Hauraki Rail Trail Itineraries
Experience the Hauraki Rail Trail as a multi day journey taking 4-5 days to truly experience the beauty and landscapes along the way or break the journey and enjoy several short day rides.
Kaiaua -Thames 55km
Starting at Ray’s Rest, with spectacular views across the Firth of Thames, ride 4km along the East Coast Road before meeting the start of the trail just south of Miranda Shorebird Centre. The trail is flat and easy riding on sandy white gravel. Expect to enjoy views of The Coromandel ranges and the length of the Thames coast while pedaling the southern shores of the Shorebird Coast.
A short wander along the boardwalk will take you to the Bird Hide at the Robert Finley Wildlife Reserve on the Miranda shellbank. Recognised as a Wetland of International Importance, this is a prime spot to identify many species of shorebirds. Continue south along stop banks through wetlands and farmland with Miranda Hot Pools enroute.
Take a rest stop at Waitakaruru before the trail heads east toward Thames, offering spectacular views of The Coromandel Ranges. Enjoy a coffee at Pipiroa’s Bugger Cafe; the last stop before crossing the Waihou River over the Kopu Bridge. At Kopu, the northern-bound trail leads you through Totara into historic Thames township via the wharf.
Miranda Holiday Park provide secure car parking for rail trail riders ($20) and there is car parking in Thames at Danby Field. Fresh fish and chips at Kaiaua is a must on your return journey to Kaiaua, overlooking the idyllic Shorebird Coast.
As you approach the town centre, stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.
Thames is a fascinating town to spend time wandering around the revitalised historic Grahamstown area, browsing its quirky boutiques and cafes before commencing the cycle trail.
Starting at Danby Field, the Thames cycle trail follows the Thames Coastal Walkway south past its historic wharf. Formerly an old railway line, this is mostly flat terrain with the Southern Coromandel Ranges to the east and Hauraki Plains to the west. Enjoy great views of the Waihou River and Kopu Bridge as you leave Thames and pedal through Kopu. Experience the crunch of gravel under tyres as the rural landscape opens out before you spanning the Hauraki Plains.
Just 12km south of Thames is Matatoki Cheese Barn. Witness various cheeses being made through the viewing window, sample a cheeseboard at the cafe and feed the alpaca and other farm animals before pedaling a further 4km to Puriri. The Coach House Puriri was established in 1881 and is a fine example of an historic country pub.
Pedal another 7km before coming to the country village settlement of Hikutaia, where refreshments are available at The Convenient Cow Cafe. Enjoy your final leg of the journey through the flat rural pastures of the Hauraki Plains before arriving at Ohinemuri Park in Paeroa. The Historical Maritime Park, once New Zealand’s most inland port is a highlight. From March 2020 there will be alternative transport for cyclists into the township of Paeroa, via the Waihou and Ohinemuri Rivers.
Stop for a landmark photo at the giant ‘world famous in New Zealand’ L&P bottle. Paeroa is well-known for it’s eclectic selection of antique and curios shops - well worth a wander following your bike ride.
From Ohinemuri Park, follow the old Paeroa to Waihi railway line along the banks of the Ohinemuri River into Karangahake Gorge, one of the 14 Wonders of New Zealand. A highlight of the journey is the 1,100m Karangahake Tunnel accessible only to cyclists and pedestrians.
The Hauraki Rail Trail converges with many walking trails and heritage sites at Karangahake Gorge. The Windows Walk is an excellent way to absorb the historical, natural and scenic highlights of Karangahake Gorge in a short timeframe. It covers 2.5km and takes less than an hour to walk.
Cycle on to Waitawheta Road to witness the stunning Owharoa Falls, just a couple of minutes detour off the cycle trail. A refreshing spot for a swim in the waterhole and photo of the waterfall before stopping for lunch at nearby The Bistro At Falls Retreat. Cycling on towards Waihi, the trail is shared with The Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway which includes the Victoria Battery Site, Victoria Battery Train and Museum. Mining relics can be seen from various vantage points along the trail, with information panels offering a rich history.
From Waikino Tavern, enjoy a gently winding ride along the Waitewheta River to Waikino Train Station and a further 7km on to Waihi Station. The heritage charm of an early New Zealand gold mining town is evident throughout Waihi. View the open pit Martha Mine at the top of Waihi township and learn about the area’s history at the Gold Discovery Centre across the road.
Paeroa-Te Aroha 23km
From Paeroa, this section of trail is easy, rural and relaxing. The Coromandel Ranges merge to meet the 952m Mt Te Aroha and the Kaimai Ranges along the south eastern side of the trail. The flat plains of Hauraki segues into the dairy country of the Waikato. Take care on the various cattle stops along this leg of the trail, many of which traverse through dairy farms.
About 7km from Paeroa, The Depot Garden Cafe is a tranquil halfway spot for morning tea, including plunger coffee and home-made scones amidst the topiaries and box hedging of their formal garden.
Witness herds of cows and other farm animals as you ride through approximately 14km of lush green paddocks towards Mt Te Aroha (known as the mountain of love). On arrival in Te Aroha, enjoy a relaxing soak in the steaming mineral pools the spa town has to offer. Absorb the charm of Te Aroha’s picturesque domain. The Edwardian domain was developed in the late nineteenth century at a time when the medical benefits from geothermal springs were highly regarded. Hydrotherapy equipment, Te Aroha Domain China and other artifacts can be enjoyed in the Domain Museum.
Te Aroha - Matamata 37km
This gentle section of trail passes through fertile plains, significant horse studs, goat farms, groves of scented trees, scenic Wairere Falls, ravines, Stanley Landing and the Firth Tower.
Reaching the township of Matamata brings the opportunity to celebrate the end of your journey with a cold drink a the Good Merchant before a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Make sure you book in advance if you want an evening experience. The gardens are beautiful in this fairytale world, and nothing beats a tipple at the Green Dragon Inn.
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 artifacts 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 Railwayoperates a seasoanl timetable between Waihi and Waikino and will take your bike onboard for the 30 minute journey to Waikino. The Waikino vintage steam engine will transport you to Waikino Station, where there is plenty of space for car and bike parking, and a cafe and picnic areas 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 in spacious, park-like surrounds. Expect to see remnants of kilns, concrete foundations, steel relics and the Transformer (Sub Station) House - all 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, 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 terrain remains easy (Grade 1). The picturesque river setting will have you stopping to take in the surrounds at every opportunity.
Stop at Owharoa Falls for a swim in the crystal clear fresh water 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.
Thames to Matatoki (8 kms total)
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 sampling cheese at Matatoki Cheese Barn, 12km 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 for 4km to Puriri. The Coach House Puriri is a short detour off the trail. Established in 1881, this historic country pub serves a modern menu suitable for all appetites. Eat in the dining room overlooking the garden and children’s playground before heading back out on the trail toward Matatoki.
Finish your trip with a visit to the animals at Matatoki Cheese Barn. Feed the alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep and birds and choose from a variety of delicious organic cheeses to take home.