marked with carved pou (pillars).
Although well signposted and seldom far from roads and settlements (some with cafes), riders should carry a map, sufficient food and water, basic tool kit and cellphone (although coverage may be patchy). Toilets are located at convenient intervals.
Northland’s sub-tropical climate makes for great cycling at any time of year although riders should check the forecast and take appropriate clothing for the conditions.
Based in Kaikohe with a hire depot at Opua, Top Trails Hire & Tours offers bike hire, shuttles and package tours taking in other local highlights, with guided rides available by arrangement.
Riding the trail can easily be factored into a visit to the Bay of Islands, overflowing with accommodation, restaurants and memorable activities from cruising and wine tasting, to visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Kawakawa, Kaikohe and the surrounding countryside also offer some atmospheric options such as Riverhead Guesthouse on the shores of Hokianga Harbour.