Great lake trail

Image by Holger Detje from Pixabay

This all-seasons trail explores the forested shores of Lake Taupō in the North Island of New Zealand, with inspiring views across to the peaks of .

Skirting the shore of New Zealand’s largest lake, the Great Lake Trail features lush forest and wetlands, waterfalls, beaches and panoramic views from a series of lookouts. It is part of the NZ Cycle Trail and is easily accessed from the resort town of Taupō. The whole ride can be spread over two days, or broken into shorter sections of various lengths and difficulty. Overall, the track is smooth and flowing, but a number of moderate hill climbs make this most suitable for reasonably fit riders.

The only downfall I can see with this particular cycle trail is Taupō proximity to the mountains which means temperatures can drop very quickly, even in summer.

Twin Coast Cycle Trail

Photo: Sids

Stretching from the Bay of Islands in the East to Hokianga Harbour in the West, this journey is rich in history and local hospitality.

Coastal views, wetlands, native forest and rolling farmland can all be enjoyed on this coast-to-coast ride between the popular Bay of Islands and peaceful Hokianga Harbour. Following smooth rail trail, dedicated cycle paths and country roads, it also offers an opportunity to visit historic and cultural sites while enjoying the sub-tropical climate for which Northland is famous.

Riding the trail can easily be factored into a visit to the Bay of Islands, overflowing with accommodation, restaurants and memorable activities from cruising and wine tasting, to visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Kawakawa, Kaikohe and the surrounding countryside also offer some atmospheric options.

Mountains to sea

Image by Makalu from Pixabay

Beginning on the slopes of a live volcano, this ride reveals varied natural and human history on its winding, often remote path to the sea.

Starting on the volcanic slopes of Mt Ruapehu, towering above the desert in the middle of New Zealand’s north island, this is an epic journey through two national parks, rolling hill country and Remote River gorges. It reaches a fitting finale at the deep, blue Tasman Sea.

A snow-capped and occasionally smoking volcano signals the start of this epic ride across an otherworldly plateau and alongside a deep wilderness river to the Tasman Sea coast. It’s a journey rich in natural and cultural heritage, featuring such memorable sights as an old cobbled coach road, towering bluffs, the Bridge to Nowhere and the mystical Whanganui River.

The trail is one of 22 Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, known in Māori as Nga Haerenga – ‘The journeys’. True to the name, their trail network follows the pathways of those who’ve gone before, traversing a series of amazing landscapes to show you natural wonders and reveal important stories from the past.

The Timber Trail

Photo credit: Thomas Camp

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

An overnight stay on the Timber Trail is a truly memorable experience, with bush walks stargazing and a dawn chorus just part of the appeal.

Hauraki Rail Trail New Zealand

Hauraki Rail Trail – North Island

Although I have not been lucky enough to experience the great rides of the North Island of New Zealand they certainly do look just as impressive and beautiful as the South Island ones.


Located just over an hour south of Auckland is the small town of Thames on the way to the Coromandel. From here, you can access the stunning Hauraki Rail Trail. One of New Zealand’s easiest Great Rides.

This trail follows old railway lines between the historic gold towns of Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha and Waihi. It offers contrasting scenery from the salt-licked Firth of Thames and verdant Hauraki Plains, to a rocky gorge strewn with intriguing gold mining relics.

A temperate climate makes this an all-season trail but a distinct lack of shade on the Plains makes sunblock essential in summer!