The Timber Trail

2 days

87 km


  • Ancient forests
  • Rich culture & heritage
  • Thrilling suspension bridges


Cross Country/Enduro

Grade 2-3| Easy - Intermediate

Venture deep into Pureora Forest Park on a trail featuring ancient forest, birdlife, graceful suspension bridges and intriguing timber industry relics.

Lake Taupo
The Timber Trail, Lake Taupo

By Destination Great Lake Taupo

Hamilton - Waikato
The Timber Trail entrance, Hamilton - Waikato

By Sven Martin

Hamilton - Waikato
Misty forest in The Timber Trail, Hamilton - Waikato

By Sven Martin

Lake Taupo
The Timber Trail, Lake Taupo

By The Timber Trail


Located in the heart of the North Island, Pureora Forest Park is a mix of virgin, regenerating and exotic forest hosting such unexpected scenes as ancient trees crowding out a timber-miller’s tractor abandoned in the bush. Traversing this deep wilderness is an 87-kilometre trail (part of NZ Cycle Trail) revealing not only awe-inspiring beauty but also stories of how this special place has changed over the ages.

Riding the trail

The Timber Trail follows the path of old logging roads and tramlines, linked and smoothed using modern trail-building techniques. It runs between the tiny settlements of Pureora and Ongarue, with similarly small Piropiro around the halfway mark. Limited road access and remoteness make a two-day, one-way ride the most rewarding approach, starting in the north at Pureora.

After an easy warm up through a precious remnant of native forest near Pureora Visitor Centre, the trail gains 350m elevation in a steady fashion up Mt Pureora before it tracks predominantly downhill across the western flanks of the Hauhungaroa Range, its gorges spanned by eight of the highest and longest suspension bridges in New Zealand.

The first day’s ride usually ends at Piropiro Flats where there’s a basic campground, cycle access to Black Fern Lodge, and shuttle pick-up point for accommodation further afield.

The second day is easier and features mixed forest, various huts and bridges, and the ghostly terminus of the Ongarue Tramway that the trail follows through cuttings and around the nationally significant ‘spiral’.

The trail ends at Ongarue where riders can be collected by pre-arranged shuttle. Fit riders may continue onward for 26km to Taumarunui along an undulating rural road.

The trail can also be ridden as a one-day ride by choosing one section only, or by taking a return trip from one of the three main access points. Hardy riders can also complete the whole trail in one day.

View trail map here.

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New Zealand Cycle Trail Official Website

Click on the link below for more information and detailed maps about this cycle trail.

The Timber Trail

More information

Transport & tours

Bike hire, shuttles and accommodation can be arranged with Timber Trail Shuttle in Ongarue, Epic Cycle Adventures in Taumaranui, Blue Tui in Te Awamutu, and Adventure Shuttles in Taupo. Taupo-based Tread Routes offer shuttles, hire and fully guided tours across various North Island cycle trails.


Enjoy a comfortable overnight at the newly opened Timber Trail Lodge, which has been designed and built to make your Pureora experience even more memorable. Set in the middle of a renowned conservation park featuring huge podocarp trees and rare birds, the lodge opened in April 2017 with nine guest rooms, and expanded to 20 rooms in September 2017.

Alternatively, there are Department of Conservation campsites at Pureora and Piropiro. Lodging is available at Black Fern Lodge near Piropiro, Pa Harakeke at Pureora, and The Sleepout in Benneydale, and various other guesthouses in the surrounding countryside. The larger towns of Taumaranui, Te Kuiti and Taupo are all within an hour’s drive of the trail.

Be prepared

While the Timber Trail’s predominantly wide and smooth surface classifies much of it as grade 2 (easy). Some decent climbs and trickier sections, however, push it to grade 3 (intermediate) and make it most suitable for reasonably fit, experienced cyclists with a ship-shape mountain bike, toolkit and basic mechanical skills.

Although the trail is well signposted, riders should carry a map, cellphone (although coverage is patchy) and consider hiring personal locator beacon (PLB). Riders should also take plenty of food and water; there are water supplies along the way for topping up, and toilets at convenient intervals.

The trail passes through a mountain environment with a highpoint 980m above sea level, so warm clothing and wet weather gear are essential regardless of the forecast.

Useful links

The Timber Trail - the offical trail website
More tracks and trails around The Timber Trail
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism
Destination Great Lake Taupo
Visit Ruapehu

Timber Trail Lodge 

Find & book flights

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