Great Lake Trail & Timber Trail Tour
Experience the Great Lake Trail and Timber Trail in a 4-day package tour. Ride the 2 best cycle trails in the Central North Island!
$700 per person
Experience the untouched shores of Lake Taupo as you ride the rim our giant crater lake. Next, ride through ancient forests and across huge suspension bridges on the remote Timber Trail.
Scheduled or custom dates
Click on a date to book a tour, or click Request More Info to tell us when you would prefer to ride the trail.
Trail grades are based on technical difficulty only.
About the Tour
Combine 2 of NZ’s best cycle trails. This tour includes amazing views of Lake Taupo from untouched shores as you ride the rim of our great crater lake where there is interesting volcanic and cultural history as you ride the Great Lake Trail. On the Timber Trail you will ride in iconic native forest featuring some of NZ’s tallest trees, cross amazing suspension bridges in remote untouched environments, and learn about interesting native logging history. Unique accommodation in a beautiful remote environment in included.
These are the inclusions of the base package. Also see the optional extras below and don’t hesitate to ask us about further customisation.
- Round trip transport from Taupo accommodation. Each day we will pick you up from your accommodation to shuttle you to the start of the trail. Once you finish the ride, we will shuttle you back to your accommodation in Taupo (the Taupo accommodation is not included in the tour, we like to leave this open for your preferences).
- Boat ride on Lake Taupo – on the second day of the tour the trail ends at a remote beach and the only way back to civilisation is by boat.
- Baggage transfers to and from the accommodation on the Timber Trail – for the night in between riding days. Only ride with what you want for the day, you’ll find the rest of your baggage at your accommodation.
- One night of accommodation on the Timber Trail (in between riding days) – exact location varies according to date chosen. It will be either Black Fern Lodge or the Timber Trail Lodge.
- Three meals – Day 3 dinner, day 4 breakfast and a packed lunch (on the Timber Trail).
- Emergency Locator Beacon – we prioritise safety on our tours and make use of great technology. Each couple will be given a beacon at the start of the tour.
Having a guide is a great way to maximise the enjoyment of the ride. Our guides will not only show riders the way, they will also brief riders on upcoming trail segments. A guide can explain some of the history and geography of the area. Our guides know the emergency access points and where the hazardous parts of the trail are. Contact us for details and pricing.
- Hard tail (front suspension only) $200 for four days
- High-end full suspension mountain bikes $400 for four days
- E-bikes (electric mountain bikes) are available in hard tail and full suspension models. Contact us for more details.
Our bikes are high quality and are serviced between every use. They come standard with flat pedals, but we can fit Shimano SPD pedals for you on request
Extra nights of accommodation
We can include extra accommodation in Taupo for the night(s) before and/or after the the ride. A 15% booking fee applies. Ask us for options.
We can pick up your group from Taupo, Rotorua, or Auckland airports. Contact us for pricing.
Day 1 pick up approx. 8am, drop off approx. 6pm on Day 4. Exact times may vary.
Day 1: 34km (or 43km*) • Grade 3
Tread Routes will pick you up from your Taupo accommodation around 8am. Any hire bikes booked will already be loaded on the shuttle. It is a 25min drive to the start of the Great Lake Trail where your driver will set up the bikes and provide a briefing packed with useful info. The ride starts in a rural setting before descending to the remote Kawakawa Bay which is on Lake Taupo’s dramatic western shores. Halfway through the ride is the holiday village of Kinloch which provides the ideal lunch or coffee stop. Enjoy the beach, and even a swim if the weather is warm. After climbing out of Kinloch the Great Lake Trail then descends to the quiet undeveloped Whakaipo Bay Reserve where you may have an opportunity to swim before being shuttled just 20min back to their accommodation in Taupo. * Fitter faster riders also have the option of including the 9km Headland Loop after passing through Kinloch.
Day 2: 30km • Grade 3
Tread Routes will pick you up from your Taupo accommodation in the morning, and shuttle you 1hr to the other starting point of the Great Lake Trail at Waihaha. After a briefing the trail takes you along the dramatic Waihaha river gorge before following the lakeside cliffs to the beach at the remote untouched Waihora Bay. You will then board a boat for the 25min trip across the lake back to Kinloch where you will be picked by the shuttle for the return trip to Taupo.
Throughout the 2 days on the Great Lake Trail you will experience beautiful native bush as the trail crosses the ridges and valleys of the iconic Western Bay. Lake Taupo’s amazing volcanic history and rich cultural story provides a fascinating insight to the region that is best displayed and explained from the trail. Ask us about guided options for this tour.
Day 3: 40km (or 41km*) • Grade 2-3
Tread Routes will pick you up first thing in the morning for the 1hr shuttle journey to the start of the Timber Trail, where the driver will provide a briefing. You will start riding around 10am. The ride involves single track among huge native trees that up to 1800yrs old, there expansive views, and a lot of uphill riding during the first few hours. The ride ends at your accommodation for the night, which is one of two lodges in idyllic forest locations. Baggage will be transferred to the lodge while you are riding. Dinner is provided by the lodge, as well as breakfast and a packed lunch for the second day.
Day 4: 45km or (56km*) • Grade 2
The second days ride on the Timber Trail (day 4 of the tour) starts directly from the accommodation (no shuttles required in the morning). Today you will experience more fantastic native bush, amazing suspension bridges that have been built specifically for the trail, and interesting timber industry history as the trail follows the route of an old logging tramway. There is more descending than climbing on day two. Baggage will be picked up from the lodge while you are riding. Once you reach the end of the trail, you will be shuttled two hours back to your accommodation in Taupo.
This package includes one night of accommodation – the night when you are out on the Timber Trail. It does not include the accommodation in Taupo. We allow you to book this yourself because we know that mountain bikers come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their tastes and budgets for accommodation. We will recommend some Taupo accommodation options.
The date you choose will determine which of the two lodges you will enjoy while on the Timber Trail. For custom tours with a minimum of 4 people we will give you options of where to stay on your chosen date.
Black Fern Lodge is a small rustic lodge that is well suited to the Timber Trail theme. The buildings and property are decorated with relics from timber industry that have come out of the forest. The Lodge sits on the banks of the Ongarue River where they manage their own a Blue Duck Protection Project. To get to the lodge by bike you follow a 6km linking track off the Timber Trail from the 35km marker. Black Fern has two areas: “The Lodge” has double/twin rooms each with their own toilet & shower. “The Forge” area has rooms with a mixture of singles and bunk beds. Rooms in the Lodge area are included as standard in our packages on the scheduled dates.
The new Timber Trail Lodge has been built specifically for the Timber Trail, and is right next to the trail at Piropiro. The Timber Trail Lodge is modern, professional, and is designed with socialising in mind, the large lounge and dining areas have a fire place and comfy seating. The deck has amazing views of native bush and is a great place to bask in the sun after an amazing ride. There are double/twin and triple with ensuite or shared bathroom facilities. The ensuite rooms are included as standard in our packages on the scheduled dates.
A moderate to high fitness level is required for this tour. The shortest day is 30km and the longest day is either 45km or 56km (depending on your date/accommodation on the Timber Trail). You should expect to be on your bike for around 4-6hrs per day (this includes a little stopped/rest time on the trail).
You will need some mountain biking experience to safely complete this tour. About half of this tour is on Grade 3 trails, while the rest is Grade 2. If you are not sure what a Grade 3 trail is like, please visit our Trail Grades page. If you have no mountain biking or off-road cycling experience, this tour is not the best choice. In that case, you should consider our Cycle Trail Tour.
The group size for this tour can be anywhere from 4 to 10 people. Singles or couples may join other groups to share in transport if applicable to make up the minimum numbers. The minimum of 4 people is due to the length of the shuttle journeys and associated time and running costs. The Great Lake Trail transport can be done for 2 people but the Timber Trail transport must have a minimum of 4. Ask us whether we have others going on the dates you are interested in.
On self-guided tours you are not expected to ride with the other people booked on the tour. It is designed for “at your own pace” riding. You may simply like to catch up with the other riders and share some tales from the trail over a meal at your accommodation.
On fully guided exclusive tours (where you have a guide dedicated to your group), the guide will informally structure the ride so the group can stay together as much as possible. After all, cycling is a social activity, and we help to ensure it’s fun for everyone.
Why is the Taupo accommodation not included?
We allow you to book this yourself because we know that cyclists come in all shapes an sizes, and so do their budgets.
Can the Taupo accommodation be included?
Yes. We can book it for you at one of our preferred providers, but it will subject to a booking fee that is the equivalent of 15% of the Taupo accommodation price.
Can you recommend any accommodation providers in Taupo?
Yes. The Taupo Millennium Hotel, Beech Tree Suites Motel, and Huka Falls Resort are all great options. Taupo also has a great many holiday houses for rent that may suit your group. Check out www.bookabach.co.nz or www.holidayhouses.co.nz.
What if I only want to ride 3 of the 4 days?
No problem. Just let us know when you book and we will discuss details. In that case, most people would skip one of the Great Lake Trail days.
Which trail is harder?
It depends on you point of view and what type of rider you are. The Great Lake Trail is entirely made up of Grade 3 singletrack so it is a little more technical than the Timber Trail, while the Timber Trail has mandatory distances of 40+ km so it’s has longer distances.
Is the boat ride on the Great Lake Trail mandatory?
Yes. The Waihaha-Wahora Section of the trail (what is usually Day 2 of the tour) ends at a remote beach with no road access, so the only way out is by boat.
Can I hire a bike from you?
Yes. We have hard tail and full suspension models available and will help you choose the right bike for the tour. We can also supply E-bikes. All our bikes are high quality and very well maintained.
Should I hire a guide?
It largely depends on your level of cycling experience and what you aim to get out of the ride. There are a lot of different elements packed into our guiding service: safety management, historical and geographical interpretation, riding skills tips, mechanical skills, emergency management, and more. We know how to help you get the most out of the ride. Contact us for more info.
Why does this tour include different Timber Trail accommodation on different dates?
There are two great accommodation providers near the midpoint of the Timber Trail. Black Fern Lodge has existed for a long time, while the Timber Trail Lodge is brand new. They each have their own style and benefits, and we know that riders have different tastes so we have reserved dates a each one. Ask us more about each one.