Waihi-Waikino (7km one way)
Start with an interactive exploration of the Gold Discovery Centre in Waihi where you can experience hands-on exhibits of gold mining artefacts and equipment. Bike hire is available at the Centre, or bring your own and cycle through Waihi’s heritage township to Goldfields Railway.
The Goldfields Historic Railway operates a seasonal timetable between Waihi and Waikino and will take your bike onboard for the 30-minute journey to Waikino. The vintage engine will transport you to Waikino Station, where there is plenty of space for car and bike parking and a cafe and picnic area in the picturesque surrounds of Waikino Gorge.
On the Rail Trail, pedal across the overbridge near the station to encounter the fascinating sites of Victoria Battery and the Victoria Battery Train and Museum. The Hauraki Rail Trail is shared with the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway and is ideal for cycling and stopping to explore spacious, park-like surroundings. Expect to see remnants of kilns, concrete foundations, steel relics and the Transformer (Sub Station) House - all that remains from what was once an enormous industrial area.
Cycle back along the Hauraki Rail Trail towards Waihi, following the picturesque river. The trail is mostly flat, with some gentle undulation through farmland before finishing back in historic Waihi township.
Karangahake Gorge Tunnel To Waikino Station (6.6km one way)
Begin at Karangahake Gorge carpark, and follow the signs to Karangahake Tunnel. This 1,100m tunnel was once the Paeroa-Waihi rail tunnel, now it is a fascinating adventure for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Bring a torch as it is dimly lit and can be hard to see others. Prepare to be impressed as the trail winds its way along the edge of the Waitewheta River, offering some of the best scenery of the entire journey. The track is flat and the terrain remains easy (Grade 1). The picturesque river setting will have you stopping to take in the surroundings at every opportunity.
Stop at Owharoa Falls for a swim in the crystal clear freshwater hole as water cascades down from its bush-clad setting. The Falls Retreat is adjacent to Owharoa Falls. Lunch amidst the trees beside the expansive garden or in the rustic restaurant with the wood fire blazing. The cycle trail continues along Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, through the Victoria Battery where steel and concrete relics line the path. Victoria Battery Train and Museum are worth a visit, also near the cycle trail. Information panels alongside the relics provide detail about the industrial history of the area.
Waikino Train Station is a vintage hub for the Waihi to Waikino Vintage Rail, which takes passengers and their bikes on the 30-minute journey through the Waikino Gorge between stations. There is car and bike parking at the station and plenty of space for a pitstop and refreshments at the Station Cafe.
Kōpū to Matatoki (10 km return)
Ideal for families with young cyclists, or those on a tight timeframe who wish to sample a taste of a real, regional New Zealand Cycle Trail, start your cycle trip by the bridge at Kōpū, 6km south of Thames. From here, the rail trail carves a wide easy track through the lush green pastures of the Hauraki Plains heading south. Towering Coromandel Ranges border the eastern side of the journey and herds of cattle graze peacefully in paddocks alongside the trail.
Continue through the tranquil rural pastures past the village of Matatoki to the Matatoki Cheese Barn. Here you can have lunch in the cafe and play, sample the wonderful cheeses hand-made in the cheesery and visit with the animals. Feed the alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep and birds and load up with delicious organic cheeses to take home with you.
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