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Rere Falls Trail offers a great view of heartland NZ, taking you on mostly quiet sealed and gravel roads. The route stretches just over 100km between Gisborne and Matawai.
From Matawai, you can ride Motu Trails to Opotiki, crossing the Eastland region from Poverty Bay to the eastern Bay of Plenty.
Rere Falls Trail peaks out at about 500m altitude. The full coast-to-coast crossing (both Rere Falls Trail and Motu Road Trail) is about 180km, and hilly. You can ride in either direction. A mountain bike or gravel bike is appropriate.
Rere Falls Trail takes you past vineyards, orchards, farms, and pockets of native forest. Most spectacularly, you also pass Eastwoodhill Arboretum, the national arboretum of New Zealand, plus Rere Falls and Rere Rockslide. A visit to all three is recommended.
Riding Rere (starting at Matawai):
0-7km. As well as being the north-western end of Rere Falls Trail, Matawai is the southern end of the Motu Trails, 75km from Opotiki. Matawai is a small rural settlement with a shop, petrol station, toilets and shelter. There’s accommodation.
From Matawai, you have 7km of riding on State Highway 2, heading towards Opotiki. The highway is usually only busy at peak holiday periods but take care.
7-50km. For many, Te Wera Road is the start of the Rere Falls Trail ride. After a few kilometres of tar-seal, you’re onto gravel road. The hills are moderate, both up and down. You follow Tahora and Wharekopae Roads.
50-60km. A big, gravel descent drops several hundred metres in elevation. (It's a big climb the other way!) Then you’re back onto tar-seal roads and at Rere Rockslide and Rere Falls.
Rere Rockslide is a natural rock formation which you can slide down — it’s totally free, slightly crazy and a lot of fun. A boogie board or inner tube is best: usually something has been left behind that you can use. You must be able to swim as the pool at the bottom is deep. And take care on the rock, which is super-slippery.
Rere Falls is more sedate, though if the flow is low, you can climb behind them if you want a bit of adventure.
65km. Eastwoodhill Arboretum is the national arboretum of New Zealand. They have 3500 northern hemisphere species, and in autumn the place is a blaze of colour. It’s a wonderful, calming visit year-round, with over 20km of walking tracks and trails.
The arboretum is run by a trust and has a big vision in helping the preservation of species at risk. Eastwoodhill has affordable, comfortable accommodation. They are Motu Trails official partners and welcome goups of cyclists.
70-100km. You’re onto the Gisborne flats — orchard and vineyard country. A short diversion off the signed route takes you to The Jolly Stockman Hotel, at Matawhero. The Jolly is a great stop for refreshments, and a good place to stay.
In Gisborne itself, Portside Hotel is also an excellent place to start or finish your ride. Both these companies are Motu Trails official partners so they love cyclists! For details see http://www.motutrails.co.nz/service-providers/
Self-guided, guided and supported rides
If you’re looking for a supported ride, Cycle Gisborne offers the option of self-guided and group guided packages, including their popular Eastwoodhill Express package. This is a fantastic experience, you get dropped off at Eastwoodhill and ride back to Gisborne. Shuttle transport companies Motu Trails Limited, and Motu Trails Hire & Shuttle also offer transport for groups riding Rere Falls Trail.
Find out more on the Motu Trails web site: http://www.motutrails.co.nz/explore-the-trails/trail-descriptions/