The rail trail for beginners and cruisers
If you are new to cycling, or looking for cruisey experience, the Hauraki Rail Trail is a great place to start. Flat easy trail from town to town, never too far from a cafe, rest stop and bed for the night. It is easy to hop on and off the trail to create a flexible itinerary, but more and more people are discovering the sense of freedom of an overnight (or several nights) one-way biking trip. The really great thing about the rail trail is its consistency and the diversity of landscapes that it traverses. The northernmost leg starts in Kaiaua, taking in the Shorebird Coast, Hauraki Plains and rural hubs of Thames and Paeroa. The section through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi is still just as easy to navigate, even though the gorge is deep and steep, and heading further south brings you to the spa town of Te Aroha and pastoral Matamata.
Stay in cycle-friendly accommodation:
Miranda Holiday Park: Full park facilities and wide range of accommodation and a big plus, hot pools to soak those pedal-weary legs.
- Continental breakfasts available
- Town pool located right next door, Life Guards on duty daily in summer months
- Secure lock up facility for bikes and equipment
- Filtered cold water available - Perfect for refilling your water bottles! Join Pedlars Motel in their commitment to reducing plastic waste.
- One3One Restaurant/Cafe/Bar is right next door, with room service and charge back facility available.
Palm Motel, Waihi: Secure bike storage swimming pool and spa to relax, right in the heart of Waihi for access to restaurants etc.
Stops along the trail:
The Cheese Barn, Matatoki Organic cheeses made on site, full cafe menu and cute farm animals to pet over the fence.
Historical Maritime Park, Paeroa
They have a great Christmas Light show in December, but its worth a visit any time. A green park, museum with old naval and maritime relics, river cruises if the tide is right, alpaca, chickens and ducks and Mower the cat.
Gold Discovery Centre
For the stories behind the relics you will have seen in the Karangahake Gorge, a stop here makes the life of a miner and the quest for treasure come to life.
Where to hire a bike
Thames: Jolly Bikes in Richmond Street has high end comfortable e-bikes, through hybrid trekking bikes to fast mountain bikes. The kids trailers ensure everyone is up for some fun, especially the Wehoo trailers which littlies can pedal along in too. There are paniers for snacks and extra gear, and shuttles along the 197km trail so you can choose your ride. The team also book accommodation for multi-day adventures on the trail.
Paeroa: Hauraki Bike Hire in Wharf Road is ideally located for a Karangahake Gorge excursion. Kids bikes, E-bikes and cruiser,s MTBs and shuttle services.
Mountainbike parks for thrill-seekers
Whangamatā : A day at the Ridges Mountain Bike Park will have everyone hooked. Locals say the trails ride better in winter, and they’ve just finished upgrading Tsunami and Undertow trails (names that suit the Whangamatā surf reputation). With trails for all ages and skill levels, its a great family park with some hard-core trails. There are kids trails and a shaded area for picnics too. Situated just 4km north of town on SH25, in the Tairua Forest, the park is made and run by volunteers, so you need to purchase a pass or membership to support their hard work. At the crazy cheap price of $12 for a day pass, or $60 annual family membership, you will find yourself returning here time and again.
Check their Facebook page for updates
Bike Hire: Pedal and Paddle
Bike repair and sales: Highline MTB
E-Trikes: They're no good at the bike park, but a cruising fun option for the walkways and along the beach. Brand new last summer in Whangamatā, (and Aotearoa New Zealand), electric trikes from Coast Trikes. Ditch the car and take this eco-friendly option to cruise to the beach, around the harbour and up to the forest, along to the market, with the breeze in your face.
Coromandel Town: The park is just a 3-minute bike ride up Hauraki Road from the cafes in the centre of town, so couldn't be more central. Ride Coromandel is also a volunteer project, and needless to say they are mad-keen bikers. But make no mistake, the single tracks are professionally-built grade 3 with lots of berms and tight turns interspersed with flowing sections. There is a shorter grade 3 jump track and grade 2 skills track, but many families find that 7-9 year-olds can have fun on the longer track if everyone takes their time.
Pump tracks and kids courses
Coromandel Town: Ride Coromandel had an asphalt Velosolutions pump track, where they also run races and training events.
Paeroa: This BMX track is a cool community hub, definitely makes the grade for all ages. Club night on Tuesdays and race days some Sundays (for all ages and stages), family activity of the best kind.
Whitianga: You can bike to the park from downtown and ahve fun on the BMX and PUMP tracks in addition to a dirt track. There's a BBQ picnic area, a Skill Zone, toilet, drinking fountain and car parking.