The Waikato River Trail is one of the most varied cycle trails. Riders will find a constantly changing environment as they cycle the trail. Some sections have a very rural feel while others are in remote bush, there are small towns along the way and the ever present river is not only beautiful but also packed with history and home to the industry of power generation.
Each section of the Waikato River Trail is named after the lake it follows, and each lake is formed by a hydrodam at the Northern end.
Some sections of the Waikato River Trail are significantly harder than others. Refer to the table below for trail grades and distances:
|Section||North End||South End||Distance||Grade||Trail Type|
Pokaiwhenua Car Park
|Arapuni Dam||13km (one way)||2+||95% easy gravel path|
|Arapuni||Arapuni Dam||Waipapa Dam||34km||2 - 4||
50% sealed road, 50% off road trail
|Waipapa||Waipapa Dam||Maraetai Dam||20km||3||45% forestry road, 45% off road trail, 10% sealed road|
|Maraetai||Martaetai Dam||Whakamaru Dam||13km||3||
100% off road trail
|Whakamaru||Whakamaru Dam||Atiamuri Car Park||25km||3||90% off road trail, 10% gravel road|
How to ride the trail:
For beginners and novice riders:
Option 1: Ride from Atiamuri to Whakamaru, and if you want more, ride on to Mangakino:
Park at either the Dam Cafe at Whakamaru or the Lakefront Domain at Mangakino. Take our shuttle to start your ride at the Atiamuri Car park.
Option 2: Ride from Arapuni to Little Waipa Reserve:
Park at Little Waipa Reserve and take our shuttle to start your ride from the Rubarb Cafe.
OR park at the Rubarb Cafe and ride to Little Waipa Reserve and back.
NOTE: The Rubarb Cafe is not open Monday and Tuesday.
For intermediate to advanced riders:
Option 1: Ride from Waipapa Dam to Atiamuri:
Park at the Atiamuri Car Park and take our shuttle to start your ride at Waipapa Dam.
Option 2: Ride from Mangakino to Little Waipa Reserve:
Park at Waipapa Dam and take our shuttle to start your ride at Little Waipa Reserve.
Option 3: Ride the entire Waikato River Trail in a day:
Park at the Atiamuri Car Park and take our Shuttle to the Pokaiwhenua Car Park.
We also offer round trip transport from anywhere is the Waikato or Central Plateau. You can take our shuttle from your accommodation, home, or meeting place to the start of your ride and we will pick you up at the end for the return shuttle. We have all the knowledge and equipment to make you Waikato River Trail experience easy.
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.
Scroll passed the photos below for an in depth description of the Waikato River Trail.