Where is the Timber Trail and how do I get there?
The Timber Trail spans the Pureora Forest Park between Pureora and Ongarue. It is nestled between the Western shores of Lake Taupo, Taumarunui and Te Kuiti. (Waitomo).
The Timber Trail begins in Pureora Forest and is easily accessed off SH30 between Te Kuiti and Mangakino.
The central part of the trail, can be accessed from Piropiro campsite at the end of Kokomiko Road, Waimiha, and from Ongarue, via SH4 at the southern end. There is highway signage near Pureora and Ongarue to direct riders to the ends of the trail.
General guide times for travel are:
- Auckland to Ongarue is 260kms (around 3.5 hours driving)
- Ongarue to Pureora is 36kms ( around 45mins drive)
- Taupo to Purerora 132kms (2 hours drive)
- Taumarunui to Ongarue 24kms (20mins drive.)
- Te Kuiti to Ongarue 64kms (approx 1 hour)
- Te Kuiti to Piropiro 62kms (approx 1 hour drive - some gravel road)
The trail start is well signposted. (Look for the brown Timber Trail signs). If you are using a GPS navigation system, ensure you load the route before you leave reception coverage.
Most people drive to either end and park (or park at their accommodation provider) and then get a shuttle to the start (or back to their car at the end).
If you are using public transport, the best option is to get to Taumarunui and arrange for one of the shuttle providers to transfer you to their base (and the start of your trip) for a small fee.
How long and how hard is the track?
The track is 85 kms in length. Most riders choose to ride this over two days, with an overnight stay in the middle at one of the unique accommodation options.
Allow 5-7 hours per day of riding time.
The track is an adventure trail - but is well benched with a range of surfaces suitable for mountain bikes. The trail climbs to 940m above sea level and is undulating along its length. There are 31 bridges including spectacular suspension bridges (often rated as a highlight) and single track sections, mixed in the with wider flowing tracks and gravel road sections.
Riders should be physically fit and prepared for an endurance ride. Children who are old enough to ride longer distances may enjoy the adventure. Alternatively you may choose to ride sections of the trail. The trail is navigable with tow along bikes for experienced lead riders.
The trail is rated as a Grade 2 / 3 trail. (Easy/Intermediate)
The trail is a mix of : Easy: 64% / Intermediate: 36%. However, it should be remembered that this is a remote area and all riders should be well prepared for most mechanical and weather issues. We have provided some suggestions, tips and checklists so you are prepared.
Is the track easy to follow?
The track is well marked with kilometer markers along the full length. (These are bright blue and orange).
You can down load a copy of the track map and supporting notes here. Alternatively you can use the Great Rides NZ App (download the trail notes before you go).
When is the best time to ride the track?
The Timber Trail track is generally rideable all year round.
- Bookings in advance for accommodation and shuttles are advised in the October to May period as often weekends and holidays are at capacity and you don't want to miss out on your choice.
- Autumn and Winter are great times to ride, but do be prepared (actually all year) for changeable weather. See our preparation tips.
- Accommodation and services providers support the trail throughout the year.
- A high point of 980 m in a remote environment means the weather can be unpredictable - so stay safe and be prepared all year. We recommend riders check the weather forecast before departure and always be prepared for change regardless of the forecast
Will I see wildlife on the track?
The Timber Trail passes through magnificent podocarp forests of rimu, totara, miro, matai and kahikatea, as well as some exotic forestry and more open vegetation, offering extensive views of the surrounding landscape.
Pureora Forest Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, thanks to the intensive efforts to restore the forest over more than 20 years. There is a chance you may see some of New Zealand’s most iconic birds, including the cheeky kākā (bush parrot), pītoitoi (North Island robin), kererū (pigeon), kākāriki (parakeet). Those with eagle eyes and ears may even spot the particularly rare kārearea (New Zealand falcon), North Island kōkako, and the super-cute whio (blue duck) that bobs around fearlessly in fast-flowing water. (The morning dawn chorus is spectacular)
These forests are home to feral goats and deer (along with other pests such as possums, stoats and ferrets). Extensive work is underway by DOC and community partners to control these. Hunters do operate along the areas around the track especially during Spring and the Roar in March and April.
Do I need a guide for the Timber Trail
Most riders do this trip as a self guided option. There is fantastic interpretation signage all along the track telling the stories and highlights of this interesting and diverse trails history and ecology.
If you would like a guide to bring the track alive, there are approved guides who can take care of the whole trip for you. Guides must have a Department of Conservation Concession to operate on this trail.
Is there food and drink available for purchase on the track?
There are no shops or cafes on the track. Riders should be self sufficient with water and food for their journey. Stock up in Te Kuiti or Taumarunui before departing.
There is a coffee caravan in Manaiti-Benneydale operating most days.
Additional food and drink may be purchased at the Timber Trail Lodge during the day by arrangement. The accommodation providers may provide meals with their overnight packages. Please check with your provider.
What is the best direction to ride the trail?
The trail may be ridden in either direction, however the majority of riders ride East to West (Pureora to Ongarue). This direction gives an overall drop (after making the ascent of Mt Pureora to the top at the 15km mark).
Most of the logistics and services are geared for this direction.
How do I arrange transport and parking for the track?
Most riders do the track in one direction, so leave their cars securely parked with their accommodation/shuttle provider.
- Parking is also available at Pureora and Ongarue. These areas are not monitored.
- Shuttle operators can assist with transfer of you, your bikes and luggage to your accommodation and the start/finish of the track each day.
What kind of bike should I ride on the trail?
This adventure trail is best suited for full suspension or hard tail mountain bikes with knobbly tyres.
- Bike packers have ridden with gravel bikes, but these don't absorb the natural contours of the track as well.
- The trail surface is a mix of hard packed trail, gravel and old tram lines.
- Bike packers with panniers may find they need to remove these at some of the track barriers at times, but most of the track and bridges allow sufficient width to pass unimpeded. (There barriers are there to ensure that no motorised vehicles access to the track)
- Wheelchairs and recumbent bikes are not recommended for this track.
- Suitable bikes may be hired from Timber Trail track partners.
What gear should I take on the trail?
Being prepared is essential in this remote area.
- Ensure your bike is mechanically sound and you have tools and spares in case you need them.
- Take plenty of water and food (more than you think you will need)
- Pack warm clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent - plan for a range of weather.
- Carry an emergency first aid kit
- Carry a cellphone (for the limited coverage) and it is highly recommended at least one PLB per group.
Also notify someone of estimated departure and arrival times.
Check out our Plan Ahead section for downloadable checklists and bike preparation tips
Can I take Dogs on the trail?
Dogs are only permitted on the trail from Ngaherenga to Maramataha and with a valid DOC permit only. (This is generally for the purpose of hunting only)Contact the relevant DOC office to obtain a permit.
Is accommodation / camping is available on or around the track?
The trail is supported by a range of on track accommodation options - please book these directly.
Camping is permitted at the Piropiro flats campground - you will need to bring all your own camping gear and food. Additionally there is a camp site at Pureora Village.
Note: There is no camping at the carpark at the start of the track in Pureora.
The service towns of Ongarue, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui and Manaiti-Benneydale all have accommodation options ranging from motels, backpacker, lodge and self catering baches.
Are there toilets and water refill stations along the track?
Toilets are marked on our map. There are more toilets on the second section of the track.
- Please take your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser.
Drinking water: Water can be taken from streams along the trail.
- You may wish to boil, filter or treat it before drinking.
Note: There are no rubbish bins along the trail, please carry out all your rubbish and dispose of this appropriately.
Can I walk along the track?
Yes, walkers are welcome, this track is often used by walkers (and indeed makes up part of the Te Araroa trail).Allow 4 days to walk the full trail. If you have only 2 days, the section from Piropiro to Ongarue offers the best scenery, historic features and easiest gradient.
Walkers please give way to cyclists.
For day walks try:
- Bennett Rd, Ongarue, to the spiral (3 hr, 7.8 km)
- Bennett Rd to Mangatukutuku Bridge (5 hr, 13 km)
- Piropiro to Maramataha Bridge (2 hr, 4.5 km)
- Pureora to forest edge shelter (3 hr, 8 km)
- Pureora to Cabbage Tree Rd (2 hr 30 min, 6.9 km)
- Cabbage Tree Rd (Tui Rd) car park to Mt Pureora (2 hr 30 min, 5.7 km) part of Te Araroa walking trail
Is the track free to ride?
We do encourage riders who wish to support the development and conservation work on the track to donate to Friends of the Timber Trail. This group has as its core purpose the support of the trail.
Is there mobile coverage on the track?
There are two small sections of the track with mobile coverage. Generally speaking, the Timber Trail is a great place to unplug from the busy world and enjoy the outdoors.
There are numerous points for very good cell phone/mobile internet reception between km 9-18. Additionally there is a sign indicating ‘cell phone reception’ at km 68km and 72km marks.
- There is limited internet coverage at the two main lodges for guests.
- We do encourage riders to carry a PLB on the track so that in the unexpected event of an emergency help can be obtained quickly and efficiently. These can be hired from some operators or at the local i-site.
When was the track opened?
The track was officially opened in 2013 after work began in 2010.
How do I report any damage to the track?
Thank you for being our eyes and ears, our tracks are all our responsibility. If you see something that is not right, let your shuttle driver or accommodation know - or contact the Te Kuiti DOC office directly and let them know so it may be remedied.
If there is imminent danger or in an emergency then contact 111.