The Timber Trail is an adventure that will take you back in time and give you a sense of accomplishment.
The Timber Trail is the perfect weekend getaway to an all but forgotten land in the centre of the North Island. It includes single track in ancient native forest, huge suspension bridges, and fascinating history of the Timber Industry.
About the Trail
You will ride through some of the oldest forests in NZ, among huge 1800-year-old trees, and experience bird life that that is reminiscent of early NZ. A huge suspension bridge will allow you to glide across valleys, and you will be intrigued by stories from NZs pioneering native Timber Industry days as you ride the route of an old logging tramway.
The Timber Trail is an 85km grade 2-3 trail that is usually ridden over 2 days. It is one of the 22 Great Rides that make up the NZ Cycle Trail. You can stay overnight on the trail in one of two conveniently located lodges that are accessible from the trail and provide meals and comfortable beds.
Our Timber Trail package tours include all the necessities to make your adventure enjoyable, easy to plan, and easy to book. Check out our Great Lake Trail & Timber Trail Tour page.
The Timber Trail has 2 main sections:
- Pureroa to Piropiro 40km (day 1)
- Piropiro to Ongarue 45km (day 2)
At Piropiro there is a Lodge and campsite.
The Timber Trail is in the middle of nowhere, therefore depending your travel and accommodation plans there will be at least a little travel time to the trail on the morning of your first day of riding.
The start of the trail (Pureora Village) is located on Barryville Rd, just 3km off SH30 in between Benneydale and Mangakino.
There is limited phone reception on the roads around the Timber Trail, and no phone reception at Pureora Village/start of the trail so be prepared and make sure you know how to get there without the use of a phone. Also some SatNav devices will sometimes send people to the wrong end of the trail, which is 1hrs drive from where you need to be.
It’s best to spend the night before your ride at or near the trail so you don’t have a long drive the morning of your ride. It will be a big day as it is without adding a long drive. A great place to spend the night before your ride is Taupo which is the nearest major town to the start of the trail. Taupo is a spectacular place and there are lots of accommodation and options, restaurants, and cafes. Taupo is 1 hour from the start of the Trail and 2 hours from the end. We provide round trip transport from any Taupo accommodation, or you can meet us at the start of the trail.
Taupo has a small airport, otherwise the next nearest airports are Rotorua, Hamilton and Auckland. The start of the trail (Pureora Village) is 1 hour’s drive from Taupo and 4 hours’ drive from Auckland.
Getting to the Timber Trail – Driving time from major centres:
Start of the trail
- Taupo to Pureora: 1h 0min
- Hamilton to Pureora: 2h 0min
- Auckland to Pureora: 3h 30min
End of the trail:
- Taumarunui to Ongarue: 0h 25min
- Taupo to Ongarue: 2h 10min
- 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 1 hour from where you need to be. Use the maps we will send you once you book with us.
If you are doing the Timber Trail over 2 days, and staying in Taupo the night before, the best place to park your car while you are on the trail is at the accommodation you use the night before your ride. If meet us at the start of the trail we can include overnight parking at a facility on private land in your package.
If you are doing a day trip on the second half of the trail, the best place to park is at the end of the trail (Ongarue), in the Bennett Rd Car Par.
If you are doing a day trip on the first half of the trail you can either park at start (Pureora Village) or the mid-point/Piropiro Campsite. The best place to park will depend on the shuttle logistics and times available. Contact us for details and availability.
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 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.
You will need to take a shuttle to ride the Timber Trail, unless you just doing a day trip and plan to turn around and ride back to your car.
The Timber Trail has 2 main sections:
Day 1: Pureroa to Piropiro • 40km • Grade 2-3
The part of the Timber Trail is singletrack in stunning untouched native forest. The first 14km of the trail climbs the culturally significant Mt Pureora reaching 1000m above sea level. From there the trail begins an undulating descent towards Piropiro and crosses massive suspension bridges with inspiring views. Around the 25km mark the trail widens and joins some joins some old logging roads.
Day 2: Piropiro to Ongarue • 45km • Grade 2
After following a mixture of undulating gravel roads and new trail to the largest bridge, the Timber Trail then climbs for 3km before connecting with the route of a logging tramway. This tramway section is generally wider straighter trail, but is NOT “all downhill”. There are interesting historic sites and relics of the Timber Industry to be seen if you know where to look.
* 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, and very limited road access at only 3 points (the start at Pureora Village, the middle at Piropiro, and the end at Ongarue). We advise cyclists to use our guiding service for safety purposes, or at minimum carry a Personal Locator Beacon.
One-Way Shuttle Options
(Scroll down for more detail or skip to the next section for TWO-WAY / ROUND TRIP shuttle options.)
Price per person based on the number of seats you are booking
|Pick up||Drop off||4/5||6/7||8-11|
As part of our packages, we also provide a baggage transfers to/from the Timber Trail Lodge and Black Fern Lodge. Contact us for details.
Skip to the next section for TWO-WAY / ROUND TRIP shuttle options.
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)
$65 per person if you book 4 or 5 shuttle seats
$55 per person if you book 6 or 7 shuttle seats
$50 per person if you book 8 to 11 shuttle seats
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 Timber Trail Lodge and Black Fern Lodge are also available. Enquire Now for details.
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)
$95 per person if you book 4 or 5 shuttle seats
$75 per person if you book 6 or 7 shuttle seats
$65 per person if you book 8 to 11 shuttle seats
Skip to the above section for one-way shuttle options.
Hard tail (front suspension only): Specialised Rockhopper Expert ($1600 retail value)
- $70 for one day
- $120 for two days
High-end full suspension mountain bikes: Specialised Camber Comp ($4000 retail value)
- $120 for one day
- $240 for two days
E-bikes (electric mountain bikes) are available in hard tail and full suspension models. Ask us for more details and prices. Limited quantities available.
Our hire bikes come with a helmet, spare inner tube, tire levers, pump, and multi tool. The bikes come standard with flat pedals, but we can fit Shimano SPD pedals for you 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, we will gather the correct information to get you on the right size bike. Our hire bikes are high quality and you can be sure to have a great ride because they are cleaned, checked, and serviced between every use.
Bike hire is usually paired with transport services. However, we can provide bike hire only if you are looking for hire a full suspension bike for 2 or more days.
If you are booking a shuttle and bike hire, your bike will be on the shuttle ready to go at the time of pick up. You do not pick up your bike beforehand.
Accommodation for the night before and/or after your ride:
It’s best to spend the night before your ride at or near the trail so you don’t have a long drive the morning of your ride. It will be a big day as it is without adding a long drive.
Taupo is a great place to spend the night before your ride. It is the nearest major destination town to the start of the trail. Taupo is a spectacular place and there are lots of accommodation and options, restaurants, and cafes. Taupo is 1hr from the start of the Trail and 2hrs from the end. We provide round trip transport from any Taupo accommodation in our package tours, we can also include the extra accommodation in the package so it really easy for you to book your holiday.
If it is not logistically sensible for you to stay in Taupo the night before your ride, there are other options. We can include accommodation in some Chalets near the start of the Timber Trail, or bach/cottage accommodation in Benneydale which is 20mins drive from the start.
Alternatively, if you have a large group and want to stay at the Timber Trail Lodge for 2-3 nights we can include this in a custom package.
Accommodation for the night in between riding days
This is included in any of our standard Timber Trail Tours. We also include 3 meals from either of the lodges so all you need to organise for your time on the trail is your lunch for day 1, and some of your favourite riding snacks.
There are two Lodges that you can ride to directly from the trail:
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.
Having a guide is a great way to maximise the enjoyment of your ride. The Timber Trail is rich in both natural and cultural history and a guide can explain some of this at key locations as you ride the trail. 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.
Timber Trail Introduction
The Timber Trail is one of the 22 Great Rides that make up the NZ Cycle Trail. This is an 85km two-day trail that runs through the amazing Pureora Forest Park, which is located west of Taupo, South of Hamilton, and North of Taumarunui.
The Timber Trail is best ridden from North to South since Ongarue (the south end) has a lower elevation than the start at Pureora Village.
The Timber Trail is the perfect weekend getaway to an all but forgotten land in the centre of the North Island. The Timber Trail passes through some of the oldest forests in NZ as it weaves around huge 1800-year-old trees, and riders will experience bird life that that is reminiscent of early NZ. Huge suspension bridge will allow cyclists to glide across valleys, and the trail is packed with intriguing stories from NZs pioneering native Timber Industry days as it follows the route of an old logging tramway. At the mid-way point of the Timber Trail cyclists can stay overnight at one of two conveniently located Lodges in remote bush environments, or at a basic campsite.
The Timber Trail climbs and 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 tramway so you can expect that the Timber Trail is well designed for cycling, but the remote nature of the location and severe weather mean that the trail surface can be muddy and rutted in places from time to time. Cyclists will 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 where you can choose from a basic campsite or the modern Timber Trail Lodge. Alternatively, you can branch off the Timber Trail to stay at the very character filled, quirky and unique Black Fern Lodge, which is comfortable rustic accommodation in its own little slice of paradise beside a beautiful river just 6km off the Timber Trail. You can ride your bike to and from Black Fern Lodge on linking trails.
The Timber Trail can be accessed from only 3 points: the start at the Pureora DOC Feild Center (Pureora Village) 35 West of Mangakino, or from the South end at Ongarue which is a tiny historic village just 24km North of Taumaranui. There is also vehicle access in the middle of the trail at the remote Piropiro Flats DOC campsite. At Piropiro you will also find the new fully serviced Timber Trail Lodge. 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.
Timber Trail – Pureora To Piropiro, 40km
The start of the trail is beautiful flowing single track in amazing virgin Podocarp forest and just a few km into the ride cyclists pass a historic crawler tractor. There is 14km of climbing that starts right from the beginning of the trail. The Timber Trail climbs and traverses the culturally significant Mt. Pureora before beginning the singletrack descent to a couple of huge suspension bridges. Around the 25km mark the trail widens as it follows some old logging roads in the Piropiro area. Riders turn off the trail in slightly different places depending on where they are staying the night.
Timber Trail – Piropiro to Ongarue, 45km
Departing for the second half of the Timber Trail, riders head towards more massive swing bridges that have been built specifically for the cycle trail, including the second longest suspension bridge in New Zealand. These elegant bridges allow riders to glide cross deeply gorges stream valleys such as the Maramataha, Waione, and Mangatukutuku. the first couple of km heading out of Piriopiro are on gravel roads. After the crossing, first large bridge the Timber Trail climbs for 3km before reaching the tramway. The trail then stays on the tramway almost all the way to the end. The Ongarue Tramway 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 cliffs before riding alongside the famland for the last 5km to the Bennett Road Car Park. Ongarue Village itself is just 2.5km along the sealed road.
Construction of the original tramway began in 1922 after the building of the mill in 1914 at Ongarue. In 1958 the tramway was closed because of damage from flooding and following that the Ongarue mill was closed in 1966. Much of the tramway survives and has become one of the most popular North Island Cycle Trails. 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 remains 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.