Timber Trail • Grade 2-3 • 85km

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Guided and self-guided package tours available.

ABOUT THE TIMBER TRAIL:

The Timber Trail is more than a bike ride. It is an adventure that will take you back in time and give you a sense of accomplishment. This 2 day Great Ride is the perfect weekend getaway to a forgotten land in the Centre of the North Island. Set in the huge Pureora Forest with with towering native trees, the Timber Trail first climbs the culturally significant Mt Pureora reaching 1000m above sea level before beginning an undulating descent towards massive suspension bridges with inspiring views. The Timber Trail crosses 4 significant ecological zones and the trail is made up of a few different track types: singletrack, old logging roads, and last but not least the trail follows the route of an old logging tramway which provides some wider straighter trail with gentler gradients.

Timber Trail Map

Location: Pureora Forest, Central North Island, NZ.  Length: 85km - most commonly ridden over 2 days

Grade: 2 - 3.  Some sections are grade 2 (about 70% of the trail), the rest is grade 3.

Seasons: The Timber Trail now rides well year round.

The Timber Trail has 2 main sections:

Pureroa to Piropiro Campsite 40km (day 1)

Piropiro Campsite to Ongarue 45km (day 2)

* Alternatively, if you do the trail over 2 days and overnight at Black Fern Lodge the daily distances are different (41km on day 1, and 56km on day 2).

The Timber Trail is in a remote area

The only public road access to the trail is at Pureora Village (the start), Ongarue (the end) and Piropiro Campsite (the midway point).

There is NO mobile reception for 95% of the trail. We strongly advise cyclists use our guiding service for safety purposes, or at minimum carry a Personal Locator Beacon. Contact us for details.

Getting to the Timber Trail: Driving time from major centres:
Start of the trail:              End of the trail:
Taupo to Pureora............ 1h 10min Taumarunui to Ongarue..... 0h 25min
Hamilton to Pureora........ 2h 0min Taupo to Ongarue.............. 2h 10min
Auckland to Pureora....... 3h 15min Wellington to Ongarue....... 5h 0min

Note: Do not use SatNav (or similar GPS navigation devices) to find Pureora / start of the trail. It will most likely send you to the wrong place, sometimes 1hr from where you need to be. Use the maps we will send you once you book with us.

Where to park at the Timber Trail:

North end of the trail - Pureora Village: at the Timber Trail Car park at the Nga Haerenga West Campsite.

South end of the trail - Ongarue: In the Timber Trail car park at the north end of Ongarue Village by the school. OR at the Bennett Rd Car Park 2.7km from Ongarue where track ends and meets the road.  

Also note: Tread Routes also offers round trip transport from Taupo.

Best places to stay while riding the Timber Trail: 

Timber Trail Lodge - a new lodge directly on the trail at the midway point. It is available as part of our Timber Timber Trail Package.

Black Fern Lodge - a rideable 6km off the trail. It is available as part of our Black Fern Package.

Piropiro Campsite - a basic DOC campsite, right on the trail at the midway point. There are no huts you can sleep in, there is no power and no drinking water. You must supply all your own camping gear, food and water.

SHUTTLE PRICING - Contact us to book

ROUND TRIP / TWO WAY SHUTTLE LOGISTICS AND PRICES:
 
The ride: Pureora Village to Piropiro • 40km • Grade 2-3
Logistics for this ride with a round trip shuttle:
Shuttle from Taupo to Pureora Village (1hr)
Ride to the Piropiro Campsite (4 - 6 hrs)
Shuttle from the Piropiro Campsite back to Taupo (2hrs)
$120 per person
 
The ride: Piropiro to Ongarue • 45km • Grade 2
Logistics for this ride with a round trip shuttle:
Shuttle from Taupo to the Piropiro Campsite (2hrs)
Ride to Ongarue Village (4 - 6 hrs)
Shuttle from the Ongarue Village Car Park back to Taupo (2hrs)
$120 per person
 
The ride: Pureora to Ongarue • 85km • Grade 2-3
Logistics for this ride with a round trip shuttle:
Shuttle from Taupo to the Pureora Village (1hr)
Ride to Ongarue Village (6 - 9 hrs)
Shuttle from the Ongarue Village Car Park back to Taupo (2hrs)
$120 per person 
 
ONE WAY SHUTTLE LOGISTICS AND PRICES:
 
The ride: Pureora Village to Piropiro • 40km • Grade 2-3
Logistics for this ride with a one way shuttle:
Drive your vehicle to the Pureora Village Timber Trail Car Park
Ride to the Piropiro Campsite (4 - 6 hrs)
Shuttle from the Piropiro Campsite back to your car at Pureora Village (1hr)
$90 per person
 
The ride: Piropiro to Ongarue • 45km • Grade 2
Logistics for this ride with a one way shuttle:
Drive your vehicle to the Ongarue Village Car Park
Shuttle from Ongarue to the Piropiro Campsite (1hr)
Ride back to your vehicle parked at Ongarue (4 - 6 hrs)
$90 per person
 
The ride: Pureora to Ongarue • 85km • Grade 2-3
Logistics for this ride with a one way shuttle:
Drive your vehicle to the Pureora Village Car Park
Ride from Pureora to the Ongarue Village Car Park (6 - 9 hrs)
Shuttle from Ongarue back to your car at Pureora Village (1hr)
$90 per person
NOTE: This can also be done with a morning shuttle from Ongarue to Pureora, so that you ride back to your car.
 

* Baggage transfers to and from the Piropiro Campsite and/or Black Fern Lodge are available on request. Also check out our Black Fern Package.

Guiding: Tread Routes is your Central North Island mountain bike guide, we have the largest range of trails to choose from and offer the most options. Our expert guides will not only show you way and provide insight into our land, but also teach you some bike skills as we go. With our guided experience you can be assured that you are in the best of care while in our remote wilderness.

Bike hire: We provide high quality hard tail mountain bikes for $60 per day. Most of our hire bike are in the $1000 - $1500 retail price range. High end dual suspension bikes are available on request. For your enjoyment it is important that you hire the right size bike, so we are here to help. When you contact us to make your booking the right information to get you on the right size bike. Helmets are provided with bike hire.

Timber Trail video produced by Tourism NZ

This video helps to provide a little insight into the type of experience the Timber Trail can offer. However, it's important to note that the video does not provide an accurate representation of the physical and technical difficulty of the trail. Also, Black Fern Lodge and the Maori cultural experience illustrated is not included in every package. Other accommodation options are available around the trail.

For an in depth description of the Timber Trail scroll past the photos below

Click on the images below to check out the Timber Trail.

The following is an in depth description of the Timber Trail:

The Pureora Timber Trail is one of the 23 Great Rides comprising the NZ Cycle Trail. This is an 85km trail that runs through the Pureora Forest Park located west of Taupo and South of Hamilton. The Timber Trail can be accessed from the north end at the Pureora DOC feild center (Pureora village) or from the South end at Ongarue, 24km North of Taumaranui. There is also vehicle access in the middle of the track at the remote Piropiro Flats DOC campsite. The Timber Trail is rich in logging history and follows the route the old Ongarue Tramway in the South. On the Timber Trail riders passes through four ecological areas including the amazing podocarp forest that once dominated the the entire area. 

The Timber Trail is generally best ridden from North to South since Ongarue has a lower elevation than Pureora Village. Off the start cyclists pass the historic crawler tractor and climb to the bush edge, from here the Timber Trail traverses the culturally significant Mt. Pureora before running along the western side of the Hauhungaroa Range and starting the descent to Ongarue. There is plenty of newly constructed track as well as the revived tramways so you can expect that it is well designed for cycling, but also enjoy the knowledge that the very routes under your treads were those travelled by the pioneering forestry workers in the early 1900s.

The Timber Trail is not to be rushed, for maximum enjoyment we recommend experiencing the Timber Trail over two days. There is a logical "half way" point at Piropiro Flats DOC campsite, or you can branch off the trail to accommodation.  Departing for the second half of the Timber Trail, riders head towards some swing bridges that have been built specifically for the cycle trail and are among the largest in NZ. They allow riders to cross stream valleys such as the Maramataha, Waione, and Mangatukutuku. The later part of the trail is largely on the Ongarue Tramway which is longest bush tramway in NZ and features the Ongarue spiral. This feat of engineering is just like that of the Raurimu spiral found on the main trunk railway line. The reconditioned Ongarue spiral allows cyclist to cross the upper bridge, ride around the sloped curve and tunnel then under the upper bridge. From the spiral, riders on the Timber Trail descends swiftly passed some large blasted benching before riding along  side the famland for the last 4km to the car park.

Construction of the original tramway began in 1922 after the building of the Mill in 1914 at Ongarue. In 1955 the tramway was closed because of damage from flooding and following that the mill was closed in 1966. Much of the tramway survives and has become one of the most popular North Island Cycle Trails over the past couple of years. Cyclist can enjoy “riding history” along the way passing through the deep “V cuts” and large tramway embankments that took so much effort to build many years ago. All the while the natural environment that remain is still impressive with extensive native bush, some of the largest native trees in the North Island, and abundant birdlife. The mossy cloud forest is something truly to be experienced and without a doubt it is best done from the saddle of a bike.