Navigate the trail - Full ride information
Ride resources - to take on your ride
Choices for different riders! Download and print our new map with full trail notes and tips.... or download the Great Ride App and use it one the go.
Printed maps with the route notes are also available from Official Trail Partners (free)
Trail Ride Detail - highlights and stops
Day One - Pureora to Piropiro
Starting on the bush fringe where a large sign indicates the beginning of your adventure. Take the time to clean your bike (especially the wheels) and you shoes to protect the area from kauri dieback disease and other soil-borne diseases at the wash station.
Crossing the road, take a moment by the two large pou, signifying the start of your epic journey.
The first 15km of the ride is a gentle ascent of towards the highest point of the track as it sidles Mt Pureora. These first few km are through virgin rainforest saved from milling – with its amazing podocarp trees dwarfing all who pass underneath. The predator trapping programme in the area is ensuring the sound of birdlife in the morning is a welcoming cacophony – you may even be fortunate enough to have kākā parrots swoop past with their chattering call.
Around 3km in, you will come to a marked turnoff to a historic Crawler Tractor from the 1940s (left by a local bushman who was recovering tōtara for fenceposts). Take the short detour to see and understand the impact of machinery like this in breaking in the land. After a couple of bridges crossing bubbling creeks, the trail emerges into open felled area and scrub. From this point the trail climbs steadily for the next 5km to the shelter on the top of a cleared area before re-entering the magical forest.
The Forest edge shelter offers great views northwards and is a great place to take a short break. Heading back onto the trail and into the cloud forest, climb a further 5km to the highest point at 971m. This is a magical place with the trail winding through the stunted forest draped in hanging moss.
A short tramping track to the trig atop Mt Pureora (1,135m) is accessible from 13km. Well worth the walk if the weather and time are on your side. (Note – this is a one-way tramping track and footwear with sufficient tread are required)
Heading downwards for the next 8km the track offers brief glimpses of the Lake Taupō to the East along the way.
Further on at 22km your first suspension bridge of the journey is reached – and at 115m long it is worth a stop to appreciate the engineering feat. This is one of eight significant crossings along the trail.
Take a short stop to appreciate the old Stump House at the 33km mark. An interesting and humorous story of a unique home to tōtara fellers and their unique lifestyle.
At the 35km mark there is a turnoff to Black Fern Lodge with its own track winding up through the pine forest. Home to whio, rainbow trout and a massive waterfall – this is a great spot to recover.
On the main trail heading through the pumice fields and gravel sections you will reach the centre of Piropiro after 5km home to a range of accommodation options. For campers the Department of Conservation camp site offers all the basics.
The off-grid Timber Trail Lodge opened in 2017 and offers options for accommodation and food for both guests and through riders. Another kilometre down the trail is Camp Epic with self-catering glamping option complete with scenic showers. (Opened in 2019)
Day Two - Piropiro to Ongarue
Leaving Piropiro, the trail passes through regenerating forest while gently ascending and descending to the Maramataha Bridge at 44km. The longest (141m) and highest 53m) on the trail this also ranks as the third longest suspension bridge in the New Zealand.
Continuing to head South it’s a steady 30min climb up from the bridge before reaching the historic tramline, with easy flowing riding from here descending through the cuttings, past historic campsites to the Ongarue spiral.
The end of the line at the Tramway Terminus (47km) marks the start of the historic tramway route with remnants of a pioneering past including old workers huts, cuttings and bridges.
Toilets are located at Mystery Creek (53km) and No.10 camp (64km) along the way.
The Ongarue Spiral at 75km is an ingenious engineering solution with a loop in the main tram line easing the grade for the timber trains that made the 43m climb on this section achievable. Interpretation panels do a great job of explaining how this marvel came to fruition.
This section of the trail is replete with interpretation panels, do take the time to pause and read - and discover many insights to our past and our present in this precious place.
The trail exits the scrub and plantation forest before crossing a sealed road where the track skirts the edges of farmland following an undulating trail before crossing a small bridge to the Bennett's Road carpark. It is a couple of kilometres further on along a quiet road to Ongarue.