This easy Coromandel ride offers close encounters with small towns, verdant countryside, and a bushy gorge rich in mining history.
One of New Zealand’s easiest Great Rides, this trail follows old railway lines between the historic gold towns of Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha and Waihi. It offers contrasting scenery from the salt-licked Firth of Thames and verdant Hauraki Plains, to a rocky gorge strewn with intriguing gold mining relics.
The trail’s main gateway is Thames at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula, where the Trail Trust office provides advice, bike hire and transport for day-trips or the full three-leg ride taking 2–3 days.
From Thames, the trail begins with a leisurely half-day ride through lush farmland to Paeroa, with memorable views across the Hauraki Plains and forested Kaimai Ranges. The Matatoki cheese factory is also a highlight. The trail continues in a similar vein through to Te Aroha, a small rural town with historic mineral hot pools – a great way to soothe pedal-weary muscles.
Riders will discover a distinctly different landscape along the third leg from Paeroa to Waihi. Following the Ohinemuri River through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge, its highlights include a gushing waterfall, photogenic gold mining sites and the charmingly old-fashioned Victoria Battery Museum, as well as the freaky Windows Walkway that burrows through a shadowy side-gorge. The pièce de résistance is an amazing 1100-metre long railway tunnel, wobbled through with the aid of a torch.
Karangahake Gorge offers the ultimate day-ride when started from Waikino Station, 11km from Waihi and reachable by vintage train in season. Waikino Station has a bike hire depot and a quaint cafe, but the trail also passes the Falls Retreat, an atmospheric spot for lunch.
View trail map here.
The trail’s wide, smooth surface and gentle gradient make it a primarily grade 1 (easiest) trail, suitable for riders of all levels. A hybrid bike is suitable for the terrain.
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.
A temperate climate makes this an all-season trail. A lack of shade on the Plains makes sunblock essential in summer, and riders should always check the forecast and take appropriate clothing for the conditions.
The Hauraki Rail Trail Trust is a convenient one-stop shop for advice, bike hire, shuttles and luggage transfers, with guided tours also available. Their main office is in Thames, but there are also bike hire depots at Paeroa, Te Aroha and Waikino Station.
Pedaltours includes the Hauraki Rail Trail in its fully supported North Island cycle tours.
A wide range of accommodation can be found near the trail in Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Waihi, and dotted through the surrounding countryside. Accommodation providers partnered with the trail are listed on the Hauraki Rail Trail website.