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.
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 the Pureora settlement, 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 ends at Piropiro Flats where there’s camping and lodge accommodation (see below).
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.